Why is knowing how to boost your immune system important? A new disease, Coronavirus Disease 2019 or COVID-19 (caused by the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 or SARS-CoV-2 virus strain) recently became the top headline on practically every major news network. It has become a public health emergency, not only in China where it originated, but also globally. As of now, there’s still no cure or vaccine for the disease. Actually, many diseases caused by viruses have no cure. Your best defense is to have a strong and healthy immune system.
How to Boost Your Immune System
1. Reduce your stress levels
It’s normal to feel stressed once in a while. But if stress drags on for a long time, it can make you more vulnerable to illness, from colds to other infections. Chronic stress suppresses your immune response and stimulates the release of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol interferes with the T-cells’ (a type of white blood cell) ability to reproduce and receive signals from the body. This hormone also reduces IgA (Immunoglobulin A), which lines the gut and respiratory tract, and is the first line of defense against pathogens.
To keep your stress in check, include meditation or yoga in your regular routine. Another thing you can do is to practice breathing exercises like the 4-7-8 technique. Here’s how to do it: Empty your lungs of air. Inhale quietly through the nose for 4 counts. Hold your breath for 7 counts. Exhale through the mouth, making a “whoosh” sound, for 8 counts.
2. Eat more vegetables
Vegetables are loaded with nutrients that are essential for a healthy immune system. For a healthy liver, include cruciferous vegetables like kale, broccoli, and cabbage to your diet. A healthy liver is important in the body’s natural detoxification process. To boost your immune system, make sure to also eat a balanced diet.
3. Make sure you get enough vitamins and minerals
Vitamins A, B6, C, D, E, and the mineral zinc can help boost the strength of your immune system. In particular, vitamin C is well-known for supporting a healthy immune system as well as being an antioxidant that fights free radicals in the body. Foods rich in vitamin C include oranges, strawberries, grapefruit, and spinach.
4. Consider herbs and supplements
Herbs like Echinacea, Astragalus, Andrographis, and Elderberry can help reduce the severity and duration of illness. On top of that, using vitamin and mineral supplements can provide the necessary nutrients for a strong immune system. Zinc is one mineral that helps the immune system function properly. It also plays a role in cell division, cell growth, and wound healing.
5. Exercise regularly
Try to get regular, moderate exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes, three to five days a week. It can help your body’s immune system to fight infection. If you don’t exercise regularly, you are more likely to get colds than someone who does. Exercise can also boost the body’s “feel good chemicals”, or endorphins, and help you sleep better, both of which are good for your immune system.
6. Quit smoking
Smoking not only increases the risk of cancer, but also impairs the immune system. It can have a negative impact on a person’s adaptive and innate immunity. Smoking can also increase the chance of developing harmful pathogenic immune responses and reduce the effectiveness of your immune system’s defenses.
7. Step out into the sun
Sunlight is essential to the production of vitamin D in the body. This vitamin is important for a healthy immune system, as it helps the body produce antibodies. Low levels of vitamin D in the body have been linked to respiratory problems. An early morning brisk walk in the sunlight for 10 to 15 minutes will ensure that sufficient vitamin D is produced in the body.
8. Have a sense of humor
Some say that “laughter is the best medicine.” Laughing is good for you. It reduces the levels of stress hormones in the body and boosts a type of white blood cell that fights infection. In fact, just anticipating a funny event can have a positive effect on the immune system. In one study, men were told three days in advance that they’re going to watch a funny video. The result — their levels of stress hormones dropped.
9. Get enough sleep
You may have noticed you are more likely to catch colds or other infections when you’re not getting enough sleep. And if you’re not getting enough sleep, that can lead to higher levels of stress hormones. It may also lead to more inflammation in the body. Although researchers are not exactly sure how sleep boosts the immune system, it is clear that getting enough — 7 to 9 hours a day for an adult — is key to good health.
The immune system is the body’s first line of defense against “alien” microorganisms entering the body. The stronger your immune system, the lesser the chance of you falling ill. As discussed above, how to boost your immune system involves healthy eating, reducing stress, having a positive outlook, doing regular exercise, and getting enough sleep.
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