5 ways to boost your immunity

boost immunity blog

Stopping germs, bacteria and viruses before they can make you sick requires strong defenses. Those defenses are known as your immune system. The immune system is very complex, and many things can affect how well yours is currently working.

The good news is that the same steps you take to make your lifestyle healthier can also make your immune system stronger.

Eat immune-boosting foods

It’s no secret that eating a well-balanced, nutrient-rich diet is good for every aspect of your overall health. And while there is no magic immune-boosting food or ingredient, certain foods can help improve and strengthen your immune system.

Eating a diet packed with fruits and vegetables ensures that you get all the potent vitamins you need to feed your immune system. Then, add on some healthy sources of protein and fiber-rich whole grains.

If you eat a healthy diet, you probably don’t need to swallow a bunch of supplements to keep your immune system strong. In fact, taking high doses of herbs or vitamins can sometimes be harmful. Always consult with your physician before taking any supplements.

A few foods to seek out for their immune-boosting potential:

  • Citrus fruits are loaded with cold-fighting vitamin C.
  • Berries contain nutrients called flavonoids that have been shown to reduce respiratory illnesses.
  • Ginger has anti-inflammatory effects that may affect immune function.
  • Leafy green vegetables are packed with antioxidant vitamins that are important to immune health.
  • Yogurt, kefir and other fermented foods improve gut health, which is linked to your immune health.

Exercise for immunity

Getting regular physical activity is a good way to strengthen your immune system and help fight off illnesses. Most research suggests that exercising at a moderate intensity for around 30 to 60 minutes several days a week is the most beneficial to your immune system. That could mean anything from a brisk walk or jog to a weightlifting session at the gym. 

Exercise can help boost immunity in several ways. Most importantly, it increases the circulation of immune cells. Those cells are your body’s first line of defense for fighting off invading germs and bacteria. The more you have circulating, the better able you are to evade infection.

It’s important to note, though, that when it comes to exercise and immunity, more isn’t necessarily better. Long bouts of high-intensity exercise (such as running a marathon) can weaken your immune system instead of strengthen it.

Get a good night’s sleep

Logging seven to nine hours of restful sleep each night is one of the most important things you can do for your health — and the health of your immune system. While you sleep your body has a chance to restore and bolster its defenses.

During sleep, your body releases proteins called cytokines that are part of the immune system. Boosted cytokine production can help strengthen your immune system. Research has shown that people who routinely skimp on sleep are more susceptible to colds and other respiratory infections.

Keep stress in check

Stress is a constant in most people’s lives. The trick is to minimize the amount of stress you experience — and find ways to handle the stress you can’t avoid.

Stress has a variety of physical effects on your body, many of which also affect your immune system. Being under stress can also decrease the production of lymphocytes, white blood cells that are key to fighting off infections.

Managing stress can be as simple as pausing throughout your day to take a few slow, deep breaths. Other stress management techniques include exercise, yoga and meditation.

Stay up to date on vaccinations

Even the strongest, healthiest immune systems can use a little extra help. That’s why it’s so important to get recommended vaccinations. The flu shot is recommended annually. Follow current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines on when you need a booster or an updated COVID-19 vaccine. Talk to your doctor about what other vaccines you may need — such as RSV, pneumonia and shingles — based on your age and health.

Take the Next Step

To learn more about how to boost your immunity, reach out to your primary care physician.