As the school year picks up and flu season begins, it is important to stay healthy. Studies show there are multiple ways to boost your immune system. The first step to staying healthy is to wash your hands frequently and keep up on nasal washes. Keeping your hands clean and sinuses clear will help keep your immune system strong. Other simple ways to boost your immune system include:
- Have a positive attitude. Thinking positive helps lower stress hormone levels.
- Regular sex. Research shows a link between frequent sex and immunoglobulin being present. Immunoglobulin is a protein which helps fight the common cold.
- Build a strong social network. Studies show that those who have a strong social connection build a higher immune response.
- Getting a pet can help. Not only do pets give people company, but they are great to exercise with. Studies show lower cholesterol and blood pressure in those who have pets. Dogs have also shown to help build children’s immune systems against allergies.
- Have a sense of humor. Laughing helps boost white blood cells to help fight off infections. “One study showed that when men were told three days in advance that they would see a funny video, their stress hormones dropped (WebMD).”
- Take your vitamins and supplements. Vitamins A, C, D, E, zinc and magnesium are great for the immune system. Garlic also helps fight bacteria and viruses.
- Keep your body moving. Exercising for 30 minutes a day can help boost your immune system and help you sleep better.
- Get a full night’s sleep. Lack of sleep increases stress hormones and inflammation. Research shows 7-9 hours is a sufficient amount of sleep for staying healthy.
- Keep alcohol consumption to a minimum. Alcohol weakens the immune system. More than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women is enough to weaken it.
- Nicotine also weakens the immune system. If you want to quit smoking or chewing, contact your physician about safe ways to quit.
- Too much sugar can curb your immune system cells that attack bacteria. You can feel this affect for a few hours after drinking something heavy with sugar.
- Make sure to eat a good amount of fruits and vegetables of all colors. They are rich in vitamins, antioxidants and nutrients that help build the immune system.
Keep stress to a minimum. Although stress affects everyone, there are ways to keep levels low. Try meditating, working out, communicate with others you can relate to (or a counselor), and slow down and breathe. Stress hormones suppress the immune system, so it is important to work through it. Once stress levels are under control, you can sleep better and strengthen your immune system. Staying healthy can be difficult. If you want to boost your immune system and live a healthy lifestyle, try getting in a routine of these everyday tasks. If you need motivation, gather a group of friends to join you for support.