According to conservative estimates, 10 million immunocompromised people live in the United States. Even so, this number only includes cancer patients, people with organ transplants, and those with HIV/AIDS.
The term “immunocompromised” also covers anyone who takes immunosuppressant drugs or has a condition that weakens their immune system. This includes autoimmune disorders, chronic illnesses, asthma, and even high blood pressure.
Whether you have a compromised immune system or not, the current pandemic has us all wondering what we can do to build a stronger immune system. It takes work, but there are ways to boost immunity and improve your body’s ability to fight off sickness. Keep reading to learn where to start.
Focus on Nutrition
The food that you eat is your body’s source of essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. If your diet isn’t balanced, your immune system won’t have the building blocks it needs to create more disease-fighting white blood cells. As such, the easiest way to strengthen your immune system is to change up your diet to focus on total nutrition.
Remember that you don’t have to eat “clean” all the time—you can still enjoy desserts, packaged snacks, and other “junk” foods in moderation. The idea behind a balanced, nutritious diet is to use the following advice as a base for most of your meals. That way, you know you’ll always be getting your essential nutrients even if you indulge now and again.
Limit Your Sugar Intake
Eating a diet high in added sugars contributes to systemic inflammation and weight gain. Both of these can make it harder for your body to fight off infections. As such, experts recommend keeping your average added sugar intake to no more than 5% of your daily calories.
Eat a Lot of Whole Plants
Raw fruits and vegetables of all types are packed to the brim with helpful nutrients.
Citrus fruits, bell peppers, dark leafy greens, kiwis, and papayas are all excellent sources of Vitamin C. Whole almonds and sunflower seeds give you vitamin E, phosphorous, and magnesium. Even delicious flavorings like garlic and turmeric can decrease inflammation and fight infections.
Increase Healthy Fats and Decrease Unhealthy Fats
Eating the right types of fats reduces inflammation and improves your immunity. You can find these healthy omega-3 fats in foods like olive oil, salmon, shellfish, and chia seeds. As a bonus, shellfish like crab, oysters, mussels, lobster, and scallops are not only full of healthy fats but zinc (another immune-boosting mineral) as well.
Too many unhealthy fats, like those found in fried foods and fatty red meats, can increase inflammation and weaken your immunity. Try limiting your intake of fried foods and animal fats. When possible, replace red meats with leaner cuts or go with poultry instead, which is a good source of vitamin B-6.
Add Fermented Foods
There’s a reason that fermented foods like kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and active-culture yogurt are so popular. They’re full of probiotics, helpful types of bacteria that live in your gut and help with digestion. Not only do these bacteria help you absorb essential vitamins, but they also work to keep the levels of disease-causing bacteria in check.
Fill in the Gaps With Supplements
Whether due to food allergies or a specialty diet (vegetarianism, veganism, etc.), it isn’t always easy to get your daily recommended nutrients from food. When that’s the case, supplements can fill in the gaps and ensure your body still has what it needs to fight off pathogens.
Most people don’t need to take anything other than a daily multivitamin or immune-boosting supplement. (You can learn more about what immune-boosting supplements contain here: https://www.researchednutritionals.com/product/transfer-factor-multi-immune/). If you’re concerned about your intake of a specific vitamin or mineral (like vitamin D or omega-3s), it may be more helpful to take an isolated formula.
Remember to Hydrate
Drinking lots of water is vital when you’re sick, but it’s also important when you’re healthy.
It’s true that water doesn’t have any disease-fighting properties of its own. Even so, a dehydrated body is less able to fight invading germs. Try to drink water throughout the day and aim for around 64 oz total.
Move Your Body
You don’t have to do CrossFit or intense weight training to reap the immune-boosting benefits of exercise. Experts say that moderate walking, biking, and swimming are enough to help your immune system produce more white blood cells. Try to get in about 150 minutes of movement, or five thirty-minute sessions, each week.
Rest Well, Rest Often
Did you know that you might be able to sleep your way to a stronger immune system?
That’s right—getting enough rest lowers your stress, decreasing the levels of inflammatory hormones in your blood. It also gives your body’s repair mechanisms a chance to work. Aim for 7-9 hours of solid sleep per night and keep a regular sleep schedule if possible.
Take Preventative Measures Against Illness
No amount of exercise, supplements, or clean eating can keep you 100% safe from illness. Even after you’ve taken all these steps to strengthen your immunity, it’s still up to you to avoid getting sick. Even the strongest immune systems can still fall prey to pathogens they don’t recognize.
In light of the coronavirus pandemic, this means following the guidelines from your federal, state, and local government meant to keep you safe. Practice social distancing and avoid any sort of indoor gatherings without masks. Wear an approved mask at all times when you’re in public or interacting with anyone outside your household.
Preventative measures are equally important when it comes to other contagious diseases. Keep up with your vaccination schedule and get your flu shot every year, wash your hands often, and stay home from work or school if you’re feeling ill. These steps can lower both your chances of getting sick and of passing an illness along to someone with a weakened immune system.
Follow This Advice for a Stronger Immune System
Getting a stronger immune system is a matter of paying attention to your health as a whole. If you take care of your body, it will take care of you and help you fight off nasty bugs with ease.
Looking for ways to improve other aspects of your health? Take a moment to visit the rest of the articles on our site for more helpful wellness advice.