Immune system function is vital to health and well-being all year round, but as the seasons change from summer to fall, it becomes even more vital. As the weather gets colder, more people spend time indoors, making it easier for germs that cause illnesses such as the common cold and flu to circulate. As a result, you're generally more likely to get sick during the fall and winter. The good news is that there are actions you can take to boost immune system function before the seasons shift. Read on for tips on how to build your immune system through self-care, lifestyle, and supplements.
How To Boost Your Immune System
Made up of organs, proteins, and cells, the immune system is highly complex and relies on many processes within the body. Many factors go into ensuring that the immune system organs and other components function correctly. As a result, there isn't just one secret that will teach you how to boost immune system function. Instead, boosting immune system function requires a multi-faceted approach. Following these tips, together, commonly help to boost your immune system before flu season is upon us.
Practice Healthy Sleep Habits
Although you're resting, many body parts continue to work hard while you sleep. As you slumber, your body releases cytokines, which play several vital roles, including aiding in immunity. Studies have found that people who don't get enough high-quality sleep are more likely to get sick from infections and recover from illnesses at a slower pace. Here are some things you can do to support healthy sleep:
Establish Consistent Sleep Patterns
Your body's circadian rhythms help control your sleep-wake cycle and benefit from consistent habits. When you go to bed and get up simultaneously each day, your body can often better produce the chemicals needed to control sleep. On the other hand, staying up late some nights to binge-watch a show or sleeping in on the weekends can disrupt your circadian rhythms. Once you establish a set sleep schedule, you're less likely to spend time tossing and turning and more likely to feel refreshed in the morning.
What you do before bed matters, too. Having a nighttime ritual that allows you to relax and unwind can help ease you into sleep more readily. Do your best to limit screen time close to bedtime, as the blue light emitted by televisions, smartphones, and tablets has been shown to energize the nervous system and make it more difficult for people to fall asleep.
Consider Tracking Sleep Quality
Tracking your sleep can help you see how well changes that you’ve made to your PM routine and overall schedule are working for you. Sleep tracker apps and devices can allow you to become aware of trends over time. For example, you may wake up frequently during the night even though you don't remember doing so. These apps and gadgets can help you identify and discuss potential problems with your healthcare provider.
Use Consistent Sleep to Support Other Healthy Habits
Improving your sleep can be a significant first step if you're trying to learn how to start a healthy lifestyle. When you get enough high-quality sleep every night, you’re likely to have more energy to be active during the day. Sleep has also been shown to play a role in having good judgment, so you're more likely to make healthy choices during the day when you're well-rested.
Create an Exercise Routine
Read any article about how to live a healthy lifestyle. You'll likely get advice to exercise regularly, as physical activity is critical to mastering how to improve immune system function. Exercise often leads to changes in white blood cells and antibodies that function as immune system defenders. When you get up and move regularly, these key immune system components can better circulate through the body, often making it easier for your body to spot and fight off germs more quickly. Read on for tips on how to get started with regular exercise.
Reap the Benefits of Walking
Walking is one of the simplest forms of exercise, but it's also one of the most beneficial - the everyday benefits range from better sleep to improved weight management to lower stress levels. Get moderate-intensity exercise by walking briskly and pumping your arms as you move. It’s often advised to start walking in relatively flat areas, then to work your way up to steeper hills.
You can also walk indoors when the weather is wet or cold. Treadmills simulate the experience of walking, and many shopping malls open their doors early, to allow people who walk for fitness, to do laps indoors.
Try High-Intensity Exercise
If you're pressed for time, high-intensity exercise like running may be your best option. According to the CDC, getting at least 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise per week is enough to promote health and well-being versus the 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise needed to get the same benefits. Talk to your healthcare provider before starting your new exercise routine, as high-intensity workouts are only ideal for some.
Exercise Outside If Possible
While less widely discussed than other nutrients, vitamin D is essential to the immune system. It's also the only vitamin that your body can manufacture on its own, but to do so, it requires sunlight. Exercising outdoors, when possible, can help to keep your immune system supplied with the vitamin D it needs.
Diet to Boost Your Immune System
Certain foods can be a natural immune system booster. After all, your body needs vital immune system vitamins and nutrients to fight off germs. Let's look at some critical immune system booster foods and the foods you should avoid in order to follow an immune support diet.
Default to Whole Foods
Whole foods are those that are in their natural state. Compared to processed foods, they're typically more nutrient-dense and free of added sugars, preservatives, and additives. It’s recommended to choose whole foods and prepare meals at home to get the most vitamins for immune system support whenever possible.
Eat Foods That Boost Immune System Function
Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes are thought to be some of the best foods to boost immune system function. Eat fruits and vegetables at every meal and eat legumes as often as possible to fuel immunity. Check out online recipes to find new ways to enjoy them.
Follow a Healthy Lifestyle
People who lead healthy lifestyles and practice good hygiene are less likely to suffer from a weakened immune system. To improve yours, try following these healthy lifestyle tips.
Cut Out Smoking
Not smoking is one of the most essential healthy lifestyle habits. Not only can kicking the habit improve lung health and reduce your risk of developing many chronic illnesses, but it can also help strengthen the immune system. Ask your healthcare provider about smoking cessation medications and treatments to help you quit.
Drink Alcohol – Only in Moderation
Research shows that excessive alcohol intake can interfere with immune system function. The CDC says that men should consume no more than two alcoholic beverages daily, and women should have no more than one.
Manage Stress Levels
Stress has been shown to impair immune system function, making learning how to minimize stress vital. You can do so by trying relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and meditation. Take mental health days to relax, unwind as needed, and build healthy relationships with others to receive ongoing immune system support.
Try Immune Support Supplements
An immune support supplement can help bridge the diet gap and ensure that you get enough nutrients needed for immunity. Following are some of the vitamins that support your immune system:
Vitamin C: Vitamin C helps to stimulate the white blood cells that fight infections, making it one of the best supplements for immune support.
Vitamin B6: One of the key immune system boosters, this vitamin is needed to produce white blood cells.
Vitamin E: Vitamin E is also among the best immune support supplements since it defends against free radical damage and helps the body fight infections.
Elderberry: Anthocyanins and polysaccharides found in elderberries have been shown to support immune function. One serving of Body Kitchen Nordic-Elder Shield provides 27 grams of whole elderberries. It's among the best immune support supplement options and is twenty times more potent than similar supplements from leading competitors.