Hey Angels and Alphas,
If you want to improve your immune health and stay as healthy as possible, you may be wondering how you can strengthen your immune system so you can help protect your body from illness.
As with a lot of things in the health and wellness space, improving your immunity is easier said than done. But there are lifestyle changes, dietary changes, even exercise changes that you can make that, in the long-term, will strengthen your body’s natural defenses and help you ward off illnesses and disease-causing microorganisms.
Today, we’re exploring the 5 most science-backed, effective, and straightforward ways you can boost your immunity.
Important note: If you’re worried about COVID-19, you should know that no amount of exercise, supplements, diet, or lifestyle changes can protect you from developing this virus. However, boosting your immune health can increase the probability that you’ll stay healthy and strong in the long-run. That being said, let’s jump right in.
1. Eating More Whole Plant Foods.
Let’s begin by addressing some of the dietary choices you can make that have been proven to boost immunity in one form or another.
For starters, whole plant foods such as seeds, nuts, fruits, veggies, and legumes, are abundant in nutrients and antioxidants that have been proven to give you an upper hand on the way to stronger immunity.
The antioxidants found in these food groups have anti-inflammatory properties. They decrease inflammation by combatting unstable compounds known as free radicals, which are directly linked to the accumulation of inflammation in the body.
Furthermore, the fiber in certain plant foods enriches your gut microbiome, and a healthy gut microbiome improves your immunity and helps keep you safe against harmful pathogens.
Important note: Fermented foods are very rich in healthy bacteria called probiotics. These foods include kimchi, kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut, and more. Research has proven that a flourishing gut microbiome can help your immune system work more efficiently by differentiating between normal, healthy, and harmful organisms.
Let’s not forget, fruits and veggies are rich in micronutrients such as vitamin C, one of the best known and most well-studied supplements for strengthening the immune system.
2. Eating More Healthy Fats!
Healthy fats, such as those found in avocados, nuts, and olives, also boost your immune system’s effectiveness against pathogens by decreasing inflammation.
Even though low levels of inflammation are a completely natural response to stress, injury, or illness, chronic inflammation is known to suppress the immune system and diminish your ability to ward off disease.
For example, olive oil is anti-inflammatory, and it’s been directly connected to a decreased risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Moreover, Omega-3 fatty acids, abundantly found in chia seeds and salmon, have been shown to reduce inflammation as well.
By combating chronic immune suppression, healthy fats are one of the best ways we can naturally work our way toward preventing disease and staying healthy.
3. Exercise – regularly.
We know that exposure to prolonged, high-intensity exercise can suppress the immune system. But moderate exercise can bolster it.
Some studies indicate that even one session of moderate-intensity exercise has improved the effectiveness of vaccines in people with suppressed immune system function.
Not only that, but moderate exercise also helps our bodies fight inflammation and helps our immune cells recover and regenerate more effectively.
Moderate exercise doesn’t have to mean a 45-minute gym session. It can also include jogging, bicycling, swimming, light hiking, or just a couple of sessions on the treadmill.
By promoting the healthy turnover of immune cells and reducing inflammation, these forms of cardio are a powerful way to keep our immune system (and weight) in check.
4. Get more (and higher quality) sleep.
We can’t talk about immune system function without mentioning sleep.
Immunity and sleep are closely linked, and inadequate or poor-quality sleep has (more than once) been proven to make you more susceptible to illnesses.
In fact, a study in hundreds of healthy adults showed us that people who sleep less than 6 hours a night are more likely to catch a cold than those who get in their daily 8 hours.
Considering this fact, it’s easy for us to realize why getting adequate sleep helps our natural immunity flourish. Not only that, but people tend to sleep more when they’re sick, allowing the immune system to effectively fight off the sickness.
The golden rule should be at least 7 hours (or more) of sleep every night, with younger people needing more sleep – around 8-10 hours, and children or infants needing up to 13 hours.
But it’s not just about quantity – it’s about the quality of your sleep. If you’re having trouble sleeping or you’re waking up feeling exhausted, try limiting your screen time at least in the hours before going to bed, as well as reducing blue light emissions from your phone or TV.
These things are all a part of our sleep hygiene, and they keep our body’s natural circadian rhythm in check. That’s why it’s absolutely vital to our health and wellness that we strive to get at least 7 hours of quality sleep every night.
5. If you’re going to supplement, do it wisely.
It’s very easy to fall for marketing tricks about certain supplement’s ability to treat or prevent the new coronavirus. However, a science-based approach will quickly show you how these assertions are baseless.
There’s no evidence out there to support the use of any supplement for preventing or treating COVID-19.
However, some supplements do strengthen your body’s immune response, including:
- Vitamin: which has been found to reduce the duration of colds by 8% in adults and 14% in younger children.
- Vitamin D: because a vitamin D deficiency increases your chances of getting sick. Supplementing counteracts this effect, and it’s especially important if you’re sheltered at home. Many people are deficient in vitamin D, but if you aren’t or you’re already taking a supplement, vitamin D won’t provide you with any extra benefit.
- Zinc: which in a study of over 500 people suffering from the common cold, reduced the duration of the cold by 33%. (At usage around 100mg of Zinc per day.)
While these supplements have tremendous potential to help your immune system work more efficiently, they won’t prevent COVID-19. Remember, supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), making them more prone to mislabeling.
That’s why you should only purchase supplements that have been tested by third-party organizations.
There are dietary and lifestyle changes that you can make today that will help you strengthen your immune system and your body’s natural defenses against disease.
These include focusing on nutrient-dense foods, working out, getting the right amount (and quality) of sleep, and supplementing to fill the gaps in your diet.
And while none of these suggestions can prevent you from catching COVID-19, they will definitely reinforce your body’s defenses against it (and other harmful pathogens) and ultimately make you a better, healthier individual.