Whether you’re working on the healthcare frontlines, or at home, you need to stay healthy. Most people are willing to try anything to boost their immune system. Unfortunately there’s no magic pill or smoothie that’s going to immediately protect you from illnesses. To fully boost your immune system, you need to make lifestyle changes. Here are some healthy ways you can boost your immune system.
Get Adequate sleep
Inadequate or poor quality sleep is one of the only habits directly linked to lowering your immune system. When you sleep, your body releases proteins called cytokines. When you have an infection or inflammation, cytokines are released. Sleep deprivation may decrease production of these protective cytokines. In addition, infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced when you don’t get enough sleep.
Properly fuel your body by aiming for seven hours of sleep a night. Follow these tips if you have a hard time getting enough sleep:
- Maintain a regular bedtime and wake time
- Cut back on alcohol consumption, energy drinks, and dark chocolate at night
- Keep your bedroom dark, quiet and cool
Regular exercise is one of the pillars of healthy living. It improves cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure, helps control body weight, and protects against a variety of diseases. More directly, it contributes to your immune system by promoting healthy turnover of immune cells.
Try incorporating 20-30 minutes of walking, running, biking, or swimming a day.
Stress can have a huge impact on your mental health. If you let it build up long enough, it can take a physical toll. Stress prompts the production of cortisol, that fight-or-flight hormone. When cortisol is high, your immune system isn’t as active.
Try minimizing stress by making more time in the day for you, journaling, exercising, spending time with friends and family, or meditating.
Drink Plenty of Fluids
We are made of 60% water. If you’re dehydrated, your entire immunity system can break down. It’s recommended that you drink a minimum of half your body weight in ounces of water. The more active you are, the more water you should drink.
Staying hydrated doesn’t only mean water. You can also drink tea or drinks high in electrolytes.
Eat A Well Balanced Healthy Diet
There are many foods that you can incorporate into your diet that will help strengthen your immune system. A common rule of thumb is the more colorful, the better. Eating healthy is one of the biggest factors in keeping your immune system balanced. The following foods are examples of what you should try to incorporate into your diet.
Foods high in antioxidants
Can help delay or prevent cell damage and defend your body against oxidative stress
Foods high in vitamin C
Helps prevent infections and fight diseases
- Red Bell Peppers
Rich in probiotics, can help with gut health
Can help decrease inflammation
- Olive oil
- Chia Seeds
Keep Your Hands Sanitized
The most common way to catch an illness is by touching a contaminated surface. These germs you pick up will move from your hands to your eyes, nose, or mouth as most people subconsciously touch those places. Make an effort to not touch your face while you’re out in public or around friends and family.
Proper hand washing requires 20 seconds (or singing “Happy Birthday” twice) with soap and warm water.
Using hand sanitizer is another excellent way to keep your hands clean. You can easily throw it in your backpack or purse when you’re on the go.
If you have a deficit in your diet, taking supplements can aid in bridging the gap. Although doctors recommend that you should get most of your vitamins from foods.
Vitamin D, or the “sunshine vitamin,” is the most recommended vitamin to take. This is because most adults are Vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D has several important functions like aiding growth and development of bones and teeth, but the most important function is facilitating normal immune system function.
Sometimes, even after following all the recommended immunity boosting habits, you will still get sick. That’s okay! Take time to recharge (and avoid getting others sick), follow your doctor’s orders, and you will be on the road to recovery.