How to Boost Your Immune System and Prevent Common Illnesses

Your immune system is your body’s first line of defense, acting like a security system to guard against germs, infections and diseases. Unfortunately, like any other system it can become overwhelmed and not function optimally. In order to help boost its strength and keep you feeling healthy throughout illness, there are ways to strengthen it naturally.

Enhance Your Immunity With Food, Exercise and Low Stress

Eating a nutritious diet is one of the most important ways to keep your immune system strong. Make sure your plate includes plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains so your body gets all of the essential nutrients it needs to fight infections.

Hydrating is essential for good health. Drink water at regular intervals throughout the day and steer clear of alcoholic beverages or foods high in sugar, both of which can disrupt your immune system’s performance.

Dr. Chen Lin, an Allergy & Immunity doctor at Houston Methodist Hospital, suggests a balanced diet with lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and healthy fats such as nuts, seeds and avocado to nourish your cells and help them produce antibodies to fight disease-causing germs. These nutrients will nourish your cells and give them the energy they need to fight off infection-causing germs.

Vaccines are an important way to strengthen your immune system, as they build immunity against certain illnesses. They’re especially essential for children and those at higher risk for developing immune disorders such as cancer or chronic conditions.

Don’t Neglect the Small Stuff

Staying active is another essential part of overall health, and it has an especially beneficial effect on your immune system. A short walk several times a week can help move antibodies and white blood cells more efficiently throughout your body, decreasing the likelihood that you’ll catch a cold or other infection.

Physical activity can help you sleep well and boost your mood. It is recommended that adults get at least seven hours of sleep each night. A good night’s rest helps your body release immune-boosting proteins called cytokines, so having a consistent bedtime and wake time is essential for optimal wellbeing.

Stop Smoking and Reduce Alcohol Intake

Smoking or drinking too much alcohol can weaken your immune system, as they make white blood cells more prone to infection and disease, according to the American Psychological Association. A 2015 study revealed that cigarette smoking increased the risk of pneumonia by 40 percent.

Take a Vitamin and Mineral Supplement

Adequate vitamin, mineral and antioxidant intake is essential for maintaining a healthy immune system. These substances help repair damaged cells, combat free radicals and enhance your immunity response. These substances can be taken in supplement or capsule form; however, consult your doctor about the correct amount and type for you.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Your immune system relies on proteins to keep your body functioning at optimal capacity, so it’s essential that you don’t become overweight. Excess weight can make it harder for the body to fight off illness, so ensure you maintain a healthy weight by eating nutritious foods and exercising regularly.

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