There are so many factors that go into leading a healthy lifestyle. And unfortunately, just as many things that make us prone to sickness. Hereditary diseases such as diabetes and asthma, poor nutrition, sleep, and lifestyle habits can all weaken our immune function. To reduce instances of colds and flu, and decrease allergy and asthma symptoms this winter, we’ve compiled a list of ways you can boost your immune system.
Natural Immune Boosters
#1 Build Immune Cells
Proteins are the building blocks for a healthy immune system. Immune cells arise from cells formed in the bone marrow and are protein in structure. Add healthy protein-rich foods to the diet such as lentils, tofu, legumes, whole-fiber foods, nuts, and seeds to boost your immune system easily.
#2 The Right Nutrition Helps Fight The Flu
A balanced diet is necessary to help the body fight off invaders that cause sickness and disease and to recover from illness and injury faster. But there are two main areas where cutting back can greatly affect your immune system.
– Decrease simple carbohydrates and sugars
Too many carbohydrates and too much sugar in your diet spike blood glucose levels, stressing the immune system.
– Decrease unhealthy, fatty foods
Excess fat in your diet causes inflammation in the body and hardens the walls of arteries. This not only causes cardiovascular disease and diabetes but also slows down the immune response because immune cells are carried by the blood to sites of infection.
#3 Quit smoking
Smoking and second-hand smoke can cause many health problems, including the hardening of the blood vessel walls which also hinders blood circulation and slows down the immune system.
#4 Stimulate the Immune System With Supplements
Though whole food sources such as vegetables and fruits, provide far superior and more easily absorbed nutrients, taking a supplement can help supply the necessary vitamins and minerals.
– Vitamin A
Vitamin A strengthens the resistance to invaders crossing the skin and mucous membranes of the lungs and gut.
– B Vitamins
B-complex vitamins are needed for cell growth.
– Vitamins E & C
Vitamins E and C have antioxidant properties that help to enhance the immune system against viruses especially in the elderly.
The mineral zinc plays a very important role in immunity. Foods rich in zinc include whole grains, bran, beans, chickpeas, lentils, tofu, walnuts, cashew nuts, chia seeds, ground linseed, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, and quinoa.
#5 Exercise Strengthens The Body Against Disease
Get off the couch and get active to decrease colds and flu. Exercise speeds up the removal of waste and toxins from your body and flushes bacteria and foreign particles from your lungs by increasing your respiratory rate. Only 20 minutes of regular, strenuous exercise boosts the immune system.
#6 Decrease Stress and Improve Sleep
Exercise also reduces stress which can zap the immune system and it improves restful sleep.
Insomnia increases the risk of colds and flu; a good night’s sleep is necessary to repair the body’s defenses so its ready to fight infections. Most people require seven to eight hours every night. Also, try to maintain a regular bedtime even on weekends.
#7 Wash Away Viruses and Bacteria
Viruses and bacteria are passed easily from skin to skin contact and can remain on hard surfaces for four hours or more.
– Wash Your Hands
Viruses and bacteria are commonly spread by touching contaminated surfaces and through the air as respired droplets. Regular hand washing is one of the most important infection control measures. Thoroughly scrub your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds before rinsing in water. Alcohol-based gels also kill influenza viruses and bacteria.
– Avoid touching the eyes, nose, and mouth and biting fingernails
This gives viruses that may be on your hands easy access into your body.
– Rinse your nose
To dampen the flu virus further, rinse out the inside of the nostrils twice a day or more. The nose is the body’s air filter, functioning effectively to prevent viruses and bacteria from reaching the nasal passages, throat, and lungs.
#8 Add Immune Boosting Spices to Cooking
Powerful anti-microbial ingredients can be found in the kitchen and when added to the diet, help to cleanse the body and fortify the immune system.
Turmeric contains the active ingredient curcumin, which helps the body ward off viral infections and stabilizes the inflammatory defense.
Cinnamon, cloves, lemon balm, oregano, parsley, and thyme have similar antibacterial and antiviral properties.
Also add garlic, ginger, and onions to cooking to become less susceptible to colds and flu and to recover faster from illnesses. Try this immune-boosting soup for a little kick this winter!