Do you want to fight off illness? Helping you stay healthy is just another day on the job for the immune system. This vital system fights off foreign organisms, such as viruses and bacteria, before they damage the body. However, the strength of your white blood cells may wax and wane throughout the years. Here are some easy tips to help keep your immune system strong.
1. Stick to a Healthy Sleep Schedule
Do you get enough sleep each night? According to the CDC, the average adult needs over 7 hours of sleep each day. However, many people survive on much less. Even if you can function without much sleep, doing so may weaken your immune system. Increasing the amount of sleep you get may help you stay well.
People who don’t get an adequate amount of sleep each day are more likely to catch viruses, such as the common cold. This is because the body produces illness-fighting cytokines and antibodies during the sleep cycle. Without these cells, the body can’t fight off harmful invaders. Lack of sleep may also increase the amount of time it takes to get over an illness.
2. Say Goodbye to Overly Processed Foods
The foods a person eats can have a positive or negative impact on their immune system. Eating a diet full of processed foods may produce chronic inflammation throughout the body. This may increase a person’s risk of getting ill. Instead, it’s best to include a variety of whole plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes.
Plant-based foods are packed with healthy nutrients. Many fruits, such as blueberries, have antioxidants that protect the body from free radicals. Beans and vegetables contain a lot of fiber to promote a healthy gut. While it’s still possible to enjoy your favorite foods, including decadent desserts, it’s best to incorporate plenty of whole plant foods to keep the immune system strong.
3. Say Yes to Good Fats
The body needs plenty of fat, but not all fats are created equal. Dangerous trans fats, for example, raise bad cholesterol levels while lowering the level of good cholesterol. They also increase inflammation, which weakens the immune system. Trans-fatty acids are most often found in processed and fried foods.
Instead of indulging in trans fats, it’s better to nourish the body with healthy omega-3 fatty acids. These “good” fats are highly anti-inflammatory. Foods chocked full of healthy fats include olive oil, avocados, chia seeds, and salmon.
4. Avoid Excessive Sugar Consumption
Sugar is almost all processed foods. Eating sugary foods triggers dopamine in the brain, which makes people only want to eat more. Avoiding sugar isn’t always easy, but if you need to boost your immune system, watching how much you consume is a must.
Sugar-laden foods also come with a high-calorie count. That’s why people who consume too much sugar gain weight. They’re also more likely to get sick. Replacing sugary foods with healthier options, like nutrient-rich fruits, is an easy way to strengthen the immune system.
5. Incorporate Moderate Exercise
Sedentary lifestyles are more common than ever. Many people sit at a desk for hours on end, only to plop on their couch when they get home. However, those who don’t get enough physical activity are at a higher risk of developing insulin resistance or chronic inflammation. Being sedentary also damages the immune system.
It’s not necessary to exercise for hours each day, but the average adult should strive to move around a few times each week. Even a brisk walk around the block twice a week can boost the immune system and help keep you feeling energized and healthy.
6. Drink Plenty of Water
What does water have to do with your immune system? Dehydration often causes headaches and irritability. It can also lead to poor heart and kidney function. Drinking enough water helps the body eliminate harmful toxins. This alone can reduce chronic inflammation in the body.
It’s easy to tell if you’re properly hydrated by looking at the color of your urine. It should be a pale yellow. If your urine is a dark orange, it’s time to increase your fluid intake. Avoid sugary drinks or highly caffeinated beverages because these often act as a diuretic. Staying hydrated may help your immune system function at its peak.
7. Learn How to Control Stress
Stress doesn’t only make you feel bad; it’s also harmful to the body. Too much stress may lead to chronic inflammation or a suppressed immune system. Learning coping mechanisms to deal with stress is a surefire way to give your white blood cells a much-needed boost.
Meditation is a great way to combat stress. Exercise, healthy eating habits, and relaxing hobbies may also help adults cope with stressful situations. Nearly everyone will deal with stress at some point. It can even affect children. An Integrative Pediatrician may combine complementary and conventional therapies to help patients deal with stress. Learning how to control stress will help to keep your immune system strong.
8. Get Enough Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a powerhouse vitamin. It has both anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory properties. If you want to strengthen your immune system, make sure you get enough vitamin D. The body produces vitamin D through sunlight exposure. Eating certain foods, such a fatty fish or fortified milk, may also help increase your levels. However, in areas with limited sunlight, vitamin D deficiencies are more common.
Not getting enough vitamin D may cause fatigue, bone pain, muscle aches, or weakness. Vitamin D deficiencies are also linked to depression and mood swings. Taking a vitamin D supplement or going outside each day may be all it takes to raise your vitamin D levels. However, only a doctor-ordered blood test can accurately determine if you are deficient or not.
Take Control of Your Immune System
Why do some people never seem to get sick? They have a stronger, more robust immune system. Too many people don’t think about the health of their immune system until they fall ill. However, prevention is always the best option. Incorporating these simple tips into your everyday life may give your immune system the boost it needs to keep you well.