A strong immune system can ward off many illnesses. You need to take care of your health, and your immune system is your body’s defense mechanism against life-threatening conditions. If your immune system is rendered weak, your health will deteriorate leaving your life in turmoil. Although bolstering your immune system is difficult to be done at home, there are certain things you can do to strengthen your body’s defense against the onslaught of deadly diseases. This typically includes improving your diet and incorporating healthier foods in it. Here is a list of lifestyle changes that you need to make in order to boost your immune system.
Improve Your Diet
Feeding yourself a balanced diet full of meals with high nutritional value can do wonders for your immune system. Food is the key that will unlock your body’s hidden strength. A rule of the thumb about foods is that natural, unprocessed, and fibrous foods are perfect for your health, and immune system in particular. There are a variety of foods that we call “immunity boosters”. These foods, as the name suggests, will improve natural immunity and ensure that your body does not succumb to life threatening diseases. These foods can be divided into several classes.
Whole Plant Foods To Boost Your Immune System
Whole plant foods such as fruits and vegetables are rich in several nutrients necessary to sustain your immunity. These foods contain vitamins that boost immune function and anti-oxidants that are beneficial for your health and body. These foods are also rich in fibers (nutrients that help in digestion and enhance the natural flora of body). These plants include a wide range of foods, a few of which are mentioned here.
Vitamin C Rich Foods to Boost Your Immune System
Vitamin C is the most cited nutrient when it comes to boosting immunity. Vitamin C improves the production of white blood cells, which are the key to fighting harmful intruders in your body. Vitamin C rich foods include oranges, grapefruits, clementine and others.
Our body does not retain Vitamin C, since it is a water-soluble vitamin and is removed from our body via water. Therefore, it is important to regularly take vitamin C rich foods to make up for the loss. One common mistake that people make while choosing Vitamin C rich fruits is that they go for processed food items such as orange juice or fruit shake. This is not the ideal practice; you are much better off eating natural fruits such as cantaloupe and kiwis to better your immune strength.
Broccoli, despite its taste, is packed with wonderful nutrients. A single cup of broccoli will provide you with the same amount of Vitamin C as a whole orange. It supplies a number of other vitamins as well, such as Vitamin B, B1, B3, and B6, among others. It is also a potent source of beta carotene, an organic compound later converted into Vitamin A, that is necessary for the proper functioning of our body. It has a high amount of fiber that will facilitate your digestion when taken once in a while.
Ginger is one of the most well-known sources of anti-oxidants. Anti-oxidants reduce the inflammation in your body and keep immune system healthy. Ginger is known to alleviate chronic pain along with helping with high cholesterol levels. Furthermore, it is the ultimate antispasmodic substance and has high anti-inflammatory properties.
Spinach is one of the most nutritionally rich foods that can be extremely beneficial for you and your immune system. It is rich in vitamin C, antioxidants, and beta carotene – all of which are necessary for a healthy immune system. The key to retaining spinach’s nutrients is to cook it as little as possible. To do this, take a boiling pot of water, dip the spinach into it. after a minute or so, take out the vegetable and plunge it into a bowl of cold water. This method is proven to be the best for retaining spinach’s nutrients.
Foods containing Healthy Fats To Boost Your Immune System
Fats constitute an essential part of your diet. Despite being notorious for weight gain, there are certain fats that are necessary for our body, without which our immune system won’t work properly. Fats reduce chronic inflammation, one of the major causes of weak immunity. If you are planning on increasing the fat contents in your diet, we suggest you take the following meals.
Seafood such as salmon and trout fish are an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids. These are beneficial fats that will keep your heart healthy and keep your brain sharp and alert. The majority of health associations across the world recommend incorporating two fish meals in your diet every week. The several beneficial fats in your body will modify the function of your immune system and maintain a metabolic balance in your body.
Avocado has numerous benefits – from being a rich source of Vitamin E to packing a variety of antioxidants, avocado will do wonders for your health. This fruit is good for your gut bacteria and also has the ‘good’ type of fat. Most of the calories and nutrients in an avocado come from fats, but it is one of the few types of fat that are necessary for your immune system. In total, they offer nearly 20 different nutrients!
Nuts and seeds are another class of food that is helpful in boosting your immune system. They help regulate blood pressure, reduce chronic inflammation, and will help your immune system in fighting off harmful bacteria. Almonds are known to be a valuable source of proteins and will reduce the risk of inflammation in your body. Nuts are also a great source of protein, iron, and fibers.
Like the majority of foods on this list, olive oil has high anti-oxidizing properties and will reduce inflammation. A tablespoon or two once a day will be enough to naturally boost immune system and keep it working at an optimum pace.
Do Regular Exercise to Boost Your Immune System
Regular exercise is the pillar that keeps a body working properly. Doctors, scientists, and immunologists have all agreed upon the multifarious benefits of exercise that are directly involved in keeping your immune system strong. Exercise keeps your heart strong and it keeps your bones strong and healthy. Physical activities such as running, jogging, or swimming will help flush unwanted microbes out of your lungs and airways. This will reduce your chances of getting seasonal colds and flu; diseases that take a toll on a weakened immune system.
