In the online news this morning, there are all kinds of headlines about disease—the flu closing schools, measles outbreaks, hepatitis A diagnoses… How could you not want to lock yourself and your loved ones in your house and stay there until the dust settles? Since that isn’t realistic, learning some basic ways to safeguard your immune system seems like a better option.
Of course, your immune system’s job is to fight off any foreign bacteria, microbes, and other microorganisms trying to invade your body. And the truth is, whether you’re vaccinated or not, your immune system must be healthy enough to do its job. Here are some ideas to increase the odds you’ll be able to fight off common illnesses.
As we discussed a couple of weeks ago, breastfeeding is the perfect start to a strong immune system. The food choices we make after this point either keep us strong or contribute to a weakened state. Nourish your body with a nutrient-dense whole food diet. Taking an isolated vitamin, such as vitamin C in the form of ascorbic acid, doesn’t give your body what it needs. Your immune system is looking for the full vitamin complex, including minerals and enzymes, that come from whole foods.
Besides the foods we choose to eat, there are other everyday life choices you can make to ensure your immune system is as robust as possible.
- Don’t be too clean: Exposure to a wide variety of microorganisms is key to healthier humans of all sizes, who are better able to handle whatever they’re exposed to as they go about their day.
- Move your body: Picking a form of exercise you can stick with on a regular basis is a real asset to your immune system. However, too much of anything can put a strain on your overall health—even exercise. This isn’t a worry for most the population, but excessive training can put an added burden on your immunity. Keep your activities balanced with restorative rest times, lighter workouts in between heavier ones, and whole food vitamin and mineral complexes to feed those recovering tissues.
- Breathe deeply to manage your stress: While exercise is an excellent way to manage your stress, there will be times it isn’t an option. Maybe you’re about to head into a meeting where you’re the main presenter, for example. The timing is off to head out for a jog to calm yourself, but focusing on your breathing can be exactly what you need. It will bring your heart rate down and lower your blood pressure. Proper breathing technique is good for your heart as well as your brain.
- Avoid refined sugar: Nancy Appleton reminds us of the “124 Ways Sugar Ruins Your Health.” Number one on the list: sugar can suppress the immune system.
Keep yourself, and the people you hold dear, healthy each and every day by safeguarding your immune systems. Granted, even the most vigilant among us can fall victim on occasion, but we may as well pay attention to the things we can control, to lessen the chances.
Images from iStock/sunemotion (main), kozorog (girl in puddle).