What Are Some Simple Lifestyle Changes I Can Make That Will Improve My Immune System?
A depressed immune system lowers the body’s ability to fight off all sorts of diseases, from the simple common cold to cancer. A body with a weak immune system is more susceptible to infections and diseases. Here are some important dietary and lifestyle tips to help boost one’s immunity and break out of this downward spiral.
1. Exercise. Exercise has been shown in many studies to lower one’s risk of numerous diseases. Some research, for example, found that people who engaged in regular physical activity were less likely to get cancer than those who did not. Just 30 minutes a day will give you improved immune function. However, scientists have shown that extremely intense workouts (such as marathons) can also have the effect of short-term immune suppression.
2. Sleep. Sufficient and good-quality rest has a tremendous impact on immunity. Research suggests at least 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per day is ideal for most people is ideal, especially when the person is in bed by 10pm or 11pm.
3. Sunlight. Moderate, common-sense exposure to daily sunshine helps the body produce adequate levels of vitamin D, and this hormone plays a critical role in many aspects of human health, including immune function. About 15-20 minutes a day of sun exposure over a large percentage of your body is adequate.
4. Water. Consumption of an adequate amount of water, preferably chlorine and fluoride free, every day is necessary for tip-top immune function. It has been suggested that we consume at least half of our body weight in ounces per day.
5. Manage stress. Stress damages the immune system and needs to be properly managed. Stress comes in three flavors… physical stress, chemical stress and mental/emotional stress. Strategies to eliminate physical and chemical stresses (like beneficial exercise, not smoking and a good diet) as well as daily deep breathing, meditation, relaxation exercises, nature walks and yoga help mitigate stress.
6. Healthy weight. Obesity has been implicated as a factor which impairs the immune function. Fat cells can produce inflammatory chemicals that damage your body and put your immune system on chronic alert. If you have extra weight make a plan to slowly lose all the pounds that you want to lose.
7. Avoid refined sugars. When it comes to what to avoid in order to protect one’s immune system, refined sugar is among those at the top of the list. Research has suggested that sugar impairs immunity to quite a significant degree, reducing the function of white blood cells possibly by 50% over a period of up to five hours after ingestion.
8. Probiotics. Consume yogurt or other foods which contain good bacteria, such as sauerkraut and kimchi, or take a probiotic supplement. A significant portion of immune function actually resides in the gut. Good bacteria also keep the growth of harmful and immunity-damaging microorganisms in check. Even though science shows that probiotic colonies are never permanent, while you are taking them they help create a more favorable environment in the intestine until you and your wellness doctor can work to rehabilitate your gut.
9. Avoid immune-damaging elements. These include cigarettes, excessive alcohol, MSG, artificial food additives and preservatives, heavy metals, harmful chemicals in household and personal cleaning products, etc. These are known to harm health. Go for natural products as often as possible.
10. Good nutrition. Consume plenty of natural whole foods, including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, legumes, seeds and nuts. The body needs a well balanced dietary intake sufficiently stocked with essential nutrients. Nutrient deficiency is the most frequent cause of a depressed immune system.
11. Chiropractic. In 1975 researchers found when they measured two groups of people; one group that received regular chiropractic care and another group who never received chiropractic, that the chiropractic group exhibited a 200% greater immune competence when exposed to an immune challenge.
12. Spiritual Practice. Modern research has shown that people with a regular spiritual practice have healthier cortisol levels and healthier levels of inflammatory proteins in the body. Those with religious involvement have been shown to have lower blood pressure and less depression.