It’s important, especially these days, to prioritize your health and immunity, not only because of the pandemic but also to enhance your longevity. Recent years have provided knowledge that the immune system is critically important in a quality, healthy life in all individuals.
Because public health is focused primarily on saving lives and treating current illnesses, it’s up to the individual to prioritize their health and well-being through proactive and preventative interventions that can boost the immune system.
In what follows, we’ll discuss methods that can strengthen the immune system, including some medications and supplements, foods, liquids, and physical activity. We’ll also discuss the elimination of bad habits that decrease immunity.
The Immune System
The immune system is a complex network comprising cells, organs, tissues, and substances that defend the human body against disease and infection.
With two primary parts of the immune system, the innate and adaptive systems, the immune system works by both natural immunity, which is something that we have always had, and acquired immunity, which is created when the body fights off disease or infection.
Tips for Strengthening the Immune System
As the body’s first line of defense, the immune system is incredibly powerful on its own. However, with a few lifestyle interventions, the immune system can be strengthened dramatically.
The following are several tips and lifestyle interventions that can help strengthen the immune system:
It’s already understood that regular exercise is the backbone of living a healthy lifestyle. Not only does it increase lean muscle mass and bone density, but it improves cardiovascular health and mood and improves body homeostasis, which has correlated with a strong immune system.
After considering age, health status, and fitness experience, a general recommendation for the average individual involves a minimum of 150 minutes of physical activity per week.
It doesn’t matter what you do for physical activity. Whether it’s participating in sport, going for a walk, or going to the weight room, exercise continues to be shown through research to be paramount for solid immune system function.
Prioritize Restful Sleep
An often-overlooked aspect of health, sleep is arguably one of the most important things to prioritize for physical performance, mood, and cognition, as well as the strength of the immune system.
The general recommendation for a restful sleep is to achieve 7-9 hours of sleep each night while prioritizing REM sleep, the stage at which the most restful sleep is accomplished.
To avoid insufficient sleep quality, consider avoiding screen time before bed, reducing or eliminating caffeine and alcohol consumption, setting the bedroom temperature to a comfortable level, and seeking to have the same bedtime and wake-up time each day.
Consume Sufficient Amounts of Water
Water is an excellent source of hydration, and it also plays a major role in helping the body flush out toxins. This cleansing effect is directly related to strengthening the immune system.
The majority of individuals today, however, are under-hydrated, failing to drink a sufficient amount of water daily.
While the minimum daily recommendation for the average individual is 8 cups of water daily, a more suitable daily recommendation, especially for those physically active, is about 3.7 liters for men and 2.7 liters for women.
Follow a Healthy, Immune-Friendly Diet
In combination with hydration, the immune system requires the proper nourishment in order to remain strong and healthy. Contrastingly, malnourishment is the ultimate enemy of the immune system.
While there isn’t any ONE diet that is the most optimal, and although the gut microbiome is quite complex as it pertains to diet and nutrition, following a generally healthy diet comprising real whole foods is the most effective method.
Some of the most important nutrients to help strengthen the immune system include:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B12
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- Protein, Fats, and Carbohydrates (Macronutrients)
While most of these nutrients can be consumed sufficiently through whole foods, supplementation may be required where deficiencies are prevalent or nutrients are lacking from the diet.
Not only do these nutrients play a role in optimal human function, but many are correlated with fighting toxins, decreasing inflammation, maintaining cell integrity, and these processes help the immune system to function optimally.
Some of the most common and effective food choices for strengthening the immune system include citrus fruits, dark green vegetables like broccoli and spinach, nuts and seeds, ginger and garlic, turmeric, probiotic yogurt, and lean meats and fish.
Stay Up-to-Date with Necessary Vaccinations
Although there are arguments for both sides of vaccination, we don’t live in a perfect world, and natural immunity is not always adequate for certain diseases or infections. The research continues to show the effectiveness of vaccinations for specific diseases, whether for Influenza, COVID-19, MMR, or others.
The best help for the immune system defense against illness is the many natural lifestyle interventions discussed. Where your immune system lacks, vaccinations can make up for the deficiencies, especially in more dangerous, vulnerable circumstances.
Although the immune system is robust on its own, it’s best to be proactive in helping to strengthen the immune system to prevent disease. Lifestyle interventions such as a nutritious diet, exercise, and the elimination of unhealthy habits are keys in this process.
By increasing nutrient uptake, decreasing sugar intake, reducing stress levels, and improving overall fitness, immunity can strengthen, and individuals can become healthier and more resilient.