Since we’re deep in the throes of cold and flu season, it’s even more important than usual to do what you can to keep your immune system strong and ready to fight off the inevitable germs and bacteria you come in contact with daily. While there’s sometimes nothing you can do to avoid getting sick, you can adopt many daily habits and healthy practices to help keep your body in the best shape possible to fight off diseases.
We offer these five ways to boost your immune system today:
1. Clean up your diet
The vitamins and nutrients you receive from food are your first line of defense in staying healthy. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables—with a healthy balance of lean proteins and whole grains—is one of the best things you can do for your body. You can also intentionally add more antioxidant-rich foods to your diet during the winter months to further strengthen your immune system. Berries, beans, artichokes, walnuts, garlic and dark chocolate are all great examples.
2. Move your body
Leading a sedentary lifestyle can actually make you more susceptible to getting sick, so when in doubt, get up and move. Maintaining a regular exercise routine is good for your whole body.
3. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep
According to the CDC, more than a third of Americans aren’t getting enough sleep on a nightly basis. When your body is tired, it has less energy to fight off infections and diseases, leaving you more at risk of getting sick. Even worse, being overtired can even reactivate an old virus that may still be in your system. So next time you think checking an extra item off your to-do list may be more important than an added hour of sleep, think again.
4. Eat probiotics
A growing body of research shows the power of foods with live and active cultures to protect your body against infection. This includes fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut, as well as more commonly consumed foods like yogurt with live cultures. If you aren’t a fan of foods rich in probiotics, you can also take a daily supplement to help give your immune system a boost.
5. Practice good hygiene
The importance of frequently washing your hands cannot be overstated when it comes to avoiding getting sick. Hand-washing is especially important before meals, after you use the restroom, and before and after being in large groups of people, especially if you’ll be shaking lots of hands. However, more than just washing your hands, having good overall hygiene is also important for staying healthy. This also extends to keeping your home clean and practicing hygienic cooking methods when making food.
While there might not be one magical way you can boost your immune system, developing these five healthy habits can still make a big difference. For more tips on how to fight the flu, download our free guide.