When it comes to staying healthy, boosting your immune system is wellness 101. Better yet, it’s simpler than you might think (and tastes great, too!). In addition to washing your hands thoroughly and avoiding people who may be sick, follow these tips to protect yourself against viruses and support a strong immune system.
1. Drink plenty of fluids, especially warmer fluids.
Consuming adequate fluids supports all your bodies’ functions including your immune system. Keep a bottle of filtered water with you at all times. Enjoy soups and broths throughout the week. Drink herbal teas like ginger and Echinacea daily. Limit how many concentrated fruit juices and sweetened beverages you drink, as the sugar content can strain your immune system.
2. Avoid simple sugars as much as possible.
Simple sugars include not only sweet treats and desserts but also white-flour and refined-grain products that turn into sugar quickly. Studies have shown that refined sugars can suppress your immune system for hours after you eat them.
3. Eat protein with each meal.
Proteins are the building blocks of your body, including your immune and detoxification systems. Incorporate lean animal proteins and/or plant-based proteins (e.g. legumes, nuts, seeds) with each meal and snack.
4. Cook with garlic, onions, ginger, oregano and turmeric.
These ingredients have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, and garlic and onions offer wide spectrum antimicrobial properties. Add them to soups and vegetable dishes, as well as bean dips and sauces for a flavorful boost.
5. Eat multiple servings of colorful fruits and vegetables.
Choose leafy greens (e.g. kale, collards, spinach), cruciferous vegetables (e.g. broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower), peppers, sweet potatoes and squashes. These fruits and veggies are high in vitamin C, vitamin A and phytonutrients that support the immune system. Aim for 3-4 servings of fruits and 5+ servings of vegetables.
6. Get sufficient sleep.
Sleep restores and heals the body – without enough of it, optimal immune function is next to impossible. Incorporating relaxation and breathing techniques throughout the day to soothe stress can help your body and mind rest deeply at night. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
7. Exercise regularly.
Mild to moderate exercise (for approximately 30-45 minutes) helps boost your immune system. Avoid overexertion, such as training for endurance events, when you feel run-down. Pushing yourself too hard will lower your immune defenses.