Immune System Support
Keeping your immune system strong has never been more important than it is today with the COVID-19 Pandemic. While bolstering your immunity is easier said than done, there are several ways to naturally strengthen your body’s natural defenses.
Taking various supplements like vitamin C and Zinc may be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about good immunity, but making certain lifestyle changes can also naturally support immune health and keep your body in its best shape. Below are some natural ways to give your immune system the best support.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Sleep and immunity are closely tied, and poor-quality sleep is linked to a higher susceptibility to sickness. Getting enough rest balances natural immunity. Adults should try to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night, while teens need 8–10 hours and younger children and infants may need up to 14 hours.
Make your bedroom a sanctuary and stick to a regular sleep schedule. Try limiting screen time (including your phone, TV, laptop, or tablet) an hour before going to bed because the blue light emitted from our devices is known to cause serious disruptions to our natural circadian rhythm. Other sleep tips include sleeping in a completely dark room or using a sleep mask, going to bed at the same time every night, and exercising regularly.
Eat Healthier, Plant-Based Foods
Whole plant foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes are rich in nutrients and antioxidants that may give you an advantage against harmful pathogens. The antioxidants in these foods support immunity by reducing inflammation and destroying the free radicals that can wreak havoc on your immune system. Chronic inflammation is linked to a variety of health conditions.
The fiber in plant foods also feeds your gut microbiome, which is the healthy bacteria in your gut. A hearty gut microbiome can improve your immunity and help keep harmful pathogens from entering your body through your digestive tract.
Furthermore, fruits and vegetables are rich in nutrients like vitamin C, which may reduce the duration of the common cold. They say you are what you eat, so it makes sense that regularly eating healthy will ultimately keep you healthy.
Think about making the following foods a part of your regular diet to help support your body’s natural defenses: Ginger, Garlic, Beets, Dark leafy greens, Mushrooms, Berries, Tomatoes and Bell Peppers.
Limit Excess Sugar and Refined Carbs
Research has shown that added sugars and refined carbs may contribute disproportionately to obesity, and obesity may increase your risk of getting sick. Also, it is believed that too much sugar consumption may negatively impact immune system cells that help ward off bacteria. Lowering your sugar intake can decrease inflammation and aid weight loss, thus reducing your risk of chronic health conditions such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease which may also weaken your immune system.
Refined carbs are very similar to sugar when it comes to immunity. As tasty as bread, pasta, and pastries may be, they are not great for supporting immune health. Certain types of carbs are famous for increasing both your waistline and inflammation. If you want to give your immune system some support, do yourself a favor and cut out excess carbs.
Regular exercise and immunity go very well together. Research shows that getting moderate exercise on a regular basis may reduce inflammation and help your immune cells regenerate regularly.
Examples of moderate exercise include a brisk 20-minute walk a few times a week. Also, steady bicycling, jogging, swimming, and light hiking are great. An online fitness or yoga class at home is also great for getting your body moving during stay-at-home/social distancing measures. About 2.5 hours of moderate exercise each week could help keep your immune system strong.
Although hydration itself will not protect you from germs and viruses, preventing dehydration is important to your overall health. Dehydration disrupts your health and can cause headaches and limit your physical performance. It also negatively affects focus, mood, digestion, and heart and kidney function. These complications can increase your susceptibility to illness. To prevent dehydration, you should drink enough fluid daily to make your urine pale yellow. Water is recommended because it has no calories, additives, or sugar. It is best to limit your intake of fruit juice and sweetened tea due to their high sugar content.
In general, you should drink when you are thirsty and stop when you are no longer thirsty. You may also need more fluids if you work outside, exercise intensely, or live in a hot climate.
Manage Stress Levels
We have all heard of the effects of stress on the body and mind, and chronic stress can cause an imbalance in the function of immune cells. Long-term stress has been shown to suppress protective immune responses and make pathological immune responses worse.
Lowering your stress levels through meditation, mindfulness, yoga, and mild exercise are all excellent ways to naturally decrease stress and find a sense of calm throughout each day. These practices can also help keep your immune system functioning properly.
A multitude of studies have been done to show the relationship between supplements and immune health. Some of these studies indicate that the following supplements may strengthen your body’s general immune response:
Vitamin C. Vitamin C is a strong antioxidant that can boost your blood antioxidant levels and reduce the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease. Vitamin C supports immunity by helping white blood cells function more effectively, strengthening your skin’s defense system, and helping wounds heal faster.
Vitamin D. Research shows that vitamin D plays an important role in immune function, and a deficiency in it is shown to increase your susceptibility to infection. Some studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency is even associated with greater risk of upper respiratory tract infections.
Zinc. Zinc keeps the immune system strong, helps heal wounds, and supports normal growth. Zinc has become a popular treatment for the common cold. Some studies have found that Zinc lozenges may reduce the duration of cold, perhaps by a day or so, and may reduce the number of upper respiratory infections in children.
Elderberry. The berries and flowers of elderberry are packed with antioxidants and vitamins that may boost your immune system. They could help reduce inflammation, lessen stress, and help protect your heart, too.
Echinacea. Echinacea is best known for its beneficial effects on the immune system. Numerous studies have found that this plant may help your immune system combat infections and viruses, which could help you recover faster from illness.
Goldenseal. Goldenseal may have antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties responsible for its potential immune-boosting benefits. A 2008 study suggests that goldenseal has immune-stimulating characteristics and may have alternative applications. This animal study using rats found that goldenseal boosts the immune response by increasing the defense mechanism that attacks the offending antigen.
Garlic. Garlic contains allicin, a liquid which is released when you cut into it (this property is also the cause of the garlic’s distinctive smell). This, along with the antioxidants inside the vegetable, help to fight off infection and support the immune system.
Simply making a few lifestyle changes can do wonders for supporting immune health naturally. Managing your health by eating a wholesome diet, reducing your intake of excess sugar and carbs, hydrating, getting plenty of sleep and ensuring to exercise regularly can all go a long way when it comes to the strength of your immune system and your overall health. Taking a supplement loaded with immune supporting ingredients is always good to do too.
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