Keeping your immune system operating optimally is a year-round task, but it’s especially important as the winter months approach and the incidence of colds and flu increases dramatically. It also would be great if you could take just one pill or supplement and guarantee better immune function. Although it’s not that simple, it’s also not very complicated to improve your immune function. In fact, the following tips on how to boost your immunity provide significant overall health benefits as well.
Choose a healthy lifestyle. This is a broad statement and one that’s easy to understand, albeit not always easy to implement at first. However, with a little patience and perseverance, making these lifestyle changes will reward you with big benefits, including a better functioning immune system.
Eat a natural diet. Choose natural (organic when possible) fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds and avoid processed foods. Keep saturated fat to 10 percent or less of your total caloric intake.
Select immune-boosting foods. In addition to eating a natural diet, there are certain foods shown to enhance immune function. These include garlic, onions, citrus, green tea, ginger, mushrooms, black pepper, and honey.
Volunteer. Research shows that people who volunteer their time for cause they believe in enjoy less stress and, by association, a stronger immune system. In a study by United Health Group and the Optum Institute, 78 percent of participants said volunteering lowered their stress levels. Volunteering also can result in better mood, such as joy and optimism, which also help strengthen the immune system.
Exercise regularly. A combination of aerobic and resistance exercise practiced at least five days per week is recommended. Exercise promotes blood circulation and removal of toxins from the body, strengthens the heart and other muscles, and supports better respiration.
Maintain a healthy weight. If you need to drop a few pounds, following the first two tips should help you achieve this goal. Carrying excess weight is a strain on the body and reduces immunity.
Stop smoking. This habit interferes with circulation, damages healthy cells, and is hazardous to immune system functioning.
Manage blood pressure. Uncontrolled blood pressure places significant stress on the immune system and makes it difficult for its optimal functioning. Fortunately, a combination of a nutritious diet, regular exercise, weight control, and adequate sleep can be effective in managing blood pressure.
Drink alcohol in moderation. If you drink at all, limit your intake to no more than two drinks daily for men and one for women. If you don’t drink, don’t start!
Sleep. Adults need seven to eight hours of restful sleep every night, and that includes the weekends. It’s been established that sufficient sleep is necessary not only for proper immune function but to enhance function as well. If you have difficulty sleeping, don’t resort to sleeping pills unless you have tried all other natural approaches, including establishing consistent retiring and awaking times, banning electronic devices from your bedroom, engaging in calming activities before bedtime, and making your sleeping environment as welcoming as possible.
Try natural supplements. A few of the natural supplements that can help revitalize your immune system or fight infections include elderberry, Echinacea, oregano oil, olive leaf, astragalus root, ginger, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, and garlic. Benefits of the latter supplement also can be obtained from including garlic in your diet. Always discuss supplement use with a trusted healthcare professional before starting a regimen.
Manage stress. Even though it’s difficult to perform controlled experiments of the effect of stress on immune function, there is considerable evidence that emotional stress takes a toll on the body’s ability to fight infection. Incorporate stress-reducing practices into your daily routine, such as deep breathing, meditation, tai chi, progressive relaxation, or visualization.
Written by Deborah Mitchell. Deborah Mitchell is passionate about personal health and the well-being of animals and the planet. She has authored, coauthored, and ghostwritten more than 40 books, contributes regularly to several websites, and shares information on physical, emotional, and spiritual health on her blog, deborahmitchellbooks.com.
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