When it comes to coronavirus concerns (and let’s be honest: the list is long), staying healthy and safe is at the top.
In terms of infection prevention, the best defense is a good offense. And strengthening your immune system is the first step.
There are many ways to strengthen and fortify our immune systems, and in this article we will explore seven simple, scientifically-proven ways to support a strong immunity. Here’s to your health!
Here Are 7 Ways to Strengthen Your Immune System Naturally:
1. Don’t Just Exercise – Be Intentionally Active
There’s no denying exercise is one of the key components of living a healthy life. It lowers blood pressure, improves heart health, and protects against many different illnesses.
“Just like a healthy diet, exercise can contribute to general good health and therefore to a healthy immune system,” according to Harvard Health. “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.”
Interestingly, moderate exercise is scientifically proven to increase vaccine effectiveness in people with compromised immune systems.
Let’s be honest: we’re all going a little stir-crazy while being homebound, and miss going to classes at the gym. The good news is virtual fitness is just as effective – you just need to know where to look.
2. Drink Tea
Ever wonder why most of us crave a cup of tea when we’re not feeling well? Studies show tea boosts the body’s defenses against infection.
When it comes to strengthening our immune system, green tea is at the top of the list. Packed with polyphenol antioxidants, green tea protects the body from free radicals – unstable compounds that can damage cells and lead to disease.
As long as you let the tea sit long enough to release the antioxidants, you can drink it hot or cold and still reap the benefits!
3. Allow Yourself the Extra Rest You Need
While you sleep, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines, which support a healthy night’s rest. When you have an infection, cytokines increase.
And sleep deprivation reduces these protective cytokines, making you more prone to getting sick.
“Infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during periods when you don’t get enough sleep,” the Mayo Clinic reports.
It’s scientifically proven that our bodies require more rest during majorly stressful events (like losing a loved one, or coping with quarantine, etc).
So in addition to making sure you’re getting enough rest, also allow yourself added time for sleep if your body asks for it.
Can’t drag yourself out of bed for that 7am alarm? Let yourself sleep an extra hour. If you’re not able to do that, then be sure you schedule a nap in that day or go to bed an hour earlier that night.
4. Pay Special Attention to What You Eat and Drink
These include fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds – all of which are packed with antioxidants that help fight harmful pathogens and reduce inflammation caused by free radicals.
Whole plant foods also contain fiber, which promotes healthy gut bacteria.
The healthier your gut microbiome, the healthier your immune system.
In terms of foods to avoid, cut down on added sugar, and steer clear of fried and processed food.
Ready to ditch the sugar? Get Healthy With a Sugar Cleanse – Here’s How In 10 Steps
To strengthen your immune system, hydration is essential.
Many people assume drinking water is all it takes to stay hydrated. But H20 is only part of the equation. Did you know movement improves hydration? As counterproductive as it may sound, exercise increases circulation throughout your body and supports electrolyte and nutrient absorption.
But here’s the real reason why hydration is important: it protects you from dehydration. When you’re dehydrated, it can negatively impact your digestion, heart and kidney function, which makes you more susceptible to illness.
Now for what not to drink: a lot of alcohol. While having a glass of wine or two is fine every now and then, when it comes to our immunity, it’s so important to keep our alcohol intake to a minimum.
5. Try to Stress Less
Chronic stress increases inflammation and weakens our immune system by causing an imbalance in immune cell function.
Specifically, research shows that long-term stress can “suppress protective immune responses and/or exacerbate pathological immune responses.”
Stressing less is easier said than done, especially given the current state of our world. But there are many helpful stress management tools at our disposal – yoga, meditation, and mindfulness being one of the most effective.
In addition to staying physically active for a strong immune system, it’s also important to practice other stress-relieving activities like breathwork, meditation, and mindfulness to keep your mind calm.
A stressed out mind and nervous system can lead to a compromised immune system.
6. Fortify Your Immune System With the Right Supplements
Aside from the obvious immune-boosting power of Vitamin C, there are several other vitamins and supplements that support a healthy and strong immune function.
Known for its anti-inflammatory effects, Vitamin D and Vitamin A are also great for preventing infection. Research shows both vitamins are helpful for “modulating tissue-specific immune responses and for preventing and/or treating inflammation and autoimmunity.”
Turmeric also has powerful immune-supporting properties, containing the anti-inflammatory compound curcumin. To optimize effectiveness and absorption, Turmeric and Vitamin D can be taken together.
Your gut is the gateway to your overall health, so it’s also important to take probiotics for a healthy gut microbiome.
In addition, zinc is beneficial when it comes to maintaining a healthy immune system. Zinc deficiency can cause inflammation (a contributing factor to illness), so taking zinc supplements will help keep you healthy and strong.
7. Schedule Time Daily to Do What Lights You Up
Activities that improve your mood and mental state directly correlate to a stronger immune system, and science proves it.
Some ideas include exercising while listening to your favorite music. (Shoutout to my oldschool 80’s workout mix!) Nothing puts me in the present moment more than listening to some Whitney.
Also, journaling is a great daily habit for your mental health. Writing down your thoughts can help reframe your perspective and give you clarity regarding what’s causing you stress and anxiety. As a writer, this has been my go-to stress coping strategy during COVID-19.
Boost Your Immune System to Increase Your Chances of Staying Healthy
Protecting your health is important now more than ever. If you want to strengthen your immune system naturally, switch to making these healthy lifestyle choices. Your mind and body will thank you!
This article originally appeared on YogiApproved.