Allergies, viruses, and sickness can all impact our immune systems. Keep your body fighting with these tips and tricks.
You have been told your whole life to “eat your fruits and vegetables.” When you were younger, you ate all of the broccoli and apples that your parents fed you in hopes of getting a dessert. But even more important than getting an ice cream cone at the end of the night, eating right can help promote a strong immune system.
Plant-based foods that get their nutrients from sunlight are important to incorporate into your everyday diet. Foods like vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fruits are all packed with powerhouse vitamins and nutrients that can help boost your immune system.
The majority of plant-based foods are rich in vitamins such as vitamin C and also contain other health benefits like antioxidants and fiber. Consuming foods that are rich in antioxidants have benefits that are beyond merely being healthy: antioxidants decrease inflammation in the body by fighting free radicals. Free radicals enter the body in a variety of different ways. Some of the most common ways are through smoking cigarettes, ingestion of pesticides, and your external environment (such as the ozone layer and pollutants).
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “...there are several enzymes within the body that scavenge free radicals, the principle vitamins are vitamin E, vitamin C, and B-carotene. The body cannot manufacture these micronutrients, so they must be supplied in the diet.”
The good news is that all of these immune-boosting and free radicals-fighting nutrients can be found in many fruits and vegetables:
- Sunflower Seeds
Exercise, when overdone, can actually harm the immune system by creating an influx in inflammation. However, engaging in moderate exercise daily can boost the immune system by reducing inflammation and helping regrow immune cells that are imperative to the immune system.
Fitness activities including running, walking, yoga, and even weight lifting are all physical activities that get the blood moving in your body and your heart pumping. Engaging in regular exercise helps to build cardiovascular health, lower blood pressure, and fight disease. When exercise is done regularly in conjunction with eating a healthy diet, you are giving your body a better chance at fighting viruses and staying healthy.
The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that most adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of intense exercise per week. However, a combination of both moderate and vigorous exercise is ideal.
Any exercise that gets your heart rate up and builds muscle is ideal for boosting your immune system. After all, your immune system is made up of white blood cells, and regular exercise will ensure these cells are circulating and defending your body.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleeping does more for your bodies than you may think. Along with feeling refreshed in the morning, sleeping has a variety of other benefits.
- Muscle Repair
- Heart Health
While the above benefits are reasons in themselves to get a few more hours of shuteye each night, getting enough sleep also keeps the immune system strong. When you sleep, your body releases proteins. These proteins referred to as cytokines, allow your body to rest. When you are battling an infection, disease, or inflammation, your bodies require more cytokines. When your body doesn’t get enough sleep at night (the Mayo Clinic recommends at least 7 hours), it prevents and decreases the production of cytokines.
During stressful times of life and especially when you’re fighting sickness, getting a little extra sleep can help boost your immunity and your body will work to produce more disease-fighting cytokines. If you struggle to relax at the end of the day and wind down, try improving your nighttime wellness routine.
According to the American Sleep Association, researchers found that your body’s endocannabinoid system plays a role in your sleep and the regulation of your circadian rhythm. Scientists discovered that CBD interacts with the CB1 and CB2 receptors in our brain which can positively affect our sleeping cycles.
Including CBD in your bedtime routine has the potential to help you sleep better which can lead to an increase of cytokines.
Did you know that 60% of the adult human body is made from water? It would only make sense that staying hydrated would lead to a healthier self. Drinking enough water is imperative in keeping you healthy and your immunity high.
As much as you may enjoy drinking tea, coffee, or soda, these beverages don’t hydrate your body as water does. Staying hydrated with high-quality, pure water allows the body to flush out toxins and other bacterias that can cause you to feel sick.
When your body is dehydrated, it prevents your lymphatic system from performing at its highest level. The lymphatic system is directly connected to your body’s immune system, as it is responsible for moving white blood cells that fight infections throughout your body. When the lymphatic system is down, it can cause negative repercussions to your immunity.
The Mayo Clinic states that adult men should drink around 15 cups of water a day and women should consume about 11 cups of water a day. A good rule of thumb is to drink when you feel thirsty and stop drinking when you’re no longer, keeping in mind that your body needs a minimum of 8 cups of water a day to function properly.
Take Care of Your Body Year-Round
Your immune system is so important during all months of the year, especially when there is more likely to be viruses spreading. Consuming antioxidant-rich foods, exercising regularly, sleeping at least 7 hours a day, and staying hydrated are all key factors to keeping your immune system healthy.