When you exercise, your whole body comes in action. Your muscles start working faster, your heart beats more quickly, and your temperature briefly rises. The brief rise in temperature will reduce the chances of bacterial proliferation, something which also happens during fever.
Exercise inhibits the release of stress hormones. You will feel much better if you do regular exercise and keep your body in a good shape. Playing sports regularly, or taking 20-30 minutes of brisk walks thrice a week will be enough to keep your body working properly. Be wary of doing prolonged, strenuous exercise; it can have the opposite effect on your body – your immune system will be left vulnerable to several diseases if you stretch your body beyond what it can bear.
A simple yet neglected factor that can benefit your health is hydration. Hydration won’t necessarily protect you from diseases and germs, but dehydration will leave you vulnerable to several life-threatening conditions.
Dehydration can keep your immune system under stress and will negatively affect your body’s ability to fight infections. Staying hydrated will help your body’s natural detoxification system and will allow your lymphatic system to drain properly. The lymphatic system is an important part of your body’s immune system, and helps the body in developing both active and passive immunity. Proper hydration can also keep your skin and mucous membrane resilient against the attack of germs.
Your natural immune system is highly reliant on your body’s ability to detect incoming infections and nipping them in the bud. By helping the lymphatic system, maintaining homeostasis, and keeping your blood volume in an optimum range, hydration helps your body’s infection controlling mechanisms. Our immune system relies on our circulation system to convey different messages to different parts of body; which would not be possible if the body is not adequately hydrated.
Get Enough Sleep
Time and again, scientific researches have shown that sleep is closely related to the functioning of an immune system. Inadequate or poor-quality sleep fosters several kinds of sicknesses. Your body needs rest and a timeout to deal with its problems. Getting a good 6-7 hours of sleep every night allows your body to boost your immune function. If you’ve ever been sick, you might remember your doctor telling you to rest and sleep plenty. There is sufficient scientific research to back his advice; your body’s natural immune system fights better when you are resting.
Although your body does not appear to be working while you are sleeping, but medically speaking, this is not correct. There are many active processes going on while you sleep. The majority of your cells are created when you are sleeping. These include White Blood Cells as well; the cells which fight on the frontline against diseases. People who do not get enough sleep are more prone to several diseases and sickness. To give your immune system the best shot at fighting diseases, it is important to get timely sleep daily.
The amount of sleep you need depends on your age. If you are 50+, try to get a good 7-8 hours of sleep every night to avoid getting ill.
Minimize Stress and Tension
Stress and anxiety are never good signs for your health. Long term stress compromises your health and immune function. Several researches have shown that a prolonged exposure to stressful conditions can hinder the immune function of your body. When you are stressed, your body cannot actively fight against infectious antigens. The stress hormone corticosteroid can trigger a reduction in the ability of your body to fight against infectious diseases.
Scientists now agree that an ill mind can hamper the well-being of your body. Those who are experiencing some sort of mental illness often show signs of distress in their bodies. Those who are old or sick, suffer worse effects when stress and anxiety hinder their immune functioning.
If you are stressed, and you feel as if your body is being affected by your mental health, then it is important to take counter-measures. Sleep and moderate exercise are known relievers of stress. Exercise releases endorphins, which are the body’s natural stress relievers and mood stabilizers. Deep breathing exercises and meditation are helpful in maintaining sound mental health as well. Taking a time out and spending some quality time with your family is also a proven method of stress relieving.
Avoid Smoking to Boost Your Immune System
Smoking cigarettes can spell disaster for your immune strength. Smoking compromises the balance of your immune system. Known to harbor more than 70 carcinogenic (cancer causing) chemicals, nicotine is one of the most dangerous consumables. It is no wonder that these hazardous chemicals will prove to be a poison for your immune system. Nicotine suppresses your immune response by decreasing the anti-body cells formation and affecting the secretion of cytokines (proteins that allow communication between different cells of immune system). Furthermore, smoking leads to prominent changes in the functioning of your immune system that are extremely dangerous for your health.
Reduce Alcohol Consumption
Excessive drinking is another factor that can suppress your immune system. It is important to reduce the amount of alcohol you consume if you want to optimize the functioning of your immune system. Drinking impairs immunity providing cells in several key parts of your body. A heavy drinker is much more likely to be brought down by life-threatening diseases as compared to a non-drinker. Alcohol disrupts the function of the immune system in your upper airways, and weakens the resistance of the body against multiple diseases.
Naturally Boost Your Immune System To Live Healthy!
As a whole, if you want to boost your immune system, there are many things that will help you in doing so. A good diet and adequate sleep coupled with regular exercise should do the trick.
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This article is for information purposes only. Please consult a physician before any lifestyle changes.