Our immune systems are the protectors and defenders of our bodies, fiercely fighting off foreign invaders and stifling sneaky sicknesses. Now more than ever, it is essential that we support the health of our immune systems that work so diligently to support us. Read on to learn 5 ways that you can boost your immune system and feel better than ever, both physically and mentally.
Tips for Boosting Your Immune System and Staying Healthy
1. Healthy Diet and Hydration—Some Immune System Booster Foods to Try
Research has found that 70 percent of the immune system is located in the gut. This means that healthy diet, digestion, and hydration are key components to optimising the overall function of your immune system.
For the best results, it is important to incorporate a variety of healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, fish, nuts, etc. that contain plenty of vitamins and minerals into your everyday diet. Some examples of vitamins and minerals that help boost the immune system include Vitamin A, Vitamin B, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, zinc, and selenium. Click here to a list of foods to eat to assure that your immune system is getting the nutrients it needs.
2. Get Plenty of Sleep
Sleeping is the body’s time to rest, recharge, and repair, so naturally, it is a vital piece of the puzzle for a high-functioning immune system. Failing to get the proper amount of sleep every night not only negatively affects your cognitive functioning but also lowers your immunity, making you significantly more susceptible to catching viral diseases.
However, a good night’s sleep supports the cells and proteins of the immune system that detect and destroy harmful, foreign invaders of the body such as bacteria and viruses. Furthermore, sleeping promotes a better memory of these foreign invaders so that your immune system is able to fight them off faster in the future. With most healthy adults needing between seven and nine hours of sleep per night to function at their best, it’s time to stop catching colds and start catching some z's.
A healthy, moderate amount of exercise is also proven to strengthen your immune system, as it increases blood flow and mobilises white blood cells, which are one of the main defences against harmful microbes. In fact, one study found that just 30 minutes of brisk walking increased the circulation of “natural killer cells and other immune system warriors in the blood.” Furthermore, exercise helps to reduce stress, one of the immune system’s biggest enemies.
Generally, it is recommended that the average adult should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise. However, it is important to note that overexercising (most common in serious athletes) can actually have adverse effects on your immune system, rather than the positive effects that you are hoping to achieve. Remember the goal is to feel strong, healthy, and energized—not like you are about to collapse from fatigue.
4. Wash Your Hands
It should come as no surprise that washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water is one of the most effective ways to kill harmful bacteria and stop the spread of disease. However, in order to reap the benefits of handwashing, it must be done correctly. It is recommended that you wash your hands with soap and water for about 20 seconds, remembering to clean areas that are often missed such as between the fingers, under the nails, and the palms of your hands. If you’re sick of being sick, pick up a bar of soap and start scrubbing.
5. Minimise Stress in Your Life: Methods of Stress Relief
Stress doesn’t just wreak havoc on our mental health but it also negatively impacts our physical health, namely the immune system. Have you ever noticed that you tend to get sick during particularly stressful periods of time? This is because stress has a direct impact on the immune system.
Stress suppresses the production and function of white blood cells, which help the body fight off infection. Beyond this, stress can further inhibit the functioning of your immune system by interfering with sleep. A combination of high stress and limited sleep is a recipe for getting sick.
For these reasons, it is important to find methods of stress relief that help lower your stress levels. Different methods for stress relief include exercising, meditating, engaging in activities that make you happy, taking breaks, going to therapy, and journaling. When you stress less, you get sick less.
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