5 Tips for a Healthy Immune System
It's that time of year again, flu season!
On top of that, we're still dealing with a global pandemic and even though we've learned a lot over the last year on staying healthy, I find it important to readdress the best ways to keep your immune system intact.
Your immune system and your body are remarkable healing machines, constantly defending you against disease-causing microorganisms. On occasion a germ might successfully break through your body’s defenses, but even then, you're usually only sick for a few days while your body takes back control.
The idea of boosting your immune system can be enticing. There are so many vitamins, herbal supplements, and other products that boast immune enhancing properties. Unfortunately, there is little scientific research to back up these claims, and the immune system remains somewhat of a mystery.
What we do know is that your immune system is a complex, interconnected system that incorporates many organs and functions.
That means, what is healthy for your body will be healthy for your immune system and as such, every part of your body, including your immune system, functions better when protected from environmental assaults and is bolstered by healthy-living strategies.
Here are our top tips to keep your body and immune system strong and healthy.
Get adequate sleep
The importance of sleep can never be understated. Fortunately, it’s also one of the things that you have the most direct control over. Turn Netflix off and go to bed!
Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables
Over 70% of our immune system lies within the digestive system, so it’s important to maintain a healthy gut. A diet with a high variety of fruits and vegetables will provide your body with all the essential vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients it needs. There is a lot of research being done on the digestion and absorption of vitamins and minerals when they come from whole food sources versus supplements such as a multi-vitamin. I (and the research) strongly recommend that you try to fill most of your body’s needs from whole food sources and only supplement what you are struggling to fulfill.
Other foods that can aid in recovery include:
Garlic: acts as an antibiotic; can lessen the severity of colds and other infections
Green tea: boosts B cell antibodies; helps remove pathogens
Honey: antibacterial and antimicrobial properties
Elderberries: antiviral properties; rich in phytonutrients
Just like a healthy diet, exercise can contribute to general good health and therefore to a healthy immune system. It may contribute even more directly by promoting good circulation, which allows the cells and substances of the immune system to move through the body freely and do their job efficiently.
As we understand more about the body, it’s becoming clear that there is a strong relationship between the mind and the body. A wide variety of maladies, including stomach upset, hives, and even heart disease, are linked to the effects of emotional stress. Just 5 minutes a day of reflection or meditation can have drastic effects on stress hormone regulation in your body.
Practice healthy hygiene
The CDC reports that only 5% of people wash their hands effectively, 20 seconds of soap and hot water, gross! It may take a pandemic to enlighten us, but it becomes obvious how many dirty surfaces we touch everyday and how important it is to wash your hands thoroughly. The CDC also recommends cleaning high traffic areas such as your keyboard, phone, and door handles regularly. It’s important to apply disinfectant and leave it on for three to five minutes before drying.
The flu season and even a global pandemic can increase our awareness of the importance of a healthy immune system, but it should be a constant priority. Addressing these 5 areas will help to ensure your immune system is healthy, strong, and ready to fight off whatever comes its way.
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