Everyone wants a robust immune system, but maintaining optimal wellness is a legitimate challenge in today's fast-paced society. Between work, school, child care, and everyday chores, it can be nearly impossible to prepare well-balanced, healthful meals that provide the nutrition your body needs. Prepackaged meals and fast food are quick and convenient, but they don't provide everything your body needs; you may be leaving nutritional gaps that result in less than optimal immune system function. A busy lifestyle also compromises sleep, increases stress, and doesn't leave much time for adequate exercise. If you're feeling the effects of a hectic lifestyle, check out this list of best practices to support your immune system.
Vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients are the cornerstone of immune system function. One of the most talked about immune support supplements is zinc. Found in various foods, zinc works to support healthy systems–an excellent addition to your immune system regimen. Vitamin B6, E, C, and selenium are other nutrients that support immune function. Lean meats, spinach, broccoli, legumes, and fish are great foods that will naturally incorporate these nutrients into your diet.
If you're struggling with a healthy diet, look for a supplement containing these nutrients to fill in the gaps to promote proper immune system function, but do not rely on supplements alone–think of them as a backup; the best way to get these necessary nutrients is through a proper diet.
Healthline.com suggests performing about 60 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise on most days. Not only does movement make you feel great, but it can also have a significant impact on immune system function. During exercise, your body systems are in motion, encouraging the immune cells to travel rapidly through the body from head to toe, exploring for unwelcome guests. Because these cells circulate swiftly, potential invaders can be detected and eliminated more effectively than if you stayed on the couch.
One of the best ways to support your immune system is to get adequate sleep each night. While you're sleeping, your body is hard at work seeing out infections and releasing T-cells to combat them. Healthline.com recommends that adults aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night, as this gives your body an adequate amount of time to complete essential sleep processes.
If you're having trouble getting enough sleep, you can try a few tricks that'll ease you into dreamland. Turn off all screens at least an hour before you go to sleep; the blue light emitted by these devices can interfere with melatonin production, which signals your body that it's time to rest. Read a book, write in a journal, do a crossword, or color before bed to relax your mind. In addition, a lovely herbal tea–such as chamomile or lemongrass– can soothe you and help you sleep.
Stress can have a significant negative impact on your immune system–particularly chronic stress. The stress hormone cortisol is meant to give your body an extra boost during stressful times, but if it's constantly released into your body over a long period of time, it suppresses your immune system. Everyone has challenges and stressful periods in their lives, but if your stress is long-lasting, your immune system doesn't have the tools to function as it should.
If you feel like stress is a constant in your life, you can do a few things. Talk to a counselor, take a walk with a good friend, or try meditation and yoga. Make sure to carve out some time each day to do an activity you enjoy or work on a personal creative project.
Each of these factors–nutrition, exercise, sleep, and stress–are all pieces of the puzzle that help your immune function. Living a health-focused lifestyle is the best way to support your immune system; eating a diverse and balanced diet, exercising, getting enough sleep, and keeping stress in check will help to give your immune system the support it needs to function correctly.
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