Our immune system is our defense against colds, the flu, and even COVID. So it is essential to build up this first line against the bugs that are trying to get us sick. Here are some easy steps to take to help boost your immunity.
1. Get quality sleep – Your immune system only works well if you are getting enough sleep (usually 7 - 8 hours per night) and getting quality sleep. Set up a routine that includes avoiding caffeine and alcohol for a few hours before going to bed, and eliminate things that could make sleep difficult (cellphones, electronics, etc.). Consider adding a humidifier to your bedroom, as increased humidity helps keep your mucous membranes healthier and less susceptible to infection.
2. Exercise – Consistent exercise helps to boost your immune system and reduces stress. Both of these things help reduce your chance of getting sick. And this doesn’t mean vigorous exercise every day; it can be as simple as taking a walk around the block or going on a quick bike ride. Sexual intercourse at least once a week also boosts immunity, so that’s a great reason to get busy with your partner.
3. De-stress – Lowering your stress levels helps to maintain a healthy immune system, so look for ways to decompress. This can include meditation, singing a song, taking a walk in nature, or even talking with a friend or family member. All of these things can help lower the level of cortisol, the main stress hormone.
4. Increase your Vitamin D levels – Vit. D deficiency has been associated with increased risk of COVID-19, along with other illnesses. You can help boost your D levels by getting sunlight, taking Vit. D supplements, or even through a variety of different foods (fatty fish, eggs, milk).
5. Eat healthy – An anti-inflammatory diet such as the Mediterranean diet helps neutralize free radicals and increases your immune function in the process. High-fiber, high antioxidant foods are the key. On the flip side, avoid highly processed foods,alcohol, and sugar, as these can decrease immune function.
6. Maintain a healthy gut biome – Having enough good bacteria in you GI tract is essential for proper immune function. That healthy diet is a great start, and adding probiotics helps even more. These can be in the form of supplements, or even certain foods (kefir, yogurt, fermented foods such as pickles, sauerkraut, and kimchi).