Your immune system is one of the most important features in your body, as it protects your body from bacteria, fungi, and viruses. The immune system also defends against infections, parasites and several kinds of cancer. Therefore, it is imperative to keep it functioning correctly by eating right, exercising, sleeping well, managing stress, and not smoking.
1. Eat Right
Quit the sodas and snack cakes. Treats are fine; just make them healthy. Try natural foods and avoid highly processed fatty foods as much as possible. Some nutrients and foods that have been found to enhance the immune system include Vitamins C & E, Omega-3 fatty acids, Garlic, Zinc, & Bioflavonoids. These nutrients are available in pill form, but digesting food is the natural and recommended way to consume vitamins and minerals. Fish, citrus fruits, nuts, broccoli, carrots, beans and whole grains are examples of excellent foods for enhancing the immune system.
2. Exercise Regularly & Sleep Well
Exercise doesn’t have to be overly strenuous to provide its many benefits. Moderate exercise has been proven to be beneficial in supporting the immune system. However, if you’re not feeling well, take it easy until you feel better. Proper rest enhances the immune system, while sleep deprivation has a negative effect.
3. Get Enough Sleep
When your body is exhausted, the efficiency it burns calories at decreases considerably. A refreshed body is more efficient. Deep sleep stimulates and energizes the immune system. Average adults need between 7 and 8 hours of sleep per night, although some people may need as little as 5 hours or up to as many as 10 hours. To make sure you are getting enough quality sleep, avoid caffeinated drinks for several hours before falling asleep. Caffeine, tobacco, energy drinks, alcohol and other stimulants hinder the deep stages of sleep.
4. Manage Stress
Removing stress altogether from your life is highly unlikely, but how you choose to deal and react to stress can impact your overall health. Stress causes high levels of a hormone called cortisol in your body, which leads to belly fat. Learn to relax and let go of stress and the extra pounds. Find ways to unwind a few times per week, through exercise, practicing yoga, meditation, reading, walking, or taking a relaxing bath.
5. Quit Smoking
Smoking and using tobacco products contributes to a large amount of health problems such as a weakened immune system, cancer, respiratory diseases and cardiovascular diseases. If you are a smoker, improving your immune system is one more motive you can add to your list of reasons to quit.
As you can see, your immune system protects your body from harm by attacking anything foreign from cuts and splinters to bacteria and viruses. Keep it functioning correctly by following the five easy tips above to help you live a healthy life.
Mary Kay Dremel-Farley is a Registered Nurse employed by Jersey Shore Hospital at the student health clinic at Lock Haven University. She may be reached by calling 570-484-2276.