Think of your immune system as your fort, your moat, your castle walls. It stands between you and the outside world, and this line of defence could always use a little extra support. Here are a few ways you can help your immune system out and make sure it stays strong.
There are so many ways regular exercise keeps you healthy – it lowers blood pressure, helps control weight, helps maintain bone density – the list of benefits is long and awesome. But exercise also has a direct effect on your immune system. Researchers found that athletes had higher white blood cell counts – the warriors of your immune system – after working out. As well, increased movement and deeper breathing helps move bacteria and other infections out of airways and your body faster.
2) Eat Well
It seems like one food is always being praised as the ultimate immune booster, whether it’s garlic, citrus, mushrooms or Mom’s chicken soup. There’s no single perfect cure-all, instead a diet high in organic fruits and vegetables will help keep your immune system running smoothly. Don’t forget nuts and seeds, they’re packed with minerals and Omega 3 oils.
3) Avoid toxins
Sometimes what you don’t do is the best thing for you. Cigarette smoke and other toxins can greatly weaken your immune system. Chemical exposure can build up over time, trace amounts of things like pesticides may stay with you for months, even years. Often other triggers, like allergies, can cause your immune system to misfire, overreacting in ways that can range from annoying to dangerous. Avoid these triggers wherever possible, and do your best to reduce the chemical load in your body by being aware of what you’re consuming.
4) Get outdoors
Vitamin D is incredibly important to your immune system, lack of vitamin D has been found to be a factor in both autoimmune diseases and in increased rates of infections. Getting your D through food or supplements is fine, but the best way to get your body to make the vitamin is sunlight on skin. Of course, you have to be careful not to expose unprotected skin to the sun for longer than 10 minutes for light skin or 20 minutes for dark. But being outside and in nature also helps with number 5 on this list.
This may be one of the hardest of all to do, because it seems like the things that cause stress are so often out of our control. However stress affects the body in many negative ways, wearing down natural defences so that you can become more vulnerable to illness and even chronic diseases. Taking time to focus on reducing your stress is important for your health and your family’s. Practicing yoga or meditation has been shown to be effective, as is simply taking the time to walk outdoors, or doing breathing exercises at your desk. Just being mindful of your body and all it’s doing can help you take control and help shore up those immune defences.