The immune system plays an important role in protecting our health from threats like germs, colds, and diseases. In order to function properly, it needs to detect a wide array of pathogens and then differentiate enemy agents from the body’s own healthy tissue. Fortunately, for the most part, our immune system does a good job of neutralizing these pathogens upon exposure.
There are however things that can weaken the immune system and make our bodies more vulnerable to such attacks. That is why it is so important to make sure the body is in tip-top shape so that it can be able to defend against these threats.
So what are some of the ways in which you can boost your immune system?
One way to do this is by exercising. Research has shown that individuals engaging in regular exercise activities are less likely to get sick and have better functioning immune systems in general. However, too much exercise can actually have the opposite effect contributing to the body becoming run down and harder to recover from an illness.
For best results, in boosting immunity, limit moderate-intensity workouts to no more than an hour. A moderate amount of exercise weekly increases the expression of white blood cells. These cells are especially vital in a person’s recovery from respiratory tract infections. Regular exercise also blocks the release of stress hormones which increases the likelihood of developing infections common in the environment.
Whether it’s a loss of a job, a bad break-up, or the death of a loved one, stress is a part of life. But did you know that chronic stress can negatively affect your immune system making you more susceptible to infection and diseases? How exactly can you manage stress?
Take a Deep Breath
The easiest and quickest way to calm your body and your mind is to take a deep breath. You can do this at work, a doctor’s appointment, or anywhere you might feel a little stressed. This is done by taking a deep breath through your nose and holding it for about five seconds then exhaling through your mouth. Repeat this a few times until you notice your heart starts to relax and you become calmer.
Clear Your Mind
Find a quiet spot where you can sit or lay down comfortably then close your eyes and try to visualize a relaxing image. It can be the sound of the ocean waves on the shore at your favorite destination and then spend a few minutes focusing on that image.
You may not be able to avoid all stressful situations but you can easily reduce the effects stress has on your immune system.
A Healthy Diet
Eating different kinds of foods is very important to ensure your body gets all the vitamins and nutrients it needs for optimum health. Try eating a variety of fruits and vegetables.
Foods high in vitamin C are a great way to fortify the immune system. There are citrus fruits that provide this such as lemons, oranges, and grapefruits. Other fruits like kiwi, papaya, and guava, are among some of the highest amounts of vitamin C. Red bell peppers contain more vitamin C than citrus fruits. Other vegetables like broccoli and kale are also great immune system builders.
Other Foods that are great immune system builders are garlic, ginger, spinach (all leafy greens), strawberries, tomatoes, and turmeric which is an excellent anti-inflammatory spice. Try focusing on antioxidant powerhouses like green tea, and try to eat a handful of nuts each day.
These foods are high in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that are essential for strong immune support. Alternatively, you can try supplements high in antioxidants if you are unable to incorporate them into your food.
Sleep impacts the full range of how well our immune system works and how likely we are to catch a cold or the risk of developing a serious autoimmune disorder or cancer. Short sleep time and poor quality sleep increase one’s risk of catching a variety of infections. According to https://www.helpguide.org/articles/sleep/sleep-needs-get-the-sleep-you-need.htm, “The quality of your sleep directly affects your mental and physical health and the quality of your waking life, including your productivity, emotional balance, brain and heart health, immune system, creativity, vitality, and even your weight.” So try to get between 7-9 hours of sleep every night.
The immune system is designed to protect our health and wellbeing. Once compromised we open ourselves to many diseases and illnesses. Exercising, stress management, a healthy diet, and proper sleep will contribute to a strong, healthy immune system.