When it comes to staying healthy, boosting your immune system is wellness 101. Better yet, it’s simpler than you might think (and tastes great, too!). In addition to washing your hands thoroughly and avoiding people who may be sick, follow these tips to protect yourself against viruses and support a strong immune system.
Drink plenty of fluids, especially warmer fluids. Consuming adequate fluids supports all your bodies’ functions including your immune system. Keep a bottle of filtered water with you at all times. Enjoy soups and broths throughout the week. Drink herbal teas like ginger and Echinacea daily. Limit how many concentrated fruit juices and sweetened beverages you drink, as the sugar content can strain your immune system.
Avoid simple sugars as much as possible. Simple sugars include not only sweet treats and desserts but also white-flour and refined-grain products that turn into sugar quickly. Studies have shown that refined sugars can suppress your immune system for hours after you eat them.
Eat protein with each meal. Proteins are the building blocks of your body, including your immune and detoxification systems. Incorporate lean animal proteins and/or plant-based proteins (e.g. legumes, nuts, seeds) with each meal and snack.
Cook with garlic, onions, ginger, oregano and turmeric. These ingredients have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, and garlic and onions offer wide spectrum antimicrobial properties. Add them to soups and vegetable dishes, as well as bean dips and sauces for a flavorful boost.
Eat multiple servings of colorful fruits and vegetables. Choose leafy greens (e.g. kale, collards, spinach), cruciferous vegetables (e.g. broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower), peppers, sweet potatoes and squashes. These fruits and veggies are high in vitamin C, vitamin A and phytonutrients that support the immune system. Aim for 3-4 servings of fruits and 5+ servings of vegetables.
Get sufficient sleep. Sleep restores and heals the body – without enough of it, optimal immune function is next to impossible. Incorporating relaxation and breathing techniques throughout the day to soothe stress can help your body and mind rest deeply at night. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
Exercise regularly. Mild to moderate exercise (for approximately 30-45 minutes) helps boost your immune system. Avoid overexertion, such as training for endurance events, when you feel run-down. Pushing yourself too hard will lower your immune defenses. YouTube has thousands of free workouts, and working out from home is easier than ever. Set up your phone, tablet, or laptop in a room with extra space and get moving with any of the free options on YouTube below.
Add supplements to your diet. It’s best to have your blood levels tested by a healthcare professional before incorporating additional supplements to your diet.
Vitamin D3: Also known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is critical for optimal immune function and can help you fight off infections. Studies show adequate vitamin-D levels also reduce your risk of developing bone abnormalities, like osteoporosis. Talk with your doctor about whether adding a supplement to your diet is best for you.
Buffered Vitamin C: Vitamin C boosts your immune system by encouraging the production of white blood cells, protecting your white blood cells and strengthening your skin’s barriers. The recommended dose is 500 - 1,000 mg throughout the day, to be taken with meals and snacks.
Zinc Citrate: Since our bodies do not naturally produce zinc, it’s important to either consume more foods high in this powerful immune-supporting nutrient or take an additional supplement. Red meat, poultry, oysters, whole grains, beans and nuts are all great sources of zinc.
Probiotics: Your gut is an integral part of your immune system, and a healthy GI tract provides a strong barrier against pathogens. Probiotics support healthy gut flora to keep your gut and immune system in top shape. Look for probiotic brands that offer several species of good bacteria and contain at least 5 - 10 billion organisms per capsule.