If there’s one thing the last several months have taught us, it’s that our health is something we should never take for granted. Whatever we have to do to get healthier or prevent conditions like diabetes, heart disease, a weakened immune system, or obesity is well worth it.
As we enter the fall season, which typically ushers in the seasonal flu, our skilled providers at Internal Medicine & Pediatric Clinic, located in New Albany, Mississippi, share their thoughts on the five ways you can boost your immune system. What’s particularly beneficial about this topic is that it doubles as a primer on how to live a long, healthy life. Now that’s something definitely worth exploring.
We all know that even the most disciplined and healthy folks come down with a cold or get sick from time to time. But the more you can do to boost your immune system, the more it will fight off germs and harmful substances like bacteria and viruses.
What is the immune system and how does it work?
The human immune system is a complex assortment of organs and cells that work in tandem to prevent harmful elements like germs from entering your body as well as help you heal when you get sick. It includes things like white blood cells, lymph nodes, bone marrow, and even your skin and mucous membranes.
When your immune system is working optimally, it can easily detect if a foreign substance is trying to do you harm. Its job is to attack and destroy any foreign cells or pathogens. But to do that, it has to be operating in optimal performance.
Here are five ways to help improve your immune system:
1. Choose your foods wisely
You’ve probably heard the saying: “You are what you eat.” And though hyperbole, it does ring somewhat true. What you put into your body greatly impacts your immune system.
Think balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables and whole grains. Not only will a healthy diet boost your immune system, but it may also fend off chronic health conditions like hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
2. Exercise regularly
A healthy diet is best when teamed with a good exercise regimen. Find an activity that you like and stick with it. You don’t have to start running marathons or take up kickboxing, unless, of course, you want to. Simply taking a half hour to walk most days will work wonders for your immune system. A great added side benefit is that exercising regularly helps you maintain a healthy weight and boost your mood while it enhances your immune system.
3. Reduce stress
We all experience stress, whether it’s work-related or simply trying to juggle all our responsibilities simultaneously. Find an activity to unwind and release your stress. Things like meditation, yoga, or hobbies allow your mind to rest and can make all the difference. Plus, it can reduce your blood pressure and anxiety levels.
4. Sleep well
Managing and reducing stress can also help you sleep better, which, in turn, helps boost your immune system. Getting six to seven hours of sleep each night encourages your body to regenerate and refresh after a long day.
But getting a good night’s sleep isn’t always easy. Turning off the replay of the day’s events and the endless list of things in your head that need to be completed tomorrow can keep you awake. Try reading a chapter or two of a good book before bedtime or listening to soothing music. Try to turn off your devices a few hours before getting into bed.
You may have to experiment a little to find what works best for you, but finding a bedtime routine is essential for your immune system.
5. Wash your hands
Good hygiene and washing your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds is such an easy and effective way to protect yourself from germs. Your skin is the body’s largest organ and is a common entryway for foreign invaders like viruses.
Stay vigilant when washing your hands. Whether you sing “Happy Birthday” or recite the alphabet to time out your handwashing, doing so will boost your immune system.
Not feeling well? Book an appointment with our experienced providers here at Internal Medicine & Pediatric Clinic. Request an appointment online, or call the office today.