Our immune system is a complex network of cells, organs and structures that defend the body against bacteria, disease and infection. Although our immune systems are well equipped on their own, there are a few things we can do to help strengthen and support our immune health. Registered Dietitian, Olivia Wagner (MS, RDN, LDN, IFNCP) shared these six things you can do right now to support your immune system all year long.
#1 Drink Plenty of Water
Water keeps our bodies hydrated, which in turn helps our systems and cells running properly. If you are looking for an added boost, try adding a slice of fruit to your glass of water. Think of fruits like grapefruit, kiwi, orange or strawberries, all of which are naturally high in vitamin C. If you are starting to feel under the weather, try sipping on a warm mug of tea. Not only will you stay hydrated, but the warm tea can be soothing to your throat, especially if you add a spoonful of Manuka honey.
#2 Eat Nutrient Dense Foods
Eating nutrient-dense foods is a good daily practice no matter what the season. Some great options include bone broth, fermented foods, fibrous foods, foods with Vitamin-C and plants, which contain powerful phytonutrients. Fermented foods like apple cider vinegar, coconut kefir, kimchi, kombucha, sauerkraut, tempeh and yogurt, all contain probiotics, which can impact a person’s overall health. Fibrous foods like apples, arrowroot, asparagus, coconut, onions and tiger nuts, all contain prebiotics, which have been associated with a strong immune system.
If you aren’t feeling sick, but still want to give your body a good spring clean, add some of these foods to your plate.
#3 Focus on Gut Health
Over 70% of the immune system lies within the gut, which is why gut health is an important factor to consider when supporting our immune system. When focusing on gut health, it’s first important to remove stressors and heal the gut before focusing on rebalancing your diet and lifestyle. Everybody and every body is different, which is why we believe in bio-individuality. Remember, when it comes to focusing on gut health, what works well for you may be different for someone else.
#4 Get Enough Sleep
There aren’t many things better than a solid night’s sleep. Sleep is incredibly important to proper health. That means getting at least 6-8 hours of sleep every night. If unwinding after a long day is challenging, adopt a nighttime routine to help you relax before bedtime. Apply some essential oils, curl up with a good book, do some light stretching, light some candles, turn off all electronic devices or take a bubble bath. Anything you find relaxing that will help you unwind is setting you up for a restful night of quality sleep.
#5 Reduce Stress
Our immune systems are always hard at work defending our cells from foreign invaders, which is why it’s important to help our bodies by reducing stress as much as possible. Whether it’s immersing yourself in community with family and friends (either in-person or virtually), meditation or spending time in nature, downshifting is an important lifestyle factor to help protect your immune health.
#6 Wash Your Hands
It sounds simple, but hand washing is one of the best defenses against unwanted germs. When washing your hands, use hot to warm water and scrub with soap for 30-40 seconds. Use hand sanitizer when away from home and clean all of your devices including cell phones, computers and keyboards. You may even consider keeping your home extra clean by wiping down all door knobs, high traffic areas and surfaces like kitchen counters and bathroom vanities.
Feel your best all year long and protect your immune system with these six tips.
Tag us @SimpleMills so we can see how you support your immune system all year long.