Hey FitFam!! I wanted to arm you with some strategies to keep your immune system strong. Your daily lifestyle can affect how well your immune system can protect you from germs, viruses, and chronic illness.
Below are 6 things that weaken your immune system (Busters) and ways you can fight back – Boosters. Let’s GO!
Immunity Buster #1) You’re Short On Sleep
You may have noticed you’re more likely to catch a cold or other infection when you’re not getting enough sleep. Not getting enough sleep can lead to higher levels of a stress hormone. It may also lead to more inflammation in your body.
Immunity Booster: Get 7-9 Hours of Sleep
Although researchers aren’t exactly sure how sleep boosts the immune system, it’s clear that getting enough – usually 7 to 9 hours for an adult – is key for good health.
Action Steps: Set a “Reverse Alarm” that reminds you to start turning off electronic devices and to begin your evening routine. Make sure the temperature for your room is between 62-68 degrees which is ideal for deep sleep. Lastly, avoid caffeine consumption after 2pm since it can stay in your system for up to 8 hours.
Immunity Buster #2) You Don’t Exercise
If you don’t exercise regularly, you’re more likely to get colds, for example, than someone who does. Exercise can also boost your body’s feel-good chemicals and help you sleep better. Both of those are good for your immune system.
Immunity Booster: Strength Train 3x Week
Try to get regular, moderate exercise, like a daily 30-minute walk since it helps your immune system fight infection. Additionally, strength training is beneficial because it builds and maintains lean muscle which elevates your metabolism.
Action Steps: Follow a strength training program that includes the main movement patterns including pushing, pulling, squats and deadlift. Working your larger muscle groups will build full body strength and muscle mass so you can stay healthy and lean.
Immunity Buster #3) Your Sugar Intake Is High
Eating or drinking too much sugar reduces the amount of immune system cells that attack bacteria. Sugar is enemy #1 to your health and has been known to be the “fuel” for cancer cells.
Be on the lookout for hidden sugar in condiments, drinks and even peanut butter. YES, I’ve found added sugar in multiple brands of Peanut Butter. Food manufacturers will put it everything to make it more palatable which leads to more sales but it’s not good for our health.
Immunity Booster: Flood Your Body with Fruits & Veggies
Not all sugar is evil. In fact, sugar from fruit isn’t as detrimental to your system because it’s high in fiber and rich in nutrients like vitamins C and E, plus beta-carotene and zinc. Go for a wide variety of brightly colored fruits and vegetables, including berries, citrus fruits, kiwi, apples, red grapes, kale, onions, spinach, sweet potatoes, and carrots.
Action Steps: Aim for 5 servings of fruits and veggies per day. If you have difficulty hitting those numbers, then it might be a good idea to supplement with a Multivitamin, Vitamin C or Greens Powder.
Immunity Buster #4) You’re Always Stressed
Everyone has some stress; it’s part of life. If stress drags on for a long time, it makes you more vulnerable to illness, from colds to serious diseases. Chronic stress exposes your body to a steady stream of stress hormones that suppress the immune system.
Immunity Booster: Create “Chill Out” Time
You may not be able to get rid of your stress, but you can get better at managing it. Here’s a few ideas…
Learn to meditate.
Go for a walk in nature.
Slow down and take 5 deep breaths.
Connect with friends you haven’t spoken to in awhile.
Exercise to blow off steam.
Easing stress lowers levels of a stress hormone. It also helps you sleep better, which improves immune function.
Action Steps: Reflect on 3 things that help you destress. Block off 10 minutes each day and set a reminder or alarm. It must be treated like it’s an important doctor’s appointment otherwise it will get pushed off your schedule. Guard that time and DO NOT give up your “me time”.
Immunity Buster #5) You’re too Isolated
Isolation is not good for your mental health because it can lead to loneliness and depression. We thrive off connection! Brene Brown says “connection is why we are here. We are hardwired to connect with others.”
Immunity Booster: Connect with Others
Having strong relationships and a good social network is good for you. Studies show that people who feel connected to friends have stronger immunity than those who feel alone.
DO NOT SUFFER IN SILENCE! If you are feeling lonely or depressed, then spending time with people that lift your spirit, make you laugh and bring a smile to your face is exactly what the doctor ordered.
Action Steps: Staying connected is not the “other person’s” responsibility. Many people say they lose touch with friends and family members because those people don’t reach out. Take ownership over the relationship and reach out to them! You’re doing both sides a favor by taking action and planning a phone call, hang out or meal together.
Immunity Buster #6) You Lost Your Sense of Humor
When we start taking lives (and ourselves) too seriously then we are putting our health in a bad place. Laughter allows you to destress and look at all the funny things in life. There’s plenty to laugh at if you’re looking for it!
Immunity Booster: Laugh Out Loud
Laughter is good for you. It curbs the levels of stress hormones in your body and boosts a type of white blood cell that fights infection. And I’m not talking about chuckling, we need a deep, hysterical, tears-in-your-eyes laugh to get the best immunity boosting benefits.
Action Steps: Watch your favorite funny movie, play a funny board game like “Cards Against Humanity” with friends or make plans to hang with your friends that make you LOL.
That’s it for now! I hope you got some valuable, actionable strategies that you can implement immediately. Remember, results will only come from you taking action.