Your immune system does an outstanding job of protecting you against microorganisms that cause disease. Your immune system recognizes pathogens you've been exposed to before, and therefore quickly responses and fights them off. This is why you don't typically become sick again if you're exposed to a germ again you've already been in contact with, and your immune system has already fought off once.
But, it can fail sometimes. You could have a germ successfully invade, and make you sick. Don't worry though, there ways for you to boost your immune system, so it does its job properly. Here are five natural ways to boost your immune system:
1. Reduce Stress
Stress can suppress or compromise your immune system, making you more vulnerable to infection. Research shows stress causes your body to release the cortisol hormone. This hormone boosts body inflammation, which is a precursor to many illnesses. When you're suffering with chronic stress, it could interfere with your white blood cells' ability to fight infection, and make you vulnerable to contracting diseases.
While it can be difficult to reduce stress, especially at times like this, try to incorporate ways to reduce stress in your life. This might be to do yoga, meditate, take a walk, or watch a funny movie.
2. Exercise More
You can help boost your immune system with light exercise. You don't need an intensive workout everyday to do the trick. Simply participating in a yoga class or going for a daily walk several times a week can help keep your immune system in good shape.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, exercise can flush out lung bacteria, and reduce your likelihood of catching an airborne illness. Your white blood cells will also circulate quicker, which allows your immune system to identify illnesses faster.
3. Consume Vegetables and Fruits
You can really help your immune system out by adding a rainbow of vegetables and fruits on your plate each day. Vegetables and fruits help add essential antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins, like vitamin C, in your body that are required for fighting oxidative stress, including contracting an illness, in your body.
The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest individuals who consume a 2,000 calorie diet each day should include two cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of veggies each day. Some recommendations are:
- Bell peppers
- Leafy greens
- Sweet potatoes
- Citrus fruits
4. Obtain Quality Sleep
Studies show individuals who aren’t getting enough sleep or experiencing quality sleep have a higher chance of becoming sick after they’re exposed to a virus like a cold or flu. Insufficient sleep can impact how quickly you recover from illness, too.
Not obtaining enough sleep can negatively impact your immune system, and this can leave you vulnerable to the flu or a bad cold. When you don't get enough sleep, your body produces fewer cytokines (a protein that targets inflammation and infection), creating an immune response. You produce and release cytokines during sleep, which can cause a double whammy if you're lacking sleep. Sleep deprivation can also cause the flu vaccine to be less effective because it reduces your body's response system.
5. Soak Up Some Sunlight
Vitamin D can help to supercharge your immune system, and when you soak up some sun rays, you're obtaining the most efficient and natural source of Vitamin D. You don't want to overdo it, however, since too much UV ray exposure can lead to sunburn and skin cancer. A few minutes each day can provide you with a proper D dose.
However, your doctor can test your vitamin D level to see if it’s deficient, and can recommend the proper dosage. You may need supplemental doses of supplementing with 1,000–4,000 IU of vitamin D per day, but if you’re severely deficient, you may require an even higher dose.
Keep in mind, there are many factors that play a role in a healthy immune system. You should always talk to your healthcare professional about what’s appropriate for your individual case.
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