Lately, you’ve probably heard a lot of talk about your immune system, and how important it is to boost it to help you stay healthy.
The truth is, there’s no single food or supplement that can enhance your immune system. And, unfortunately, you can’t boost your immune system against COVID-19 or a particular disease. But you can eat well and live a healthy lifestyle to lessen your chances of getting sick. You could also end up leaner, stronger, happier, and healthier…so what are you waiting for?
1. Start with a Healthy Diet
Your body needs vitamins to function properly, and the best way to get your vitamins is by eating a wide variety of healthy foods. Here are a few of the vitamins and nutrients that can protect you, and where to find them.
Vitamin C is the one you usually think of when you start sniffling or worry that a cold is coming. Even though there is no evidence that the vitamin will prevent you from catching a cold, those who regularly get enough Vitamin C may not get sick for as long or have as severe of a cold. Get your C from delicious sources, such as:
- Bell peppers
Zinc is another nutrient thought to fight the common cold and protect you from the flu. Zinc is needed for immune cell development; if you don’t get enough, you could be at higher risk for pneumonia and other respiratory infections. Some studies have shown that taking zinc at the beginning of an illness may help you get over it faster. You can get a healthy amount of zinc in:
- Normal servings of lean beef, seafood, low-fat dairy, eggs, and chicken
- Vegetarian/vegan sources such as nuts, seeds, tofu, beans, and lentils
Vitamin D is essential for helping your body fight off disease and infection. If you’re deficient (and many of us are), this could increase your risk of upper respiratory tract infections, including flu and allergic asthma. Because Vitamin D fights inflammation, it may help those who suffer arthritis or autoimmune diseases like lupus, psoriasis, or irritable bowel disease. Get your Vitamin D in:
- Fatty fishes like salmon, sardines, and anchovies (eaten in moderation)
- Eggs, especially the yolk (eat no more than one a day)
- Fortified staples such as milk, cereal, orange juice, and bread
- Sunshine! No, you don’t eat it, but spending a few minutes in the noon-time sun, a few times a week, can help your body produce Vitamin D. Make sure to wear SPF and protect your eyes.
Spices have been used as medicine and complementary care for centuries, and many have been put to the test by modern science. These are a few of the delicious spices that, when used in moderate amounts, can help protect your cells from damage.
- Cayenne pepper
2. Get Moving
Regular exercise, especially cardio, boosts the cells in your immune system and reduces inflammation, so your body can use its defenses to fight infection. Other great benefits of exercise include lowering your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, and helping keep your brain sharp and lessens the risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease.
3. Sleep Well
Not getting enough sleep can make you sick, and sleep deprivation is also linked to weight gain, high blood pressure, and depression. Sleep is your body’s time to repair itself, and that includes producing T-cells that help fight off infections. To help your body and your mind perform their best, aim for 7 or 8 hours of solid, uninterrupted sleep.
4. Don’t Worry
Stress is bad for both your body and your mind. Too much stress, for too long, suppresses our immunity and floods our body with cortisol, which can attack our white blood cells and leave us less able to fight off a host of diseases, including cancer. Regular self-care, including exercise, can help you better cope with stress.
5. Be Happy
We know that stress and loneliness can make us sicker. Even though the evidence that happiness strengthens our immunity isn’t rock-solid, being happy is linked to healthy habits, like eating more fruits and increased physical activity. Happiness is also linked to lower risk of heart disease, and it has a positive impact on our perception of pain.
6. Get Your Vaccines
We saved the best for last: getting routine vaccinations is the safest and most effective way to protect against many serious diseases, including the flu, cervical cancer, and more. Even though many vaccines have existed for decades, they are constantly tested for safety and effectiveness, and adjusted so they are of the most benefit to the most people. Vaccines aren’t just for kids! Contact us to learn about age-appropriate vaccines.
Here for You
Most of these immunity boosters are appropriate for all ages and types of people, but if you’d like to get help with a specific issue, contact your doctor. We’re here to help you grow healthy, no matter your needs.