7 Ways to Boost Your Immune System
Boosting your immune system and reducing the risk of disease is easier said than done, but there are a few lifestyle changes you can make to help strengthen your body’s natural defences.
The immune system plays a vital role in protecting your body from harmful pathogens – viruses and bacteria which cause diseases. When these pathogens pass through your defences, you become ill, and many of the symptoms you experience are caused by the cells of your immune system reacting to the invading microbes.
Following the strategies below can help to boost your immune system and make a significant difference to your overall health.
Move your body
However you prefer to do it, build some exercise into your daily routine. Walk to work, join a gym, swim with your kids or dance to your favourite music for 20-30 minutes a day. A healthy body leads to a healthy immune system. Scientists believe that a strong circulatory system can help to support your body’s immune response. Keeping fit can help you maintain normal blood pressure and good cardiovascular health. This minimises the stresses on your body, which in turn reduces the likelihood of getting ill.
Eat nutritious foods
Along with getting enough sleep, this is probably the most important tip on this list. Eating more healthily is the most powerful way to be more healthy.
Your body is constantly creating new cells that are part of the immune process. Providing those mechanisms with the right building blocks is one of the most effective ways to boost your immune system.
Aim for a plant-based diet, ensuring you get a minimum of five portions of fruits and vegetables every day – 7 to 10 is even better. If you struggle with this, consider juicing, soups or even cooking with ‘hidden’ veggies to increase your intake.
Stress is hard on every part of your body, including your immune system. You’ve probably noticed that you’re more likely to get ill when you’re chronically stressed or going through difficult periods in your life. Minimise the amount of stress you’re exposed to and find healthy ways of dealing with stress when it can’t be avoided.
Get plenty of Vitamin C
The biochemistry of this essential vitamin is complicated, but among other functions, vitamin C improves the structure of the skin to keep out pathogens. It also accumulates in immune cells and regenerates their oxidative ability, which is one of the mechanisms used to kill pathogenic cells.
Get enough sleep
Not getting enough sleep is a significant stressor on the body. The science is quite clear that 7-9 hours of sleep is optimal for the vast majority of adults. If you don’t have time for at least seven hours of good quality sleep each night, it might be time to make some broader changes in your life.
As we age, our stem cells tend to become dormant. Stem cells produce cells, and those which support your immune cells can be woken from dormancy by fasting. Fasting stimulates the body to remove older, damaged cells and the stem cells to produce new cells, including those related to the immune system.
Some studies suggest that three days without food is enough to trigger this effect, and it’s also worth considering intermittent fasting.
It sounds obvious, but smoking has multiple negative effects on your immunity as well as your overall health. The nicotine contained in cigarettes suppresses both your immune system and the inflammatory response, an important part of your body’s defence mechanisms. Smoking also reduces the amount of vitamin C your body takes from food, and can cause serious vit-C deficiency.
You might not think about your immune system very often, but it’s working hard for you all the time. You’re exposed to roughly 60,000 types of germs every day; that’s types of germ, not the total amount of germs. Even in a clean setting, your body is exposed to millions of pathogens a day.
Taking care of your immune system can do wonders for your body and ultimately optimise your chances for a long and healthy life.