Boosting Your Body’s Natural Defenses
By Pierre Mouchette | Bits-n-Piece
Many factors come into play when boosting your body’s natural immunity, but dietary and lifestyle changes are of utmost importance. It is essential to strengthen your body’s natural defenses to help you fight harmful pathogens and disease-causing organisms in preparation for this immunity.
Sleep deprivation and immunity are closely tied together because inadequate or poor-quality sleep leads to a higher susceptibility to sickness. Having adequate rest may strengthen your natural immunity. Additionally, you may sleep more when sick, allowing your immune system to better fight the illness.
Recommendation: Adults should get seven or more hours of sleep each night, teens eight to ten hours, younger children, and infants up to fourteen hours of sleep.
Whole Plant Foods
Include fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes, all of which are rich in nutrients and antioxidants and will give you the upper hand from harmful pathogens. Antioxidants found in these foods help reduce inflammation by combatting unstable compounds called free radicals, which can lead to inflammation when they build up in the body.
Chronic inflammation is associated with many health conditions, including heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and particular cancers. The fiber in plant-based food feeds the gut microbiome or the community of healthy bacteria in your gut. A robust gut microbiome will improve immunity and help keep damaging pathogens from entering your body via your digestive tract. Fruits and vegetables are rich in nutrients such as vitamin C, which may reduce the duration of the common cold.
These fats are abundant in olive oil and salmon and may boost your body’s immune response to pathogens by decreasing inflammation. Even when low-level inflammation is a normal reaction to stress or injury, chronic inflammation may suppress your body’s immune system.
Olive oil is highly anti-inflammatory and can be linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Additionally, its anti-inflammatory properties may help your body fight off harmful disease-causing bacteria and viruses.
Omega-3 fatty acids, like those in salmon and chia seeds, also fight inflammation.
Eat More Fermented Foods, Or Take A Probiotic Supplement
Fermented foods are rich in good bacteria (probiotics), which populate the digestive tract. These foods include yogurt and sauerkraut. Having a flourishing network of gut bacteria can help your immune cells differentiate between normal, healthy cells and harmful invader organisms. Probiotic supplements are an option if you do not regularly eat fermented foods.
Added sugars and refined carbs contribute disproportionately to overweight and obesity. Obesity will increase your risk of getting sick.
Curbing sugar intake can decrease inflammation and aid in weight loss, reducing the possibility of chronic health conditions such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Type 2 diabetes and heart disease will weaken your immune system. So, limiting sugars is an integral part of an immune-boosting diet.
Recommendation: Limit sugar intake to less than 5% of your daily calories. This equates to 2 tablespoons (25 grams) of sugar for someone on a 2,000-calorie diet.
Participate In Moderate Exercise
Intense exercise can suppress your immune system, whereas moderate exercise can boost it. Moderate exercise may help in reducing inflammation and also help your immune cells regenerate.
Note: Examples of moderate exercise include brisk walking, steady bicycling, jogging, swimming, and light hiking. Most people should target at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.
Hydration does not necessarily protect you from germs and viruses, but preventing dehydration is essential to overall health.
Dehydration may cause headaches and hinder your physical performance, focus, mood, digestion, and heart and kidney function. Such complications can increase your susceptibility to illness.
Note: To prevent dehydration, you should drink enough fluid daily to make your urine pale yellow. Water is mentioned because it is free of calories, additives, and sugar. You should drink when you are thirsty and stop when you are no longer thirsty.
It is vital to remember that older adults lose the urge to drink because their bodies do not signal thirst adequately. They need to drink regularly even if they do not feel thirsty.
Relieving stress and anxiety is key to immune health. Long-term stress promotes inflammation and imbalances in immune cell function.
Activities that help you manage stress can include meditation, exercise, yoga. You may also benefit from seeing a licensed counselor or therapist.
Use Supplements Wisely
Studies indicate that the following supplements may strengthen your body’s general immune response:
Note: Supplements can be prone to mislabeling because they are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Only purchase supplements independently tested by third-party organizations such as United States Pharmacopeia (USP), NSF International, and Consumer Lab.