by Tracey Pollack
No one’s immune to difficult times and the havoc they can wreak on your health. Even a little stress can make a big impact on your immunity, leaving you much more vulnerable to sickness and other health problems. Very few things are worse for your well-being than worrying, with too much literally causing you to worry yourself sick! So rather than fixate on what’s wrong, focus on the right things to do to keep your body and your mind healthy and strong.
Eat Well to Stay Well
Simply getting into the kitchen can help you stay out of the pharmacy. Filling up your diet with vegetables, fruit, healthy grains, lean meats, seafood, eggs and poultry will give you an alphabet of vitamins and the minerals essential for maintaining a strong immune system. While there’s nothing wrong with the occasional indulgence or some much-needed comfort food, regularly choosing better-for-you foods will give you the best chance of staying healthy.
Work in Regular Workouts
Did you know that a building up a sweat can help build up your immune system? Research shows that exercise helps your body release stress, supports a healthy immune response and can actually increase the effectiveness of vaccines. Plus, it causes your brain to release “feel-good” chemicals to improve your outlook, which studies also show can prevent you from getting sick! But more is more when it comes to exercise because prolonged strenuous workouts can make you more prone to getting sick. The healthiest way to go is to engage in moderate exercise, such as 30 minutes of brisk walking, light jogging, swimming, biking or yoga around five times per week.
Get a Healthy Amount of Sleep
Getting less than enough sleep leaves you more than tired and cranky. Studies show that a lack of sleep can make more susceptible to getting sick and affects how quickly you recover in case you do. See, when you’re resting, your body is actively producing infection-fighting cells. Too many sleepless nights make it harder for your immune system to function properly and protect you from disease. But by getting between seven and eight hours of sleep a night, you’ll be able to feel well-rested and stay well.
Turn to the Pros
The need for a healthy gut can be difficult to digest. While research has linked the health of your gut to your physical, mental and emotional well-being, one of the greatest connections is the effect of your gut on your immunity. That’s because about 70-80% of your immune system lives within your gut! There is usually a natural balance of beneficial and harmful bacteria in your gut, which show your immune system how to respond. These beneficial bacteria help boost your immune system’s function and protect you from disease. The way to maintain a healthy balance of beneficial bacteria is by adding probiotics to your diet. You can find them in many foods, including yogurt, kefir, pickles, kimchi and sauerkraut. If you don’t regularly reach for these foods, consider reaching for a high-quality probiotic supplement.
Supplement Your Immunity
While it’s best to reach for wholesome foods to get the nutrients your body needs, it can be challenging to get enough to keep your immune system healthy—especially when stressful times make you crave cookies instead of carrots! That’s when supplements can help fill in the gaps of a good diet. Studies have shown that certain supplements may help strength your body’s natural immune response, including elderberry, vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, echinacea and probiotic supplements.
By fitting these healthy habits into your life, you’ll be able to keep going when the going gets tough.