As a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, many people around the world are refocusing on their health and wellness; one of the most important focuses being immune system maintenance. Your immune system is the network of organs, cells, and tissues that help your body fight off infections. There are factors like lack of sleep and bad habits such as smoking that can weaken your immune system, but there are even more practices that can strengthen it!
In this post, we’ll take a look at 4 ways you can boost your immune system during the current pandemic and beyond.
1. Get plenty of exercise
Everyone knows that regular exercise offers many perks — better sleep, improved heart health, boosted mood, strengthened muscles, etc. But one of the biggest benefits of exercise is that it can help build up and bolster your immune system.
When you work out, not only does your body release energizing chemicals, but it also is able to flush out toxins that have infiltrated it over time. Additionally, exercise also causes changes in antibodies like white blood cells, which help your body to fight off infections.
However, researchers warn that individuals who already exercise a lot should not increase activity only to boost their immune system, because in some cases, over-exercising can actually result in adverse effects. To reap the most reward from your workouts, experts say to shoot for moderate exercise on a regular basis, though it’s easier said than done!
If you’re struggling to get back on the bandwagon, here are a few tips to help you restore your motivation once more:
- Ask a friend to join you in your efforts. Holding each other accountable is a really effective way to meet your collective fitness and health-related goals.
- Not into the gym setting? Try out an at-home virtual fitness routine instead. From Instagram wellness influencers to fitness vloggers, there are plenty of resources here to foster your home fitness plan.
- Make working out the highlight of your day! Listen to an invigorating playlist, check out a new podcast, or meet up with a friend to make it more fun.
2. Eat nutrient-rich foods
Your immune system relies on various vitamins and minerals to stay strong. By incorporating these essential nutrients in your diet, you can help your immune system function more effectively.
Here are a few of the most important nutrients for the immune system, and the foods that contain them:
- Zinc: Oysters, beef, cashews, legumes, whole grains, lentils
- Selenium: Brazil nuts, eggs, shrimp and prawns, brown rice
- Iron: White beans, dark chocolate, spinach, soybeans, sardines, tofu
- Vitamin C: citrus fruits, broccoli, brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes
Because our bodies don’t naturally produce these elements, it’s important to make sure that you’re eating a balanced diet that regularly replenishes these vitamins and nutrients. However, your immune system may still need additional support beyond a well-balanced diet to stay strong. Just add immune booster gummies or chewable vitamins to supplement as needed!
3. Eliminate stress
Stress, just like smoking, is a bad habit that can wreak havoc on your immune system if it goes unmanaged. Though the lines are still being drawn between how exactly stress impacts immune health, researchers have found that emotional stress can manifest as physical symptoms in the body. You may have even noticed that you tend to get sick more often when you’re feeling overwhelmed at work or stressed out about family tensions.
To boost your mental wellness and your immune functionality, try out these stress-relieving strategies:
- Hiking or walking outside
4. Prioritize sleep
Another big offender of immune function is inadequate sleep. When you sleep, your body produces proteins that both promote sleep and help you fight infection; so when you don’t get enough sleep, your body isn’t able to create enough of these proteins. Adults should get approximately seven to eight hours of good sleep each night. Teenagers need nine to 10 hours, and school-aged children may need 10 or more hours of sleep each night.
Your immune system is a vital part of the body, not only during a global pandemic. Use these 4 tips to help you improve and maintain immune function!