You’ve probably heard about how important your immune system is on numerous occasions, but have you ever stopped to think about what makes it so important? Your immune system is composed of various cells and organs that work together to protect your body from foreign invaders such as germs, bacteria, viruses, and more. If your immune system becomes compromised in any way, you are at risk of developing an illness. In this article, I’ll provide you with 10 ways how to boost your immune system so that you can stay healthy and safe.
How to Boost Your Immune System
1. Engage in regular exercise or physical activity
Getting active is a great way to boost your immune system. Studies have shown that regular exercise boosts the activity of our natural killer cells, which help fight infections and disease. If you’re not physically active now, start slow with a gentle walk and gradually increase your pace over time—the benefits will come!
Exercise also helps you sleep better at night, so it’s a win-win. If you already engage in some kind of physical activity, do more if possible! Better yet, try incorporating other methods into your daily routine that are proven immune boosters like deep breathing exercises. The effects on your body will be cumulative, meaning they get stronger as time goes on.
Also, exercise boosts the immune system by stimulating an enzyme called telomerase, which plays a key role in longevity. Studies show that women who exercise have a longer life expectancy than those who don’t. According to research, regular exercise also slows down aging at a cellular level and helps prevent cancer.
If you are not already active, it might seem daunting to add another task to your schedule but think about how much you’ll gain. Plus, many of these activities can be done while doing something else (i.e., listening to music while working out), so they don’t require extra free time; they just require being conscious about how we spend our day.
Exercise promotes the immune system during winter
The cold temperatures during the winter may prompt people to stay indoors with minimal to no physical activity. This causes your muscles to lay dormant and your circulation to become sluggish, affecting different aspects of your life, including mood, energy levels, and weight issues.
Sparing 30 minutes of your time 3-4 times a week to engage in physical exercise can boost your immune system and promote overall health.
Exercising during the winter doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go to a gym or go running. You can work out in the comfort of your home and still put yourself in a better position to strengthen your immune system.
Some of the best indoor workouts for winter include:
- Jumping jacks
- Rope skipping
- Marching in place
- Jogging in place
- Air jump rope
- Arm circles
- Jumping jacks
- Mountain climbers
- Biceps curls
- Triceps dips
- Overhead press
- Water bottle weights
- Kidlifting for those with young children
- Band push-ups
- Band overhead triceps extension
- Straight leg raising
- Wall shin raises
- Side plank
- Band curl
- Band shoulder press
2. Eat real food
Eating real food is one of, if not THE most important things you can do for your health. It doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive, though. Eat fresh and whole foods: fruits, vegetables, legumes, and healthy fats like olive oil and coconut oil; also make sure you get enough water into your diet (at least half of your body weight in ounces daily).
Avoid processed foods and stick to whole, organic food whenever possible. The more nutrients you can put into your body, the healthier you’ll be—and that means your immune system will be able to fight off infection and illness.
The immune system is strengthened by various nutrients present in natural foods. However, most people rarely eat food in its natural form during the winter because all the fresh summer fruits and vegetables are out of season. But winter comes with other superfoods that you should take advantage of, such as:
- Winter squash
- Citrus fruits
- Brussels sprouts
- Sweet potatoes
Including fermented natural foods such as fermented pickles, sauerkraut, or fermented beets may also help improve your gut health by increasing your good bacteria, thus strengthening your immune system even more.
3. Get enough sleep
The idea that a lack of sleep can be detrimental to your health is not new, but just how much of an effect does it have on your immune system?
A growing body of research has shown that a lack of sleep can have a negative impact on the immune system. One study found that people who slept less than six hours per night were more likely to catch a cold than those who slept seven hours or more.
A good night’s sleep helps your body to rest and your cells to rejuvenate. It also lowers your stress levels which helps boost the ability to fight against cold and flu.
Other research has shown that a lack of sleep can lead to an increase in inflammation, which can contribute to a number of health problems. One study found that people who slept less than six hours per night had higher levels of inflammatory markers than those who slept seven hours or more.
So, how does a lack of sleep affect the immune system?
There are a few ways:
- When you’re sleep-deprived, your body produces more of the stress hormone cortisol. This hormone can suppress the immune system.
- A lack of sleep can also lead to changes in the way certain immune cells function.
- Sleep deprivation can make you more susceptible to viral infections.
