Boost Your Immune System:
As the weather turns colder, it’s time to protect yourself and against bugs and germs. And just as you think your number of colds for this winter set in stone (nose-wrinkling sneezing, constant throat clearing, achy joints), there may be a straightforward solution: Boost your immune system. But what does that mean? Sometimes it seems like good health is out of reach; we try to avoid sugar, drink lots of water, eat our veggies (organic or not), exercise daily, wash our hands often–yet still seem to get sick over and over again.
Here are some simple ways to help protect yourself against illness by strengthening your immune system.
1) Eat fresh food:
Many of the nutrients in fruits and vegetables prevent infection and fight disease. Antioxidants that neutralize free radicals unstable oxygen molecules that can damage cells thought to protect against cancer, heart disease, stroke, and other diseases. Many also help strengthen your immune system so it can better fight off viruses and bacteria. Plus, produce is full of fiber, which enables you to stay regular (read: avoid constipation) so you can rid your body of toxins more efficiently.
2) Get enough sleep:
A lack of sleep doesn’t just make for cranky humans; it makes for a grumpy immune system too. Researchers who studied what effect sleep deprivation had on the immune systems of young men found that when they slept less than 7 hours a night. Their levels of immunoglobulin A (IgA), an antibody that helps ward off colds and other infections, dropped by more than 65%, compared with when they got more sleep.
Research suggests that physical activity may lower your chances of getting respiratory infections such as the flu or a cold. In one study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, sedentary adults who began exercising regularly. Saw improvements in several aspects of their immune systems after just four months, including a boost in natural killer cells–the cells your body uses to fight off viruses–and fewer symptoms from a cold. The exercisers also reported feeling better during the study period than people who spent the same amount of time on non-exercise activities.
4) Quit smoking:
According to the National Cancer Institute, smokers are up to 30 times more likely than nonsmokers to develop lung cancer. And not only do smokers have a higher risk of getting lung disease, but they are also at greater risk for infections such as pneumonia and tuberculosis. Smoking damages your body in many ways, including causing inflammation that reduces your resistance to colds and other illnesses.
5) Get rid of clutter:
A messy home can contribute to poor health because it’s easier for bacteria, viruses, pollen, dust mites, mold spores, pet dander–all potential sources of allergy attacks or respiratory problems–to accumulate when things aren’t put away. Plus, a cluttered house increases stress, and when you’re stressed, your body produces more cortisol. This hormone helps give you an energy boost when needed and connects with elite levels of irritation in the body.
6) Don’t let others drain your energy:
It’s not just a saying–your friends and family can affect how healthy or sick you get! You’ve probably heard that stress can make you sick? Well, it’s true. When we are under any pressure, our bodies activate our fight-or-flight response. And studies show that this physical response puts a tremendous strain on the immune system by causing it to overreact. One study found that pictures with emotional content can make our immune systems react as if they respond to real threats, activating chemicals that cause inflammation.
7) Eat small meals more frequently:
When we eat large portions at one sitting, our body has to work harder than when we spread out our food intake. A study published in the journal Nature found that mice fed large meals were more likely to become obese and insulin resistant (precursors of diabetes and heart disease). The researchers believe the stress of processing a large amount of food all at once is what throws things off-kilter. Eating several smaller meals throughout the day lowers your blood sugar level less, which reduces the production of free radicals and oxidative stress on your cells.
8) Enjoy tea:
Green tea–made from unfermented leaves of the same shrub as black tea–is rich in catechins. According to Laval University in Quebec research, green tea extract may also help fight infections by boosting your immune system’s production of disease-fighting white blood cells called lymphocytes and phagocytes.
9) Make ginger a part of your life:
Studies show that ginger provides immediate relief from nausea and vomiting, but it also has lasting immunity benefits. In animal studies, a whole ginger extract will find to reduce inflammation throughout the body, including inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein (CRP), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), and interleukin 6 (IL-6). Animal research also points to ginger’s ability to enhance the immune system by increasing phagocytic activity, the capacity of white blood cells that fight infection and disease.
10) Take a dip:
We all know swimming is excellent exercise, but did you know it may also be suitable for your immune system? In a study published in The Archives of Internal Medicine, women who slowly lowered themselves into cold water (50 degrees Fahrenheit) five times over two minutes had better-functioning natural killer cells than they did before the dunk. Cold plunges aren’t feasible for everyone, but if you’re game, get in and out as fast as possible; don’t prolong the cooling process! Researchers believe that brief exposure to cold helps activate the immune system and boosts it because the body thinks it’s fighting an infection.
Build up your immune system with Quran by doing these things regularly. Having an active lifestyle, getting enough sleep, and eating right are essential to boosting your immune system. But now you know the other things to do–like letting go of clutter and enjoying tea–that can help too!