4 Simple Ways To Boost Immune Function
With cold and flu season not yet at an end and a new pandemic on the rise, it's clear that everyone is very concerned about their health.
Although there is not much in the form of specific prevention we can do with a newer not well know virus, there are many ways we can protect our immune systems by making some simple lifestyle changes along with being intentional about usual infection control practices.
1. Engage In Regular Exercise
We all know that exercise is very important in the maintenance of good health, especially cardiovascular health, but we might not all be aware of its impact on immune health. Our bodies are composed of cells, some of those being immune cells, and when we exercise and move our bodies our cells increase in movement as well. This means that our immune cells are being redirected to different areas of our bodies to fight off intruders such as viruses and bacteria.
To reap the benefits of this, we luckily don't need to spend too much time in the gym, in fact over exercising can actually put our bodies into a state of depletion and immune suppression! A few days a week of 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise such as a brisk walk or jog, resistance training, or even a swim should be enough to get those cells moving.
2. Create Healthy Sleep Habits
Sleep is another important factor in our health that is often overlooked. After a night of less than stellar sleep we may feel as if we are functioning as normal, however our bodies are not working to their full capabilities, including our little friends, the immune cells.
Some ways to improve sleep habits are ensuring 7 or more hours of sleep a night, remaining on a consistent schedule of bed time and wake time, and limiting blue light exposure from televisions, computers, and smart phone screens before bed.
3. Prioritize Balanced Nutrition
Remember how I said our bodies are made up of little cells? Well in order for those little cells that literally create us to get energy to function, they use our food as fuel! That is why it is so important that we are consuming a diet high in nutrient rich whole foods such as fresh produce, meats, nuts, legumes, and grains over calorie dense foods such as processed sweets, fast food, and refine white bread and pastas.
It is also important to ensure a balanced ratio of macronutrients in our diets. Macronutrients are protein (found in meats, poultry, seafood, tofu, etc), fats (found in avocado, nuts and nut butters, dairy products, etc) and carbohydrates (found in grains, fruit, vegetables, etc). An easy way to ensure a balance of macronutrients in our diets is to include a serving of each category with every meal.
4. Avoid Factors That Negatively Effect Immune Function
Okay, the title of this category seems pretty obvious right?
Avoiding immune suppressing factors may not be possible for people with certain medical conditions who require immunosuppressant medications, but there are some factors that we are all able to control such as avoiding the consumption of alcohol and drug use and managing stress levels.