The immune system is the body’s defense against infectious organisms and other invaders. Luckily, immune system defenses can be developed and improved with the right lifestyle habits.
So, what can I do to boost my immune system?
- Get enough sleep and manage stress. Sleep deprivation and stress overload increase the hormone cortisol, prolonged elevation of which suppresses immune function. Do your body a favor and get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep a night.
- Avoid tobacco smoke. It undermines basic immune defenses and raises the risk of bronchitis and pneumonia in everyone, and middle ear infections in kids.
- Drink less alcohol. Excessive consumption impairs the immune system.
- Eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds, which will provide your body with the nutrients your immune system needs.
- Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight. Since exercise contributes to general good health, it can also promote a healthy immune system. Improving overall cardiovascular health and circulation is thought to help cells of the immune system move freely through the body and conduct their business more efficiently.
- Get exposed to sunlight: Vitamin D is an immune system charger; just make sure not to overdo it. You only need between 15 to 20 minutes a day to get the D-dosage you need.
What about diet? Are there power foods that boost immunity?
Yoghurt: Probiotics found in yoghurt are healthy bacteria that keep the gut and intestinal tract free of disease-causing germs.
Garlic: Garlic contains the active ingredient allicin, which fights infection and bacteria. Two raw cloves a day is your optimal dose.
Citrus fruits: Vitamin C is thought to increase the production of white blood cells, which are the key cells for fighting infection.
Red Bell Peppers: If you think citrus fruits have the most vitamin C, think again. Red bell peppers contain twice as much vitamin C as citrus.
Turmeric: This bright yellow, bitter spice has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant due to its curcumin content.
Green Tea: Both green and black teas are packed with flavonoids, a type of antioxidant. Where green tea excels in its levels of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) another powerful antioxidant that has been shown to enhance immune function.
Ginger: Ginger is rich in gingerol, a bioactive substance thought to help lower the risk of infections. In fact, ginger has antimicrobial properties that may inhibit the growth of several types of bacteria.
Almonds: Almonds contain lots of healthy fats, fiber, protein, magnesium and vitamin E. The health benefits of almonds include lower blood sugar levels, reduced blood pressure and lower cholesterol levels.
Sweet Potatoes: They are not only delicious; they’re also rich in vitamin A. Not consuming enough foods rich in vitamin A can lead to a deficiency, which studies link to a weaker immune system and a higher sensitivity to infections.
Coconut Oil: Coconut oil contains a category of fats with antimicrobial properties. Researchers report that coconut fats may help fight off the types of bacteria that cause stomach ulcers, sinusitis, dental cavities, food poisoning and urinary tract infections. You can easily add coconut oil to your diet by using it instead of butter or vegetable oil in cooking.
Adopting an overall healthy life-style through exercise, a healthy diet, minimizing stress, and sleeping well, will all contribute to a healthier immune system. In the end, remember to laugh a little, or a lot! Laughing and an overall happy, positive attitude give your immunity an easy lift.