‘Tis the season, flu season that is. And this time of year having a healthy immune system is more important than ever, especially with the ongoing pandemic. Our immune systems work on autopilot, but there are things we can do to keep our natural germ-fighting system running smoothly. Dr. Carrie Jose recommends these healthy habits to help build a strong immune system:
- Stay hydrated- It’s easy and it’s one of the best things you can do for your health in general. Water not only helps flush everything out, your cells also work better when they’re fully hydrated and that’s especially important when you’re trying to fight off illness.
- Exercise regularly- Working out keeps your blood flowing, which helps pathogens get filtered out more efficiently. Having a regular fitness routine boosts your immune system and makes it less likely that you’ll get injured.
- Get enough sleep- Being sleep deprived can increase the risk of illness, so keep that in mind as you scroll through your phone at midnight. In one study, sleep researchers at the University of California - San Francisco found participants who slept less than five hours were four-and-a-half times more likely to catch a cold than those who slept for seven hours a night.
- Eat well- An easy way to support your immune system is by eating a healthy, plant-based and varied diet. Go for foods in a variety of colors and avoid processed foods to keep your immune system functioning at its best.
- Cuddle with your pets- Research has shown that snuggling with your pets helps to minimize stress and lower stress levels are linked to better immune function. Deep breathing, meditation and gratitude journaling are also good for reducing stress, but cuddling up to your cat or dog is a lot more fun.
- Get outside- Fresh air and a dose of sunshine is good for stress levels as well and give you vitamin D, which is believed to help facilitate normal immune function. And if you take a brisk walk while you’re outside? Even better.