The immune system is our body’s natural defense against pathogens or disease-causing germs such as bacteria, viruses, parasites, or other toxins. With a weakened or overactive immune system, our body may not properly function, potentially leading to a host of health problems.
Thankfully, certain nutrition and lifestyle changes may help strengthen your body’s natural defenses and immunity.
Ways to Naturally Improve Your Immune System
- Eat a Healthy and Balanced Diet – A balanced diet is crucial in achieving optimal health. Focus on consuming fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy products. Attempt to remove or cut down on processed foods and sugars, as they may cause inflammation and an imbalance in your gut. Some have also found that consuming certain herbs and spices, such as turmeric, may assist in digestion and overall immune health due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
- Include Prebiotics and Probiotics – In addition to eating an overall balanced diet, prebiotics and probiotics can further assist in maintaining a proper digestive microbiome balance, thus improving your overall health. While probiotics are beneficial bacteria, prebiotics are the food that fuels those good bacteria. Many nutritionists and doctors recommend both, as they serve different functions that work symbiotically for maximum effectiveness. Although some prefer to take supplements, there are many foods that are rich in prebiotics and probiotics, such as legumes (prebiotics) and yogurt (probiotics).
- Stay Active – Maintaining an active lifestyle is crucial in your digestive and overall health. Whether it’s by walking, running, doing yoga, or weight training—those who exercise regularly have been shown to lead a healthier life than those who were mostly sedentary. Regular exercise also improves gut health, which improves the immune system and helps you stay healthy.
Stay Hydrated – Dehydration can make your body more susceptible to illnesses by hindering your physical performance, focus, mood, digestion, and heart and kidney function. Increasing your water intake also flushes out toxins and helps reset your system. Therefore, it is essential to maintain hydrated, especially while physically exerting yourself or while living in hot climates.
While the average recommendation is roughly 8 glasses of water per day, this varies based on an individual’s sex, weight, and environmental factors. Generally speaking, if your urine is light yellow, you are most likely getting enough fluids. If not, or you feel thirsty, you most likely need to be getting more fluids.
Get Enough Rest – Allowing your body to rest and repair itself adequately is also crucial in bolstering your body’s natural immunity. Therefore, sleep deprivation has been shown to negatively impact proper cognitive function. In contrast, prolonged sleep deprivation can increase the risk of more severe health conditions, such as diabetes and health disease.
Further, those without enough sleep even tend to overeat and make unhealthy food choices. For those reasons, it is recommended that adults get 7 or more hours of sleep each night, while teenagers should receive 8-10 hours and younger children/infants up to 14 hours.
Following these 5 simple tips are a great way to maintain a healthy immune system.