Building a strong immune system is one of the most important pillars of good health. It enables us to bounce back from illness, strengthens our ability to fight infections, and helps shield us against cancer. Ignoring your immune system means it will not be able to fight off the bad bugs that can trouble you. However, there are some things you can do to keep yourself healthy and productive. Keep reading for 11 tips for building a strong immune system.
1. Learn to manage stress
Chronic long-term stress contributes to an overall lower quality of health, both physically and mentally. It also directly affects your immune system by compromising your ability to fight off infections and can lead to the development of more serious conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and others.
In order to manage your stress, it is important to identify the sources of stress in your life and take steps to reduce or eliminate them and work on building a strong immune system. This could include making lifestyle changes, practicing relaxation techniques, and engaging in enjoyable activities.
2. Stop Smoking
Smoking and using tobacco are about the worst things you can do for your body. This includes vaping and other sources of nicotine. If you currently are a smoker, quitting is the best thing for improving your health and building a strong immune system. Many resources are available online to help you quit smoking, and it’s never too late to start realizing the benefits of a smoke-free lifestyle.
3. Avoid Sugary Foods and Soda
When it comes to building a strong immune system, sugar is your enemy. Not only does sugar reduce the effectiveness of your immune system, but too much leads to weight gain and other health problems. Sugar also provides fuel for the bad bacteria in your gut, which can lead to inflammation and a weakened immune system.
Sugar is added to many of the foods that we eat every day, including candy, cake, cookies, and soda. It’s important to avoid these sugary foods and drinks as much as possible. Instead, try to include plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your daily diet. You don’t have to go completely sugar-free but cutting back on sugary foods and drinks will help keep your immune system strong.
4. Regular Exercise
A pillar of healthy living, research has shown that regular moderate exercise is key for building a strong immune system. It can reduce your risk of developing many diseases, lowers blood pressure, improves cholesterol levels and supports mental health by reducing stress and improving sleep patterns.
But did you know that regular exercise can also boost your immune system?
Exercising causes your body to release hormones that help to fight infection and inflammation. Exercise also increases the release of endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects. Regular exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of upper respiratory tract infections, such as colds and flu.
5. Maintain a Healthy Weight
One of the best things you can do to build a strong immune system is to maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can increase your risk of developing several chronic health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Carrying around extra weight also puts extra stress on your body, which can make it more susceptible to infection.
Studies have also shown that increased weight corresponds to a higher level of inflammation in the body. This leads to a suppressed immune system and the development of more chronic diseases and autoimmune disorders. Building a strong immune system means paying attention to your weight and keeping it in a healthy range.
6. Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
As part of building a strong immune system, you need to eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. You should also make efforts to include a wide variety of foods to ensure that you’re getting all the nutrients your body needs.
By focusing on organic and whole, unprocessed foods, you can reduce inflammation throughout your body and prevent—or even reverse—many conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, fatty liver, and high cholesterol.
7. Get Adequate Sleep
Getting enough sleep is essential for building a strong immune system. When you’re sleep-deprived, your body doesn’t have the energy it needs to fight off infections and illnesses. Those who have irregular sleep schedules are more likely to have higher levels of stress hormones, chronic inflammation, and suppressed immunity. Make sure you’re getting at least eight hours of sleep a night, and try to stick to a regular sleep schedule as much as possible.
8. Consume Moderate Amounts of Caffeine
While caffeine can have some positive effects on your health, including improved mental alertness and decreased risk of Parkinson’s disease, watching the amount you consume is important for building a strong immune system.
Too much caffeine can interfere with your sleep and lead to restlessness, insomnia, anxiety, irritability, an upset stomach, and a rapid heart rate. And while it might seem like drinking lots of coffee would give your immune system a boost because of the antioxidants it contains, too much caffeine can actually work against your immunity.
Caffeine can increase stress hormones in your body which suppress the immune system. So, while moderate consumption of caffeinated beverages like green or black tea or coffee can be part of a healthy diet, don’t go overboard. Stick to one to two cups per day and avoid having caffeine late in the day so it doesn’t interfere with your sleep.
9. Limit Your Alcohol Intake
When it comes to alcohol, just as with caffeine, moderation is key. Alcohol can weaken your immune system when you have too much, making you more susceptible to illness. However, you also may have heard that drinking some alcohol has been shown to have some health benefits, like reducing your risk of heart disease. So how much is too much?
For most healthy adults, moderate alcohol consumption is considered to be up to one drink per day for women and two drinks for men. If you’re trying to protect your immune system, it’s best to stick to this limit. Drinking too much can lead to a number of health problems, including liver damage, cancer, and an increased risk of infection.
If you do choose to drink alcohol, make sure you do so responsibly. Avoid binge drinking or consuming large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time. These unsafe alcohol behaviors can interfere with building a strong immune system and put you at risk for serious health consequences.
10. Add Ginger or Garlic to Your Diet
Adding ginger or garlic to your diet is a great way to help with building a strong immune system. Both of these ingredients have potent antimicrobial and antiviral properties that can help keep you healthy and fight off infection. They also contain antioxidants that can help protect your cells from damage.
Ways to add more ginger or garlic to your diet include:
- Adding minced garlic to salad dressings.
- Making a ginger-garlic paste and adding it to soups and stews.
- Sprinkling grated garlic or ginger over stir-fries and curries.
- Adding freshly minced ginger or garlic to marinades for meat and fish dishes.
- Infusing ginger or garlic into tea
11. Drink Plenty of Water
Water has so many benefits for our bodies—including supporting and building a strong immune system. Drinking plenty of water helps keep your body hydrated and functioning properly. It also flushes out toxins and gives your immune system the resources it needs to fight off illness.
Building a Strong Immune System: Putting it Together
As you can see, there are many things you can do to help with building a strong immune system. From a healthy diet and regular exercise to getting outside and laughing more, following these tips can help you build a strong immune system and protect yourself from illness.
Be sure to check out some of our other guides about immune health. From the best herbs to cook with and which vitamins can boost your immune system, we aim to help you live a healthy and holistic lifestyle.