Boosting Your Immune System as the World is Reopening
After a very long year, the world is finally starting to reopen. We can reunite with our loved ones, go to restaurants, picnic at the park, and ease back into normal life once again. However, we still need to be careful and protect ourselves. Your immune system works hard to keep you healthy, but there are some lifestyle factors that you can implement to help.
Here are some ways to boost your immune system so that you can stay healthy and safe.
Eat your fruits and vegetables
A healthy diet is crucial for a strong immune system. Whole foods, especially fruits and vegetables, are rich in vitamins that are necessary for immune functioning. Vitamin C is well-known for its protection against the common cold. Fruits and veggies also contain antioxidants, which reduce inflammation, help prevent oxidative stress, and keep cells (including immune cells) healthy. Many fruits and vegetables are also high in fiber, which is a prebiotic. Prebiotics are food for the good bacteria that live in our gut and support the immune system.
Get enough sleep
Sleep deprivation significantly affects your immune system and is a recipe for getting sick. Try to create a sleep schedule that works for you, whether it’s going to bed earlier or sleeping in later. It would be best if you aimed to get at least seven hours of quality sleep each night. If you struggle to fall asleep, try putting your screens away an hour before bed and create a relaxing nightly routine. Have your bedroom dark and at a cool temperature.
Find time to relax
It is well-known that chronic stress makes you more susceptible to illness, and it’s because it lowers your immune system. No matter how busy life gets, give yourself time to relax. Meditation and yoga are effective ways to destress because they help you clear your mind and practice mindfulness. Studies have shown that yoga reduces inflammation, which helps regulate the immune system. Find whatever activity works for you, whether it’s reading your favorite book, baking, or going for a walk.
Both cardio and strength exercises help boost your immune system. Exercise increases blood flow, which means circulating immune cells travel throughout the body faster. Moderate-intensity exercise is best because overly intense exercise can have the opposite effect and suppress the immune system. Free weights and bodyweight exercises are still great options for strength training if you don’t have access to a gym. Try to bring your workouts outside. Go for a run or walk, ride your bicycle, or swim. Even for a few minutes each day, getting fresh air will help decrease stress levels and boost your immune system.
Eat more probiotics
Probiotics are foods that contain healthy bacteria for our guts. Fermented foods, such as kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, and kefir, are rich in probiotics and highly beneficial. A healthy gut environment influences almost every single aspect of our health, from digestion to mental health. These gut bacteria help fight off infections, regulate immune cells, and reduce inflammation. They act as a line of defense on your intestinal wall.
While we still need to be vigilant against protecting ourselves and our loved ones, use these defenses daily to arm yourself with a robust immune system. These are also good practices to get into the habit of doing as we are walking into the cold and flu months soon.
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