Natural Ways to Support Immune Health
Keeping your immune system strong has never been more important. While supporting your immune health might take a little work, there are several ways to naturally strengthen your body’s natural defenses.
While taking various supplements like vitamin C and zinc might be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about increasing your immunity, making certain lifestyle changes could be the best way to naturally support immune health and keep your body in tip-top shape.
5 Natural Ways to Improve Your Immunity
1. Increase Your Intake of Healthy, Plant-Based Foods
They say you are what you eat. It makes sense that regularly eating healthy will ultimately keep you healthy. The best foods to help support your immune strength are whole, plant-based foods like fresh fruits, veggies, nuts, and whole grains. These are the foods that tend to be the highest in antioxidants, which can support immunity by reducing inflammation and destroying the free radicals that can wreak havoc on your immune system.
Think about making the following foods a part of your regular diet to naturally help support your body’s natural defenses:
- Dark leafy greens
- Mushrooms (shitake, chaga, and reishi are best)
- Bell peppers
2. Cut Out Excess Sugar and Refined Carbs
Did you know that eating sugar can actually weaken the immune system? While the relationship between the immune system and sugar isn’t completely understood, it’s believed that too much sugar consumption can negatively impact immune system cells that help ward off bacteria. Sugar consumption has also shown to trigger inflammation.
Get this. One study found that healthy individuals who consumed one can of soda a day that had 40g added sugars showed an increase in inflammatory markers. Another study showed that consuming 50g of sugar caused indications of inflammation that lasted up to two hours.
Refined carbs are very similar to sugar when it comes to immunity. As amazing as pasta, pastries, and bread might be, they’re not so amazing for supporting immune health. Certain types of carbs are famous for increasing both your waistline and inflammation. If you want to give your immune system some support, do yourself a favor and cut out excess carbs.
3. Exercise Regularly
Regular exercise and immunity go hand in hand. You don’t have to get crazy and workout seven days a week for hours on end. You just need to make exercise something you do regularly. Research shows that getting moderate exercise on a regular basis could help allow immune cells to regularly regenerate.
You might consider a brisk 20-minute walk around the block a few times a week. An online fitness or yoga class at home is also great for getting your body moving during stay-at-home/social distancing measures. Just 2.5 hours of moderate exercise each week could help keep your immune system strong.
4. Do Your Best to Decrease Stress
We’re all well aware of the effects of stress on the body and mind. Did you know that chronic stress causes an imbalance in the function of immune cells? It’s true. Long-term stress has shown to suppress protective immune responses and make pathological immune responses worse. Meditation, mindfulness, yoga, and mild exercise are all excellent ways to naturally decrease stress and find a sense of calm throughout each day. Click here for some of our favorite mind and body relaxation techniques that can naturally help decrease stress so you can promote a healthy immune response.
5. Get Plenty of Sleep
The importance of regularly getting a good night’s sleep can’t be stressed enough. It’s recommended we get 7-9 hours of sleep each night to keep the immune system healthy, but many of us are lucky enough to squeeze in 6. Did you know that sleeping less than 6 hours a night is linked to increased susceptibility of catching the common cold?
If you’re interested in supporting your immune health naturally, getting a rejuvenating night’s sleep is essential. Make your bedroom a sanctuary and stick to a regular sleep schedule. You might also consider making a habit to stop screen time (including your phone, laptop or tablet) an hour before going to bed, the blue light emitted from our devices is known to cause serious disruptions to our natural circadian rhythm.
Simply making a few lifestyle changes can do wonders for supporting immune health naturally. Managing your health by eating a wholesome diet, reducing your intake of excess sugar and carbs, getting plenty of sleep and ensuring to exercise regularly can all go a long way when it comes to the strength of your immune system and your overall health.