Myths and tips on how to boost your immunity

After more than a year of thinking about the pandemic and doing your best to stay healthy, you might be more aware than ever of how important it is to have a strong immune system. Your immune system protects your body from infection and illness, but sometimes germs successfully invade and make you sick. There are ways you can boost your immune response, but since the immune system is a complex system of hormones, cells, and proteins, it takes a holistic approach. The internet is filled with quick-fix tricks, like eating lemons, downing whole garlic, or going on juice diets, but with a balanced approach and healthy habits you can naturally strengthen your immune system.  

Here are four myths about how to boost your immune system, and ten tips that can actually help. 

Myth #1: Losing weight quickly will boost my immune system.
Fast weight loss is never good for our bodies. Extreme and restrictive diets along with intense exercise can weaken immunity due to a lack of proper nutrition and added stress on the body. 

Myth #2: Not getting enough sleep doesn’t impact my immune system.
There is a strong connection between sleep and overall health. But not just any sleep, restorative sleep, where your body gets enough time to heal and build immunity. Sleep needs vary but most adults should aim to get 7-8 hours a night. Teens and kids require even more: from 9-12 hours a night. 

Myth #3: A daily multivitamin is all I need to stay healthy.
Multivitamins, which contain a range of good-for-you vitamins are a great addition to an adult’s daily routine, but a multivitamin alone won’t make an impact on your immune system. Combine a multivitamin with good sleep, a balanced diet and regular movement and you’re bound to see positive effects. 

Myth #4: Stress doesn’t impact my immune system.
Stress can cause or worsen a lot of different health problems, including negatively impacting your immune system. When you are stressed, you produce the hormone cortisol, which can change the way your body’s defense system reacts to infections and other threats, making you more prone to illness. In addition, when stressed, many of us turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms like smoking and drinking alcohol – both of which also lessen immunity. 

So, what are ways you can protect and boost immunity?

  1. Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.
  2. Limit alcohol and avoid smoking.
  3. Get regular exercise every day, avoiding overly stressful workouts.
  4. Stay up to date on vaccinations.
  5. Talk to your doctor about supplements such as Vitamin D or probiotics.
  6. Eat a healthy and balanced diet, limiting fried, processed, and fatty foods and focusing on lots of fruit and veggies.
  7. Make sleep a priority and aim for 7-9 hours a night.
  8. Drink lots of water. A good rule of thumb is to divide your weight in half and then drink that amount in ounces a day.
  9. Manage your stress by setting boundaries around your time, making time for fun, practicing mindfulness, or possibly seeking the help of a counselor.
  10. Have a positive mindset. Looking on the bright side and thinking things are going well is not only good for your mental health but has been also proven to boost the immune system.

While there’s no quick-fix pill you can take, or certain food you can eat to immediately boost your immune system, there are definite ways to improve your immune system function over time. Our immune systems weaken as we age, but making small lifestyle changes in diet, daily movement and sleep can help keep your immunity strong and keep you healthy.

Sources: Harvard Health; Web MD