7 Ways to Boost Your Body’s Natural Defenses
If you’ve ever felt a cold coming on and popped a Vitamin C pill as a quick fix, you’re not alone — but boosting your immune system isn’t that easy. Your immune system acts as your body’s first line of defense, fighting off outside bacteria, viruses, and infections, and ensuring that you stay healthy. But to prepare for battle, your immune system needs the right weapons (namely nutrition, exercise, and sleep) — and that’s not something you can give to it overnight.
Instead of relying on quick fixes to boost your immune system, look to long-term solutions that can keep you healthy year-round.
If you’re looking to prevent cases of cold, flu, and other infections, build up your body’s defenses. Follow these 7 science-backed ways to build a healthy immune system:
Building a strong immune system starts with staying up-to-date on all of your routine vaccines. Vaccines are one of the best ways to shield yourself against sickness and ensure that you stay healthy. Whether you need a COVID-19 shot or another routine vaccine, make sure that you prioritize getting in your jab.
If you’re not sure where to go, look to RxLocal’s Vaccine Scheduler, where you can find a local pharmacy near you and make an appointment to get a vaccine.
Boost your immune system by using the power of your plate. Studies show that certain nutrients, like vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants, can give you the upper hand in combatting illness. Vitamin C helps white blood cells function more effectively. Antioxidants decrease inflammation, and fiber feeds your gut microbiome. Not sure how you can incorporate these nutrients into your diet? According to Healthline, these are some of the top immunity-boosting foods:
Whether it’s to have fun or get fit, you know that exercise is one of the most important components of staying healthy. You might not have known, though, that exercise also boosts your immune system. Several new studies suggest that even 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise every day can stimulate your immune system and ward off infections.
This week, try taking a light jog, going for a quick lifting session, or getting your friends and family in on the action with a game.
After you hit the gym, don’t be afraid to hit the snooze button. While sleep may not seem like a good way to boost your body’s defenses, it’s actually one of the best. While you’re at rest, your body has the chance to reset, refresh, and build up antibodies. It’s important, then, that you get the recommended amount of sleep every night.
Not getting enough sleep, according to the CDC, can significantly weaken your immune system. In fact, a new study shows that cutting your sleep time in half can cut your antibody production in half. If you want your body to be at its best, get to bed.
While it’s best to get your nutrients through your food, sometimes vitamins and supplements can be helpful if you find yourself facing a nutrient deficiency. Ask your local independent pharmacist about your options and find out which immunity-boosting vitamins can help you keep your health on track. According to the Cleveland Clinic, these are the vitamins that boost your immune system the most:
Don’t have a local pharmacy, or looking to find a new one? Check out RxLocal’s Pharmacy Finder, which can point you to real, reputable pharmacists in your area.
In the world of immunity, probiotics are all the rage right now. Probiotics are live bacteria found in your body, which help you stay healthy. Probiotics are especially important for maintaining a healthy gut. And because 70% of the immune system is located in the gut, probiotics are essential to building strong immunity.
Many foods, especially fermented foods, contain natural probiotics — but ask your pharmacist if taking a probiotic supplement may be a good way to get in what you’re missing.
While you’re putting in the effort to support your immune system, remember that taking a step back and destressing can actually help you, too. Prolonged stress can suppress your immune system and increase your chances of infection or illness.
In fact, estimates suggest that as much as 90% of all illnesses are related to stress. It’s important, then, that you learn to identify your stressors and set aside time to destress. Go for a walk, read a book, or take an afternoon nap. Taking the time to do something small can make a big difference in supporting your immune system.
Your immune system is a vital component of your overall health. It’s your body’s best defense against illness, and every day, it fights to keep you healthy. You should return the favor by supporting it in the same way.
Take some time to consider your current lifestyle and how you can adjust to be more mindful of your immune system. Then, over time, begin to implement those changes. When you boost your immune system, you can feel confident that your body is working at maximum capacity to fight off sickness. And, when you do get sick, you’ll find that you’re back to normal in no time.