Ways to Boost your Immune System
Ahh, wintertime, the time of year where you hear sniffles, coughs, and…was that a lugee?? Gross. Yes, it is full on flu season and I am doing my best to keep my immune system strong and fighting against all these potential pathogens. The immune system is complex and is avidly being researched. There is no magic bullet but, below are some healthy lifestyle choices that decrease your body’s chances of being susceptible to disease:
- Eat your fruits & veggies folks!
- I know, the dietitian is advocating for food first but, really. They contain so many nutrients including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. More than what a pill can give you, don’t rely on supplements. Food first.
- Don’t smoke.
- Pretty obvious, most people know that smoking is not good for their health. Still is a chronic issue though, so must be addressed. Oh, also if you are a smoker you have increased Vitamin C needs (which you can get from fruits & veggies).
- Eat yogurt/probiotic-rich foods.
- Our bodies are covered with microorganisms, good & bad. Try to fill your body with more good ones from probiotic-rich foods to help fight off the bad ones. It’s especially important to have probiotic-rich foods while on antibiotics. Learn more about probiotic foods & the microbiome here.
- Get moving!
- For optimal health the CDC recommends adults exercise 150-300 minutes per week of moderate intensity or 75-150 minutes of vigorous activity per week. This should be a combination of aerobic exercise (running, biking, swimming, walking) & strength exercise (lifting weights or body exercises that use your weight like push-ups, pull-ups, & planks).
- Get enough sleep.
- Sleeping is very important for many processes and systems in the body, including the immune system. Adults should sleep more than 7 hours in a night to allow your body the rest it deserves.
- Limit/avoid alcohol consumption.
- Give your liver a break, allow it to do the true detoxing you need when fighting off disease. Moderate alcohol intake is 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men. A standard drink is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of liquor. It is considered heavy drinking when men consume 15 or more drinks per week and when women consume more than 8 or more drinks per week.
- Practice good hygiene habits.
- WASH YOUR HANDS. Pay attention to what you are touching and try to avoid touching your eyes, ears, mouth, and nose at all costs unless you just washed your hands. If you are like me and wash your hands all the time, they probably get dry in the winter time. Make sure to lotion them daily to prevent cracking. I like this lotion.
Looking for specific immune boosting foods?
Well there’s no one single food or nutrient that can boost your immune system. The diet should be looked at as a whole instead of looking at specific single nutrients. That being said, a diet full of antioxidants is shown to be protective against diseases. What foods are high in antioxidants? Fruits and vegetables! Below are some antioxidant-rich, nutritious & delicious recipes:
- Strawberries & Cream Steel-cut Oats
- Creamy Coconut Chia Seed Pudding
- Quinoa Vegetable Soup with Kale
- Coconut Curried Chickpeas & Rainbow Carrots
- PB & J Smoothie
- Shaved Brussel Sprout Salad with Pomegranates
- Harvard Health Publishing. (n.d.). How to boost your immune system. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-boost-your-immune-system
- Physical Activity. (2018, November 12). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/index.htm
- Watson NF, Badr MS, Belenky G, et al. Recommended amount of sleep for a healthy adult: a joint consensus statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society. Sleep. 2015;38(6):843–844.
- CDC – Frequently Asked Questions – Alcohol. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/faqs.htm#moderate