During a pandemic, having a healthy immune system is now more important than ever to protect ourselves from getting sick. Your immune system creates a barrier that blocks harmful invaders from entering and attacking the body.
What’s the purpose of the immune system?
It fights disease-causing germs.
It spots and neutralizes harmful elements from the environment.
It fights changes in the body that can cause diseases like cancer.
You can help your body fight off illness by boosting your immunity. Boosting your immunity doesn’t mean making your immune system work overtime. Rather, you’re strengthening it to make it more balanced and enable it to respond according to what’s best for your body. There are natural ways to do this that involve dietary and lifestyle changes.
Natural Ways to Strengthen Your Body’s Natural Defenses
1. Do regular moderate exercise.
Too much of a good thing is bad, and this also applies to exercise. Too much exercise can weaken your immune system. To get the benefits of exercise, do moderate exercise on most days of the week or aim for at least 150 minutes of exercise per week. Some examples of moderate exercise are biking, easy jogging, dancing, tennis, and gardening.
2. Increase your fruit and vegetable intake.
A diet high in fruits and vegetables provides you with all the nutrients you need to keep your immune system strong. Studies show that micronutrient deficiencies can change immune system responses in animals, but more research is needed.
Foods that are considered natural immune system boosters include citrus fruits, red bell peppers, broccoli, garlic, spinach, ginger, green tea, almonds, yogurt, papaya, poultry, turmeric, and fermented foods like sauerkraut or kefir.
3. Get enough sleep.
Getting enough quality sleep is essential for keeping your immune system strong. This is also why you need to sleep more when you’re sick to help the body recover faster. One study shows that adults who sleep less than 6 hours a day are more likely to get infected with the common cold.
Adults need to sleep at least 7 to 9 hours each day. To fall asleep faster, avoid screen time 1 to 2 hours before bedtime and create a relaxing bedtime routine.
4. Minimize stress.
Long-term stress suppresses the immune system. Aim for work-life balance and practice stress management techniques like deep breathing exercises, meditation, journaling, walking in nature, and doing what you love. Give yourself time to relax and unplug each day.
5. Increase hydration.
While hydration doesn’t directly boost your immune system, it protects you from dehydration, which increases your risk of getting sick. Drink 6 to 8 glasses or 2 liters of water per day. A helpful tip is to drink 2 cups of water per hour.
There are other ways to help your immune system function better. Live healthy by:
Avoiding smoking and too much alcohol
Maintaining a healthy weight
Washing hands frequently
Limiting salt and sugar in your diet