Your immune system might be erratic at times. It protects you from illness and disease one minute and then has you resting on the sofa with a tissue in each nose and a vomit pail at your side the next.
Nobody likes being sick, and who has time for it anyway? Being sick as an adult is a pain since you’re supposed to pamper yourself, and taking a day off work only means you’ll have more work to complete the next day.
It all comes down to maintaining a healthy lifestyle to keep your immune system in top shape. Yes, eating well and exercising regularly are essential. There are actions you can take in your daily life to guarantee your body’s natural defences are always on watch, in addition to avoiding the jerk who always comes into the workplace sneezing and coughing.
Before we get started, keep in mind that this is a list of evidence-based immune-boosting suggestions, not some nonsense from your favorite blonde celebrity’s “health” website. We don’t want to waste your time, so if the science is dubious or non-existent, you won’t find it here.
- Vitamin D
Vitamin D is one of the most underappreciated vitamins. Many people don’t realize that it’s essential for a healthy immune system, and even more people don’t get enough of it. Vitamin D is naturally present in your skin, but as you age, your body produces less and less. This can lead to an increased risk of illnesses such as rickets and osteoporosis, as well as low levels of vitamin D in your blood which can result in a weakened immune system .
As you age, you may also notice that the time between waking up and having breakfast becomes longer and longer. If this sounds like you, make sure to take a supplement to make sure you have enough vitamin D to start the day off on the right foot. You can take synthetic vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), but if you’re interested in getting natural vitamin D from food sources like liver or cod liver oil , then go for it! A serving size is 1,000 IU per day (you can get this amount from one or two servings). It’s important to keep in mind that if you take too much vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), it will be stored in your body fat instead of being used by your body — meaning there will be no extra benefit from taking it.
Probiotics are living organisms that help your body to maintain a healthy balance of gut flora, which is essential for your immune system. These microorganisms have been shown to reduce the risk of getting sick by strengthening the immune system and preventing harmful bacteria from taking over. Having a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut means that you’re more likely to get sick less often, and will be healthier longer.
In addition to having a balanced gut flora, probiotics are also an important part of the immune system. They play a role in producing chemicals called bacteriocins that can kill pathogenic bacteria in the body and prevent them from attaching themselves to healthy cells . In addition to this, one study found that people with lower levels of certain strains of probiotic bacteria had higher rates of illness than those with higher levels — meaning that probiotics could be contributing to some people’s susceptibility to getting sick.
- Drinking Water
I know you’ve heard it before: Drink at least eight glasses of water a day. But that’s not enough. You need more, like…a lot more.
Drinking more water means your body will flush out toxins, which can cause inflammation and stress on your immune system. By drinking enough water, you’ll also keep yourself hydrated and energized throughout the day — both of which are essential to keeping your immune system strong and healthy.
- Vitamin C Supplements
Vitamin C is one of the most important vitamins in the world, and it’s also great for boosting immune system function — especially when you have a cold or other virus or infection going around. A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that vitamin C supplementation can improve immunity in healthy adults by 36 percent over six months!
That might not sound like a lot to some people (and you should check with your doctor before taking any supplements), but if you take one every morning for six months, that could be a significant boost to your immune function! Vitamin C supplements are cheap, so why not give them a shot? I know I will! (You should probably avoid taking it if you’re pregnant though.)
- Eat More Proteins
If you’re not eating enough protein in your diet, your immune system is at risk — especially if you don’t eat enough meat. You need protein to build and maintain healthy tissue, so it’s essential for keeping your body strong and healthy.
To make sure you take in enough protein each day, make sure to include a variety of meats in your diet: fish, chicken, turkey, pork (or bacon), beef…you get the idea! It’s also helpful to eat eggs and dairy products like yogurt and cheese every day. So make sure you have plenty of them on hand!
- Sleep Well
There’s no question that sleep is important for good health, but it also plays a huge role in your immune system’s ability to fight off illness. If you’re not getting enough quality sleep, your immune system can be compromised and you won’t be able to fight off infection as well as you could if you were getting enough sleep each night. It’s not an exaggeration to say that poor sleep can make you sick!
A study published in the journal Sleep found that people who slept less than seven hours per night had a 60 percent higher risk of developing upper respiratory infections. Understandably, if you’re not getting enough sleep, you might find yourself waking up at night with a sore throat or feeling under the weather.
If getting enough sleep is important to your health — and it definitely is! — there are ways to improve your sleep each night. For example, try using a sleep mask and ear plugs (if you’re sensitive to noise) when you go to bed, or use a cool white noise machine that only produces white noise. And if you struggle to fall asleep, try taking melatonin supplements (as long as they don’t contain gluten). It’s usually very safe for people with celiac disease and dairy allergies.
- Eat More Omega-3 Fats
Your immune system relies on omega-3 fats for building healthy cells and producing hormones that help fight off illness. Your body can make some of these fats from other foods like plant oils (like flax seed oil), but it needs some help from foods like fish and seafood sources of omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, sardines and herring to get them in high enough quantities to maintain good health. The best way to get these essential fatty acids is by eating fish or taking supplements like DHA/EPA capsules or liquid fish oil daily!
- Eat Well-Defined Meals
The best way to boost your immune system is by eating healthy meals full of nutrient-dense foods that have been stripped of their bad stuff (like sugar and artificial ingredients). To get the most benefit from eating well, focus on whole foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains while avoiding processed snacks and sugary beverages like soda or juice. And take a look at the “Foods That Fight Off Infection” infographic below for additional tips on how to eat well for better immunity!
- Exercise Regularly
Exercise is not just good for your overall health; it’s also a great way to improve your immune system! In fact, there are many studies that have shown that regular exercise can have a positive impact on the immune system and help strengthen its ability to fight off illness. To get the most benefit from exercising, try to incorporate strength-training exercises (like yoga or weight training), aerobic exercise (like running) or both into your routine every week.
- Supplement With Vitamin D3
Vitamin D3 is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps your body absorb and use calcium, as well as support bone health. It’s also important for the production of immune cells and helps maintain the health of your bones, teeth, skin and muscles.
It’s important to get enough vitamin D in your diet to prevent deficiency, because it’s only found in foods like fatty fish such as salmon or sardines or fortified foods like milk. But when you’re deficient in it, it can cause a wide range of problems including: poor absorption of calcium from other foods; poor bone mineralization; an increased risk of infection; decreased immunity; fatigue and depression; decreased muscle strength; and osteoporosis (softening of the bones).
To get enough vitamin D from food sources alone, make sure you are getting plenty of sunlight exposure at least 15 minutes each day (when your skin is exposed to sunlight without sunscreen). If you are severely deficient in vitamin D, then talk to your doctor about taking a supplement containing both vitamin D2 and D3 (such as this one from Solaray) that contains both preformed (from animal products) and activated forms.