During the winter months, many people tend to catch colds or get sick. Getting sick often interferes with fitness goals, work, and social life. So if you just set new health goals for the new year, you’ll want to avoid getting sick and getting off track.
A strong immune system can help you fight off illness before it attacks. So how can you naturally give your immune system a boost to keep you at your best? Keep reading to find out.
Eat a Healthy Diet
A diet consisting of mostly whole, plant-based foods can naturally boost your immune system.
Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that will strengthen your body’s defenses against foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses.
The antioxidants found in these foods have anti-inflammatory properties, which help fight free radicals.
Free radicals are unstable atoms that can damage cells, causing illness and aging. When too many free radicals build up in the body, increased inflammation occurs, making you more susceptible to infections and other health conditions such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s and cancer.
These whole, plant-based foods are also high in fiber, which supports a healthy gut microbiome. The fiber in these foods are prebiotics and serve as food for probiotics in the gut. Evidence shows that a healthy gut microbiome is closely related to immune function.
Lastly, many fruits and vegetables are high in vitamin C, which may help prevent or reduce the length of the common cold.
Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
Your body’s ability to fight off illness and sleep quality are closely related. People who don’t sleep enough or don’t sleep well are more likely to get sick.
A study of healthy adults found that those who slept less than 6 hours per night were more likely to catch a cold than those who slept 6 hours or more nightly.
Getting enough sleep, and getting good quality sleep, can increase the strength of your immune system. Adults need at least 7 hours of sleep per night, while teenagers need around 8-10 hours.
If you find you have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, you may want to change your nightly routine.
Try turning off electronics at least an hour before bed. Blue light from TVs, phones, and tablets can disturb your body’s circadian rhythm. Other things that may improve your sleep include using a sleep mask to darken the room, having a set bedtime every night, and exercising daily.
Eat Healthy Fats
Omega-3 fatty acids have strong anti-inflammatory properties. These fatty acids work to reduce chronic inflammation in the body, which can disrupt the body’s ability to fight off outside pathogens.
While inflammation is the body’s normal response to stress or injury, chronic inflammation can decrease your immune system over time.
Healthy fats like those found in salmon, olive oil, and chia seeds have been shown to reduce incidences of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. They may also increase your body’s ability to fight off foreign invaders that cause illnesses like the common cold and flu.
Including these healthy fats in your diet can reduce inflammation and support immune function.
Staying hydrated may not protect you from getting sick, but adequate hydration is important to your overall health.
When you’re dehydrated, you may get headaches, and your mood, physical performance, and ability to focus are negatively affected. Dehydration also affects digestion, heart, and kidney function. These problems can increase your risk for infection.
To stay sufficiently hydrated, drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. You’ll know if you’re hydrated when your urine is pale yellow or clear. Although all fluids count toward your intake, water is recommended because it has no calories, added sugars or additives.
Limit juice and other sweetened beverages when possible, and drink plenty of water. You may need more fluids with electrolytes if you are physically active for work or exercise intensely.
Eat More Probiotic-Containing Foods
You’ve probably heard of probiotics by now (beneficial bacteria that live in your gut), but maybe you’re not aware of how they affect your immune system.
Gut health and immunity are closely connected. Research shows that a healthy, balanced gut microbiota can help your immune cells distinguish between normal, healthy cells and infectious organisms. This means a stronger, faster immune response when a threat is detected.
Eating probiotic-containing foods supports gut health. Probiotics are found in fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, and natto. If you don’t regularly consume these foods, probiotic supplements are another option.
Take Immune-Boosting Supplements
In addition to practicing these other healthy habits, taking an immune-boosting supplement can help support the strength of your immune system and keep you feeling your best.
Several studies have shown that certain vitamins and minerals can build up the immune system. Regular vitamin C supplementation has been shown to reduce the duration of the common cold by 8% in adults and 14% in children.
Vitamin D deficiency has been shown to increase the risk of getting sick, so making sure you have sufficient vitamin D in your diet, or supplementing if you don’t, can help decrease your risk of illness.
Another study showed that regular zinc supplementation decreased the length of the common cold by 33%.
A supplement like Naked Immunity & Wellness that contains these ingredients can stimulate a more robust immune response to help fight off pathogens and free radicals, so you can get back to feeling healthy, well, and full of energy.
The Bottom Line
During winter months, people tend to get sick more often. However, there are many ways you can naturally boost your immune system. Adopting healthy lifestyle choices will increase your body’s ability to fight off illness.
Eat a diet consisting of mostly whole, plant-based foods. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats provide anti-inflammatory benefits which decrease your risk of getting sick.
Avoid too many added sugars, get adequate and quality sleep (at least 7 hours), and stay well-hydrated.
You can also take immune-boosting supplements that contain vitamin C, D, and zinc to keep your immune system running on all cylinders.