No one likes getting sick. Unfortunately, our bodies are continuously exposed to disease-causing organisms. These organisms can be swallowed, inhaled, and can even inhabit our skin and mucous membrane. Whether these organisms will cause disease depends on your body’s immune system. Vaccines can help prevent diseases, but you can’t get vaccines for all diseases. The best thing that you can do is to boost your immune system.
The body’s defense against infection
Your immune continuously defends your body against viruses, bacteria, and other micro-organisms that cause diseases. Apart from the immune system, your body has natural barriers. Some of the natural barriers of the human body include the skin, ear wax, mucus, tears, and stomach acid also help defend the body against disease-causing organisms.
Your body is continually under a high risk of infection. The immune system is always doing its best to fight the disease-causing organisms and lower your chances of getting sick. You can’t notice when your immune system is fighting these organisms, not unless your immune system is overactive or under-active.
Preventing diseases is always better than cure. It is easy and can help save your money. The immune system relies on antibodies and white blood cells to fight the disease-causing micro-organisms that get through the natural barriers. The best way to lower the risks of getting sick is by boosting your immune system. There are several ways of boosting the immune system, but nothing can do miracles overnight.
How to boost your immune system
Strengthening your immune system can help keep the doctor away. There are supplements that you can take to boosts your immune system, but there are also several science-backed ways that you can use to make sure that your immune system has all that it needs to function optimally. Here are some natural ways that you can use to strengthen your immune system:
1. Eat a healthy diet
One of the best ways to boost your immune is eating a well-balanced diet. Eating plenty of whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats can improve your immune systems. Malnourished people are more vulnerable to infectious diseases because they don’t get all the micronutrients their body needs. Eating foods rich in copper, iron, zinc, selenium, folic acid, and vitamin A, C, E, and B6 can help boost your immune system. Some of the foods you should consider adding to your diet to boost your immune system include tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, strawberries, salmon, tuna, chicken, almonds, and peanut butter. Eating probiotic-rich foods can also help boost your immune system.
2. Get enough sleep
Immunity and sleep are closely tied. The body heals and regenerates when you are asleep. When you sleep, the body produces and distributes immune cells like T cells, interleukin, and cytokines. If you fail to get enough sleep, your immune system doesn’t get enough time to produce and distribute immune cells. That means that your immune system won’t be able to defend your body against disease-causing microorganisms. According to a study published on Behavioral Sleep Medicine, young adults with sleeping disorders like insomnia are more susceptible to flu even after getting a shot.
People experiencing sleeping problems should limit their screen time. The blue light from computers, TVs, and smartphones disrupt the circadian rhythm. That affects your body’s sleep-wake system and can end up causing insomnia.
Getting enough sleep will strengthen your immune system. Sleeping for longer than your routine when you are sick can help your immune system better fight the illness. Children and infants should sleep for up to 14 hours, teens 8 to 10 hours, and adults should aim for more than 7 hours per day.
Hydration is important for a healthy immune system. Some of the functions of water in the body include moving oxygen to the body cells. It also helps get rid of toxins from the body. Removing toxins from the body and preventing their accumulation in the body can help boost your immune system.
4. Don’t smoke
Cigarette smoking does more harm to your body than good. There is no good reason for smoking. The more you smoke, the higher your risks of getting chronic conditions like cancer. Smokers are at risk of lung cancer. According to the CDC, approximately 90 percent of all lung cancers are caused by tobacco smoking.
Chemicals present in cigarette smoke like carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, nicotine, and cadmium interferes with the growth and the functioning of immune cells. Tobacco smoking can also worsen bacterial and viral infections like flu, tuberculosis, and pneumonia. Smoking can also worsen rheumatoid arthritis and post-surgical infections.
Quitting smoking can help boost the immune system. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. Non-smokers should also avoid secondhand smoke. If you are currently smoking, the sooner you quit, the better. Behavioral therapy, nicotine replacement products, and non-nicotine medications can help kickstart your journey to quitting tobacco smoking.
Exercise is not just for building muscles. It can help you destress and support a healthy immune system. One way moderate exercises help improve immune health is by boosting overall blood circulation. Just 30 minutes of moderate exercise is enough to stimulate your immune system.
6. Minimize stress
Stress can affect your immunity. Stress hormone suppresses the effectiveness of the immune system. Corticosteroid, which is a stress hormone, lowers the number of lymphocytes. These are types of white blood cells that fight invading bacteria and viruses. When your lymphocyte count is below the normal range, your immune system won’t be able to fight infections. You will become more susceptible to cold, flu, and any other infection. Some of the best ways for minimizing stress include:
- Regular exercise
- Spending free time with family and friends
- Taking a yoga class
- Listening to soothing music
- Spending time with pets
- Making time for hobbies
- Taking deep breaths
7. Limit alcohol intake
High alcohol intake can lower your body’s immune function. If you are taking too much alcohol, you are making your body focus on detoxification. That is like burdening your body.
High alcohol intake weakens the immune system and slows your recovery time. That means you are more susceptible to infections, and your body is likely to take longer to recover from diseases. That is why people who take high amounts of alcohol are at risk of pneumonia, alcoholic liver disease, acute respiratory distress syndrome, and certain cancers.
Practicing moderate drinking can help boost your immune. The best way to practice moderate drinking is by limiting your daily intake to one 4-ounce glass of wine if you are a woman. If you are a man, you should not drink more than two glasses in a day.