We’re all being extra cautious to stay healthy these days, but looking after your immune system is important all the time, not just during the current crisis. Your immune system does so much more than just protect you against viruses like the common cold, the flu, and COVID-19.
Your immune system is also your first line of defense against bacteria, chronic illness, environmental toxins, and much more. It even helps your body heal more quickly after an injury or high-intensity exercise.
Sometimes it’s hard to establish healthy routines, but once you get into the habit of doing certain things every day, sticking with them becomes much easier. And following an immune-boosting routine can be incredibly beneficial for your overall health, not just for preventing illness, so it’s well worth the effort.
Here are 5 strategies you can use to boost your immune system plus how to incorporate them into your daily wellness routine.
1. Start with Immune Boosting Supplements
Adding supplements is an easy place to start when you’re establishing an immune-boosting routine. Taking the right supplements every day can help to keep your immune system strong and your energy levels up.
According to nutrition experts at Rahav Wellness, a clinic which offers IV therapy treatment in New York City, “much of our health and wellness depends on our inner balance of hydration, vitamins, and nutrients.” When you provide your body with the right raw materials, you support its ability to heal itself.
So, most of us will benefit from taking a multivitamin every day because it’s the easiest way to fill in any nutritional gaps in your diet that could be compromising your immune system.
Here are some other immune-boosting supplements to consider adding to your routine, depending on your specific goals:
Vitamin C: Taking a vitamin C supplement may reduce the length and severity of common illnesses, like colds and flu. It can also speed healing after surgery or injury.
Vitamin D: Being deficient in vitamin D can weaken your immune system, so a daily supplement is important, especially if you don’t spend a lot of time in the sun.
Zinc: Zinc is incredibly important for the immune system and a supplement may reduce the length and severity of colds and flu.
Elderberry: Elderberry has been shown to reduce the severity of viral infections, such as upper respiratory infections. It’s a safer alternative to prescription medication for the cold, flu, and other viruses.
Echinacea: Echinacea is another immune-boosting herb that can help to reduce the severity of cold and flu symptoms.
Garlic: Increasing your intake of garlic can prevent colds and other viruses.
You probably wouldn’t want to take all of these supplements every day.
Depending on your goals, you could take a multivitamin, vitamin D, and garlic each day with breakfast to keep your immune system strong.
Then, add in extra vitamin C, zinc, echinacea, and/or elderberry at the first sign of illness to keep the length and severity to a minimum.
2. Prioritize Sleep
Sleep and immune system health go hand in hand, so making sleep a priority is an incredibly important part of any immune-boosting routine. Adults should aim for 7 - 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night.
To help you fall asleep easier, get into the habit of shutting off all technology at least an hour before bed. Establishing a consistent bedtime and getting up at the same time every day can also be very beneficial for regulating your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle.
3. Eat a Healthy, Whole Food Diet
Feeding your body a variety of whole foods every day is essential for keeping your immune system strong. Try to avoid eliminating certain food groups and focus on including more nutrient-dense options instead.
For example, instead of avoiding carbs, eat whole grains that are rich in B vitamins and zinc. Choose healthy fats like coconut oil, avocados, and olive instead of hydrogenated fats. Healthy fats are essential for reducing inflammation and supporting the immune system.
When you’re craving something sweet opt for antioxidant-rich dark chocolate or fresh fruit instead of sugar. Citrus fruits are a great choice because they’re rich in vitamin C. Your diet should also include plenty of colorful veggies to ensure that you’re getting the widest range of nutrients.
Nuts and seeds are also beneficial for the immune system because they’re rich in zinc. Season your food liberally with spices like garlic, ginger, and turmeric, which all have immune-boosting properties.
Finally, take care of your gut by including some probiotic-rich foods into your diet every day. A healthy gut is essential not only for healthy immune function but also for balanced hormone levels and good emotional health. Fermented foods like yogurt, kimchi, kefir, and kombucha are all good options.
4. Get Moving and Spend Time Outdoors
By now, we all know that exercise is important for preventing chronic illness and for maintaining a healthy weight.
But exercise also supports the immune system by promoting good blood flow, which allows your immune system to work more efficiently. Exercise also helps expel bacteria and viruses from the lungs, and the increase in body temperature when you work out might even inhibit bacterial growth.
Try to exercise every morning or evening. Making it a daily habit will make it easier to stick to it. Bonus points if you exercise outdoors and suck up some immune-boosting vitamin D.
5. Find Healthy Ways to Manage Stress
Stress can take a major toll on your immune system, so finding healthy ways to manage it should be part of your daily routine. Of course, exercise is a great way to reduce stress, but there are lots of other methods to consider, too.
For example, meditation has been shown to trigger relaxation and reduce stress hormones in the short term. When you include it in your daily routine regularly, meditation can also be more positive over the long haul.
Yoga, reading a book, sitting or walking in nature, and journaling are all healthy ways to reduce stress, too. The key is to find something you enjoy and make it part of your daily routine.
Wrapping It Up
Establishing an immune-boosting routine doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, many immune-boosting activities are quite enjoyable, and they’ll boost your health on a holistic level, too. Making these simple lifestyle and dietary changes a part of your daily routine will turn them into healthy habits that benefit you for a lifetime.