That’s why it’s important to get enough sleep every night. If you’re not getting enough rest, your body will be working overtime to try to fight off infection and illnesses. So make sure you’re getting at least seven hours of sleep each night to keep your immune system strong.
Tips to get more sleep
There are a few things that you can do in order to start getting more sleep. One is to make sure that you have a comfortable place to sleep. This means having a comfortable mattress and pillows that support your head and neck. You also want to make sure that your room is dark and quiet so that you can fall asleep more easily.
Another thing that you can do is establish a regular sleep schedule. This means going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning. This will help your body get into a rhythm and make it easier for you to fall asleep and stay asleep. Finally, you want to avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed as these can make it harder for you to fall asleep.
Also, avoid blue light exposure at bedtime as this can interfere with your sleep hormones.
4. Ensure adequate intake of vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential for the proper functioning of the immune system. It offers both anti-inflammatory and immunoregulatory properties, which are essential for the activation of immune defenses.
Low vitamin D levels have been shown to increase susceptibility to infections and other immune-related conditions.
Low vitamin D levels are also associated with reduced lung function, decreasing your body’s ability to fight respiratory conditions.
The best way to obtain vitamin D is through sun exposure. However, during the winter months, taking a vitamin D supplement may be your only option.
Still, research shows that the body can store vitamin D in the liver and fat cells. So spending enough time outdoors in spring, summer, and fall may ensure adequate vitamin D storage to take you through the cold months.
You can also consume foods fortified with vitamin D, such as plant milk, cereals, and bread; however, most of these foods are highly processed and thus not good for you.
5. Avoid added sugar
Added sugar is any type of sugar that is added to food during processing or preparation. This includes white sugar, brown sugar, honey, molasses, and corn syrup. Consuming too much added sugar can have negative effects on your health, including lowering your immune system.
When your body ingests sugar, it causes a spike in blood sugar levels. This spike triggers the release of insulin, which helps to remove the sugar from the blood. However, if you consume too much sugar, your body can become insulin resistant. This means that the body doesn’t respond as well to insulin and the sugar stays in the blood.
High blood sugar levels can damage many different parts of the body, including the immune system. White blood cells are important for fighting off infection and disease, but high blood sugar levels can prevent them from working properly. This can leave you more susceptible to getting sick.
Sugar also disrupts your gut flora, throwing your good gut bacteria off balance and putting you at risk of infections. Moreover, sugar has zero nutrients and can greatly contribute to weight gain, obesity, and even type 2 diabetes.
If you have a sweet tooth, try things like dried fruit and always ensure proper intake of fiber and healthy fats to help you fight any cravings that may prompt you to look for something sweet. You can also choose unsweetened versions of foods whenever possible. By making these simple changes, you can help keep your immune system strong and healthy.
6. Avoid smoking
Smoking is one of the leading causes of preventable death in the world. Cigarette smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals, including nicotine, carbon monoxide, and tar. These substances damage nearly every organ in the body and contribute to a number of serious diseases.
One of the most damaging effects of smoking is on the immune system. When you smoke, it weakens your immune system and makes it harder for your body to fight off infection and disease. Smokers are more susceptible to infections and take longer to recover from illness. Smoking also increases the risk of developing autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease.
There are many ways that smoking cigarettes lowers the immune response. One way is by damaging white blood cells in your body that help fight off infection. Cigarette smoke contains thousands of chemicals that damage these cells and make them less effective at fighting off infection.
Another way smoking damages the immune system is by causing inflammation. Inflammation is a natural response of the body to injury or infection. However, chronic inflammation can be harmful. Cigarette smoke contains chemicals that cause chronic inflammation throughout the body, including in the lungs. This inflammation can damage healthy tissue and make it harder for the lungs to clear out infections. This can eventually cause lung cancer, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease problems.
If you smoke cigarettes, it’s important to quit. Quitting smoking will improve your overall health and help your immune system recover from the damage.
There are many things that you can do to strengthen your immune system. Some of the most important things include getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly.
Getting enough sleep is important because it helps your body to repair itself and to fight off infection. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body is more likely to get sick.
Eating a healthy diet is important for boosting your immune system because foods rich in vitamins and minerals can keep your body healthy and strong. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is a great way to make sure you’re getting the nutrients you need.
Exercising regularly is also important for boosting your immune system. Exercise helps to improve circulation and to increase the production of white blood cells, which help to fight off infection.
Other things you can do include getting enough vitamin D, quitting smoking, and eliminating added sugar from your diet.
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