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PREVENT

Six ways to boost your immune system naturally before you get sick

  • Your immune system helps you heal and stay well.
  • A healthful diet is important to a healthy immune system.
  • Stress can overwork your immune system and drain your ability to stay healthy.

Your immune system is your first line of defense when you’re battling a common cold, flu or other cold-weather illness. Your immune system helps you heal and stay well. To work well your immune system needs healthful foods, exercise and low stress. But, be careful because too much of an inflammatory response can lead to chronic (long term) illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. So how can you support your immune system and balance its response so you get and stay healthy?

Here are six healthy living strategies you can use to boost your immune system:

  1. drink plenty of fluids
  2. exercise regularly
  3. limit stress
  4. get plenty of sleep
  5. include probiotics from foods or supplements
  6. eat a colorful, well-balanced diet.

Water is essential for immune health

Water is still the best thing you can drink. Each person varies, but aim to drink eight, 8-ounce glasses of water a day. That can be hard to do. Your body get dehydrated after hours of sleep, so drink a glass of water right away when you wake up. If you struggle with drinking enough water, set reminders throughout the day or drink a glass of water before each meal. Caffeine-free hot tea can count as part of your daily water tally.

Exercise regularly to strengthen immunity

Exercise is essential to preventing chronic illnesses such as heart disease and high blood pressure, and to keep your weight in control. Exercise also contributes to a healthy immune system. It promotes good blood circulation, which helps your immune system do its job more efficiently.

Reduce stress for increased immune function

Daily stress can overwork your immune system and drain your ability to stay healthy. Big and little daily stressors can constantly push your immune system. That’s why it’s important to take time for self-care. Make time each day to do things to "refill your tank." Self-care varies from person to person. It can include setting aside time to read, meditate, talk a walk, do a hobby or get a massage.

Discover the benefits of mindfulness
Deep Breathing techniques

Sleep, a natural immunity booster

Sleep is essential for the health of your body and brain. When you don’t get enough sleep your natural immune cells go down, and inflammation cells go up. Good sleep helps strengthen your immune system. Adults should try for at seven to eight hours of sleep a day. Children and teens need more sleep.

Food and drink to boost your immune system

A healthful diet is important to a healthy immune system. An eating plan that focuses on plants, fiber, protein and healthful fats can help you feel better and heal faster. Protein also is essential to a body that is healing.

Some of the best foods to boost immunity contain probiotics, live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your gut health, and digestive system. Probiotics can be found in fermented and cultured foods. Look on the food label for "live active cultures". Some foods that contain probiotics are:

  • kombucha (fermented, lightly sweetened black or green tea drink) and kvass (traditional Slavic and Baltic fermented beverage made from rye bread)
  • unpasteurized sauerkraut and kimchi
  • yogurt, kefir (a thick, creamy and drinkable yogurt), lassi (a drink made from a yogurt or buttermilk) and leban (a liquid or semisolid food made from curdled milk
  • tofu, miso, natto (fermented soybeans), shoyu or tamari (types of Japanese soy sauce) and tempeh (an Indonesian dish made from fermented soybeans)

If you want to explore taking a probiotic supplement, talk to your health care provider. A variety of options are available in the vitamin section of grocery and natural food stores.

Eat colorful foods that boost your immune system

Eating a healthy, balanced diet can help keep you well. Eat a rainbow of vegetables and fruits daily to ensure you're getting a variety of nutrients. Lean proteins and complex carbohydrates, like brown rice and quinoa, are also part of a healthy diet. Reduce how much you consume of processed foods, sugar and beverages that have few nutrients such as soda and alcoholic drinks.

Nutritional and health benefits that can boost your immune system.

If you want advice on how to get and stay health talking with your health care provider is a good first step. If you don’t have a primary care provider, Allina Health can help you
get care now.

 

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