As we dive into the cooler months, it’s important that we do our best to keep our immune system strong and avoid getting sick. Preventative care is key so we asked a couple of experts to share some easy and natural ways you can boost your immune system and give your body some love this season.
1. Eat healthy food
Good health starts in your gut. “The gut comprises a large part of the immune system, so eating nutritious foods is an excellent way to ensure the immune system stays strong,” says nutrition coach Maria Sylvester Terry. “A diet rich in fruits and vegetables will help the immune system function as they are rich in micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) that are required for important processes in the body.” So shoot for five servings of fruits and veggies per day to keep your immune system in optimal shape.
2. Stay hydrated
Your immune system needs lots of H20 to stay healthy. Water also helps your body breakdown, absorb, and metabolize the nutrients from your food. The amount of water you need depends on your weight and lifestyle. “Generally, one ounce of water per kilogram of body weight is a baseline rule of thumb,” Terry says. “Drink more water to account for sweat losses from exercise and working or exercising in extreme conditions.” If you need some motivation, it helps to have a chic water bottle that you can bring with you everywhere.
3. Cut out processed food
Maintaining a healthy immune system is not just about eating more good food but also cutting out the bad stuff too. Gastroenterologist Dr. Lina Velikova says processed and sugary food damages your immune system. “Processed food gives our body signals that we’re full when we’re nutrient-deprived,” she says. “In the long run, poor eating habits can be detrimental to our immunity.”
4. Take supplements
Although it’s always best to get your nutrients straight from your food, supplementing can also be helpful if needed. “I recommend all my patients take vitamin C, zinc, and probiotics to boost their immune system,” Dr. Velikova says. Terry adds that vitamin C and zinc, in particular, when taken at the onset or right before getting sick can help shorten the duration of the cold by about a day.
5. Schedule in stress-free moments
You can implement all the healthy rituals but if your body is under a lot of stress, your immune system won’t be as strong as it can be. “Stress without sufficient coping mechanisms can weigh heavily on our bodies and negatively impact the immune system,” Terry says. That’s why she recommends scheduling stress-free moments throughout your day. That can look like a quick meditation session before you go into work in the morning, going for a nature walk, or treating yourself to an all-natural facial sheet mask.
6. Get more sleep
Dr. Velikova says sleep will also do wonders for boosting your immune system. “During sleep, our body regenerates and repairs the damage done during the day,” she explains. “Chronic fatigue can drastically reduce our immune response, so it’s good not to let that happen.”
But it’s not just more sleep, it’s about quality sleep. To get quality sleep, she recommends going to bed early in order to sync your sleeping time with your melatonin production. “Melatonin is a sleep hormone that peaks around 9 pm, meaning that you get the best quality sleep between 9 pm and midnight,” she says.
7. Move your body
Exercising is another great way to boost your immune system. And it doesn’t have to be a strenuous workout either. Moving your body in whatever way feels good for you will make a difference. “If you don’t already have an exercise regimen, start small by taking 15-30 minute walks or finding a workout that you enjoy so you can maintain it over time,” Terry says.