Immunity from getting sick – it’s something we take for granted until illness strikes. Your immune system is complex. And every day it defends your body from infection and disease. To keep you at the top of your health game, we have a few simple tips on how to boost your immunity naturally. As always, ask your doctor for their suggestions on which of the immunity fighters below are best for you.
In our busy screen watching lives, we often skimp on sleep. Many researchers have highlighted the benefits of nightly, restful sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, lack of sleep lowers your immune response. So how can you get quality zzzz’s? Educate yourself on some sleep snatchers such as naps, alcohol and snoring.
Soak Up Some Sun
Getting outdoors in the sunshine feels great. And it takes only 10-15 minutes of sunshine a day to boost vitamin D levels in your body. Vitamin D can help your immunity, mood and bones. Of course if you stay outside longer than 15 minutes, always apply sunblock or sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher).
Equally important are eating vitamin D rich foods. These include: fatty fish such as salmon, egg yolks, mushrooms and beef liver. Foods fortified with vitamin D include: cow’s milk, soy milk, orange juice, and many kinds of cereal and oatmeal. A simple blood test by your doctor can determine if you are getting enough vitamin D.
Sit Still and Meditate
When you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed, it may seem unreasonable to sit still and do nothing. Yet research findings suggest regular meditation boosts immunity in only eight weeks. So, what are you waiting for? Just close your eyes, sit still and breathe.
Consistent, purposeful exercise is not only a proven mood booster, it also keeps you well. According to the National Institutes of Health, exercise slows down the release of stress hormones, which may protect against illness. On the positive side, you don’t have to train for an adventure race to get the benefits of exercise. A daily 20 minute walk fulfills your exercise dose.
Eat Healthy Foods
It’s well known that vitamin C is an immunity booster. Because our bodies don’t store or produce vitamin C, it’s essential to get it daily. Foods rich in Vitamin C include: citrus fruits, strawberries, papayas, spinach, kale, Brussels sprouts and broccoli. Getting enough vitamin C is easier than you think. In fact, eating just a half-cup of red bell pepper is 106% of your required daily dose.
More Immunity Boosting Foods
- Blueberries are rich in many nutrients. Studies show eating them regularly lowers blood pressure.
- Broccoli is high in many vitamins and minerals. In particular, it is high in both protein and fiber.
- Sweet potatoes are not only packed with fiber and potassium, but they’re an excellent source of beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant.
- Dark chocolate is rich in minerals such as iron, magnesium, and zinc. Choose dark chocolate that includes at least 70 percent cacao solids for the most benefit. Keep in mind dark chocolate is high in fat and calories – moderation is key.
- Yogurt containing “live and active cultures,” on the label is a good choice. The cultures are thought to stimulate your immune system to help fight disease. Look for brands also fortified with vitamin D.
- Fish is an excellent choice for your immunity. Loaded with omega-3 fatty acids and other healthy fats, fish can help protect the body from everything from joint pain to heart disease. Pregnant women and young children should avoid high mercury fishes such as tuna, mackerel and swordfish.
- Ginger or ginger tea helps decrease inflammation in the body and can help reduce a sore throat. Ginger is also known to calm the tummy and ease nausea.
- Garlic is likely one of the most popular foods in the world. Garlic may help lower blood pressure, and its immune-boosting properties come from allicin – a compound produced when garlic is crushed or chopped.
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Other Ways to Boost Your Immunity
- Frequently wash your hands for at least 20 seconds
- Avoid or stop smoking
- Avoid alcohol or practice moderation
- Regularly brush and floss your teeth
Catching colds more often and not feeling yourself? Seek help from a primary care doctor to discuss your concerns.