With COVID continuing to be a threat, and with flu season fast approaching, many people are looking for ways to boost their immune system. The truth is that giving your natural immune system a “boost” is harder than it seems. This is because your immune system consists of many components and is also affected by what’s going on in your overall body.
It is also important to note that an overactive immune system can lead to problems. Rather than boosting your immune system, you want to optimize your existing immune system, which means taking steps to optimize your overall health.
The best way to optimize your immune system is to adopt healthy habits that doctors have been probably telling us to adopt for ages. Here are ten habits you should adopt to ensure that your immune system stays strong:
Eat a Diet High in Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. While citrus fruits have become well-known immune boosters, some many fruits and vegetables can help optimize your immune system, including:
- Red bell peppers
Try These Immune Boosting Foods
In addition to fruits and vegetables, there are a few foods that are thought to complement your immune system, including ginger, turmeric, sunflower seeds, nuts, yogurt, and poultry. Remember, as with any good thing, immune-boosting foods should be consumed in moderation. Another great thing to try is green tea, which is rich in antioxidants.
Add a Good Supplement
Before you add a supplement, it is important to understand that supplements aren’t magic pills to make you healthy. A supplement is not a substitute but rather a compliment to a healthy diet. In other words, you still have to eat healthily and do all of the other things to help your immune system, even if you’re taking a supplement.
Supplements are essentially designed to give you an extra-high dosage of vitamins and minerals, so you should take your supplements as directed.
Exercising regularly helps optimize circulation, control your weight, and reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Exercise also boosts endorphins or the feel-good hormones in your body. Ultimately, exercising regularly is just part of a healthy lifestyle, and leading a healthy lifestyle helps your immune system function at its best.
Getting the benefits of exercise is easier than you might think; just fifteen to thirty minutes a day of mild to moderate exercise can make a difference. If you haven’t exercised in a while, start with a walk around the block or a fifteen-minute exercise video. If your gym is currently closed, consider exercising with videos at home or switching to an outdoor workout such as jogging or hiking.
Get an Appropriate Amount of Good Sleep
Humans should get six to nine hours of sleep, with eight hours being average. While everyone has a different “ideal” number of hours, cutting your sleep can have some serious consequences for your entire body, including your immune system.
In some cases, people who aim to get the right number of hours still can’t seem to fall and stay asleep. This can be due to various factors, including your stress level, environment, or even certain health conditions.
If you have trouble falling or staying asleep, consider cutting off your caffeine early in the day, drinking calming caffeine-free teas, committing to a bedtime routine, or even speaking to your doctor about what you can do to get better quality sleep.
Ditch Bad Habits
Whether it's smoking, staying up too late, or overindulging on chocolate, everyone has at least one bad habit. Ultimately, bad habits are labeled “bad” for a reason, and that reason is usually that these habits tend to hurt your body somehow.
Drink Alcohol in Moderation
Over consuming alcohol can be a serious problem for your body. Not only does it weaken your immune system, but it can also be taxing on your liver- whose job is to filter out toxins. If you do decide to indulge in alcohol occasionally, this isn’t inherently a problem. Just make sure that you’re not drinking too much.
Drink Plenty of Water
A lot of us don’t drink as much water as we should. Adult humans should drink between 2.7 and 3.7 liters of water. We often swap water for coffee and soft drinks, which doesn’t quite do the trick when it comes to hydration- especially with caffeine being a diuretic. To ensure that you’re properly hydrated, try to aim for water in addition to coffee and other drinks. And no, a glass of wine does not count towards your water intake.
Take Time to De-Stress
Stress can adversely affect your immune system and its ability to function. To make sure that your immune system is running at full speed, you’ll want to make sure that you are effectively managing stress in your life. This might mean meditating, speaking with someone you trust, or finding time to do something you enjoy.
If you’re finding that you’re always stressed or anxious and cannot seem to figure out the underlying cause, it may be time to speak to your doctor, or a licensed therapist, about the issue.
Take Steps to Avoid Infection
Even if your immune system is functioning at its peak performance levels, you still need to take steps to avoid infection. This means washing your hands before touching your face after being out in public and making sure that you are following your local and state safety guidelines.
- You don’t want to boost your immune system to overactive levels; you just want to optimize.
- Certain foods are thought to be good for your immune system, including citrus, broccoli, ginger, turmeric, etc.
- Good sleep is part of a healthy immune system.
- Quitting smoking and ditching other bad habits can improve your immune system.
- Drinking water and exercising help your immune system function at its best.
- Even if your immune system is top-notch, you should still take steps to avoid infection.