Want to get a healthy immune system? Then keep on reading!
After catching a first cold of the season, it got me thinking how I’ve neglected my health in the last period and that there’s no wonder I got sick. Taking care of yourself and being preventive is everything when you want to build a healthy immune system.
Having a healthy immune system is something I have struggled with before. In the last years, I got sick a lot. I used to work in a casino – an environment where we worked a lot in the long, night hours, plus we were constantly in contact with many different people. The truth is, the last year I got sick practically every other month – from catching colds, flu, to the sinus infection and so on.
It really got me thinking on how I can improve my immune system with simple changes in my everyday life.
Today I wanted to share simple steps we can take to prevent getting sick this autumn. Some changes are necessary because even if our immune system is good at fighting disease-causing germs on its own, it still needs a little help from us because it happens sometimes that our immune system fails and bad germs invade our system which causes illness.
Even if these steps won’t change your life upside down, they are still helpful and preventative. Leading a healthy natural lifestyle can’t really hurt anybody, right?
Here are 10 tips to help you build a healthy immune system:
1. Drink plenty of water
This may seem like an obvious one but we tend to forget how important it is to stay hydrated, especially when our immune system is not at its best. Drinking plenty of water will help all of our body’s system to function at its optimum level. When we are trying to build a healthy immune system, we must get rid of toxins and what better and easier way than to do so with drinking plenty of water.
If you struggle with water intake, maybe you could buy yourself a portable water bottle, so that you can have water on hand wherever you are. It might also work as a great reminder to drink more.
2. Build up good bacteria
Gut health is also one of the most important aspects when trying to build healthy immune systems. The importance of eating enough probiotic foods is well known. Probiotics are good bacteria that help you digest nutrients that boost the detoxification of your colon and support your immune system. You can get probiotics by taking supplements or if you prefer (and I do), do it naturally by eating more probiotic filled foods, such as yoghurt, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, and so on.
3. Eat a well-balanced diet
Eat a well-balanced diet. Your body needs healthy nutrition to fight infections. A diet rich in healthy proteins, complex carbohydrates and fresh, organic fruits and vegetables will boost your immune system. Protein is essential for cellular repair. Good sources include legumes, eggs, fish and poultry and dairy products. Most vegetables are filled with vitamins, beta-carotenes, and antioxidants. Squeeze lemon juice into your water for a dose of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant.
I start my day with a green juice. I mix 2 green apples, 1 cucumber, a handful of kale, parsley and a small amount of water. This is a healthy way to start your morning plus it’s super good for your gut.
4. Get enough sleep
believe it or not, research has shown that sometimes we are only a good night’s sleep away from a good and healthy immune system. When we don’t get enough hours of sleep, your body can’t function properly and that’s why we are less protected from bacteria. It is during the third and fourth stages of sleep that our bodies are working on restoring our system. We don’t need to sleep all day long but we do need a good night of sleep in order to build a healthy immune system.
A few years ago I had a really har time getting a good night sleep – I was sleeping for about 4 hours a night for 6 months or so. I tried everything out there but nothing helped. I still to this day don’t know what the reason was. But today when I can’t fall asleep, I listen to guided meditations on youtube. In 10 minutes of listening to I fall asleep like a baby.
Here’s an example of what I’ve been listening to lately, of course, you can find the type of video that suits you best.
We all know the benefits of exercising and yet we tend to get overwhelmed with everyday activities that we don’t take time to properly exercise or we just choose to stay in and lay on the couch instead. Regular exercising is vital in building a healthy immune system. I know that and yet I still neglect it. Next weekend I am finally getting myself into it as I will start attending group classes of Booty Barre (a mix of yoga, pilates and ballet), which look like a fun exercise.
It is said that even 20 minutes (!) of exercising (jogging, walking, yoga, group classes) can improve your immune system.
