When it comes to health and wellness, we always need to start with the foundations. Supporting your immune system is no different!
While there are a number of different immune-boosting supplements and superfoods we can incorporate into our wellness routines, don’t forget about these essentials.
They may seem basic, but without them, all the immune-boosting supplements and superfoods likely won’t do diddly-squat!
6 Essentials for a Healthy Immune System
Eat real food
Our immune system relies on nutrient-dense whole foods to function well.
Plus, a real food diet doesn’t include added sugar! This is significant since studies have found that refined sugars can suppress your immune system for hours.
Now has never been a better time for a sugar and junk food detox!
Eat the rainbow
Fruits and vegetables are high immune-boosting vitamins C, A, and phytonutrients, plus other key vitamins and minerals. Eating a wide variety of different types of fruits and vegetables in an array of colors helps ensure you’re getting a wide variety of nutrients.
Choose more berries, leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower), peppers, sweet potatoes, and squashes.
Aim for 2 servings of fruits and 6 or more servings of vegetables a day. (1 serving = half a cup)
Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep
Sleep restores and heals the body, and without adequate sleep, optimal immune function is next to impossible!
According to Mayo Clinic:
Studies show that people who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as a common cold virus. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick.
Why? Researchers have found that sleep improves production of immune cells known as T cells, and a lack of sleep leads to a lack of cytokines, a type of protein that targets infection and inflammation.
So get in a better rhythm and head to bed earlier. Incorporating various relaxation and breathing techniques throughout the day to help with stress and allowing the mind to rest is also very helpful!
The science is clear: increased levels of stress increase susceptibility to viral infections.
According to Phycology Today:
Some experts claim that stress is responsible for as much as 90% of all illnesses and diseases.
Among other things, stress leads to a reduction in virus- and infection-fighting T cells.
So if you’re prone to stress, try a meditation app like Headspace, Calm, or Insight Timer. And some simple deep breathing for just a couple minutes a few times a day (go ahead and schedule a few recurring reminders in your phone!) can go far.
Move your body and exercise for at least 30-minutes a day
Studies show that to moderate exercise (for approximately 30-45 minutes) helps boost the immune system. Overexertion, like training for endurance events, can suppress immune function, however, and should be avoided when you are feeling run down.
If you’e able to exercise outside in less populated areas, that’s a great way to get some fresh and vitamin D from the sun. If not, look for workouts and yoga classes online — YouTube has a lot of great, free options.
Drink plenty of water
Proper hydration is essential for just about every body process to run smoothly, including your body’s immune response.
The rule of thumb: aim to drink half your body weight (in pounds) in ounces each day. So if you weigh 140 pounds, you’d aim to drink 70 oz each day. If you’re exercising or drinking diuretic beverages (like coffee) you’ll want to add a bit more to this number.
So keep a water bottle nearby at all times. Herbal teas like ginger and turmeric tea will hydrate your body, provide flavor, and also calm inflammation and supporting your immune system. Be sure to avoid concentrated fruit juices and sweetened beverages, as the sugar content is harmful for the immune system.