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Your immune system is a hard-working, intricate structure that helps our bodies fight disease and infection. During the coronavirus pandemic, it’s now more important than ever to ensure we’re incorporating healthy habits into our everyday life that help boost our immune system. As many of us continue to work from home, it’s important to keep taking care of ourselves and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
While there isn’t one magic pill we can take to immediately boost our immune system, there are various things we can do to improve our overall immune health.
1) Exercise regularly
With most states encouraging people to stay at home, we have to find creative ways to stay active. It is recommended to get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. Exercise has been linked to a more effective immune system, not to mention it also helps reduce anxiety and depression. Exercising also helps lower blood pressure & control body weight, improves cardiovascular health, and protects against a variety of diseases. Try doing some yoga, going for a walk around the block, or downloading a fitness app to stay on track with your goals.
2) Get enough sleep
Did you know that 70% of adults in America report that they obtain insufficient sleep at least one night a month? Sleep is an essential part of keeping your immune system healthy. If you’re not getting enough sleep, you may be at a higher risk for developing cardiovascular disease, mood disorders, and possibly cancer regardless of your age or health habits. Make sleep a priority and aim to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
3) Manage stress
Cortisol, the stress hormone, reduces the activity of the immune system. If you’re under a lot of stress, you may be more likely to drink more alcohol, resort to smoking, and not exercise the necessary amount – all of which are linked to poor immune health. Stress
can strain your body and make it almost impossible to function. Combat this by meditation, getting enough sleep, setting time aside for yourself, and exercising daily.
4) Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke
The damages smoking can do to our bodies is well known. The chemicals emitted from cigarette smoke promote the development of plaque buildup in the arteries which contributes to heart disease and can weaken our immune system. According to the American Heart Association, an estimated 46,000 nonsmokers die each year from cardiovascular disease due to exposure to secondhand smoke.
If you are a smoker, there’s no best way to quit cold turkey. Medicine, support groups, counseling, or a combination of all three can be helpful ways to kick this habit. If you’re a nonsmoker, avoid environmental smoke and be vocal with smokers that you do not want to be around it. This lifestyle change will lay the foundation for a strong immune system and a healthy body that fights infection.
5) Watch your weight
Maintaining a healthy weight is key to keeping your immune system healthy and reducing your chances of developing many diseases. Carrying extra weight can raise your blood pressure and put you at risk for other serious conditions, like cancer and diabetes. In order to keep a healthy weight, you can put into practice some of these healthy habits:
- Eat out only on occasion.
- Exercise a little bit every day.
- Spend less time sitting in front of a computer.
- Drink more water.
- Don’t sit too long at a time.
- Drink alcohol in moderation.
Try setting small weight loss and exercise goals for yourself. These healthy habits will make your immune system and the rest of your body happy and healthy.
6) Eat a balanced diet
Eating a well balanced diet that includes vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean meats is another way you can improve your immune system. On the other hand, consuming too much artificial sugar can lower your immune system’s ability to fight bacteria and increases your chance of developing obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Unfortunately, eating a high-fat, high-sugar diet can kill essential bacteria in the gut causing your immune system to malfunction. That’s why it’s important to eat a balanced diet that includes foods with essential vitamins and minerals such as leafy greens, almonds, sweet potatoes, and non-fat yogurt.
There are also many full-flavored spices that are beneficial for our immune system including ginger, turmeric, garlic, cayenne pepper, and cinnamon. These spice ingredients can give your immune system the boost it needs. Always opt for whole foods that have not been processed or packaged.
Integrating healthy habits into your every day will have a profound effect on your immune system and the way your body handles contact with bacteria and viruses. Exercising, eating well, and reducing stress all can play a significant role in boosting your immune system.
Author bio: Brooke Kelly is a business journalist turned health and wellness enthusiast and blogger. During her spare time, she loves walking her corgi and hiking with friends and family.