Your health is one of the most valuable things you have — if not the most important. Today more than ever, people across the world are practicing gratitude for health while being vigilant about protecting it. Pandemics and viruses aside, there are ways to give your health the right priority it needs no matter what age you are.
Strong immunity, while crucial to preventing and fighting illness, is also a key component to living a balanced, happy life. How? The habits and practices you can do to support your immunity all lend themselves to a happy, holistic existence. It's the best of both worlds; being strong and healthy to combat disease and illness and enjoying your body for the life it's given you.
What Does “Strong Immune System” Mean?
Your immune system is exactly that, a system. The human body is made up of 11 separate systems that do their independent parts to keep your body running at its most optimal.
The primary purpose of your immune system is to protect against pesky, persistent bacteria that want nothing more than to attack your body, breaking it down to make it more susceptible to injury and illness. Your immune system is the gatekeeper for what gets in and what stays out of your body. When it is working, the viruses and toxins don’t have a chance. When it’s not, the floodgates are wide open.
Your body shows signs of a strong immune system pretty often. One example is when you get a mosquito bite. The red, bumpy itch is a sign of your immune system at work. The flu or a cold is a typical example of your body failing to stop the germs/bacteria before they get in. However, when you recover from the cold or flu, it’s proof that your immune system was able to eliminate the invader after learning about it and reacting to its defense. If your immune system did nothing, you would never get over the cold, or anything else for that matter. When you are sick, your body isn’t able to perform at its full potential.
Depending on the nature of what’s got you under the weather, a prescription or over-the-counter medication may be needed if your immune system isn't reacting or responding quickly enough. That too is normal; antibiotics were created for this very reason. The good news is there are many things you can do to keep your immune system strong and healthy.
How To Boost Immunity
Living a healthy lifestyle is your single best option to a strong immune system. Every part of your body functions better when it is fueled with healthy foods, a positive environment, and minimal stress. Sound ideal? Here are some easy tips for a stronger immune system that won't overwhelm you.
1. Daily Exercise
Yes, daily. Just 30 minutes.
There are numerous benefits to exercise, including prevention of arthritis, diabetes, heart conditions, and more. Exercise has also been shown to enhance and improve different components of the immune system. Exercise also improves your sleep quality and increases immune function. Go for a walk, become a member of a fitness center, find some fun exercises, and commit to a routine. Exercise also doubles as a mood and mental booster — two benefits in one.
2. Let the Light In
Enjoy moderate exposure to sunlight a few times each week. Vitamin D is imperative for strengthening your immune system. If you’re not able to get outside, consider a Vitamin D supplement as a substitute. Fresh air is good for everyone and a change of scenery is always a plus. Of course, with exposure to the sun, it's also equally as important to wear SPF — and wear it daily.
3. Be Mindful
Keep stress minimal; meditate or pray, and allow your brain some down time. Nothing good ever comes from worrying. Your body will be in a more relaxed state and feel rejuvenated with some peace and quiet. Stress can be an inhibitor of immunity for the way it creeps in and likes to settle, affecting appetite, sleep habits, even daily routines.
4. Promote Gut Health
Your gut knows when you're happy ... in fact, your gut know nearly everything. Keep it in check!
Foods with good bacteria, like yogurt, have positive health benefits. Probiotics can help your digestive system function normal and stay balanced. After all, 80% of your immune system is located in your digestive system, so it’s best to keep your stomach healthy and happy.
5. Get Enough Sleep
It’s a simple thing, really, getting a good night’s sleep. It’s your body’s chance to rest and recover. Aim for 7-9 good hours each night. Removing distractions, going to bed when you’re tired, and eliminating sugary foods late in the day will help you when you hit the pillow.
According to the Mayo Clinic, "During sleep, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines, some of which help promote sleep. Certain cytokines need to increase when you have an infection or inflammation, or when you're under stress. Sleep deprivation may decrease production of these protective cytokines. In addition, infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during periods when you don't get enough sleep."
Little Daily Habits = Long Lasting Effects
Replacing bad health habits with good ones can help you keep a strong immune system. Here are a few little daily habits you can easily incorporate:
- Wash your hands frequently — and not just during pandemics!
- Eat more fruits and vegetables
- Laugh more
- Reflect on gratitude
- Use sunscreen
- Drink plenty of water
- Monitor your blood pressure
- Take a multi-vitamin
- Have dessert!
Use these tips to boost your immunity and be well. These habits will also help you to live a happy, healthy life.