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The immune system is the system in your body that protects against diseases. Especially during a time when there is a virus spreading around the world, having a strong immune can help you fight against it if you happen to get infected. Here are some easy ways you can boost your immune system and improve your overall health:

1. Sleep

Sleeping can have drastic and quick effects on your immune system. No, one night of less sleep won’t cause you to get sick, but being sleep-deprived in general causes your body misuse its resources. For example, Cortisol, a hormone our bodies produce, is supposed to be used to keep our immune systems running efficiently; when you are sleep-deprived, your body uses up your cortisol to keep you awake, ultimately hurting your immune system. (AARP) 

2. Exercise

Exercising is important for your immune system because it boosts your circulatory system. Your circulatory system is the flow of blood around your body, and it directly supports your immune system. The circulatory system moves white blood cells all around the body; these cells are responsible for fighting off infections. When you exercise, specifically doing aerobic exercises (AKA cardio), your heart is pumping and your blood is flowing, causing your circulatory system to work more efficiently, getting those white blood cells where they’re needed. (reverehealth)

3. Eat the Right Foods

There are certain foods that help boost your immune system:

  1. Citrus fruits: these are high in Vitamin C, which helps in the production of white blood cells, which as mentioned, helped fight off diseases.
  2. Berries: berries are also high in Vitamin C. Certain dark berries, such as strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries have antioxidants which also help fight off viruses. 
  3. Garlic: Garlic helps in the production of T-cells, which helps protect the body from cells that have become infected with pathogens like viruses and bacteria. Just make sure to keep an extra breath mint on you or to practice extra social distancing if you decide to eat more garlic. 

There are many other foods that help boost your immune system. Here are a few links to check out with recommendations made by other health articles. There are definitely some surprises on the lists (Dark Chocolate!):  

  1. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322412
  2. https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/foods-that-boost-the-immune-system
  3. https://www.pcrm.org/news/blog/foods-boost-immune-system

4. Find ways to Decrease Stress

We all experience stress in our day-to-day lives, and the pandemic certainly doesn’t make it easier to minimize stress. Feeling stress is normal, but mass amounts of stress can impact our immune systems. A study compared the amount of leukocytes – a cell that helps eliminate infected cells in our bodies – in medical students during final exams and when returning from spring break. They found that the students’ levels of leukocytes during final exams were much lower than during spring break, and that the students self-reported much higher levels of stress during final exams (Glaser et al, 1980). 

We should look for ways to alleviate stress wherever we can. Activities that eliminate stress include physical activities such as meditating or going for a run, social activities such as talking to our friends, personal enjoyment activities such as watching a funny movie or reading a book – pretty much anything to get your mind off of what is bothering you. Again, we cannot fully eliminate the stress factors in our lives, but we can find ways to counteract them.

After taking these into consideration, the last step is to make them habits: How can I make it a habit to get enough sleep each night? How can I set a habit of exercising a certain amount each week? How can I make it a habit to talk to my friends every day? Once we create these habits, we are setting ourselves up for long-term immune-system health.

To schedule an appointment with a medical professional to discuss how to implement these tips or to discuss other tips that might be more suitable for you, click the link below!