Lifestyle Tips to Boost Immunity
- July 14, 2020
- by Diane Duvall
During this time of heightened awareness of health and wellness concerns, how do we protect ourselves and keep our body healthy? The role of our immune system is to defend us against infection and illness. While we should take steps to avoid infection such as washing our hands with soap and water and avoiding sick people, it is also important to make healthy lifestyle choices to keep our immune system strong. There are natural ways that we can boost our immune system to aid us in staying healthy.
Practice Healthy Eating
Choosing whole, plant-based foods benefits overall health. Focus on a diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and healthy fats, including nuts and seeds. Enjoy flavoring foods with a variety of herbs and spices for their additional antioxidant content. Be sure to include plenty of immune boosting foods which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and are high in vital nutrients such as zinc, vitamin C and selenium. This includes bone broth, chicken soup, wild salmon, broccoli, spinach, sweet potatoes and citrus fruits such as oranges and berries. Limit excess sugar and processed foods which can weaken the immune system. Stay well hydrated with water.
Regular, moderate exercise can reduce inflammation and promote a healthy immune system. While the Centers for Disease Control recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days per week, as little as 20 minutes can support immunity. Jogging, biking, walking, swimming, dancing and hiking are good options. Something as simple as a daily brisk walk can help you live healthier. A study of over 1,000 men and women showed that a 20-minute daily walk at least five days a week resulted in 43 percent fewer sick days than those who exercised once a week or less. If they did get sick it was for a shorter duration and they had milder symptoms.
When we are under chronic stress our body produces stress hormones that can suppress our immune system. When we are experiencing excessive stress levels, we may also neglect other health-boosting habits such as eating right and getting enough sleep. Quickly change your mood and reduce stress levels by listening to music, laughing, going outside, singing or reading a book. There are many effective stress reduction techniques such as finding an activity you enjoy (fishing, drawing), journaling, meditation, prayer, yoga or deep breathing. Be sure to set aside time on a regular basis for fun and stress reducing activities.
Stop Bad Habits
Drinking large amounts of alcohol can put a strain on our immune system. With high amounts of alcohol our body is too busy trying to detoxify our system to focus on normal immune system function. Smoking, which can be toxic to the lungs, can also negatively affect immune health. Listening to too much negative news, negative thought habits and too much technology can put a strain on our immune system. Focus on activities that uplift your emotional state. When a person feels emotions like joy and optimism the brain manufactures positive hormones that enhance the immune system.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Our body heals, detoxifies and regenerates while we sleep. It is recommended that adults get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night to optimize health. Allow time for adequate sleep and try to turn off electronics at least one hour before bed. Develop a regular sleep routine and practice a wind down ritual such as journaling, reading, taking a relaxing bath or prayer and meditation.
Connect with Others
Social connections are important for our well-being. Strong, healthy relationships can help strengthen our immune system, help us to recover from disease, and may even lengthen our life. Positive emotions which are shown to improve immunity, arise from being connected with others, even in virtual interactions. When you can’t physically be with others, connect with friends and family with FaceTime, texting and phone calls.
There are several immune boosting supplements that Dr. Abraham recommends. Getting outside for fresh air and sunshine can help with Vitamin D levels but also include a minimum of 2000 IU daily. Other supplements that support immune health include melatonin (2.5 mg daily), zinc (10 – 20 mg per day), and vitamin C (500 mg daily). Please discuss any supplements with your health care practitioner before using them.
Chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity can affect the immune system and increase the risk of infections. It is important to practice healthy lifestyle habits and visit your doctor regularly to optimize health.
Diane Duvall, Life Coach and Certified Health Coach for the Lifestyle Medicine Practice of Dr. Geni Abraham, Board Certified, American Board of Internal Medicine. Our Internal Medicine Practice is an integrated medical practice with a focus on Lifestyle Medicine. We offer health coaching sessions to help you reach your personal goals. Dr. Geni Abraham, Medical Specialists of the Palm Beaches, Inc., 205 JFK Drive, Atlantis FL 33462.
Phone: (561) 432-8935, Visit DrGeniAbraham.com and Follow us on Facebook