Five Ways to Strengthen Your Immune System

For the most part, the human immune system is pretty good at keeping us healthy. It’s our body’s most complex system, yet we never really notice it or think about it until it lets us down by letting in illness.

While there are no proven ways to enhance your immune system, there are ways to avoid tearing it apart. Try incorporating these five tips to keep it performing optimally.

  1. Nourish your body. Malnutrition makes immune functions run slower. Consuming French fries and sodas will not create white blood cells the body needs to fight off bacteria. However fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods provide nutrients that the immune system uses to operate. Some foods can even strengthen the immune system during infections, allergies and cancers.
  2. Keep your immunizations up to date. Staying immunized familiarizes your body with different diseases and sicknesses. While most immunizations are given to children, there are vaccinations available for adults too. Things like influenza, tetanus boosters and shingles all have yearly vaccinations available for adults.
  3. Get enough sleep. Interestingly enough, you are more likely to catch a cold or infection when you’re not getting enough sleep. Lack of sleep leads to higher stress levels and more stress creates inflammation in the body. Although it hasn’t been explored in depth, one thing is certain: getting seven to eight hours of sleep each day is a wise move when it comes to your immune system.
  4. Get out in the sun. Sunlight helps the skin produce more vitamin D. A 10-15 minute sun bath (without sunscreen) is enough to help this process along. A lack of vitamin D directly correlates with greater chances of respiratory infection.
  5. Drink less alcohol. Too much alcohol deprives the body of needed immune-boosting T cells and B cells, which render your system less capable of killing germs. The damage to the immune system goes up along with the amount of alcohol consumed. Enjoying alcohol in moderation can help keep your immune system strong.

The less you do to slow down your immune system, the easier it will be to fight off harmful bacteria. If you watch the way you treat your body, it will watch out for you.

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Photo credit: Aine

This post has been updated since its original publication.

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