Your immune system helps prevent disease and fight off infections. When it comes to immunity, there are numerous ways you can boost your immune system to help your body protect itself from illness. This includes getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Each of these items helps lower oxidative stress in the body, provide the nutrients your immune system requires and improve your overall health.
How Does Exercise Boost Immunity?
Exercise works in a variety of ways to improve the immune system. First, during exercise bacteria in the airways is flushed out, which can help lower the risk of developing airborne illnesses. When you exercise, your blood flow increases, which circulates the white blood cells throughout the body. It also raises your body’s core temperature. Researchers believe that this rise in body temperature may help fight off infection. Finally, exercise lowers the amount of stress hormones in the body, which can help the body protect itself from illness.
One thing to remember when exercising to boost immunity is that too much is as bad as not exercising at all. Those who exercise for extended periods of time (more than an hour and a half) or do only high intensity programs can actually suppress the immune response. For best results, you should exercise approximately 30 minutes daily. If you are doing more strenuous exercise, exercise every other day so your body can rest.
Eating for Immunity
The old adage, “You are what you eat,” is true when it comes to the immune system. A strong immune system requires good nutrition. Foods rich in antioxidants help the body produce white blood cells and protect against free radical damage. Although it is best to get your nutrients from your food, taking a vitamin and mineral supplement will ensure your body has the nutrients it needs to function at its best.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps improve the immune system. This powerful antioxidant can be found in a variety of fruits and vegetables, including citrus fruits, berries, melons, broccoli and peppers. Another immune boosting vitamin is beta carotene. This all important nutrient is found in orange and yellow fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, peaches, papayas, sweet potatoes and red peppers. The minerals zinc and selenium help protect against infection by supplying the body with the minerals it needs to produce white blood cells. Zinc can be found in oysters, beef, beans and fortified cereals. Selenium occurs naturally in mushrooms, whole grains and seafood.
Don’t forget the fatty acids when building an immune boosting arsenal. Fatty acids are needed to help the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins and minerals. Omega-3 fatty acids help protect against disease and improves immunity. Fatty fish, nuts, olives and avocados are great sources of this all important nutrient.
Sleep for Your Health
During sleep your body recovers from the demands placed on it during the day. If you are not getting an ample amount of sleep, your immune system suffers. Experts recommend getting at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. In addition to the quantity of sleep you get, you also need good quality sleep. During the night, your body goes through several sleep cycles. If you are getting 8 hours of sleep and you still feel tired, speak with your physician. He may be able to determine what is causing your poor sleep habits and may offer advice to help you sleep more soundly.
Staying healthy begins with a strong immune system. When your immune system is strong, it can help protect the body from disease and illness. The immune system is comprised of white blood cells, proteins, chemicals and antibodies that attack and destroy foreign invaders of the body. These foreign invaders include fungi, viruses and bacteria. Exercise at least 30 minutes three times a week, eat a diet filled with fresh fruits and vegetables and aim to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night.