Your immune system protects your body against illness and disease, but it is not infallible. Sometimes bacteria or a virus can sneak through your defenses, making you sick. Luckily, there are some easy dietary and lifestyles changes you can make to boost your immune system.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Nutrients in foods such as vegetables, fruit, herbs and spices strengthen your immune system. Vitamins A, C, E, B6 and B12, as well as zinc, folate, selenium and iron are essential to helping your immune system fight off illness.
Certain foods also contain antioxidants, which fight free radicals in the body. If unchecked, free radicals can cause inflammation, which has been linked with serious conditions including heart disease and Alzheimer’s. Some spices, such as cumin, clove and oregano also have antimicrobial and antiviral properties, which can help defend your body against infections.
According to a nutrition expert from SupplementScouts, some vitamin deficiencies can have a very negative effect on the immune system. “Many of us don’t get the daily dose of the nutrients that our bodies need to ward off illness,” he said “This is where supplements can be helpful. For example, people taking more than 75 milligrams of zinc a day can reduce the duration of their cold by 33 percent. Meanwhile, garlic supplements can reduce the incidence of colds by approximately 30 percent.”
Get Sufficient Sleep
As sleep is the time that your body heals, poor or insufficient sleep can decrease your immunity and increase your likelihood of sickness. It is recommended that adults get at least six hours of sleep a night. In fact, according to one study, adults who slept less than six hours a night were more prone to getting colds than those who slept more than six hours. If you find getting to sleep difficult, try going to sleep at the same time each night and limiting your screen time before bed.
Even though there is some evidence that strenuous and prolonged physical activity can weaken the immune system, moderate exercise is a great way of keeping illness at bay. This is because exercise such as walking, jogging, cycling and swimming can speed up the regeneration and redistribution of immune cells throughout the body. It is recommended that most people exercise at least 150 minutes per week.
High levels of stress can negatively affect the functioning of immune cells in the body. Stress can also increase the levels of cortisol, which can stop your immune system from protecting you against bacteria and viruses. It is a good idea to put at least 10 or 15 minutes a day aside for lowering your stress levels. Some activities that you may wish to get involved in include yoga, tai chi, drawing or journaling.