Last updated on June 7th, 2023 at 04:07 pm
The immune system is a complex system of organs, cells, and chemicals that fight infection. Our bodies are amazing and can remember each microbe (tiny living things too small to be seen by the naked eye) that has entered the body. The body destroys these same microbes much more quickly when they enter again. If our bodies cannot destroy these germs in time, they make us sick, such as when we get a cold or flu. Implementing healthy lifestyle practices is the best way to build a strong immune system. In this article, we will look at various ways you can control your health and tips or ways to boost your immune system through healthy lifestyle interventions.
The common cold and flu are recurring illnesses because there are many types of viruses, and the viruses are constantly mutating. In this time of uncertainty with COVID-19, many people wonder how they can strengthen their immune systems to stay healthy.
Ways To Boost Immune System
1. Don’t Smoke
Researchers have linked several diseases with cigarette smoking, and it significantly affects the immune system. Cigarette smoke weakens the immune system against infections.
2. Eat Well
What you choose to eat and not eat greatly impacts your immune system and overall health. Some foods linked to immune health are brown rice, chlorella, aloe, spirulina, nuts, and seeds. The immune system requires a delicate balance of vitamins and minerals in the body. This is, of course, achieved through your diet and possibly through supplementation.
While malnourishment is uncommon in North America, a diet high in processed foods and sugar can cause deficiencies in vital minerals, vitamins, and nutrients. The best way to ensure you get the vitamins and minerals your body needs are to focus on whole, unprocessed foods. This means foods are in their most natural states.
Processing does not strip whole foods of any health benefits, and they contain the densest sources of micronutrients. Great whole food options include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
3. Exercise Regularly
Exercising is one of the ways to boost the immune system and we all know it is essential for maintaining good health. Regular exercise improves mental health, helps you get better sleep, and of course, improves cardiovascular health. When our bodies are functioning well, so is our immune system.
Studies have shown that moderate exercise can help boost immunity among older people and those living with certain chronic conditions. The recommended amount of exercise for most individuals is 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per week. Before starting a new exercise program, talk to a healthcare professional to decide what is best for you.
4. Maintain A Healthy Weight
Excess fat around the midsection has been shown to turn the body’s defense system against you, leading to disease. This is due to an off-balance immune system. Excess abdominal fat triggers the production of pro-inflammatory immune cells, which promotes inflammation in the body.
Inflammation is a key part of the immune response and is damaging when it becomes chronic. Even more interesting, studies have shown that losing only 10 pounds could fix this immune system problem.
5. Drink Alcohol Moderately
Excessive alcohol consumption has been associated with adverse immune-related health effects. Too much drinking has been linked to a greater likelihood of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), sepsis, alcoholic liver disease (ALD), cancer, and lower and less complete recovery from infections and physical trauma. Alcohol disrupts pathways in the immune response, which means the body cannot fight infections or repair tissue injuries properly.
6. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep quality and quantity are one of the Ways To Boost the Immune System that are incredibly important for maintaining mental and physical health. Proper sleep ensures your immune system is working properly. While you sleep, your brain signals your body to circulate the hormones and proteins that keep your immune system strong. Without proper sleep, your body does not have the time to sufficiently bolster your immune system, putting you at greater risk for illness.
7. Wash Your Hands Regularly
We all know we should wash our hands, but are we doing it enough? Washing your hands properly is arguably the best way to prevent the spread of germs that lead to infections. All infectious diseases can be prevented through hand washing, such as Salmonella and influenza.
It would help if you washed your hands after using the toilet, before and after preparing food, between handling raw and cooked food, before eating, after using a tissue, before and after attending to other sick people, after smoking, after touching garbage or working in the garden, and after touching animals. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, and always make sure to dry your hands thoroughly.
8. Manage Stress
Everyone handles stress differently. Some of us live relatively stress-free, while others are more sensitive to our environments and struggle with higher stress levels. When you are overly stressed, your body’s resources don’t have the same energy to fight infections. Intentional breathwork and practices such as yoga have been shown to strengthen the immune response possibly. Learning how to manage your Stress is essential for a healthy life and a strong immune system.
As you can see, many ways to strengthen your immune system exist. Even better, everything you do to help strengthen your immune system improves your overall health. So, try implementing a few of these tips and notice how much better you feel!
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Rick Kaselj MS, is a leading kinesiologist and injury specialist as well as co-creator of the best-selling Unlock Your Hip Flexors program. Rick creates exercise programs that help people heal injuries and eliminate pain, so they can go back to living a full, active, healthy life.