The effectiveness of our immune system is largely determined by germs that we are exposed to over a lifetime. Genetics, stress, sleep, diet and exercise all play a role in the strength of our immune system. Intermittent bouts of inflammation are our body’s way to protect our health by fighting with the germs (invaders). When inflammation persists day in and day out, also known as chronic inflammation, its continued assault can become a source of concern. Many major diseases including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression and Alzheimer’s have been linked to chronic inflammation. So given this information, what can you do to boost your immune system? Here are some practical, simple tips that can get you started on a road to strong living.
There is no undermining healthful eating and exercise regime to maintain a strong immune system. Foods such as tomatoes, olive oil, green leafy vegetables, nuts, salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines, strawberries, blueberries, cherries and oranges are sometimes said to boost your immune system, though there are only a few small studies that suggest these benefits with a lack of strong evidence. But choosing to follow a balanced diet consistent with the foods mentioned is not harmful, and might reduce your risk for falling ill. Consistently picking foods which compromise your immune system such as white bread and pastries, fried foods, sweetened beverages, soda, processed meats, and saturated fats may accelerate the inflammatory disease process.
Stress, too, makes you more susceptible to illnesses. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, in a series of studies, found that people who reported less stress in their lives were more likely to fall sick by taxing their immune system. You can help your immune system stay strong by practicing techniques to manage stress such as meditation, exercise and mindfulness.
Focus on better sleep habits. A sleep-deprived immune system can’t fight off infection. Research has shown the risk is highest when a person sleeps less than five hours a night. Aim to sleep for six to seven hours a night by sticking to a consistent sleep time. Turn off electronics and avoid exercise right before bedtime.