5 Immune Boosting Tips
Your immune system does a wonderful job of protecting you. Like most systems, it requires routine maintenance and upkeep. Although this may sound daunting, you can strengthen your immune system with just a few simple tips and keep yourself healthy throughout the year.
- Adopt a Healthy Diet
A balanced diet with a rainbow of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables is key to improving your immune system. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults should eat between 1.5 to 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 to 3 cups of vegetables daily.1
While all vitamins are important to your overall health, some foods contain powerful antioxidants and vitamins A, C and E that specifically support immune health. Some examples of these foods include berries, oranges, leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds, and eggs.
- Develop Healthy Sleeping Habits
According to the National Sleep Foundation, most adults require 7-9 hours per night of sleep for health and well-being.2 Sleeping allows you to build your innate and adaptive immunities, which control your body’s general and specific responses to fighting off bacteria and viruses.
Chronic sleep deprivation may decrease your body’s production of protective white blood cells, increase inflammation in the body, and limit your body’s ability to achieve homeostasis (a healthy internal equilibrium).3
- Start a Regular Exercise Routine
Regular exercise not only helps you achieve physical goals, it can help protect your immune system. Research suggests that regular exercise over time may help improve the circulation of white blood cells throughout the body and may help reduce the aging of the immune system in older adults and immunocompromised individuals.4
Adults should aim for 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, 75-150 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise, or a combination of both types of exercise weekly to achieve the potential health benefits.5
- Add Key Supplements
Sambucus nigra, a type of elderberry, may be a natural remedy to fight upper respiratory infections and influenza. A 2016 study published in Nutrients assessed the effectiveness of elderberry extract on the common cold in overseas air travelers. In this randomized trial, 312 individuals took a placebo or elderberry extract (600-900mg extract) 10 days before travel, while travelling, and up to 4 days after arrival to their destination. Those who received elderberry had decrease in the severity and duration of cold symptoms compared to a placebo.6 Elderberry supplements are available in many forms including syrups, lozenges, teas, and gummies.
Zinc and Vitamin C are also key supplements that help your immune system. Zinc activates the body’s T cells, which help control and regulate immune response as well as attack infected cells. While Vitamin C, according to the National Institute of Health, supports various cellular functions which contribute to the body’s immune defense. Also, a deficiency in Vitamin C can result in impaired immunity and a higher risk of infections.
- Manage Your Stress
Psychological stress may impact the effectiveness of your immune system. When you feel stressed out, your body produces hormones like cortisol and other pro-inflammatory molecules to prepare your body against threats that your body perceives. If exposed to prolonged periods of stress over time, over-activation of the “fight or flight” response may wear down the strength of the immune system and increase likelihood for illness.7 To help your stress management, try an activity that you feel is calming or speak with someone you trust about your feelings.
With a few simple lifestyle changes you can strengthen your immune system so that you can keep feeling your best.
- 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans
- Sleep Health. 2015;1(1):40-43
- Neuropsychopharmacology. 2017;42(1): 129-155
- Front Immunol. 2018;9: 2187
- Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans 2nd Edition
- Nutrients. 2016;8(4):182
- Curr Opin Psychol. 2015;5:13-17
- Tags: Wellness
- Blog Contributor