Boost Your Immune System With These 7 Habits
In the age of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, many of us have become more concerned than ever about staying healthy and protecting ourselves and those around us. Your immune system is your first and best line of defense against sickness, and taking steps to strengthen it gives your body its best chance to fight off illnesses. How does this system work, and what are some ways you can boost your immune system?
What Is the Immune System?
The immune or lymphatic system is a sophisticated network of bone marrow, spleen, tonsils, thymus, lymph nodes and lymphatic vessels all working in tandem with white blood cells (leukocytes) to protect your body against infections and diseases. The immune system operates by producing white blood cells that patrol the body, looking for bacteria, viruses or diseases. If a white blood cell encounters a foreign object, it creates a specific antibody that binds to that antigen and destroys it.
Despite the immune system’s complexity, you can focus on simple lifestyle habits to help your body fight off an infection or illness. Here are seven science-backed ways to ensure your immune system has everything it needs to function at its best.
1. Wash Your Hands
Infectious viruses can survive on surfaces for longer than you might think, especially high-touch ones like door handles, light switches and phone screens. If you touch your face shortly after touching a contaminated surface, viruses can enter your body. However, you can avoid this by frequently washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. For optimal health, be sure to scrub between your fingers and under your nails.
2. Limit Contact With People
Social distancing is another way to prevent transmission of illnesses. If possible, stay home except to run essential errands like picking up prescriptions. Avoid crowded indoor areas such as restaurants and house parties. Remember, anyone outside your immediate household could be contagious, even if they aren’t showing any symptoms of illness.
3. Minimize Stress
Chronic stress has many adverse effects on your body, including a weakened immune system. You might be carrying tension without realizing it, so take steps to notice the sources of stress in your life. Then, develop healthy coping skills that help you relax, such as yoga, meditation and breathing exercises.
4. Eat a Healthy Diet
Good nutrition is essential to build a robust immune system that protects against viruses and other health problems. That means creating a well-rounded nutritional plan that includes plenty of fresh produce, lean protein, whole grains, nuts and healthy fats. Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins that help boost your immune system and give you maximum health benefits.
5. Don’t Smoke
Smoking weakens your immunity by forcing you to fight inflammation and tissue damage, causing your white blood cell count to remain elevated for a long time. The longer you smoke, the more you increase your risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer. Smoking can also cause more vulnerability to autoimmune diseases, such as arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
6. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep may seem like an inactive period, but your body is busy while you’re at rest. Sleep is intensely restorative, and allows for the production of proteins called cytokines that help regulate your immune system’s response to infection. The recommended amount of sleep for healthy adults is seven to nine hours per night, so boost your immune system with adequate rest. If you often struggle with insomnia, work on improving your sleep hygiene by creating a healthy bedtime routine.
7. Stay Hydrated
Water plays many crucial roles in your body, including supporting your immune system. A fluid in your circulatory system called lymph, which carries vital infection-fighting immune cells, mostly consists of water. Dehydration slows down the movement of lymph, sometimes leading to an impaired immune system. Even if you’re not sweating, you lose water throughout the day. To help support your immune system, learn how much water you should drink each day.
Spotlight on Your Health
As medical researchers worldwide race to find a coronavirus vaccine, you can take proactive steps to boost your immune system and stay healthy, while keeping others in your community safe from illness. At Beach House, we’re also doing our part to ensure our campus is clean and secure during this pandemic. Since early February, we have pursued aggressive measures to create an environment that is free of COVID-19 cases, allowing our residents to focus on their addiction recovery without worry about disease. Contact us to verify your insurance and learn more.