The way your immune system functions will determine your overall level of health. After all, it is the first line of defense your body has against pathogens and chronic illness. When the immune system is in good working order, the body is able to fight off infections more easily, which is a vital component of staying healthy.
Everyone’s immune system could use a little boost from time to time, especially in this day and age. Things such as leading a sedentary lifestyle, eating the wrong foods, and not getting enough sleep can all negatively affect how the immune system does its job. But by addressing specific lifestyle factors and performing activities that boost immune function, you can give your system the jolt it needs to protect you and your health.
There are plenty of ways to naturally boost your immune system. Many are simple lifestyle changes that can be implemented seamlessly into your daily routine. Let’s take a look at some specific immune-boosting activities everyone should do get that extra level of protection.
Sleep and immune function work together symbiotically. This means that the amount and the quality of sleep you’re getting will be crucial in how well your immune system responds if pathogens enter your system.
Sleep doesn’t just affect one facet of the immune system, but several, as research has shown. For example, sleep and the circadian system, or the body’s natural sleep-cycle regulator, work together to help regulate the immune system. Both sleep and the circadian system help the body to communicate with the immune system, and when that communication is disrupted, it can lead to weakened immune function.
During sleep, your body has lower levels of stress hormones that can lessen the function of molecules called integrins. These molecules are designed to help immune cells known as T-cells stick to viruses to rid them from the body. When those hormones are lowered, the integrins are more well-equipped to help T-cells get into contact with infected cells and thus get them out of the body.
Mindful meditation is a practice designed to enhance awareness in daily life. Research has shown that this practice, when performed regularly, can help to increase the function of the immune system. It does this by modulating certain immune functions, such as the proinflammatory processes, enzyme production, and cell-mediated defense.
These parameters are important because they play direct roles in the immune function. For example, the proinflammatory process can cause an abundance of inflammation, which is bad for the immune system; and enzymes are needed to help protect against cell aging, which can decrease how well the immune system works.
Exercise is important for overall health, but when it comes to the immune system, it is especially crucial to get the body moving on a regular basis. Research has shown that regular exercise can help to modulate the immune system. It does this by encouraging the circulation of important immune cells known as lymphocytes. During and after exercise, the body also releases other immune cells known as cytokines, which are crucial in protecting the body.
It’s not possible to think happy thoughts every hour of every day. Everyone experiences annoyances and struggles. But having a positive mindset towards negative situations can help to increase how the immune system functions in the long run.
Research has shown that focusing on the positives help people increase the strength of their immune systems. One specific study had participants look at both positive and negative images. They were later asked to think about the experiment and underwent blood tests to determine immune function. The participants who remembered more positive images had better immune functioning for up to two years following the experiment.
This just goes to show that thinking about the silver lining can have a great impact on how well your body fights off illness.
Diet may not be everything when it comes to healthy living, but it does make up a huge portion of how well the body works. Eating a diet rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients will help to keep the immune system running as it should.
Research has shown that when a person is deficient in any nutrient, it can affect the way the body produces antibodies for pathogens as well as other immune cells. For example, natural killer cells are required to help contain infections within the body so that other immune cells can prepare to clear them out. These natural killer cells rely on having enough B6 and B12 within the body to keep them ready and able to do their job.
Learning to cook and eat with intention can help you get all the nutrients you need because you will be more in control of what goes into your body, and thus more in control of the fuel you give your immune system.
Being out in the great outdoors is great for both physical and mental health, but it can also positively affect how well the immune system functions. This is because the immune system needs vitamin D, and being outside is the best way to get it.
The immune system is vital to overall health, and keeping it running at its best will help you stave off illnesses and decrease your risk of developing chronic disease later in life.