No one likes to be sick. Especially during important times of the year or right before a big event. So how can we prevent the common cold or flu from creeping in? Supporting your immune system year round is critical to ward off unwanted illness. Lucky for you, there are several ways that you can support your immune system.
Immune System Definition
Your immune system is your body’s defense against infection and illness. It recognizes when cells enter your body that do not belong there, such as bacteria and viruses, and will fight against them to keep you from getting sick. While your immune system can be seemingly invincible, there are certain aspects of life that can break it down, making it harder to do its job.
How do you boost your immune system? There are several ways that you are able to keep your defenses in tip-top shape. Following a healthy lifestyle will certainly be a good start. Making sure you have a healthy, well-balanced diet, you get enough exercise and sleep, as well as managing stress, are all ways to support your immune system and keep it running smoothly year round.
Diet is extremely powerful in aiding your immune system. Many foods have different vitamins and minerals in them that are beneficial to your body’s defense system. Eating a balanced diet of fruit, vegetables, and meat will help maintain proper function.
There’s no doubt that exercise is influential to many aspects of our health. Exercise promotes efficient blood circulation, which keeps the cells of the immune system moving so that they can effectively do their job. Just 20 minutes of exercise can have an anti-inflammatory response in the body.
Physical activity helps flush out toxins and bacteria in your lungs and airways. Which may reduce your chance of getting the flu or common cold. Lucky for us, moderate activity a few times a week can do the trick.
Stress overload causes your body to produce more of the hormone cortisol. In short spurts, such as during intense exercise, cortisol can produce an anti-inflammatory response, but chronic stress can cause your body to get used to the cortisol making it prone to inflammation. Managing your stress with things like meditation or yoga can help reduce your cortisol levels, thus improving your immune system.
Get Enough Sleep
Lack of sleep no doubt impacts your immune system. Sleep helps your body recover, as well, so if you aren’t getting enough of it, your body will suffer. During sleep, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines. Certain cytokines are used to fight infection and inflammation, but lack of sleep can decrease the production of these proteins, making it harder to fight off illness. Sleep is also important to your circadian rhythm, which is a major factor in your immune health.
Stay Hydrated and Avoid Excessive Alcohol
Water is essential for our body to function properly. The recommended amount of water is eight glasses per day. Water helps maintain moisture, especially in the mucous membranes and nasal passages, where viruses often enter our bodies. Water helps oxygenate the blood in our bodies, which pumps up our cells and helps them function properly. This helps our muscles and organs work efficiently. Water also helps flush out toxins, through the kidneys.
Along with more water intake, alcohol consumption should be lessened. Alcohol can disrupt the circadian rhythm, causing a loss of sleep, which can impact our overall health. It can also suppress the activity of white blood cells whose key function is to do battle on the front lines with germs and other illness-causing factors.
Take Preventative Steps
While you should definitely incorporate all of the above aspects into consideration when trying to support your immune system, there are definitely smaller things you can do to prevent unwanted illnesses or infections. Make sure your house is clean and sanitized. Wiping down surfaces with disinfectant wipes can inhibit bacteria and viruses from getting on countertops where you place food or utensils that end up in your mouth. Also be sure to wash your hands frequently during cold and flu season, as well as year round. During the flu season, a flu shot is definitely recommended.
Feeling Sick? Head to The Urgency Room
Sometimes, even with all the preventative measures and lifestyle changes we do, it isn’t always enough to ward off those pesky viruses. If you feel as though you are getting ill, head to your nearest Urgency Room. With our short wait times and highly-qualified physicians, we can get you on track to feeling back to normal. Head to one of our locations in Eagan, Vadnais Heights, or Woodbury for the care you need, today!