Can you Boost Your Immune System?
Your immune system is responsible for battling bacterial and viral infections, but lifestyle factors can influence how well it works. Being vaccinated against flu viruses and other diseases will definitely help to keep your body healthy, but there are also some simple everyday things that you can do to make your immune system stronger.
1) Try to avoid stress, and learn to better manage life’s inevitable stresses. Research shows that being consistently stressed weakens your immune system, making you more susceptible to illness.
There are many ways to reduce your stress levels. You might try setting aside at least one hour each day for pure relaxation, using that time to focus on reading a good book or watching your favorite TV show. To confront stress more directly, you could try writing a regular diary and releasing your worries and frustrations onto the page.
2) Exercise regularly, with a particular emphasis on cardiovascular exercise such as running and cycling. This will boost your immune system and improve the health of your heart at the same time.
3) Drink lemon juice (in water or tea). This will help your body balance acid with alkali in order to allow the ‘good bacteria’ in your body to thrive.
4) For whatever reason, having a happy and active social life has an impact on overall health and longevity. Research has shown that those with deep and meaningful relationships live longer and more healthily, so make sure you maintain your important friendships, and work towards meeting new people as well.
5) Practice good hygiene. If you wash your hands thoroughly and use antibacterial soap, you will limit your exposure to any harmful pathogens you may have encountered in the outside world, and you will be less likely to become ill.
6) Eat food that contains antioxidants, as some scientists strongly believe that they can protect your body from harmful toxins that are absorbed in everyday life. In order to ingest more of these antioxidants, eat more fruit and vegetables (especially carrots, strawberries, broccoli, oranges and watermelon).
7) If you smoke, try to stop. Smoking is terrible for your body in all kinds of ways; it promotes cancer, it increases the likelihood that you will have a heart attack, and studies show that it weakens your immune system as well.
8) If you have a partner, make love regularly. Studies have repeatedly shown that sex comes with many benefits for the body, and one of those is better general health.
There is evidence suggesting that people who have more sex are healthier overall, and fall ill less often, though a solid link between sex and a strong immune system has yet to be conclusively established.
9) Make sure that you have a healthy sleep pattern. If you do not get enough sleep, or sleep at strange hours, this can weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to infections. If you have trouble sleeping, make time to relax just before bed, and talk to your doctor if you are concerned that any insomnia might be attributable to an underlying medical condition.
10) Avoid eating very sugary foods. When your blood sugar level is too high, this stresses your immune system and your pancreas.
11) Try to have an optimistic outlook by focusing on the things that you like about your life and the ways in which you can solve your problems. A study of a group of students has shown that feelings of optimism are linked to a stronger immune system.
12) There is a currently tenuous but very interesting link between immune system strength and laughter. One particular study showed that people who had just watched videos that made them laugh out loud had stronger immune systems directly after they had watched the videos.
Further research is needed, but in the meantime it certainly won’t hurt you to make time for entertainment and conversation that makes you laugh out loud.
13) Do not over-indulge in alcohol, as it weakens the immune system. It is recommended that women have no more than one alcoholic drink each day, and that men have no more than two alcoholic drinks each day.
14) Make sure that you are getting the recommended amount of each vitamin every day, especially vitamin A and vitamin D (which have been linked to productive immune system function).
It can be difficult to monitor your diet to the extent required to make sure you ingest enough vitamins, so consider taking a daily multivitamin.
Even if you have a very healthy lifestyle and follow all of these guidelines, you will inevitably fall ill sometimes. When you think you are ill, see a doctor or a pharmacist for more specific advice on what you can do to become well again.