Ten Tips to Pump Up Your Immune System


We all want to be on the corner of “happy and healthy,” but it’s not as easy as it sounds, especially with flu season in full swing. Here are a few tips to keep your immune system in top shape.

  1. Get moving. Regular moderate exercise—about 30 minutes a day—can help your body fight off simple bacterial and viral infections, such as the common cold. Regular physical activity also increases the release of “feel good hormones,” called endorphins, which pump up your personal sense of happiness and well-being.
  2. Connect with friends. Several studies have suggested that people who feel connected to friends—whether it’s a few close friends or a large group—have stronger immunity than those who experience loneliness.
  3. Get more sleep. When you don't sleep enough, your immune system weakens, leading to an increased risk for getting sick.
  4. Think positive. Believe it or not, your thoughts play a big role in your health. When you think happy, positive, optimistic thoughts, it gives your immune system a boost.
  5. Drink more water. Water is essential to all bodily processes. It stimulates the immune system, removes waste and toxins, and assists in the transportation of nutrients to all of your organs.
  6. De-stress the right way. The consequences of chronic stress are serious (e.g., anxiety, insomnia, muscle pain, high blood pressure, and a weakened immune system). Consider implementing easy stress management techniques into your daily life, such as deep breathing, listening to music, and hanging with your favorite pet.
  7. Tell more jokes. Laughter may in fact be the best medicine. Just anticipating a funny event can have a positive effect on your immune system. Some studies have shown that humor may increase the level of infection-fighting antibodies in the body and boost the levels of immune cells as well.
  8. Brighten up meal time. A diet rich in antioxidants can boost immunity to help fight infection. To get more antioxidants, experts recommend eating a variety of brightly colored fruits and veggies, including berries, kiwi, kale, onions, spinach, apples, red grapes, sweet potatoes, and carrots.
  9. Nix the nicotine. Fortunately, people who stop smoking can greatly reduce their risk for illness, disease, and premature death. And the younger you are when you quit, the better your chance of avoiding these problems.
  10. Wash your hands! Washing your hands is a daily routine, well, for most of us. Proper technique can cut your cold and flu risk dramatically. Here’s the “right way” to wash your hands according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold) and apply soap.
  • Rub your hands together to make a lather, and scrub them well. Be sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Continue rubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the "Happy Birthday" song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse your hands well under running water. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Sources:
cdc.gov/handwashing/resources.html
helpguide.org
cdc.gov
ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2062254
apa.org/helpcenter/chronic-stress.aspx
psychologicalscience.org 
surgeongeneral.gov

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Last updated 5/8/2018