Your immune system is the body’s first line of defense against illness. Similar to how a security system around your house provides protection, your immune system uses a system of chemicals and proteins in your body to combat viruses, harmful bacteria, infections, and parasites.
Here are five steps you can implement into your daily routine to build your immune system and stay healthy all year long.
Keep a Healthy Diet
Having a healthy diet is essential for a strong immune system. This requires eating lots of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, proteins, and healthy fats.
A healthy diet will not only give your immune system the energy it needs, but also provide you with the micronutrients necessary for maintaining it, such as:
- Vitamin B6, which can be found in chicken, salmon, tuna, bananas, green vegetables, and potatoes (with the skin).
- Vitamin E is found in almonds, sunflower and safflower oils, peanut butter, and spinach.
- Vitamin C is found in citrus fruit, such as oranges and strawberries, as well as in tomatoes and broccoli.
Engage in Regular Exercise
Exercise isn’t just for building muscles and de-stressing—it’s also crucial for keeping yourself healthy and supporting your immune system. Exercise can boost your immune function by improving overall circulation, which enables immune cells and other infection-fighting molecules to travel throughout your body.
Stress can affect your health in a variety of ways, including how it impacts your immune system, no matter how quickly it comes on or how slowly it builds.
When you’re under a lot of stress, especially chronic stress that lasts a long time, your body responds by activating what’s called a stress response.
This response is supposed to help you deal with the stressful situations that come your way, but it also suppresses your immune system, increasing your chances of becoming ill.
Drink Plenty of Water
Water is important for many functions in your body, including boosting your immune system. Lymph, a fluid in your circulatory system that carries essential infection-fighting immune cells throughout your body, is mostly made up of water. Dehydration causes lymph to travel more slowly, which can contribute to immune system problems.
Whether you’re exercising or not, you’re constantly losing water through your breath, urine, and bowel movements. Make sure you drink enough water every day to keep your immune system healthy.
Ensure You Get Enough Sleep
While sleep might not seem like an active process, there are many critical things happening in your body when you are not awake. For example, crucial infection-fighting molecules are produced while you sleep.
Research shows that people who don’t get enough quality sleep are more likely to get sick after exposure to viruses such as the common cold. When it comes to your immune system, it’s important to get enough sleep every night, and take steps if your sleep is suffering.