Your immune system is responsible for keeping you safe from all kinds of pathogens. It destroys millions of potential invaders every day and, most of the time, is extremely effective. However, sneaky lifestyle habits could be having a negative impact on your immune system. It’s important to take steps to boost your immune system to ensure you’re able to fight off anything that could cause illness or infection.
1. Poor Diet
Vitamins and minerals need to be a part of your daily diet. In particular, zinc, magnesium, and vitamins A, C, and D play a crucial role in your immune health. A few examples are: fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, eggs, salmon and greek yogurt. You’ll also find vitamin D in some foods (including eggs, salmon, and fortified foods like milk and mushrooms), although the sun is the main source of this vitamin.
Something else you may lack in your diet that contributes to a weak immune system is fiber. The majority of people in the U.S. consume insufficient quantities — women should eat 25 grams a day and men 31 grams a day. In addition to contributing to your gut health, fiber is important for weight management, controlling inflammation, and preventing chronic disease — all things related to a healthy immune system.
Another way to improve gut health is to make sure you consume plenty of probiotics and prebiotics. Probiotics are good bacteria that live in your gut; prebiotics provide these bacteria with a source of food. Beneficial bacteria are important because they compete for resources with any pathogenic bacteria that manage to enter your gut. This stops these bad bacteria from being able to establish an infection. You can get probiotics from fermented foods and prebiotics from vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and other foods that are high in fiber.
Lastly, be sure to avoid highly-processed foods, especially foods high in added sugar. This includes cookies, deli meat, chips, and anything that uses refined grains. These provide less support for your immune system than unprocessed foods and fill you up, meaning you’re not hungry enough to eat sufficient fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Sugar is extra problematic because it can cause a spike in glucose in your blood, which suppresses your immune system and can eventually lead to diabetes.
2. Spending Too Much Time Indoors
To gain enough vitamin D, try to spend time outdoors every day. The vitamin has multiple effects on immune function. For instance, it enables cells to produce more of the proteins they need to fight microbes and regulates your immune response.
3. Being Inactive
An easy way to spend more time outdoors is to find new ways to exercise, such as going for a run or bike ride, playing sports, or hiking. This is also important for your immune health. For one thing, staying fit reduces your risk of obesity. A lack of movement also means immune cells are less active, so they may miss signs of pathogens in the bloodstream. When you exercise, your blood flows faster, which increases the chance your immune system will encounter and fight off things like bacteria and viruses.
Cigarettes are bad for your health in multiple ways, many of which you’re likely already aware of. What you may not know is that smoking also weakens the immune system, making it more difficult for you to fight off diseases and increasing the risk of autoimmune disorders — this is when your immune system acts as if certain types of cells are invaders and destroys them. Smoking also puts you at higher risk of complications from respiratory illnesses due to the damage it does to your lungs.
5. Consuming Too Much Alcohol
One of the worst things for your immune system is alcohol. This is because it dehydrates you and can cause inflammation. Cut down by having no more than a few drinks a week and opting for mocktails. When you do have an alcoholic beverage, stay hydrated by also drinking water.
6. Lacking Sleep
During sleep, your body recovers and repairs itself, including by replenishing the cells and tissues of the immune system. When you lack sleep (even in the short term), you’re more likely to fall sick. It’s important to set a bedtime to ensure you sleep between seven and nine hours a night. The good news is many of the above lifestyle changes will also improve your sleep, particularly exercising more and cutting down on alcohol.
The best thing you can do to improve your sleep, though, is to stop drinking caffeine late in the day. There are benefits to drinking caffeine in limited amounts (including reduced inflammation), but the energy-boosting effects last much longer than you realize, which can mean you struggle to fall asleep. If you want something warm and soothing before bed, try herbal tea. In fact, teas like chamomile, lemon, lavender, valerian, and passionflower can even help you sleep.
7. Being Stressed
Occasional stress is normal and can even be motivating. However, chronic stress makes you more prone to illness. Many of the above reduce stress, particularly spending more time outdoors, eating a balanced diet, and exercising on a regular basis. You can also find relief using essential oils, meditating, or talking to a therapist.
8. Feeling Lonely
Another negative emotion that can impact immune function is loneliness due to the stress that it causes. Although it may feel intimidating, the best way to overcome loneliness is to search for new social activities. Look for social groups in your area or find people online who share your interests — even if they’re located far from you, it’s still possible to socialize, such as over video chat.
The best way to boost your immune system is to live a healthy lifestyle. In addition to the above, this includes using essential oils on a regular basis. However, not all essential oils have immune-boosting properties. The blends from LaCura consist of essential oils chosen for their immune and respiratory health benefits. Shop now to find products that will keep you healthy throughout the year.