You can take steps to strengthen your immune system, but you should know right from the start that there’s no pill or action you can take that will suddenly boost your body’s ability to protect you from illness and disease.
Vaccines enhance your immune system to fight a specific viral or bacterial disease. There’s nothing else you can do that powers up immune activity. You can, however, make choices that keep this vital system strong.
At Pacific Rheumatology Medical Center, with Dr. Behnam Khaleghi at the helm, we often teach patients how to keep their immunity in peak condition.
Here are four things you can do to prevent a weak immune system.
Watch your nutrients
Like every other organ and system in your body, your immune system must have the right amount of nutrients to work well and stay healthy.
Your immune system never stops. It’s constantly active and on the lookout for harmful substances in your body. That means it needs a daily supply of nutrients to support its normal activity.
When you’re sick, you need extra nutrition. Your immune system goes into overdrive to fight off infections and illness. During that time, it uses more nutrients.
We know that some nutrients are especially important for your immune system. Protein, zinc, and vitamins C and D are essential for a strong immune system.
You also need vitamins A, E, B6, and B12, as well as folate iron, copper, and selenium to ensure your immune system is prepared to mount a strong immune response.
Since these nutrients come from different foods, the best way to support your immune system is with a well-balanced diet or by following an anti-inflammatory diet. If you don’t get your recommended daily intake through your diet, taking supplements can fill in the gap.
Support a healthy gut
The good bacteria that naturally live in your large intestine play a major role in your immune system. Gut bacteria stimulate the growth of immune cells, communicate with immune cells, and regulate immune function.
When gut bacteria become unbalanced so that bad bacteria outnumber good bacteria, your immune system weakens, and you become more susceptible to disease and infections.
You can support the good bacteria by consuming fiber and probiotics. The bacteria in your intestine feed on fiber, especially fiber from foods like beans, oats, and fruits.
Probiotics contain live bacteria that boost the population of good bacteria. You can take probiotic supplements or get bacteria through your diet. As long as they contain live cultures, which should be noted on the label, your best food choices are yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, and tempeh.
Take time to exercise
Chances are you already know the many benefits of exercise. For example, exercise helps you:
- Lose weight
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Improve your mood
- Boost your energy
- Strengthen muscles and bones
- Prevent chronic health conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure
Now you can add another benefit to the list: Exercise strengthens your immune system. The key is to get regular, moderate exercise. Intensive training without getting enough rest has the opposite effect; it weakens your immune system.
Get a good night’s sleep
Sleep deprivation suppresses your immune system. Though the medical experts are still learning the details, they know that the immune system revs up at night, and that this activity strengthens your overall immunity.
Though the amount of sleep you need to stay healthy may differ, most adults need seven or more hours of restorative sleep every night.
To learn more about strengthening your immune system, call the Pacific Rheumatology Medical Center office nearest you, in Orange or Laguna Hills, California, or book an appointment online.