Right now, you need a healthy immune system more than ever. While no holistic methods exist for making you bulletproof against diseases, strengthening your body’s natural defenses only makes sense. As a lifestyle blog that provides information around health and wellness, we thought we could give some suggestions.
What can you do to improve your ability to fight bacteria and viruses? It all begins with the choices you make daily. Embrace the following habits to become a germ-busting superstar.
1. Manage Your Stress
It might seem challenging to get your stress under control with all the uncertainty around, but doing so will make you healthier. Prolonged and extreme levels of tension impact both your body’s production of the stress hormone cortisol and lymphocytes, the white blood cells that fight infection.
In short bursts, cortisol limits inflammation. However, when you experience chronic stress, your body gets used to elevated levels of the hormone, which spurs a robust inflammatory response. Additionally, too much cortisol prompts your body to decrease lymphocyte production, meaning you have fewer natural defenses against infection.
2. Get Recommended Screenings
You probably don’t love visiting a doctor’s office, but do contact your provider if it’s time for your annual checkup. Each year, 7 out of 10 deaths among Americans are due to preventable chronic diseases. Don’t become a statistic. Instead, seek help.
Your physician can connect you with counseling resources for anything from alcohol use to smoking cessation, both of which can improve immune function. They can also recommend other lifestyle changes that can decrease your risk of various diseases.
3. Nourish Your Body
Phytonutrients refer to a wide variety of natural compounds in plants that benefit human health. According to experts, more than 4,000 of these chemicals exist. Since they give growing things vivid hues, the best way to get a complete nutrition profile is to eat veggies and fruits in a variety of colors. You should also consume useful fats, like omega-3s.
What if your kiddos balk at eating their greens? No problem! You can whip up recipes with hidden veggies that they will love.
4. Move Around Often
Moderate exercise keeps your cortisol levels in check, which improves immune function. Working out can also boost your levels of antibodies and white blood cells, both of which help you fight disease. Do note, though, that vigorous exercise that lasts for more than an hour can increase the levels of stress hormones in your blood and have an adverse effect. For the most significant immunity benefits, keep your physical activity to 45 minutes or less.
5. Choose Supplements Wisely
While you should strive to get most of your nutrients from food, some supplements can help. One review of 575 individuals revealed that supplementing with 75 mg of zinc daily reduced the duration of the common cold by 33%. Other supplements you can consider are vitamin C, which also can reduce the length of viruses, and vitamin D, which can decrease your chances of getting sick. Some herbalists also report significant benefits from elderberry and echinacea.
6. Avoid Unhealthy Substances
Alcohol wreaks havoc with your hormones and can suppress immune function. Plus, it damages your liver and other organs, and it can leave you at an increased risk of heart disease and cancer.
Other substances to avoid include:
- Nicotine: Smoking is the worst thing you could do for your immune system right now. Not only are cigarettes full of harmful chemicals, but they also destroy your lungs. Since many viruses impact these organs, you need them functioning at peak capacity.
- Refined flour: The refining process removes all the nutrients, leading to the consumption of empty calories. It also upsets the bacteria in your intestines. These beneficial germs work hand in hand with your immune system, and when they fall out of balance, they can trigger an inflammatory response.
- Added sugars: Added sugars add empty carbohydrates to your diet. If you consume too many foods with this ingredient, you increase your risk for Type 2 diabetes. This disorder can upset your immune system and make you more prone to infections.
7. Get Adequate Rest
When you sleep, it alters the balance of proteins called cytokines, which play a role in immunity and the body’s inflammatory response. Sleep deprivation raises the levels of several inflammatory cytokines, and these remain impacted up to two days after tossing and turning. Doctors know that these substances affect people with disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s, and they strongly suspect they influence overall immunity, as well.
Try to get between seven and eight hours of sleep each night. If you have extra time on your hands, go ahead and indulge in a healing nap, too.
Improve Your Immune System
Everyone needs a healthy, functioning immune system to have the best quality of life. Do your best to improve it with a few holistic health tips.