Lower respiratory infections (LRI) including new Covid variants, influenza, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are some of the common health issues to watch as we enter the second quarter of 2023.
Despite being blessed with an innate immune system, our first line of defense that we are born with, we must take measures to improve our immunity to combat constantly emerging new viruses.
With the help of a certified clinical dietitian, we have come up with some tips on how to boost your immune system naturally. But before that, let’s read about how the immune system works and protects our body naturally.
How Does the Immune System Work?
“The immune system is so complicated. It’s so perfectly calibrated that you want to just let it do its thing,” states family physician Saeed Afaneh at Scripps Coastal Medical Center San Marcos.
The immune system is our body’s natural defense against virus infections and helps us stay healthy. It is divided into two parts; innate (natural immune system) and adaptive (acquired immune system).
While the ultimate goal of both the sub-systems is the same, they have designated duties to protect the body against diseases. For instance, the innate immune system fights all germs and foreign substances and is often referred to as ‘non-specific’.
On the flip side, the adaptive immune system is composed of specialized cells that not just fight against the foreign invader but also remember how those substances look like to build protection against them in the future and build a new immune response – more effective and precise.
5 Effective Ways to Boost Immune System Against Viruses
The immune system tends to decline as we age. However, that doesn’t mean it cannot be strengthened and stopped from functioning at its optimal level. Here are some simple and effective ways to boost your immune system at home.
Get enough sleep
“Getting poor sleep over and over again for several nights in a row or several years in a row could really suppress the immune system,” says Dr.Afaneh.
Sleep is one of the most important factors to boost your immune system but is often overlooked due to our unhealthy lifestyles. According to CDC, 1 in every 3 adults does not get a proper 7 hours of sleep.
Even a single night of poor sleep can have an impact on your immune system and reduce its functioning.
By simply making slight changes to your lifestyle, such as cutting down on caffeine, quitting smoking and alcohol, and taking 7 hours of sleep regularly, you can achieve a healthy immune system.
Drink Plenty of Water
Water is essential for mounting your immunity. Not just is it a natural immunity booster but it flushes away all the toxins from your body, improving your well-being.
While the water drinking capacity varies for everyone, one should aim to have at least 8-ounce glasses of water daily to build immunity.
Drink a glass of water as soon as you wake up as your body gets dehydrated after a good 7 hours of sleep. If you struggle to remember to drink enough water, set water reminders for every day. Caffeine-free drinks can also count in your daily intake tally.
Eat a Balance diet
A balanced diet is the best preventive medicine. Ideally, your diet must contain protein and macronutrients like iron, zinc, vitamins C and D, and selenium to boost your immune system. However, they must be consumed through natural sources, as dietary supplements won’t address the problem.
Strictly avoid processed and ready-made foods with added preservatives and instead focus more on homemade healthier options such as lean protein, legumes, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
According to the American Heart Association, one should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week to maintain good cardiovascular health and build immunity.
“Cardiovascular exercise and strength training can be very helpful,” Dr.Afaneh says. “If people are looking for a magic pill, it’s exercise. It supports your immune system, and you don’t need that much.”
If you struggle to gather motivation to work out, indulge in fun activities like Zumba or sports, or recruit a workout partner to make your regular sessions enjoyable.
“Low-level chronic stress has been shown to suppress your immune system — and that’s a hard thing to fix,” says Dr.Afaneh.
Whether physiological or psychological, stress has a major negative effect on our immune system. Not just it makes you susceptible to mental illness, but it also shaves off years of your life.
Practice mindfulness, exercise regularly, use breathwork techniques, and eat healthy to manage stress.
How to boost immune system when sick
Keep the following things in check to boost your immune system when sick:
- Have a balanced diet
- Take care of your hygiene
- Reduce stress
- Get enough sleep
- Consume food that is rich in vitamins C, D, Zinc and Echinacea
How to improve your immune system nhs
Healthy digestion is key to a healthy immune system as research says 70% of our body’s immune functions take place in the gut. Aim to increase your probiotic food intake by adding yogurt, kimchi, kefir, fermented soya, and sauerkraut to your diet.
Which fruit is best for immune system?
Studies have shown that citrus fruits such as oranges, lemon, grapefruit, and tangerines work exceptionally well for immune function. They improve the production of white blood cells to fight against viruses.
What causes weak immune system?
Besides viral infections such as flu, mononucleosis, measles, etc., poor lifestyles and unhealthy habits like smoking, alcohol, and drugs can weaken the immune system.
What drink helps your immune system?
These are the 5 drinks that definitely will help you boost your immune system:
- Watermelon and mint smoothie
- Lemon and ginger tea
- Fresh citrus juices (orange or grapefruit)
- Berry smoothie
- Green juice
What are signs of strong immune system?
Following are the indications of a strong immune system:
- You feel more active and alert
- You sleep well
- You manage your emotions well
- You don’t feel sluggish and sick all the time
What are 5 signs of a weak immune system?
Your immune system is weak if you feel the following symptoms:
- High-stress levels
- Feeling of cold
- Stomach issues
- Slow healing of the wounds
- Persistent feeling of tiredness and fatigue
As viruses and infections become stronger and more lethal, there is a need to strengthen our immune systems to protect ourselves and live healthier lives. With the help of our suggested tips, you can boost your immunity and fight against such diseases without needing artificial supplements, which the FDA does not regulate.
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