A strong and healthy immune response can mitigate the effects of an infection. Boosting your immune system is the key to fending off illness when you get it or maybe avoiding it together. The best approach to maintain your immune system is to adopt a healthy lifestyle.
While bolstering your immunity is easier said than done, several dietary and lifestyle changes may strengthen your body’s natural defenses and help you fight harmful pathogens or disease-causing organisms. Some of them are below.
Yes! Lack of sleep can make you sick. Sleep deprivation is linked to a higher susceptibility to sickness. During sleep, the immune system releases cytokines, some of which help promote sleep. Cytokines are also needed to fight against infection, inflammation and ward off stress. Sleep deprivation leads to a reduction in antibodies and cells necessary to fight infection. According to Mayo Clinic, adults should aim to get seven or more hours of sleep each night, while teens need 8–10 hours and younger children and infants up to 14 hours. Keeping a stable sleep schedule, making your bedroom comfortable and free of disruptions, following a relaxing pre-bed routine, and building healthy habits during the day can all contribute to excellent sleep hygiene.
Consume Whole Foods
A healthy diet gives your body the essential nutrients to fight off germs. Whole plant foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes are rich in micro-nutrients and antioxidants. There is a wealth of evidence that suggests that what we eat matters. The antioxidants in plants can help decrease inflammation by battling free radicals. The fiber consumed from plant foods increases your gut microbiome. A robust gut microbiome is essential for a stronger immune system.
Don’t Be Afraid of Healthy Fats
It is vital to consume healthy fats to receive positive advantages for our immune health. Healthy fats help reduce inflammation and fight infections. Many plant-based foods are rich in fatty acids, linoleic, and alpha-linolenic acid, with an optimal omega-3/omega-6 ratio. Some examples include; hemp seeds, walnuts, chia seeds, dark leafy greens, spinach, arugula, and romaine. Eating healthy fats will provide the body with the energy and essential fatty acids to optimize immune function.
Get in Moderate Exercise
It’s true that exercise increases your immunity to certain illnesses. Research shows that frequent exercise reduces systemic inflammatory activity and improves aspects of immune function, leading to alterations in an aging immune system’s classical biomarkers. Examples of exercise include 30-minutes a day of brisk walking, hiking, a dance class, and cycling. So, wherever you are, get moving now.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the stress hormone cortisol can subdue your immune system. While it might be impractical to let go of stress completely, managing stress in a healthy way is possible. Creating some white space in your day and meditating can help with stress. Meditation lowers your heart rate and blood pressure and reduces anxiety. Watching a funny show or just laughing with friends and family is a great way to relieve stress.
Our bodies are regularly exposed to invaders and toxins like mutated cells, bacteria, and viruses. We can make changes in our lifestyle to toughen our immune system. Including exercise, consuming a healthy diet, meditating, and practicing good sleep hygiene can go a long way to protect us from illnesses and strengthen our immune system. It might seem a lot to do right off the bat but making small changes can go a long way. Keep adding these lifestyle changes to your routine until they become a habit. Soon you will have a robust immune system to guard you against diseases.
Aesha is the founder and head coach at Tone and Strengthen. She holds a Master’s in Exercise Science from Concordia University and has earned multiple credentials from the National Academy of Sports Medicine, Athletics and Fitness Association of America, and other NCCA accredited fitness associations. Aesha is a Master Instructor for MadDogg Athletics, Spinning® program and offers FREE workouts and healthy lifestyle tips on the Tone and Strengthen’s IG page.