Top 5 Ways to Naturally Boost Your Immune System
With flu season upon us and mutating virus strains ever-present, it is important now more than ever to put our physical health higher up on the list of priorities and avoid getting sick at all costs. One of the best (and arguably easiest) ways to stay healthy is by keeping our immune systems operating at their full potential to fight off disease-causing pathogens. The human immune system can be broken down into two levels or responses to invading germs: the innate immune system that you’re born with, and the adaptive immune system that develops over time with exposure to new viruses and bacteria. The lymphatic system, epidermis (skin), mucous membranes and blood cells are all key components in keeping your immune system functional and in keeping you feeling your best.
The following tips are 5 simple ways to naturally boost your immune system and safeguard your health all winter long:
Eat Your Veggies
There’s a reason you were encouraged to eat more fruits and vegetables as a kid- because they’re packed with vitamins and minerals that are vital for immune health! Antioxidants such as Vitamin C and Vitamin E, along with minerals like zinc and selenium, have been suggested to support the production of critical cells that combat pathogens effectively. Leafy greens, blue and red berries, onions, garlic and green vegetables are all excellent options for nutrient-dense eating, so consider cutting back on heavily processed and refined foods in place of fresh, “living” ingredients.
Move Your Body
There are many reasons to regularly exercise and stay fit, but did you know that exercise actually reduces your chance of getting sick? Research studies have indicated that physically active individuals are less likely to develop respiratory tract infections annually versus those who live a more sedentary lifestyle. With aerobic movement, your immune cells are encouraged to multiply and move more rapidly throughout your blood stream to fend off any unwelcome bacteria, fungi and viruses.
Moderate Your Alcohol Intake
We all love being festive and merry around the holidays, but excessive drinking can actually disrupt immune system function while increasing recovery time after a significant illness or injury. Respiratory infections like pneumonia are potentially more likely to develop in heavy drinkers, along with directly related complications such as liver disease and sepsis. If you’re at risk of falling sick during winter months in particular, support your immune system by reducing alcohol consumption considerably if not altogether.
Get Your Beauty Sleep
Our demanding work schedules and busy lives in the modern world can make it difficult to get the recommended 8 hours of sleep each night, however your immune system will thank you for sacrificing some screen-time in place of quality rest. Lack of sleep has been linked to inflammation development that can ultimately result in metabolic and cardiovascular disease, in addition to increased risk of infections due to a decrease in antibody production. Both the innate and adaptive immune systems require bodily rest to produce strong, disease-fighting cells that have to work overtime when you’re not getting enough sleep.
Reduce Your Stress
We are learning more and more about how stress affects us mentally, spiritually and physically, so it’s no surprise that stress can have an impact on the functionality of the immune system. When your body is stressed out and experiencing increased anxiety or adrenaline production, the immune system boosting functions are put on “hold” while your body is managing its response to the added stress. Take some time out of each day to do something relaxing that gives your nerves a break, such as meditation, reading, walks in nature or a warm bath.
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