The following list has scientifically justified methods to help improve your immune systems. These techniques are proving to be more important today than ever before.
- Eating Healthy. To help improve your immune system you can fill your diet with fruits and vegetables. These foods have powerful antioxidants that help your body get rid of free radicals. By feeding your body antioxidant rich foods, you’re giving your body a powerful mechanism to fight off toxins. In addition to helping your immune system, a healthy diet can help you prevent certain diseases. Research has demonstrated that nutrition plays a crucial role in the prevention of chronic illnesses, as most of them can be related to diet. As always, try to consume a whole foods diet… this doesn’t mean you have to shop at whole foods. Examples of whole foods, and my personal favorites, are broccoli, blueberries, and sweet potato. Whole foods aren’t refined or heavily processed. In addition to whole foods, you can add in some spices and specific foods that have proven benefits to your immune system. Chopped garlic, specifically uncooked, can provide a major boost to your immune system. Lately, our house has been consuming garlic and shiitake mushrooms just to give us an extra edge over a looming virus.
- Optimizing sleep. Once again my favorite topic makes it on the list. Sleep is so important for health, wellness, and performance. For me, if I get a good night’s sleep my determination and focus towards my daily tasks are dynamite. Through optimization of sleep you can improve your entire life. “Studies show that people who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as a common cold virus.” Continue to improve your sleep and you will be sick less and have a stronger immune system.
- Reducing stress. Stress is imperative for many functions of life, but chronic stress can turn into an issue and hurt our immune systems. Chronic stress has been linked to heart disease, and cancer. “Decades of research show that chronic stress predisposes us to more frequent and severe viral infections, by damping the immune system’s ability to do its job” Dr. Sternberg. There are numerous ways to reduce stress and everyone has their favorite. Find what works for you as well as branching out to try something new. Stress hormones like cortisol can weaken the immune system. Exercise, meditation (mindfulness meditation, breathing techniques), yoga, grounding/ earthing and walking are a few methods to reduce stress. I recommend doing what you love with who you love, making time for yourself, and prioritizing your health ALWAYS!
- Exercising daily. Try to do some sort of physical activity everyday. People who move more are healthier and happier. “Evidence also shows that a physically active lifestyle diminishes the risk of contracting a range of communicable diseases including viral and bacterial infections.” In addition to fighting off viruses and bacterial infections, regularly exercising can encourage proper circulation in your body. Exercising daily is going to look different for everyone, but more important than “exercising” is maintaining an active lifestyle. Exercising and an active lifestyle are one in the same, yet exercising can receive a daunting stigma. On days where you aren’t “exercising” everyone should be going for walks, jogs, playing a sport, or chasing your dog. No one is too old to play around.
- Staying positive. “Optimism is a significant predictor of positive physical health outcomes.” Hundreds of researchers have studied the link between a positive (optimistic) attitude and positive physical health outcomes. Staying positive doesn’t mean you are blinded to the current situation. One must identify the issues and attack them with a game plan. Control the controllables, every tip aforementioned are controllables that we can implement to our healthy lifestyles. You have the choice to set your mindset. Opt for positivity and you’ll improve your likelihood of success in all your endeavors.
Bonus: Your gut plays a vital role in your immune system. Eating the right foods, and improving your microbiome in your stomach you can improve your health. I use probiotics and a whole foods based diet to aid my gut health. Another bonus is cold showers. While the science is still developing, there is an interesting prospect with cold water therapy. There is the potential for immune system boosts, body composition, and mental benefits. I end my morning shower with 30 seconds of cold water.