Illnesses are inevitable in life. However, as the cold and flu season approaches, developing healthy habits now can help you cut down on the number of sick days you take this winter. The complex arrangement of cells and organ systems that makes up your body’s immune system works to defend you and your loved ones against illness and infection. It combats the different types of virus that cause colds and the flu, including COVID-19, as well as harmful bacteria and cancer. A healthy lifestyle is one of the numerous variables that contribute to a robust immune response.
Many factors impact the intricate functioning of our immune systems. Vaccines, such as the flu shot, increase resistance to certain illnesses. Other strategies to boost your immune system include eating healthily, exercising, maintaining a healthy weight, getting enough sleep, quitting smoking, and abstaining from excessive alcohol consumption.
- Consuming a balanced diet: A balanced diet guarantees that your body is receiving the essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants (A, C, E, B6, potassium, and zinc) that it needs to form white blood cells that fight infection. Lean meats, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and a range of fruits and vegetables are all part of a balanced diet. Eating healthily also entails reducing your intake of sugar and salt, as well as the saturated fats present in high-fat meats and dairy products.
- Getting regular exercise: Your body naturally produces more white blood cells when you exercise. In addition, the cells in your body circulate more quickly when you exercise, which may help discover pathogens more quickly. Additionally, exercise improves your general health, eases stress, and improves your sleep, all of which support a robust immune system. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises doing muscle-strengthening exercises two or more days a week in addition to 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise every week.
- Maintaining a healthy weight: The CDC states that obesity is connected to weakened immune response and may possibly lessen the efficacy of vaccinations. Adults ought to strive for a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or below. Exercise on a regular basis and a balanced diet are the greatest ways to maintain your ideal weight.
- Getting adequate rest: Chronic sleep deprivation has been shown in studies to lower white blood cell counts, impair immune system function, and increase susceptibility to illness. Additionally beneficial to your general health, improved weight management, and reduced stress levels is a restful night’s sleep. Age-specific sleep needs vary, but the National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults should receive seven to nine hours of sleep every night.
- Lower your stress level: Chronic stress lowers your resistance against infection. Your body creates more cortisol when under stress, which lowers the formation of white blood cells in your body and suppresses your immunological response. Maintaining a healthy stress level requires getting enough sleep as well as utilizing stress-relieving activities like yoga, meditation, exercise, and talk therapy.
- Stop smoking and drink in moderation: More than 7,000 harmful compounds found in cigarette smoke can damage white blood cells, increasing your vulnerability to infection. Furthermore, drinking too much alcohol compromises immunological function. Make the 1-800-Quit-Now call to get assistance quitting. Drink in moderation as well. On special occasions, try to limit it to no more than two drinks.
Your body’s best line of defense against illness and infection is your immune system. Taking good care of yourself strengthens your immune system, enabling it to better support you.