Your body is an incredible machine that heals itself from injuries and fights off various illnesses. But did you know there are ways to help improve your immune system? While it’s not a cure for every illness, it’s a way to help your body become stronger.
*As a disclaimer, these methods are not meant to prevent nor cure COVID-19. For more information about COVID-19, please visit the CDC’s website.
Here are a few ways to help build your immunity to help you fight off your next cold.
Get Proper Sleep
Have you ever gone on a vacation and immediately gotten sick when you returned home? This happens a lot to people who don’t give themselves a proper day or two of rest before jumping back into their usual daily grind of work, errands, and other responsibilities.
Sleep is very intertwined with your immune system. The goal is to try and get at least seven to eight hours of sleep. Sleeping fewer than six hours a night dramatically increases your risk of getting a cold.
Here’s how it works. While you sleep, your immune system releases a type of protein called cytokines. These are what help you to fight off infections, inflammation, and stress levels. If you don’t sleep, your body doesn’t produce cytokines. No cytokine production means you are more susceptible to getting sick.
Change Up Your Diet
There are three main groups you will want to consider adding to your regular diet. Antioxidants, healthy fats, and fermented foods all promote a healthy and thriving immune system.
Antioxidants are found in many whole plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. These help to reduce inflammation which can cause several long-term diseases linked back to your heart.
The other great part about these foods is that they are filled with fiber, which is essential for your gut microbiome (a crucial part in building your immunity to illnesses and infections). They are also high in vitamin C, which can shorten the duration of a cold if you do get one.
Healthy fats are what you’ll find in seafood such as salmon or in certain oils like olive oil. They are high in omega-3 fatty acids that are also anti-inflammatory, which means it helps your body fight off pathogens that make you sick.
Lastly, fermented foods are super helpful because they are a high source of probiotics – the good bacteria your body needs to improve your digestive system. A healthy digestive system means your immune system will have an easier time distinguishing good, healthy cells from bad, unwanted organisms to let them know what they need to be fighting off in the first place. Some of these foods include yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi.
Immunity Supplements and Herbs
If you are having a hard time adding or removing certain foods from your diet, you can also look into using various types of herbs and supplements. This can help by providing your body with the necessary vitamins and minerals throughout the day you may not be getting.
Using immunity supplements can also help enhance your overall immune system by giving it the proper detox or reboot that it needs. Supplements that include elderberry or high doses of vitamins C, A, D, E, and K1/K12 are incredibly beneficial to strengthening your body’s natural defense against illnesses and infections.
Boost Your Exercise Routine
There is a difference between exercising every day until your body is completely burnt out and adding moderate exercise into your daily life. Physical activity is actually very good for your cardiovascular health, lowers your blood pressure, and can help you fight off various diseases.
It can also help to reduce inflammation and helps to regenerate your immune cells regularly. All of these things are incredibly important to a healthy life, in turn creating a healthy immune system.
Strenuous exercise can actually inhibit your body’s immune system from doing its job, ultimately making it shut down. Try to find a healthy balance throughout the week by getting moderate exercise at least 30 minutes a day.
Try to Reduce Your Stress Levels
It’s true when they say stress makes people sick. As we’ve been talking about the negative power of inflammation in the body, stress only adds to it. Higher stress levels in a person’s body can also increase inflammation which weakens the overall immune system.
Try doing activities like yoga, running, journaling, or meditation to help bring your mind back to a restful state. If you need extra help, look into giving therapy a try.