Getting sick can happen to anyone, but it’s still important to keep healthy habits in order to prevent getting sick. While you can’t perfectly protect yourself from illness, small changes to your daily life such as diet, sleep, and exercise can help your body be more prepared to fight pathogens when it does encounter them. Read on for some natural ways you and your family can boost your immune systems!
Getting enough sleep is known to boost your immunity and decrease your risk of getting sick. In a study, people who slept less than six hours a night were more prone to getting sick than those who got enough sleep. Getting enough rest can also help strengthen your natural immunity. It can help your body fight infections by allowing it to make more antibodies.
To get the most out of your sleep, adults should aim to get at least 7 hours per night, while kids and teens should get 8–10 hours. If you’re having trouble falling asleep, try limiting your screen time before bed to prevent the blue light from your devices from disrupting your body’s natural wake-sleep cycle. Other ways to improve your sleep include going to bed at the same time each night, wearing a sleep mask, and sleeping in a dark room.
Your diet can also have a significant effect on your immune system. Getting enough antioxidants is also important to support your immune system. High levels of these nutrients can help fight free radicals, which can suppress the body’s natural defense.
Getting enough healthy fats is also important to support your immune system. Although it’s generally recommended to eat healthy fats, such as those found in olive oil, sunflower oil, and fish, replacing saturated fats can also help boost the production of certain compounds that help regulate immunity. For additional immune-boosting nutrients, try adding garlic and/or ginger to your meals.
Fermented food is known to contain probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that can help boost your immune system. According to studies, these types of bacteria can help differentiate between healthy and harmful organisms. Some of the fermented food options that can be found in supermarkets include yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi.
Drinking fermented milk can also help kids avoid getting sick, as a study revealed that those who drank 2.4 ounces of fermented milk a day were 20% less likely to develop childhood infectious diseases than those who didn’t eat fermented food. Probiotic supplements are a helpful alternative if fermented foods aren’t your favorite. Another study revealed that people who took Bifidobacterium animalis bacteria had a stronger immune response when they got sick with rhinovirus.
Getting active is also known to help boost the body’s natural defense against infections. According to a 2019 study, regular exercise can help mobilize the immune system’s cells and fight cancer and pathogens. It can also help protect the body from the effects of aging.
However, intense exercise can also weaken the body’s immune system and increase its susceptibility to viral infections temporarily. This is why it’s important to follow a balanced diet and hydration strategy to maintain a healthy immune system.
A review conducted in 2004 revealed that prolonged stress can negatively affect the body’s natural defense against infections. It suggested that exposure to stressful situations can trigger a decline in the immune system’s ability to fight infections. Getting to the root of this issue is taking control of your stress. Aside from regular exercise, it’s also important to practice relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation.
Many people and companies will recommend various herbs and supplements that will boost immunity, but be careful to do your research before taking them as many studies are inconclusive on their effectiveness. Nevertheless, the above strategies are scientifically proven to help increase immune function. While these habits and activities won’t keep you from getting sick, they can help you avoid illness more often and equip your body to fight infections faster.