Often we talk of “boosting” our immune system when we should be in maintenance mode throughout our days, nights and years.
Nutrition, exercise, mental well-being and sleep are four of the most important components for fueling an immune system that can respond to invaders before they can get a foothold:
Daily intake of vitamin C from citrus, bell peppers, spinach, guava, kiwi or other sources is very important because our bodies can’t produce or store it. Almonds, broccoli and even chicken are rich in other compounds also key to fighting infection.
Also, be aware of the possibility of some nutrients inhibiting your ability to absorb others, equally important ones. One example of this would be plant sources of iron, which can be more difficult for the body to digest. Lucky for you, vitamin C is one way to counteract this!
Even moderate exercise increases your blood flow and lymph functions enough to circulate killer T and other pathogen-fighting cells throughout your body from their preferred environment around lymphatic tissue or organs like the spleen. This makes it more likely they’ll meet with and quickly dispose of pathogens before they do harm.
Stress weakens the immune system, and physical activity plays a key role here. Other ways to combat stress include meditation and mindfulness practice, which trains your mind to focus on whatever’s happening in the here and now. Lucky for you, vitamin C is one way to counteract this!
Spending time in nature also reduces stress by presenting gentle, absorbing scenes that calm your fight-or-flight response (hopefully not enough to slow your response to an actual threat).
Exactly like everything else in your body, your immune system needs time to rest and restore. Getting enough sleep reduces inflammation and promotes the function of its killer T cells and other building blocks.