At a time when many of us are thinking about our health and protecting ourselves from bacteria and viruses as much as possible, it can be helpful to have a refresher course on how to boost our immune systems. Many people are practicing social distancing, but in some cases, you may not be able to.
For example, if you are still working, and you use the New York City subway system, social distancing can be a challenge.
While you might minimize how much time you spend out and about, you still want to have a strong immune system.
The following are some things you can give your immune system a boost to help you stay healthier and potentially reduce your risks of developing an illness.
With many people staying home to practice self-distancing, it could be a good time to catch up on your sleep. Studies have shown that when well-rested people get the flu vaccine, they are better able to avoid the illness.
When you don’t get enough sleep it can also increase inflammation in your body, and it can increase levels of stress hormones. Both can lower your immune system.
The goal should be 7 to 9 hours a night for an adult. If you’re above the age of 65, you may need 7 to 8 hours.
In addition to getting rest, try and manage your stress in whatever way works best for you.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
It sounds simple, but maintaining a healthy diet can go a long way in boosting your immune system. If you don’t eat well, you’re more vulnerable to various infections.
There are certain nutrient deficiencies in particular that can impair your immune functionality. For example, if you’re deficient in zinc, folic acid, or vitamins A, B6, C, or E, you may have an impaired immune system.
The best foods to eat are fresh fruits like berries, healthy nuts, and green, leafy vegetables. If you find that it’s difficult to get what you need from your diet, think about using a multivitamin supplement. Just don’t overdo it, because more isn’t better with most supplements.
What so many people don’t realize is that 80% of our immune systems are in our guts. When your gut is healthy and you’re consuming fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and whole grains, your immune system is going to be working optimally.
Try to cut out red meat and processed and fried foods because they can cause inflammation which can have a negative impact on your immune system.
One vitamin to be especially aware of is vitamin D. Vitamin D is used by the immune system to ward off viruses, and if you are exposed to a virus, it can help reduce the severity. You can get vitamin D by going out into the sunlight, and you can also get it from food sources like salmon, tuna and mackerel. Some mushrooms, as well as eggs and cheese, also have vitamin D.
If you can’t get it from the sun or food, consider supplementation.
When you exercise, it increases the circulation of your white blood cells and antibodies, and that can then help them attack invaders like bacteria and viruses. Being active also reduces stress hormones, which can help lower the chances that you get sick.
Raising your body temperature can help to kill germs too so there are many ways exercise is beneficial to your immune system.
Don’t work out to the point that you overdo it, but aim for anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise most days.
If you’re stuck at home and your regular workout facility is closed, you might think about doing online streaming workouts, or if you have a yard, get outside to do workouts.
Even if you do get sick, if you’re already physically active, your symptoms may be less severe than they would be otherwise.
Finally, if you drink alcohol, make sure you do it in moderation. During a time when people are staying home perhaps more than they ever have before, they might want to turn to a glass of wine or some other type of alcohol to deal with stress and anxiety.
Wine in moderation, such as an evening glass, may be just fine, but if you overdo it you risk impacting your immune system. Too much alcohol can dehydrate you and impair your immune system. It can make it harder for your body to heal itself, which is likely the last thing you want right now.