Your immune system isn’t as simple as it looks. Your body is meant to fight off outside invaders such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and toxins. Immunity is not a single entity that can be improved. It’s a whole network of functions and defenses ready to come to your rescue. For something that works so hard to protect us, it’s time to return the favor.
The good news is that there are changes you can make today that will directly assist you in the fight against infections. Here are four easy ways you can strengthen your body’s natural defenses.
Nourish Your Immune System
The saying “food is medicine” exists for a reason. Research shows that making wise dietary choices can decrease the risk of disease and offer strong and medicinal protective properties. An anti-inflammatory diet consists of plant-based foods, healthy fats, and is low on sugar. Any foods that cause inflammation can cause chronic illnesses, as well as suppress the immune system.
This goes for supplements, too! Rob Robar, the founder of The Helping Friendly Salve, states that all-natural homeopathic supplements may help with inflammation, among many other common ailments.
Even with a balanced diet, it’s difficult to reach the recommended intake of vitamins and minerals needed to fight off diseases. Along with whole, unprocessed foods, you can also strengthen your immune responses by consuming:
- Vitamin C and D
Get Adequate Sleep
Just like any machine, your body needs breaks and will not perform well if overworked. Without sleep, your body uses stress hormones like cortisol to stay awake and wired. A 2019 study shows that participants who slept the recommended amount of 8 hours had a higher level of white blood cells, compared to those who slept less.
Adults need a minimum of seven hours of sleep every night for improved overall health and wellbeing. Prioritize some shut-eye, not just for your body’s immunity, but for an array of health benefits that come with it.
Manage Your Stress
Your stress levels are directly linked to how well your body can keep up its natural defenses. It’s proven that prolonged stress can increase inflammatory responses, as well as suppress your immunity.
The stress hormone corticosteroid can suppress the effectiveness of the immune system by lowering white blood cell counts. Stress can leave us more susceptible to infections and can worsen with unhealthy coping mechanisms such as drinking and smoking.
No one is free of stress, but we can learn to handle it better. Take time to relax whenever you can, cut down on social media, or practice mindfulness and meditation to give your immunity the upper hand.
Working out plays an essential role in managing stress, improving the quality of sleep, and enhancing your body’s immunity. Exercise allows immune cells to perform effectively by increasing blood flow, reduces stress and inflammation, and can strengthen antibodies.
For example, a 2019 scientific study found that moderate-intensity exercise is linked to lower rates of upper respiratory tract infections, such as the flu and common cold. How you workout is up to you: from yoga, cardio, to full-body exercises, as long as you keep moving, your immune system will thank you.
The doctors weren’t kidding when they said that healthy lifestyle changes are essential. It may not be the quickest route to increasing your immunity, but it’s undoubtedly the most natural and effective method.