Your immune system helps your body fight against infections. For an immune system to be healthy, various components of your body like the cells in your skin, blood, bone marrow, and organs need to be working optimally. This is the only way it can stop disease-causing microbes from entering your body.
Although scientists have proposed theories about how an immune system functions properly, they’re still unsure about what exactly strengthens it. Since the immune system and its processes are incredibly complex and intricate, researchers are still investigating how it works.
There is no one way to boost your immune system quickly. A strong immune system isn’t built in a day or two; it’s built over time as you put in daily, consistent effort to maintain healthy habits.
Here are 7 tips to help you build up your immune system and keep disease at bay.
7 tips for a healthy immune system
1. Eat a nutritious diet
Your immune system needs adequate nourishment in order to function, which is why it’s important to eat a healthy diet rich in proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Proteins especially play a huge role in the antibodies that are involved in fighting off foreign bodies, such as disease-causing germs.
Experiments have supported the theory that various micronutrient deficiencies (for example, deficiencies of zinc, selenium, iron, copper, folic acid, and vitamins A, B6, C, and E) alter our immune responses.
Raspberries, squash, honeydew, green tea, grapes, and broccoli contain polyphenols, which also help strengthen immunity.
If you are unsure whether you are meeting your nutrient requirements through your diet, you can ask your doctor about vitamin supplementation.
2. Stay physically active
Just like a healthy diet, exercise is one of the pillars of healthy living. It helps you maintain optimal weight, improves heart health and functioning, and reduces the risk of diabetes. Some studies suggest that it also improves your body’s ability to fight disease. For example, improving lung health through aerobic activities can help your lungs recover more quickly from chest infections.
3. Limit your alcohol intake
Letting your alcohol intake get out of control can weaken your immunity. While not drinking at all is best for your health, you can limit your drinking to 2 drinks a day for men and 1 drink a day for women.
4. Quit tobacco
The chemicals released through cigarette smoke, such as carbon monoxide, nicotine, nitrogen oxides, and cadmium, can cause significant damage to the immune system. Try to quit smoking by taking advantage of counseling, nicotine replacement products, and prescription non-nicotine medications.
5. Keep your gut healthy
Your digestive tract, especially the intestines, are a huge part of your immune system. To keep the gut healthy, reduce sugary foods from your diet and include more high-fiber foods and probiotics, such as yogurt, buttermilk, and kefir.
6. Manage stress
Stress affects everyone differently, so it’s important to find a way to manage stress that works for you. Some may find taking long walks in the open to be relaxing, while others find solace in listening to music or tending to their gardens.
7. Get quality sleep
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Sarkar D, Jung MK, Wang HJ. Alcohol and the Immune System. Alcohol Res. 2015;37(2):153-155. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4590612/
Fields H. The Gut: Where Bacteria and Immune System Meet. John Hopkins Medicine. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/research/advancements-in-research/fundamentals/in-depth/the-gut-where-bacteria-and-immune-system-meet
WebMD. Health Benefits of Amla (Indian Gooseberry). https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-amla#1