Even the healthiest of people can fall victim to dreaded diseases! And, it can happen in the blink of an eye. One day, everyone around you is fine; on the other, you find several of them dropped into the abyss of flu season. As per a WHO report, seasonal influenza results in 3 to 5 million cases of severe illness annually.
If you fear you could be the next target of the viral infection, then prepare the best line of defense. No, you don’t need to stock a pile of tissues.
Instead, strengthen your immune system to mount a robust defense mechanism to keep you safe against viruses.
It’s your immune system’s job to defend you against harmful pathogens. The complex system – made up of cells, tissues, organs, blood, and bone marrow – functions to prevent or limit infection, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). To best protect your body against illnesses, every part of your immune system needs to function as per the plan. The best way to ensure that is to develop healthy habits to bolster your immunity.
Here are 10 proven ways to strengthen your immune system naturally.
- Eat Whole Plant Foods
Almost every week, a new trend emerges in the health food world. But there’s one diet that is consistently proven to be effective against harmful pathogens: Whole plant diet. Foods like vegetables, fruits, seeds, and nuts are rich sources of antioxidants, which battle against inflammation-causing compounds.
The fiber in whole plant food powers gut microbiomes and improves immunity. Also, many vegetables and fruits are rich sources of Vitamin C, which helps prevent the symptoms of virus-induced respiratory infections.
- Regular Exercising
Although you don’t need to become a full-on fitness fanatic to boost your immune system, adding daily brisk walking or sneaking in a yoga class to your daily routine can work magically in your favor.
Regular exercise helps remove bacteria from your lungs and reduces risks linked to airborne illnesses, says researchers in a study by the US National Library of Medicine.
- Consistent Sleep
Get enough sleep! Countless studies in the past have linked sleep to immunity. A good night’s sleep strengthens your natural immunity, while staying up all night can make you more prone to catch a virus. Lack of sleep also makes it difficult for the immune system to fight off.
Infants must have at least 14 hours of sleep, and teens need at least eight hours of adequate rest for a healthy immune system. Adults should get seven hours of sleep each night. If you have trouble sleeping, then use a dark and quiet sleep environment. Also, don’t overeat just before bedtime and limit the late-night screen time.
- Consume Probiotics
Probiotics in your gut ensure that the harmful bacteria do not take over. The healthy bacteria, or say good bacteria, takes care of your immune system by lessening the amount of space that harmful bacteria can access. You can consume probiotics by adding fermented foods like kombucha, kimchi, yogurt, and kefir in your diet plan. Also, you can take probiotic supplements to get the desired results.
- Immunity-boosting Supplements
The world of supplements is enormous and fascinating. It is easy to fall prey to a supplement whose supplier claims it holds power to treat a
dreaded seasonal infection. Although there aren’t supplements that cure severe influenza, some may boost your immune system significantly.
Vitamin C is effective in reducing the symptoms of colds, while zinc is capable of reducing the duration of the cold. A 2014 study on the link between garlic and common cold stated that the supplement could reduce the incidences of the common cold. For the study, researchers gave garlic to 146 participants for around three months. They discovered that garlic decreased the common cold rate by 30%.
- Essential Oils
Essential oils are a powerful weapon in the wellness arsenal. These chemically-active aromatic compounds can fortify immunity, eradicate viruses, and cure symptoms of seasonal illnesses. Many essential oils have antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties that help strengthen your immune system.
Tea tree, lemon, lavender, oregano, and eucalyptus are some commonly known essential oils with immune-strengthening properties. To use these oils for immune health, you can dilute them with a carrier oil.
- Avoid Alcohol
A moderate amount of alcohol doesn’t boost your immunity, and binge-drinking is dangerous for immune health. Alcohol affects the makeup of your gut microbiome and its ability to support the immune system. Alcohol consumption damages the immune cells and clears the line for pathogens to enter your bloodstream. This weakens your body’s defensive mechanisms and results in diseases like pneumonia. So, it is wise to avoid alcohol for the health of your immune system.
- Limit Sugar Intake
While sugar found in natural resources like fruits can boost your immunity, processed sugar has unpleasant effects on your body. Too much sugar consumption affects white blood cells and the way they affect bacteria. Also, sugar leads to a process of low-grade inflammation in the body. All these signs suggest that consuming too much sugar can be dangerous for your immunity.
- Plenty of Water
Water can do wonders for your body. On the other hand, dehydration can cause a wide range of complications, such as headaches. Also, it affects digestion and organ functions that further lead to illness.
To prevent dehydration, you should drink plenty of fluid each day. Although tea and juices help keep you hydrated, they increase your sugar intake. Instead of tea and juices, drink water when you are thirsty.
- Uncheck Stress
For many people, stress is a part of life. But they certainly don’t know that stress can have a significant impact on their immune health. According to experts at the American Psychological Association, stress weakens the immune system. If you don’t control high-stress levels, it may lead to immune system diseases like arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.
The best way to manage your stress levels is to participate in activities like meditation, yoga, and mindfulness practices. In case you have been suffering from stress for a long time, consult a licensed counselor for the right advice.
The Bottom Line
A healthy immune system is key to a healthy life. Make some changes to your lifestyle and eating habits to boost your immune system. For your health and the health of everyone around you, stay happy and healthy.