If you've stockpiled face masks, hand sanitizers, and chicken soup, consider this: your best bet for protection against common airborne illnesses starts within.
Build a strong immune system from the inside out, and don’t sabotage your immunity with habits that hinder your body’s ability to fight off infections and illness.
Three Immune Busters
A sedentary lifestyle may interfere with good sleep and can lead to obesity. If you sit at a desk all day, this double whammy can leave you and your immune system feeling sluggish.
Regular, moderate exercise makes a difference—aim for a daily brisk walk of 30 minutes. Strength training is also important.
Exercise increases levels of leukocytes, cells that fight infections.
Eat whole foods, especially organic.
Choose lots of colorful fruits and veggies for their antioxidants—nutrients that protect cells from free-radical damage that’s been implicated in atherosclerosis, cancer, and arthritis.
Free radicals can also interfere with your immune system.
Deficiencies in vitamins C and D as well as the minerals selenium and zinc have been linked to an increased risk of viral infections. If your diet is lacking, supplementing with a multivitamin containing these nutrients makes sense.
Up to 80 percent of the immune system is located in the gut, so optimal digestive health is paramount. In addition to eating a balanced diet with plenty of fiber and omega-3 fats, a balanced gut can be achieved through the consumption of probiotics.
Choose foods with probiotics (yogurt, sauerkraut, or kimchi) or probiotic supplements, along with digestive enzymes, which can help with the proper digestion of food and absorption of nutrients.
Although short-term stress may boost immunity, chronic stress appears to do the opposite, exposing your body to more of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, which suppress immunity.
Learning relaxation techniques, perhaps through yoga or t’ai chi, can boost immunity and improve sleep.