Our immune system serves as our first line of defense against infection and disease.
When functioning optimally, your immune system can fight off bacteria and viruses that cause colds and flu, as well as aiding in the healing of cuts or bruises.
But when your immune system isn’t working optimally, you’re more susceptible to getting sick from a cold or other causes – which can leave you feeling miserable. Fortunately, there are some natural ways to boost the immunity without taking pills.
1. Eat Plenty of Fruits and Vegetables
Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is one of the best ways to strengthen your immune system. These foods are packed with essential nutrients and fiber that keep the body healthy.
The American Heart Association suggests consuming 4 1/2 cups of fresh fruits and vegetables daily for optimal nutrition. They are also excellent sources of essential vitamins and minerals.
Fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants, which can shield cells from free radical damage.
Some of the healthiest vegetables for immunity include broccoli, kale, cabbage and spinach. These veggies are packed with vitamins A, C and E as well as polyphenols and glucosinolates. Plus they boast high amounts of sulforaphane and quercetin which have strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
2. Drink Lots of Water
Drinking plenty of water is one of the best ways to strengthen your immune system. Not only does it hydrate you, but also flushes out toxins and disease-causing bacteria from your system.
Water is essential for nutrient absorption into the bloodstream, eliminating waste, lubricating joints and supporting a healthy metabolism.
Consuming sufficient water is essential for staying hydrated, as it aids the kidneys in eliminating toxins from your body through urine excretion.
Without enough water, the lymph (pronounced limf) that transports white blood cells and other essential nutrients cannot move, inhibiting your immune system’s capacity for effective function.
3. Get plenty of Folate or Folic Acid
Folate is a B vitamin essential for the formation of new cells, including red blood cells. Although folate can be found naturally in many foods, some people may need to supplement their diet with supplements in order to get enough.
The daily recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for folate is 400 micrograms of dietary folate equivalents (mcg DFE). It’s especially essential that pregnant women make sure they get enough.
There is some evidence that getting enough folate may reduce the risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer, but this evidence is mostly based on population studies rather than more definitive clinical trials.
4. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is essential for your immune system to operate optimally. Unfortunately, research has revealed that one in three adults do not get enough shut-eye each night, potentially increasing your risk for illnesses like heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. Making sure you get enough rest each night will help ensure you are meeting your daily requirements. Feeling refreshed, alert, and ready for the day ahead will help ensure a successful day ahead!
Sleep can help strengthen the immune system by releasing certain cytokines that encourage cell functions and strengthen immunity in order to fight off infection.
Exercise is beneficial for your body, reducing the risk of various illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, cancer and obesity. Physical activity also has positive effects on mental wellbeing as well as increasing lifespan.
It is essential to exercise at a level appropriate for your age, fitness level and lifestyle. Avoid doing excessive or heavy exercises which could be hazardous to your health.
Exercise has been proven to boost the immune system and make vaccines more effective. It is recommended that you complete 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week.