You’re washing your hands many times a day and have stopped touching your face. What else can you do to improve your health and avoid harmful bacteria and viruses? Your immune system is your main line of defense against illness, so it only makes sense that you’d want to keep it in top shape.
How to boost your immune system to avoid sickness due to harmful viruses
We’re born with our immune system and everyone’s is slightly different. Our immune systems may have blind spots. This might mean that our immune response, to certain bacteria or viruses, differently. For example, there are some people who are not necessarily very protective of colds and flu. They easily get sick during a change of season or get easily infected by other carriers. A healthy lifestyle, however, will ensure your defenses are as good as they get.
Eating the right food, sleeping enough, and reducing stress can keep your immunity in top shape. If you’re looking for preventive ways, here are some immune system boosters that will help you achieve that protection to stay healthy:
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
Feeding your body certain food may help keep your immune system strong. Plan your meals to include these 15 immune system food boosters:
1) Citrus fruits. Vitamin C is thought to increase the production of white blood cells. These are key to fighting infections.
2) Shellfish. Some types of shellfish are packed with zinc. It doesn’t get as much attention as many other vitamins and minerals, but our bodies need it so that our immune cells can function as intended.
3) Red bell peppers. Ounce for ounce, red bell peppers contain twice as much vitamin C as citrus. They’re also a rich source of beta carotene. Beta carotene helps keep your eyes and skin healthy.
4) Sunflower seeds. They are full of nutrients, including phosphorous, magnesium, and vitamin B-6. Sunflower seeds also incredibly high in vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant.
5) Broccoli. Packed with vitamins A, C, and E, as well as many other antioxidants and fiber, broccoli is one of the healthiest vegetables you can put on your table.
6) Poultry. It helps improve symptoms of a cold and also helps protect you from getting sick in the first place. Poultry, such as chicken and turkey, is high in vitamin B-6.
7) Garlic. The immune-boosting properties of garlic seem to come from a heavy concentration of sulfur-containing compounds, such as allicin. It also helps lower blood pressure and slows down the hardening of the arteries.
8) Kiwi. kiwis are naturally full of a ton of essential nutrients, including folate, potassium, vitamin K, and vitamin C.
9) Ginger. Ginger may help decrease inflammation, which can help reduce a sore throat and other inflammatory illnesses. Ginger may also help decrease nausea. It packs some heat in the form of gingerol, a relative of capsaicin.
10) Papaya. You can find 224 percent of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C in a single papaya. Papayas also have a digestive enzyme called papain that has anti-inflammatory effects.
11) Spinach. It is packed with numerous antioxidants and beta carotene, which may increase the infection-fighting ability of our immune systems.
12) Green tea. It is a good source of the amino acid L-theanine. L-theanine may aid in the production of germ-fighting compounds. Green tea really excels is in its levels of epigallocatechin gallate, another powerful antioxidant.
13) Yogurt. It is a great source of vitamin D, so try to select brands fortified with vitamin D. Vitamin D helps regulate the immune system and is thought to boost our body’s natural defenses against diseases.
14) Turmeric. This bright yellow, bitter spice has also been used for years as an anti-inflammatory in treating both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
15) Almonds. Nuts, such as almonds, are packed with the vitamin and also have healthy fats. A half-cup serving, which is about 46 whole, shelled almonds, provides nearly 100 percent of the recommended daily amount of vitamin E.
Getting enough rest can improve your immune system, memory function, and concentration. Maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle is tough. We have to balance it with our daily lives and those daily lives can be hectic. That is why spending more time snoozing and prioritizing it is key.
If sleep problems are an issue, the World Association of Sleep Medicine suggests several tips that can help improve sleep quality:
1) Exclusively using your bed for sleeping
2) Refraining from consuming caffeine six hours before bedtime
3) Eating a light dinner
4) Limiting naps to 45 minutes
5) Creating a comfortable sleeping environment. (keeping the room dark and well-ventilated or using the right mattress)
Establishing a sleep-friendly environment is something that is very important in achieving quality rest.
Reduce your stress levels
Stress seems harmless enough once you get over whatever it is you’re anxious about. Research has found that stress causes a release of the hormone cortisol, which can boost inflammation, a precursor to many diseases, in your body. Chronic stress may also interfere with the infection-fighting ability of your white blood cells, making you more susceptible to contracting illnesses.
In a culture of constant over-scheduling, it seems like everyone is stressed. Think about it: When was the last time you told someone that you had so much going on or that you had just come up for air after a long day at the office? It’s nothing to brag about. Here are some helpful tips:
1) Exercise does just as much for your mind as it does for your muscles. Blend or alternate aerobics with strength training, stretching, flexibility, and agility exercises for an endorphin boost.
2) A short, 15-minute stroll is enough to lower levels of stress and fatigue. You can thank both a release of feel-good hormones, such as endorphins and exposure to nature for the benefits.
3) Watch a stand-up comedian you love on Netflix, send memes back and forth in your group text, or meet up with your funniest friend. Laughter is great medicine. It helps you relax your body, lowers cortisol (a stress-inducing hormone), and increases endorphins.
4) Do a mindfulness exercise. Start by focusing on slow, deep breaths then find five things you can see around you; four things you can touch or feel; three things you can hear; two things you can smell; and one thing you can taste.
5) Even mild dehydration can negatively impact cognitive processes and mood. Aim for at least eight 8-ounce glasses a day. It can potentially reduce the effects of environmental stressors on the body.
6) If you’re feeling incredibly stressed to the point that you’re not quite sure what to do, use cold water to activate your ‘dive reflex,’ by soaking your face around your cheekbones and above your mouth.
7) Smile. People who smile reported lower heart rates during a stressful task. It’s also a good exercise for your facial muscles.
Whether you take a walk, let your mind wander, or tweak your diet, you always find relaxation a good thing for your immune system.
A healthy immune system reduces your chance of viral infection. With these natural ways to boost the immune system, you can achieve a healthy immune system.