The immune system is responsible for protecting the body from various diseases but sometimes it just does not work as expected. When it fails a virus is able to enter and we end up sick. It is no wonder that the average adult in the Western world gets the cold or flu 2-3 times per year, usually during the first months of autumn or spring.
How to boost your immune system?
Many researches and scientists are trying for many years to understand how the immune system works and if there is anything we can do to make it stronger. While there is no clear scientific evidence, they all agree that lifestyle, diet and stress play a role on how strong or weak our immune system is. We did the hard work and read all the available research and present below the 20 best and easiest ways to boost your immune system.
- Quit smoking – Smokers are more prone to viruses and infections and this is because smoking makes their immune system weaker. Quitting smoking, among the other benefits will also make the immune system stronger.
- Eat your five servings of fruits and vegetables per day – it is well known that fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins and antioxidants essential for a strong immune system. The recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables is 5 servings per day.
- Regular exercise – Exercising on a regular basis has many health benefits and it is necessary for a healthy heart. 30 minutes per day are enough to keep your immune system in good condition.
- Get rid of excess weight – Obesity or excess weight negatively affects the ability of the body to protect against bacteria and viruses.
- Normal blood pressure – Having a strong immune system makes it easier to control blood pressure and avoid hypertension.
- Control alcohol consumption – a class of wine or a couple of alcoholic drinks per day is ok but excess alcohol consumption damages body organs and weakens the immune system. Moderation is the key.
- Rest and Sleep – Sleeping 7-8 hours per night and having enough rest throughout the day is essential for a healthy lifestyle. Research has shown that people who regularly sleep 7-8 hours per day have a stronger immune system. Read our 6 tips for better sleep and about the benefits of power napping as a way to rest midday.
- Wash your hands – Infections and viruses such as cold or flu are easily transmitted through the hands. Washing your hands thoroughly is very important especially when you are in public areas.
- Manage stress – Although stress is difficult to define since it is different for each individual, when you are constantly under stressful conditions it is more likely to have a negative impact on the immune system as well. Research on this topic suggests that various types of stress reduce the ability of the immune system to produce antibodies and thus makes the whole system more vulnerable to viruses.
- Eat lean protein as a natural immune system booster – Lean protein found in beef, pork, seafood, beans, soy and nuts helps in the production of antibodies and zinc which contribute to a healthy immune system.
- Eat your healthy fats – Not all fats are bad for your health and diet. Healthy fats found in olive oil, fish, walnuts and avocados (to name a few examples) are necessary for normal functioning of the body organs. When body organs work in harmony with each other the immune system is getting stronger and more efficient to defend against infections.
- Garlic, onions and other herbs – It is proven that garlic and onion have infection-fighting capabilities. People who follow a Mediterranean style diet which includes regular consumption of these and other herbs have a healthier immune system.
- Chicken soup – When you are suffering from a cold or flu a chicken soup can do wonders. Several studies identified that the ingredients of a chicken soup can boost the immune system and lead to a faster recovery from a cold or flu.
- Mushrooms – Chinese have been using mushrooms as a remedy for a weak immune system for years and recently this was confirmed by studies in Western countries.
- Music and happiness – When you are happy and having a good time listening to music, your immune system gets stronger. As weird as may sound, this is proven by research. 30 minutes of music and relaxing can have both short term and long term positive effects.
- Regular sex – Sex is good for your overall health and having regular sex is part of a healthy lifestyle. People who have frequent sex enjoy a less stressful life than people who have sex less often and this creates a number of additional benefits.
- Positive thinking – If you are pessimistic you also weaken your immune system without realizing it. People who have a positive approach for life and are optimistic have a stronger immune system as well.
- Socialize – Socializing in the real sense by participating in classes or groups (and not making friends on Facebook) is one of the ways to enjoy a happier life which in turn affects stress and the way you approach life. Many studies have found that people who have an active social network are also feeling stronger against diseases.
- Take a multivitamin – The important vitamins for a strong immune system include A,C,D,E, zinc and magnesium. Check with your doctor or pharmacist on the type of multivitamins to take according to your diet and eating habits.
- It’s all about moderation – If you read the above 19 ways to boost your immune system you can draw the conclusion that if you avoid exaggerations and try to live a balanced lifestyle, you will also make your immune system stronger and healthier. Sleep well, enjoy life, be selective on what to eat, exercise, stop smoking and keep stress away; is all you need for an effective immune system.