5 Tips to Strengthen Your Immune System

Your immune system, when functioning at its optimal capacity, protects you from infection caused by harmful pathogens, like viruses, bacteria, and parasites. The stronger your immune system is, the less likely you are to get sick. How can you strengthen your immune system? By following healthy lifestyle habits.

1. Learn Ways to Manage Stress

Everyone feels stressed from time to time. Sometimes stress lasts just for a few hours, but stress can also become overwhelming and last for weeks or even months. When the body is stressed for long periods of time, it constantly produces stress hormones that can negatively affect many of the body’s processes, including the immune system. Incorporate mindfulness practices into your routine, like meditation and yoga, to help manage stress and strengthen your immune system. The body also needs ample nutrients for stress management. Taking a multivitamin daily can help your body deal more effectively with physical and mental stressors. 

2. Stay Hydrated

Hydration is critical for our blood to be able to transport nutrients, minerals, and immune cells throughout the body. Blood is approximately 55% plasma and 45% blood cells. Plasma has vitamins, nutrients, and electrolytes, and is roughly 90% water. When someone is not properly hydrated, they have less blood circulating through their bloodstream and therefore critical immune cells cannot get to where they need to be as quickly as if they were properly hydrated. Proper hydration also helps the body rid itself of viruses and toxins. 

The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommends that women drink 2.7 liters (91 ounces) and men drink 3.7 liters (125 ounces) every day for proper hydration. 

3. Eat a Well-Balanced Diet and Consider Supplementation  With Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Zinc, and Selenium 

Malnutrition or vitamin deficiencies can affect the immune system’s ability to protect us from infection. Eating a varied diet rich in whole, unprocessed foods guarantees that the body recieves essential nutrients for a healthy immune system. Avoid processed packaged foods and instead choose fresh fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts, grains, meat, and eggs. Foods that are rich in vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, selenium, iron, and protein are especially important to the health of the immune system. Contact a nutritionist or your doctor to learn the optimal doses of vitamin D, vitamin C, zinc, and selenium. Taking a well-balanced multivitamin can also provide nutrients to support overall health and immunity. 

4. Move Your Body

Research shows that moderate exercise performed regularly benefits the immune system.  Exercise can help protect the body from infection in many ways, including:

  • Increasing blood flow and therefore circulating immune cells more quickly throughout the body
  • Flushing out bacteria from the lungs
  • Reducing the amount of stress hormones in the body that negatively affect the immune system
  • Strengthening antibodies

Acivities like walking, cycling, and running are great ways to move and get the benefits of exercise.

5. Prioritize Sleep

Sleep has a strong influence on the health of the immune system. Research shows that people who do not get enough sleep are more likely to get sick after exposure to a virus, like the flu virus. Chronic lack of sleep also increases the risk that someone will develop conditions such as diabetes and heart disease

The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night. A consistent night routine is important for getting good quality sleep. A bedtime routine can help reduce stress and anxiety that happens at nighttime before going to bed. Consider getting to bed at the same time every day and leaving electronics behind one hour before sleeping as part of your nighttime routine.

Consistency is Key

The best way to strengthen your immune system and improve long-term health is to practice healthy lifestyle habits on a daily basis. Forming good habits takes dedication and can be challenging, but it shouldn’t feel stressful or burdensome. Celebrate your milestones and reward yourself as you progress in your journey. 



https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5070477/ https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/expert-answers/lack-of-sleep/faq-20057757#:~:text=Advertisement&text=During%20sleep%2C%20your%20immune%20system,production%20of%20these%20protective%20cytokines.