So you want to boost your immune system so you won’t succumb to a cold or flu as easily as your opponent?
Great! Before we begin talking about the lifestyle changes you can implement to boost your immune system, it’s imperative to mention that your immune system is… well, a system. It’s not a single entity. Why is this important to know? Because in order for your immune system to function optimally you have to take a holistic approach by addressing your diet, your emotions/mindset, and your activity levels as a whole as opposed to just focusing solely on one of these areas of your lifestyle.
Alright, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way… Let’s take a look at some simple lifestyle changes that will turn your immune system into an unstoppable army of sickness fighters!
#1: Don’t Stress the Small Stuff!
Stress truly is the silent killer. Chronic stress literally destroys your immune system because stress breaks down the blood-brain barrier, allowing noxious toxins into your system. Your blood-brain barrier is your shield from pathogens that can make you sick, so it’s important to manage your stress so that your immune system won’t compromise. The best way to manage stress is to practice PMAR (positive mental attitude regardless) & gratitude. These two practices combined will make you unstoppable!
#2: Go to Bed Early
Your body needs adequate quality sleep in order to function properly. Sleep deprivation causes cortisol (the stress hormone) to flood the bloodstream, and suppresses the immune system which leaves you vulnerable to colds and flus. Aim to get a minimum of 7.5-8 hours of sleep each night. It’s also important to ensure you’re getting quality sleep. Establish relaxing bedtime habits like turning off all electronics an hour prior to sleep, practicing deep breaths, and expressing gratitude before bed.
#3: Eat Whole Foods
The most powerful thing you can do for your overall health is to eliminate processed, refined foods and swap them for whole, unprocessed foods. Eating a diet rich in nutrient dense foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and starches will help strengthen the immune system. It’s best to eat a variety of whole plant foods but if you really want to protect yourself from colds and flus focus on eating foods high in vitamin C like oranges, mangoes, red peppers, kiwi, strawberries, broccoli, and white potatoes.
#4: Drink Water
Sodas are full of sugars (or artificial sweeteners), and are devoid of nutrition making them empty calories. Sugars and artificial sweeteners can actually suppress your immune system so it’s best to stay away from all sodas- even diet sodas- for overall health and immune system function. Aim to consume 8 8oz glasses of water a day for optimal hydration.
#5: Exercise Daily
Daily, moderate exercise has been shown to boost immune system function. Not only that, but daily exercise is great for your cardiovascular health, lowering blood pressure and establishing/maintaining a healthy weight. Exercise is extremely beneficial, but too much of anything can be a bad thing. That’s also the case with exercise. Prolonged high intensity exercise can actually lower immune system function so it’s important to exercise appropriately for your skill level and not to become over-zealous. Aim to move your body daily doing activities you love such as: cycling, swimming, weight lifting, calisthenics, hiking, walking, dance, etc for 30-60 minutes.
So there you have it: 5 powerful ways to boost your immune system. Don’t be deceived by the simplicity of these suggestions. A lot of health gurus out there might recommend a bunch of supplements and special superfoods, but in reality, long-term lifestyle changes are superior to short-term quick fixes. Practice all 5 of the suggestions and you will be training, evolving and winning while your opponent is resting!
Haylie Grayson in a banana peel: Certified fitness professional, motivating health coach, meatless athlete, animal/human rights activist, & lover/fighter.
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