One of the most integral aspects of any one person’s own success is their ability to stay healthy. If you can’t stay healthy, you can’t pursue your passion or whatever it is you want to do in life. That’s why common sense best practices on doing your part to maintain your health act as an investment in your future.
The key to your health is through your immune system. Your immune system is your body’s internal safeguard against any potential threats to your health and wellbeing you might encounter. That’s why it’s important to keep building up immunity with healthy habits.
Below are six easy ways you can boost your immune system today.
You don’t need to be obsessed with going to the gym and working out to stay healthy. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, a small amount of moderate daily exercise can help work wonders for your immune system. While there’s no concrete evidence on the benefit of exercise to your immune system, there are some theories:
- Exercise can help clear harmful bacteria from your lungs, which decreases your chance of getting ill.
- It may also help your antibodies and white blood cells move throughout your body more quickly, helping them move to fight illnesses faster.
- Your body’s temperature goes up prior to and following a workout. Much like a fever, this rise in temperature may help stave off bacteria.
- Working out also helps combat stress hormones and their release throughout your body.
Take a little each time every day to sweat. Pick an activity you find fun so you can easily do it every day. Your body and your immune system will thank you for it.
Optimize your diet
Generally speaking, having a well-balanced, nutritious diet will help keep your body functioning better and healthy. This means limiting or steering clear of fried foods or processed foods or sugary drinks like soda. It also means watching your intake of refined carbohydrates. Sticking to fruits, vegetables, proteins, and whole wheat options for bread and pasta will leave you in overall better health.
There are also a number of foods that can specifically help build up your immune system. WebMD compiled a list of them, and a few of them are:
- Acai berries
- Low-fat yogurt
- Sweet potatoes
Most of these are simple to find at your local grocery store. Incorporating them into your diet can aid in building up immunity, protecting you from getting sick.
Watch your weight
Research has shown that losing as few as 10 pounds can help adjust your body’s immune system if you’re overweight. Too much body fat can become problematic when it comes to the balance of our cells within our bodies. One study looked at obese individuals with diabetes who limited their diet to under 1,600 daily calories for nearly half a year. In the end, the participants had an 80% decrease in their pro-inflammatory immune cells.
So what’s the verdict? Losing weight can help fight inflammation, which in turn strengthens the immune system. Of course, the best and most responsible way to lose weight is through maintaining a proper diet and regular exercise, so many of the items on this list intersect with each other.
Get plenty of sunlight
Being exposed to too much sunlight can have dangerous, carcinogenic effects. But that doesn’t mean we don’t need it, and it’s actually necessary in small doses to help bolster our levels of Vitamin D. This helps keep our immune systems functioning effectively. A study from the National Institute of Health found that exposure to sunlight in low doses can be beneficial to our overall health.
That doesn’t mean you should stay out at the beach for hours on end. But one recommendation is to get 10-15 minutes of unprotected exposure to your arms, legs, abdomen and back before applying sunscreen when you are the beach. You can also take short daily walks in the afternoon when the sun is out. This will help keep you in the sunlight, giving you even more Vitamin D.
Develop good sleep habits
Sometimes, it can feel as though we need to make sacrifices to get ahead at work. One of the last things you want to sacrifice is sleeping, however. The Mayo Clinic reports that your body needs plenty of sleep to help stave off infectious diseases, so be sure to get 7-8 hours per night. Here’s what they have to say specifically about the scientific effects of sleep on building immunities:
“During sleep, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines, some of which help promote sleep. Certain cytokines need to increase when you have an infection or inflammation, or when you’re under stress. Sleep deprivation may decrease production of these protective cytokines. In addition, infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during periods when you don’t get enough sleep.”
How do you regulate your sleep and get the best sleep possible? Try going to bed and getting up at the same time every day to get your body used to it. Avoid exposure to screens (phones, TVs, tablets, etc.) for a few hours before bedtime, and try not to eat too late at night. Like with any habit, getting your sleep patterns right can involve practice and experimentation. Find out what works best for you. Some people like white noise in the background, while others like varying temperatures in their room. Whatever your optimal sleep conditions are, do your best to make sure you have them.
Wash your hands
Washing your hands vigorously and often is another key component of maintaining a strong immune system. Your hands come into contact with hundreds of surfaces and items per day. Because of this, they can act as powerful vectors for invisible bacteria. Your hands can then come into contact with your mouth, eyes, nose, or other body parts, transferring potential diseases. These diseases can constantly test your immune system, so think of handwashing as a preemptive measure to give it a fighting chance in its war on getting sick. That’s why it’s important not just to wash your hands a lot as you go about your day, but to wash them well. The CDC offers clear and concise guidelines on how to properly wash your hands.