You canâ€™t hide from all the germs. Theoretically, you could spend a lot of time and money sanitizing your whole life. But whereâ€™s the fun in that? Also, itâ€™s unnecessary. Your body can protect itselfâ€”thatâ€™sÂ what the immune system does. So, build your immunity instead of obsessing over avoiding germs. Luckily, simple immune boosting habits easily mesh with your healthy lifestyle.
And you donâ€™t need anything special to support your immune health. Healthy living and tweaks to your lifestyle are enough to help build your immunity.
A lot of these immune boosting habits double as generally helpfulÂ healthy behaviors. That means you can earn a lot of health benefits out of these simple changes to your life. So, youâ€™ll obtain a lot more out of these actions than any efforts to sterilize your entire life.
Sleep Your Way to a Healthy Immune System
When youâ€™re tired, so is your immune system. This puts you at risk for coming down with whateverâ€™s going around. Tucking in for enoughÂ high-quality sleepÂ is a dream for you, and your immune health.
Sleep allows your bodyâ€”including the parts of your immune systemâ€”to rest, repair, and refresh. This nightly renewal helps build your immunity. Need proof?Â A study in theÂ Archives of Internal Medicineshowed a link between adequate sleep and immune function.
Researchers identified the eight-hour mark as an important line of demarcation. Less than eight hours of sleep was tied to a three-fold increase in the likelihood of catching the common cold. Other research supports this conclusion, showing how immune-cell production can be hampered byÂ sleep deprivation.
One simple immune boosting habit is making the time for at least eight hours of quality sleep. That could mean setting a bedtime alarm, or giving yourself deadlines for nighttime activities. And remember to work your way up to your goal. Itâ€™s probably not sustainable to go from six hours to eight immediately. But you can work your way up in smaller, 15-minute increments.
Use Moderate Exercise to Build Your Immunity
Exercise is great for many things, includingÂ weight managementÂ and stress management. But the relationship between working out and immune function is slightly more complicated.
Researchers have struggled to lay out all the details involved inÂ exerciseâ€™s impact on immunity. Thatâ€™s not surprising. There are complex reactions happeningâ€”especially with strenuousÂ exercise.
One thing is clear, though: moderate exercise is beneficial for your immune system.Â One study says it â€œseems to exert a protective effect.â€Â Being in better shape helps with overall health, so your immune system benefits, too. And the movement aids blood flow and helps immune cells migrate throughout your body.
You donâ€™t have to overdo it, though. And maybe you donâ€™t really want to, given some of the research about strenuous exercise and immunity (it may, at least temporarily, dampen the immune system). Just getting moderate exerciseâ€”like a 30-minute walk every dayâ€”is enough. Also, itâ€™s an immune boosting habit you can fit into your life without too much extra effort.
Help Your Immune System with Good Hygiene
Youâ€™re frequently told to wash your hands. And itâ€™s for good reason. This tip doesnâ€™t build your immunity or directly boost your immune system. But it will help you stay healthy, so itâ€™s worth mentioning.
A consistent (not obsessive) hand-washing habit helps you limit your exposure to certain germs. It rinses away the potential pathogens that get on your hands. That keeps them from landing in airways, eyes, or other bodily entrance points. And it keeps you healthy.
The Most Relaxing Immune Boosting Habits
Normal, everyday stressâ€”the kind of minor, daily annoyances that add upâ€”is enough to throw your life out of whack. You probably already know howÂ stress impacts your weight, sleep, and overall wellbeing. But it also can wreak havoc on your immune function.
Your hormones are to blame. Thatâ€™s because stress hormones negatively impact many parts of your immune system. These hormones hamper the production of antibodies (proteins that mark invaders) and other immune cells. Stress has even been shown to give latent viral infections new life.
Unless you go to great lengths, you canâ€™t totally avoid stress. So, you must learn to manage it. And itâ€™s not easy. The phrase â€œjust relaxâ€ is one of the least helpful things imaginable. Good thing other stress-management techniques are simple, and do work, though.
Try any of these approaches that sound nice to you:
- Get a massage
- Take a walk out in natureâ€”the outside part is important
- Develop and practice a self-care routine, likeÂ hygge
- Meditate or do some deep breathing
- Socialize with friends and family
- Prioritize free time by blocking out your calendar for at least 30 minutes a day
- Laugh (it really might be the best medicine)
Pets Can Perk Up Your Immune Health
Your pets are more than cuddly, cute, and loving. Theyâ€™re beneficial to your health in many ways. And building immunity is definitely one of them.
Pets are great for melting stress away and helping you get moderate exercise. Youâ€™ve already heard about how exercise and stress management are immune boosting habits. But your pets can do more for your immunityâ€”and itâ€™s because they can be kind of gross.
Thatâ€™s right. TheÂ microbesÂ your pets naturally have or bring into your house arenâ€™t all bad. They help build your immunity through exposure, whichâ€”as youâ€™ll learn belowâ€”can be more helpful than harmful.
Researchers have found that infants who grow up around animals are less likely to develop allergies. AndÂ one studyÂ even showed that petting a live dog can increase an important immune-system proteinâ€”immunoglobulin A. So, give your pet some extra attention and affection for all the help they give your immunity.
Avoid Overindulging in Alcohol and Stop Smoking
Sometimes building immunity means moderating or ditching certain habits. Two you hear about in discussions of overall healthy habits also impact your immune healthâ€”smoking and drinking too much alcohol.
Both impair important barriers that help protect you from potential pathogens. Smoking impacts your nose and mouth, damaging the linings that help guard your airways from germs. Alcohol also strips away the lining of your mouth and throat. This leaves you vulnerable to viruses and bacteria.
So, if youâ€™re going to drink, do it in moderation. But thereâ€™s no moderation when it comes to smoking. Quitting is the best option for your immunityâ€”and your overall health.
Your immune system adapts to your life. It learns from the bacteria, viruses, and other microbes you encounter. And you come out with better immune protection.
Thatâ€™s why the sterile approach to life doesnâ€™t help build your immunity. Itâ€™s OK to take proper precautions. You donâ€™t want to intentionally expose yourself to harmful bacteria or viruses. But being adventurousâ€”going outside, eating fermented foods, and experiencing lifeâ€”is one of the best immune boosting habits you can have.
Living your life helps your adaptive immunity (the part of your immunity that catalogs the microbes it encounters). It builds up your immunity memory bank and primes your immune system to protect you.
Make the Small Changes to Help Your Immune Health
Your immune system is always on alert. Its whole job is to keep you healthy. So, treat it right by incorporating some of these simple immune boosting habits into your life. Youâ€™ll build your immunity, and enhance yourÂ overall health, too.
Original article seen on: https://askthescientists.com/build-immunity/