How To Boost Your Immune System With Wise Choices
DISCLAIMER: The content provided on this webpage is general in nature and does not constitute medical advice. This webpage is for reference only. Always consult with a qualified health care provider for any questions you may have regarding your health.
Now more than ever, there’s a new level of respect for immunity. Your immune system is what keeps you well, but what you do (or don’t do) on a day-to-day basis determines how well. If your lifestyle doesn’t support a strong, stable immune system, you’re more likely to face acute or even chronic health problems throughout your lifetime.
Your immune system’s most important function is to fight off and eliminate viruses and bacteria that have already reached your body. Your overall immune health has an impact on how:
- Quickly you get sick
- Severe your symptoms are
- Fast you get better
Enhancing your immune system is an accumulation of small, daily habits that positively or negatively impact it. Boosting immunity takes time — you must keep making conscientious healthy choices every day.
Improving Immunity During a Pandemic
It’s been over a year since we’ve been living with the COVID-19 pandemic, and researchers have seen correlation between the disease and immune systems. For example, one study found that 80 percent of people with COVID-19 didn’t have adequate levels of vitamin D in their blood. And, as you’ll see in our Strengthening Your Immunity challenge, an adequate amount of vitamin D in the body is essential for immune health.
If you’re deficient in any vitamins (including vitamin D), taking large doses as supplements on a daily basis isn’t the solution. Many people think mega-doses of vitamins are good for the immune system, when it can actually have a negative effect. Taking too much vitamin D in supplement form, for example, has been found to lead to liver and kidney problems.
You can’t reach toxic levels of vitamins and minerals through food, but you can certainly reach toxic levels through supplements. Vitamin supplements should never be used as a replacement for a healthy lifestyle. It’s always ideal to get the nutrients you need through the foods you eat, like:
- Sweet potatoes
- Dark green vegetables like kale and spinach
“You can get nutrition from a supplement, but it doesn’t have everything that real food has,” said Peggy O’Neill, VP of Nutrition and Wellness at Morrison Healthcare. “For example, flavonoids and fiber in foods increase the body’s ability to absorb nutrition and utilize it.”
When it comes to vitamin D, you can find it in:
- Fatty fish
- Milk and juices that are fortified
Inflammation and Immunity
Vitamins and minerals from your diet also play a huge role in your body’s inflammation levels — which directly impact your immune system. You probably know that inflammation is a sign that your body is fighting infection. But chronic inflammation can point to a problem with the immune system.
Certain foods, however, have anti-inflammatory properties. For example, research has shown that monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce inflammation in the body. Fruits and vegetables are also good for this. Not only are these foods ideal for ensuring you have plenty of vitamins and minerals, they’re also ideal for reversing and preventing chronic inflammation.
The Road to a Strong Immune System Starts Here
Strengthening your immunity is more than taking vitamins and eating the daily recommended serving of fruits and vegetables. It requires wise lifestyle choices, balance, and harmony. This includes:
- Quality sleep: It’s not just the amount of sleep you get, but how well you’re sleeping, that counts.
- Gut health: Studies show that gut health directly impacts the function and regulation of your immune system.
- Self-care to de-stress: Making time to unwind and destress is critical for strong immunity.
- Hydration: Your immune system depends on your blood for nutrients, and your blood is made of mostly water.
- Regular exercise: Physical activity strengthens the body and prevents obesity.
- Proper hygiene: Hand washing and keeping yourself clean is crucial to kill germs and prevent illness.
Want more specifics? Our 10-day Strengthening Your Immunity challenge will provide detailed ways to set your immune system up for success.
We’ll take it one day at a time and offer lifestyle habits you can easily incorporate for the long term. Let’s work together to boost our immunity.
Join us! The challenge begins March 8.
This blog is made possible by Morrison Healthcare, an operating division of Compass One Healthcare.
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