10 Immune-Boosting Habits to Add to Your Daily Routine
There’s nothing worse than getting sick. Colds and flus prevent us from living our day-to-day lives, and they have an irritating tendency to arrive at the most inconvenient times, getting in the way of a big date night or a long-awaited vacation.
Luckily, there are plenty of easy lifestyle habits to incorporate to prevent yourself from getting sick. You can use routine practices to boost your immune system on the daily so you have a buffer against whatever germs come your way. Read on to learn our best secrets for supporting your immune system—plus, find out which supplements your body needs for whole-body health and wellness.
1. Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Our bodies often intuitively signal to us after we skimp on sleep—after an all-nighter, you usually don’t feel your best. And the science provides evidence to back up that experience. Study upon study has linked poor sleep to increased susceptibility to disease, including accelerated aging of the immune system.
To stay on top of your health, get at least seven hours of high-quality sleep per night. Practice good sleep hygiene by staying away from screens, maintaining a consistent bedtime routine, avoiding large nighttime meals and optimizing your sleep schedule to fit your needs and catch those critical ZZZs.
2. Diversify Your Diet
As the saying goes, you are what you eat—and that’s especially true when it comes to your immune system. One of the best ways to support your immune system is to eat a varied diet. Make sure you’re consuming a plant-rich diet with plenty of immune-supporting antioxidant vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, iron and protein. Researchers have recommended specifically plant-based protein sources like legumes to support your gut microbiome, which regulates the body’s immune response.
3. Incorporate a Probiotic Supplement
Your gut bacteria play a major role in immune system health, so it’s important to make sure you’re regularly consuming probiotics to support your digestion. A probiotic boost can rev up your immune system by enriching your gut’s microbiome.
4. Catch Some Rays
Let's talk about vitamin D—another critical immune-supporting nutrient. Produced naturally by our bodies in response to sunlight exposure, vitamin D is known to support immune function in addition to bone health, metabolism and cell growth. A recent study even showed that an immune response from sunlight exposure helped patients recover from Covid-19. So get regular access to sunshine to give your immune system a supportive boost—and don’t forget the sunscreen!
5. Drink Water
Ask any respected beauty expert about their skincare routine, and they’ll be certain to tell you that hydration is key. But beyond skincare, water is vital to your inner body’s health as well. Since water helps deliver nutrients around the body, insufficient water means insufficient nutrient distribution.
As such, loading up on H2O—along with other sugar-free hydration sources like herbal teas and broths—is critical to immune system health. Researchers know that suboptimal hydration can increase your risk of a lowered immune response (and hydration may even be an avenue to increase recovery rates in Covid-19 infections). So raise a glass of water to a healthier you!
6. Elevate Your Heart Rate
We know that healthy bodies are generally better at fighting off illnesses, and health extends to exercise. Raising your heart rate through physical activity can help reduce the likelihood of risk factors and other diseases that could otherwise compromise immune function.
Experts recommend 150 minutes of exercise per week—that’s just over 20 minutes per day. So remember that getting daily exercise doesn’t have to be an arduous chore, and work to find joyful movement that you can incorporate in your day, such as taking a walk, going on a short hike, enjoying an afternoon dance break or putting on a yoga video. Your immune system will thank you!
Related: 12 Yoga Poses for Gut Health
7. Think Zinc
All minerals are important for maintaining health, but zinc is especially necessary when it comes to your immune system. Research shows that zinc plays a role in supporting the production of white blood cells, which your body needs to create an immune response. When your body doesn’t have access to sufficient zinc, your immune system may be depressed, leaving you more susceptible to infection. Boost your zinc levels by eating foods that are naturally rich in the mineral, like wheat germ, tofu and spinach.
8. Wash Your Hands
As we’ve all learned after two-plus years of pandemic, washing our hands requires just a little bit of work and can go a long way. And pandemic or no pandemic, it’s still true that hand washing prevents unnecessary transmission of immune system-activating microbes, keeping you from passing on an infection.
Use soap and water and scrub for at least 20 seconds—yes, including between your fingers and under your nails. While hand-washing is preferable since it actually gets germs off of your hands, you should also stock up on hand sanitizer for on-the-go hygiene.
9. Mind Your Mood
High stress is one of the worst feelings—and it’s also one of the worst things for your immune system. Ongoing, chronic stress can create chronic inflammation, impeding your immune system’s ability to respond to invasive microbes and germs. While stress can often feel out of our control, it’s actually one of our best opportunities to make changes to our lifestyle to benefit long-term health.
Reduce your mental load by making time to do the things you care about, however simple. That might mean making a call to a good friend, blasting your favorite music in the car, enjoying a good book, taking a relaxing bath or doing a five-minute meditation before bed. Boosting your mood will boost your health, so find little ways to enjoy your day—you won’t regret it.
Further Reading: 7 Lifestyle and Nutrition Tweaks to Reduce Stress
10. When in Doubt, Call the Doctor
In some cases, you might do everything right and still feel like your health isn’t improving. Plus, the pandemic has meant a tough couple of years for many of us, leading to lots of skipped doctor appointments and unaddressed health issues. If you feel like you’re following all the rules and still feeling chronically under the weather, talk to a doctor—a larger underlying health issue may be at play.
By taking steps to support your immune system every day, you’re reducing your chances of getting sick and giving yourself the gift of a higher quality of life. So congratulate yourself for committing to your own wellness and get ready to celebrate the new-and-immune-improved you! And stay up to date with VEGAMOUR for health and wellness tips for today and every day.
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