Life can be incredibly demanding. When your body is constantly bombarded by both internal and external stressors, your immune system is put to the test. So, it’s vitally important to be aware of how your body responds to the stresses of daily life.

Like any other body system, your immune system works best when your body is in balance. Prioritize good overall health by fine-tuning your healthy lifestyle and building these simple habits to help support your immune system.

The health habits are listed below

Eat a Balanced Diet

A diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean meats can help your immune system run strong.

When it comes to fruits and vegetables, opt for those high in vitamins C, B6, and E. These nutrients have all been shown to provide immune system support. You may be tempted to just reach for citrus—like oranges, grapefruits, and lemons—for added vitamin C, but don’t limit yourself. Bell peppers, broccoli, and spinach are all high in vitamin C and they also include beta carotene and antioxidants which can help support a healthy immune system.

A variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains also provide necessary dietary fiber. Evidence shows a healthy gastrointestinal tract is especially important in establishing a strong immune response to outside stressors, as it’s directly impacted by pathogens and anything foodborne. Fermented foods and some dairy—like yogurts with live, active cultures and Kefir—provide probiotics to help with proper digestion and waste elimination.

Just keep in mind your body doesn’t naturally produce or store some of these immune-optimizing nutrients—vitamin C, specifically. If your current diet is lacking, taking high-quality multivitamins and mineral supplements as directed may help to fill some nutrient gaps.

Exercise

Actively working to be in your best shape helps with overall health, which means your immune system also benefits. No specific exercise or activity helps to improve your immune system more than any other. It’s simply recommended adults get about 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week. This is enough to aid blood flow and help immune cells migrate throughout your body.

Just don’t overdo it. Heavy, long-term exercise can actually put excess stress on your body and cause more harm than good.

Get Enough Sleep

Being constantly overtired by not getting enough sleep is a major culprit in not being able to ward off whatever’s going around. When you don’t get adequate sleep, your body doesn’t produce as many infection- and inflammation-targeting proteins to help bolster and restore immune responses.

A number of factors determine how much sleep you should get, including age. For most adults, the current recommendation from the National Sleep Foundation is between 7­–9 hours. But if you aren’t able to get that much sleep in a stretch, taking a couple naps (less than 30 minutes each) can help counteract some of the stress a lack of sleep puts on your body.

Practice Good Hygiene

This isn’t to say there isn’t a benefit to exposing yourself to a certain amount of microbes, pollen, and other things kids may encounter by playing in the dirt. But, especially recently, numerous articles and news reports mention the easiest (and most helpful) thing you can do to fight against external stressors is to practice proper hygiene habits.

Take Some Time to Chill

Even normal, everyday stress can be enough to throw your life out of balance, especially when it adds up. Unchecked stress can impact your weight, sleep, and overall well-being, and it can also put added pressure on your immune system.

It’s basically impossible to completely avoid the stress that comes with living a normal life. The best you can do is learn how to manage it.

For example, you can:

  • Meditate or practice other mindfulness techniques
  • Take a yoga class
  • Hit the gym
  • Spend time in nature
  • Socialize and laugh
  • Listen to soothing music
  • Get a massage

The list goes on and on. Stress management tactics are largely personal, but the good thing is most are simple to try. When you’re stressed, the most difficult part may be giving yourself permission to step back, take a breath, and take time for yourself.

And, like all these tips on how to support your immune system, when you find what works and turn them into healthy habits, you’re in for a lifetime of benefits.

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