6 natural ways to boost your immune system

September 22, 2021

Hoping to stave off sickness this winter? These healthy habits and lifestyle changes will strengthen your body’s natural defenses and boost your immune system, helping you to fight off viruses during cold and flu season.

6 natural ways to boost your immune system

[Photo Credit: eldarnurkovic]

1. Get enough sleep
Sleep is the best line of defence when it comes to fighting viral infections. Your body needs at least seven to eight hours of quality sleep each night in order for your cells to rest, regenerate and repair. Sleep deprivation lowers the body’s natural defenses and weakens your immune system, which makes you more likely to get sick when exposed to germs.

2. Eat healthy foods
Eating a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables and nutrient-dense superfoods can help to prevent or reduce the duration of the common cold and other seasonal illnesses. Healthy fats like salmon, avocado, and chia seeds are high in Omega-3 fatty acids that combat inflammation in the body, while fermented and cultured foods contain live active microorganisms that promote a healthy balance of gut bacteria. Natural probiotic enhanced foods and drinks like kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir can increase your immunity by promoting the production of antibodies that help fight infections.

3. Take cold showers
Introducing icy cold water into your morning routine will trigger your body’s natural immune responses. While a nice warm shower might be more appealing, try alternating between warm water and cold water every 30-to-90 seconds. The dramatic change in temperature will shock your body and stimulate your blood vessels to constrict and dilate, helping to sustain a healthy immune system. One 2016 study even showed individuals who took cold showers were 29% less likely to call in sick to work.

4. Drink plenty of fluids
Dehydration can make you more susceptible to airborne infections, so it’s important to sip at least six to eight glasses of water throughout the day to keep your body strong and healthy. Drinking plenty of water helps to detoxify the body by clearing out germs and allowing illness-fighting nutrients to flow readily through your bloodstream. If you don’t like drinking cold water in the wintertime, try herbal tea or a cup of warm lemon water.

5. Reduce your stress
Psychological strain can take a toll on your mental and physical health. Chronic stress drains your energy levels, increases cortisol production, and prevents your body from properly regulating its inflammatory responses, which makes you more likely to become ill when exposed to germs. Try 10 minutes of deep yogic breathing exercises each day to maintain a healthy immune system. Slow and controlled breathing exercises send signals to the body’s parasympathetic nervous systems to slow down the heart rate and calm the mind, helping to reduce stress and inflammation in the body.

6. Exercise regularly
Moderate daily physical activity provides a wide range of health benefits and will pump up your body’s natural defenses. Get moving 30 to 45 minutes a day to stimulate the circulation and production of white blood cells — these powerful antibodies are crucial weapons when it comes to fighting infections. Just be careful not to overdo it or push yourself too hard; exercising intensely when you’re already sick can slow down your recovery.

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