Improving Your Health

Improving Your Health: 4 Natural Ways to Boost Your Immune System

Each year, 15.5 million doctor’s visits in the US are mainly due to an infectious or parasitic disease. Flu, hepatitis, and bacterial and viral infections are some examples of such diseases.

The good news is that many of these health conditions are preventable. For instance, vaccination can greatly reduce flu and hepatitis risks. Even simple practices like handwashing can also help keep you away from infections.

However, you also want to focus on improving your health by boosting your immune system. After all, it’s your immune system that safeguards your body from pathogens. It’s there to protect you from harmful substances and cell changes that could make you sick.

On that note, we created this guide on how to improve your health by keeping your immune system strong. Read on to discover some easy yet natural ways to a healthier, happier you.

1. Sleep Better and Longer

Did you know that sleeping for less than seven hours can make people three times more at risk of developing a cold? Moreover, poor sleep efficiency can raise one’s odds of getting a cold by up to 5.5 times!

All this highlights the need to get enough sleep, which in adults should be at least seven hours.

For starters, it’s during sleep wherein the immune system releases certain cytokines. Cytokines are signaling proteins that help combat illnesses, infections, and inflammation. The body generates and releases these proteins during sleep.

As signaling proteins, cytokines also “tell” the body if there’s an injury or infection. So if you have an injury or you’re ill, more of these proteins get produced and released while you sleep. From there, your immune system does its job to heal or help you recover.

As such, sleep deprivation can impair the body’s cytokine generation and release. If this happens, your cytokine supply may considerably decrease. This can then expose you to more illnesses since you have fewer anti-illness proteins.

For those reasons, it’s best you strive for no less than seven hours of blissful ZZZs each night.

Start by avoiding the use of blue light-emitting devices at least two hours before sleep. These include smartphones, tablets, computers, and TVs. The blue light these electronics emit impairs melatonin production.

Melanin, in turn, is a crucial sleep hormone that prepares the body for sleep. So, the fewer of this hormone you have, the longer it may take you to feel sleepy. This can then make you toss and turn in bed for hours before you finally fall asleep.

2. Build Your Meals Around Fresh Fruits and Veggies

Only a few nutrients, such as vitamins B7, D, and K, are “nonessential nutrients.” The body can take vitamins B7 and K from bacteria present in the gut. The body can also synthesize vitamin D through skin exposure to sunlight.

Essential nutrients, on the other hand, are those the body can’t synthesize on its own. Most other nutrients, including all other vitamins, fall under the “essential” category. The same goes for many other nutrients, including minerals, proteins, and carbohydrates.

The bulk of essential nutrients the body needs must come from food sources. Fresh fruits and vegetables are some of the key sources of these crucial substances. Unfortunately, about nine in 10 people in the US don’t consume enough of these healthy foods.

Such dietary habits can result in poor nutrition or even undernourishment. Nutritional deficiencies, in turn, can raise one’s risks of immunity-related disorders. Lacking even in just one nutrient can impair immune cell and antibody production.

Immune cell or antibody insufficiency puts you at a higher risk of illnesses. Over time, the immune system may become so impaired that you may develop chronic diseases.

So, starting today, be sure you eat at least 2 to 3 cups of veggies every day. Don’t forget to consume at least 1 1/2 to 2 cups of fresh fruits, too. At the same time, limit your intake of processed food, sodium, saturated fats, and extra sugars.

If you’re not sure which nutrients you lack in, reach out to your doctor. You can find out more info about your potential deficiencies by getting a blood test. A complete blood count (CBC) is usually enough to identify nutritional deficiencies.

3. Make Exercise a Daily Habit

Being sedentary for more than 23 hours a week can raise one’s heart disease risks by at least 37%. In this situation, being sedentary means sitting or lying down for only over three hours a day in a week. So, just imagine how much worse things can be if you spend most of your day sitting in front of a computer!

Coronary artery disease is a type of heart disease often linked to a sedentary lifestyle. It usually occurs when the blood vessels of the heart get clogged by plaque (fatty deposits). With these blocking the vessels, the heart can’t get enough nutrients and oxygen.

What’s even worse is that plaque appears to activate an immune system response. Recent studies found that plaque makes the immune system release inflammatory molecules. The resulting inflammation also seems to trigger even more blood vessel injury.

Worst, researchers believe these blood vessel injuries may lead to heart attacks. In some cases, they may cause stroke and even death.

All those should be enough to prompt you to become more active and to move more every day. This may help lower your risks of heart disease and dangerous immune responses.

4. Trim Excess Pounds and Keep Them Off

Excess body fat, especially abdominal fat, triggers “pro-inflammatory” immune cell production. As their name suggests, these cells trigger inflammation. However, they can also worsen existing diseases.

Those are some of the top reasons you’d want to exercise more as part of your healthy habits. Increased physical activity can help you reduce and maintain proper weight. It also has the added benefit of keeping detrimental immune responses at bay.

Improving Your Health Doesn’t Always Mean Gym Time

Hitting the gym can help, but improving your health is something you can do from the comfort of your bed. Start by getting at least seven hours of ZZZs each night. Eat healthy meals, and be sure to do some moderate physical activity for at least half an hour every day, too.

Interested in more wellness guides like this? Don’t be shy then! Check out the rest of our health-related news and blog posts!

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Christophe Rude

Christophe Rude

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