“Doctors have found that exercise can boost your immune system by providing a boost to the cells in your body that are assigned to attack bacteria. These cells appear to work more slowly in people who don’t exercise than in those that do. As a result, if you exercise, your immune system is better equipped to handle bacteria that could cause you to become sick. Though this boost only lasts for a few hours after you exercise, it’s often enough to help keep you healthier than you would be if you didn’t exercise.”
6. Supplement your diet with vitamins and minerals
I try to eat wholesome and healthy meals as often as possible. I am all about home cooked food that’s mostly plant-based. Try adding more garlic, cinnamon, ginger, oregano, thyme and turmeric in your diet – these are all herbs that can potentially kill foreign germs in your immune system. Essentially, you can adapt your diet to boost your immune system.
All my life I’ve been told to eat more vitamin C packed fruits and veggies to protect my immune system from but in recent years a lot of studies have shown the importance of vitamins A and D. Researchers believe those two vitamin groups have a crucial role in building a healthy immune system.
7. Reduce sugar and caffeine intake
Reduce or completely eliminate your sugar and caffeine intake. Sugar is simply empty calories. Fruits and vegetables have a natural sugar that benefits you. Caffeine is a diuretic and is filled with empty calories as well. Instead, try drinking matcha green tea in the morning, which is way more healthy for you. It is packed with antioxidants and in general, an amazing superfood, Speaking of antioxidants, acai, pomegranate, cranberry and blueberries are all antioxidant-rich fruits. Maybe you can try drinking more of those – blueberry infused water could be great.
HINT: If you don’t have time to prepare yourself matcha lattes in the morning, you can always prepare it as normal tea. I do this quite often as it’s easier and quicker. But if you want to know more on matcha, click HERE for a simple matcha latte recipe from Lindsay at Punch Of Yum.
8. Wash your hands regularly
Are you really going to get sick if you don’t wash your hands more often? Well, probably yes. Think about it. During a cold and flue period (such as now in autumn), washing hands more often could be just what we all need. If you’re surrounded by people who are ill, that means that there is a great possibility of germ spreading from one another through contact. If you wash your hands more often, you diminish that possibility. Of course, this isn’t bulletproof, but it is a start nonetheless.
Just don’t become obsessed with it, because believe it or not there IS such a thing as too clean. Some theories suggest that being exposed to a certain amount of bacteria, dirt and dust actually helps you in the long run. Our immune systems depend on being active. Challenging our immune system can help make it more efficient. I’d say don’t become a germophobe and rather rely on common sense instead.
9. Reduce the stress levels
After being under a lot of stress lately (for the silliest things, but none the less stressed), I soon realized that stress is often one of the main causes for a weakened immune system. You need to reduce the stress level you deal with daily. It is shown that stress raises your cortisol level, which in turn overwhelms your immune system. Go out in nature, hang out with your loved ones or go get a massage. Find out what your stressor is and learn to control it – your immune system is going to thank you!
If hanging out with friends doesn’t cut it for you. Or who knows, they can even make you more stressed sometimes, right? I would suggest you give meditation a try. I prefer guided meditations bit of course, to each their own.
One of my favourites are the videos from Oprah & Deepak Chopra 21-Day Meditation Challenge. You can see an example of this bellow.
10. Keep your home clean
Getting read of dust and mould (hopefully none of you has it) in your home is very beneficial. Do you know that feeling, when you open your windows wide open on a sunny day? Don’t you just instantly feel better? I know I do. And keeping your home dust and filth free can help a lot with the immune system and keeping your allergies at bay. I am trying to become better at keeping my house in order, that’s why I made a schedule for all of the housework and I try to stick to it.
As I write this, my cold is slowly getting better (also with the help of these 10 tips). Anyway, I think the main thing here is that we should really take care of ourselves – inside and out- That means we should keep our environment tidy and nourish our body with good foods and healthy practices. Building a healthy immune system result in feeling great and having more energy to actually enjoy life.
What are your tips for staying healthy during flu season? How do you take care of yourselves? Please let me know in the comments, I would be very interested to find out more.
Check out some of my previous lifestyle blogs: