Your immune system is a complex network of cells that defends your body against illness and infection. A strong immune system has always been important to health and longevity, but In the face of a pandemic, many people are exploring the ways they can further protect themselves and strengthen their body’s natural defense. But can you really boost your immune system?
While researchers have yet to scientifically prove the link between lifestyle and immune response, the relationship is intriguing. As we learn more about the effects of diet and stress on the body, appears that certain dietary and healthy-living strategies do have a positive impact on immune function. With many still awaiting the COVID-19 vaccine, making a conscious effort to strengthen your immune system certainly can’t hurt. Here are a few steps you can take to boost your immune system at every age.
Sleep: There’s no question that you feel better after a solid night’s sleep than a restless one, but sleep also plays an important role in immune function. While you sleep, your immune system releases cytokines, protective proteins that can help reduce inflammation. Lack of sleep can reduce cytokine production as well as reduce your body’s infection fighting antibodies. Aim for at least 8 hours, and take proactive steps to ensure the best sleep environment.
Exercise: While exercise may not keep illness at bay, it does strengthen and improve the function of your body, giving your immune system an added advantage. Regular exercise can lower blood pressure and help older adults maintain a healthier weight. It also improves cardiovascular health and circulation, allowing those disease fighting cells to move more freely through your body and fight off invading viruses and infection.
Diet: There is some evidence that micronutrient deficiencies can alter immune response. In particular, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, and zinc—play roles in maintaining immune function. If you suspect that your diet is deficient in any of these, you may want to choose foods high in these micronutrients or supplement with vitamins.
Gut Health: The impact of our diet on our immune system runs deeper than we may realize. 70% of the immune system is housed in the gut. DuPage Medical Group shares, “When there is an imbalance in your gut, such as an overgrowth of “bad” bacteria, it can confuse your immune system causing it to start attacking your own cells. If your immune system is busy reacting to healthy cells, not only is it easier for you to get sick, it’s also harder for your body to recover.”
Bad Habits: When it comes to strengthening your immune system, adopting good habits is important, but so is losing any “bad” habits that may be negatively impacting your immune system. Don’t smoke. Maintain a healthy weight. If you drink alcohol, do it in moderation. You also want to take a look at anything that is causing undue stress, and see what healthy steps you can take to better manage.
While we may not fully understand the links between our lifestyle choices and immune system, thinking about our health and taking proactive steps to improve it is always time well spent. How will you make healthier choices today?
About LifeStyle Options: An Addus Home Care Company
Founded in 1989, LifeStyle Options is one of the largest licensed, private duty home care agencies in Illinois. With highly experienced and trained homecare professionals, CNAs, and RNs on staff, they have earned a reputation for providing exceptional service to clients throughout the Greater Chicagoland area, enabling older adults to safely remain in the comfort of their own home.