Boost Your Immunity: Practical Tips for a Stronger Immune System
March 2 • 2023
During the Winter season, many people are more susceptible to illness due to an increased risk of viral infections. Because of the colder weather and lack of sunlight, viral infections tend to thrive during these Winter months. But as these colder months come to an end, Allergy season is right around the corner. So, now is the time to focus on building immunity for the months ahead.
Having a strong immune system is key for maintaining good health and preventing illness and disease — which means it’s especially important to prioritize immune health after the Winter months. Stay tuned as we discuss the essential role our immunities have in protecting our bodies from harmful pathogens (such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites) and the practical tips we’ll share to help boost your immune system. With a combination of science-based education and implementing healthy habits like maintaining a good diet, routine exercise, and getting adequate sleep — you’ll be able to strengthen your immune system and reduce the risk of infection and illness for the remainder of the year.
Why Having a Strong Immune System is Important:
The immune system consists of various types of cells, like white blood cells that are responsible for identifying and fighting off foreign invaders in the body — bacteria, viruses, and parasites. When the immune system is strong and functioning properly, it can detect and destroy these harmful pathogens before they even cause illness or infection. However, when the immune system is weakened or compromised, it’s harder for our bodies to fight off these foreign invaders — increasing the risk of infection, illness, and a host of other health problems. Some factors that weaken the immune system include stress, lack of sleep, poor nutrition, and a sedentary lifestyle. However, there are several healthy habits that can help support strong immune function to keep our bodies healthy.
How Sleep Supports Immunity:
Quality sleep is a key factor for maintaining a healthy immune system. While we sleep, our bodies produce cytokines — proteins that help fight infection and inflammation. Lack of sleep can reduce the production of these proteins, which leads to a weaker immune system — making it more challenging for our bodies to fight off illness and infection. That’s why it’s essential to get an adequate amount of sleep every night. The hours of sleep needed vary depending on an individual’s age — adults should aim for seven to nine hours of sleep per night, while children and teenagers may need more. Regardless of age, it’s important to shut off those devices, like phones, tablets, and TVs, before bed, as screens decrease melatonin and cause disruptions to your sleep.
How Diet and Nutrition Support Immunity:
Nutrition plays a crucial role in supporting strong immune function. A well-balanced diet that incorporates a range of nutrient-dense foods can provide the nutrients our bodies need to maintain a strong immune system. By consuming a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats — our bodies will get the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants our immune system needs to function at its best. Some nutrients that are essential for immune function include:
- Vitamin C: essential for the production of white blood cells and antibodies that fight infection. Vitamin C can be found in broccoli, peppers, and citrus fruits like strawberries.
- Vitamin D: essential for immune function. Vitamin D is produced when our skin is exposed to sunlight and can also be found in fatty fish like Salmon, egg yolks, and fortified foods.
- Zinc: essential for the production of white blood cells and antibodies. Zinc can be found in lean meat, poultry, beans, and nuts.
- Protein: essential for building and repairing tissues as they contain amino acids, which are used to fight off infection and illness. Protein can be found in meat and fish, eggs, dairy products, seeds and nuts, tofu, quinoa, and legumes like beans.
In addition to consuming a well-balanced diet, it’s just as vital to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Drinking water helps flush toxins out of our bodies and keeps our immune systems functioning properly. A good rule of thumb is a minimum of 64 ounces of water a day.
How Exercise Supports Immunity:
Physical activity is essential for maintaining good health and supporting a strong immune system. Regular exercise can help reduce stress levels, improve circulation, and promote healthy sleep patterns. Exercise has also been proven to stimulate the production of white blood cells, which we know are essential for immune function. Some ways to incorporate exercise into your weekly routine can include going for a walk or bike ride, joining a gym, swimming, playing tennis, or using online resources like YouTube to find workouts that meet you where you are. Aiming for 30 minutes a day or 2 hours and 30 minutes each week can help improve your overall immunity.
It’s also important to note that too much exercise could have the opposite effect and lead to a weakened immune system. So, listen to your body and find a balanced exercise routine that supports your immunity.
Practical Tips for Boosting Immune Function:
While getting enough sleep, consuming a well-balanced diet, and exercising regularly all contribute to building a strong immune system, here are some additional tips to help boost your immune function:
- Manage stress levels: stress can lead to a weakened immune system, so it’s crucial to find healthy ways to manage your stress, such as exercising, meditating, spending time with your loved ones, and getting outside.
- Avoid smoking and alcohol: both smoking and alcohol consumption can weaken your immune system, which then increases your risk of infection and life-threatening illnesses.
- Practice good hygiene: washing your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and avoiding touching your face can prevent the spread of germs.
- Take immune-boosting supplements: some supplements like probiotics and omega-3s can help boost your immune system. However, it’s important to speak with your Aylo Health provider before starting a supplement regimen, as they may interfere with other medications or medical conditions.
- Get vaccinated: immunizations (vaccines) play a vital role in protecting people from serious illnesses and life-threatening diseases. They are a type of preventive care service that prevents the spread of highly contagious diseases.
Now that you know how important it is to build a strong immune system to maintain good health, you can better prevent infections and illnesses. By adopting these healthy habits and incorporating these practical tips, you can boost your immune system and keep your body healthy for the months ahead.
At Aylo Health, we remain committed to providing comprehensive primary care services to help you maintain optimal health so you can do amazing things. If you have concerns about your immune function or overall health, schedule an appointment with your Aylo provider so you can get the quality care you need to stay on top of your health.