Four Daily Health Habits to Help Boost Your Immune System During a Health Crisis
While the nation is in the grips of a viral health crisis, many Americans are thinking about what they can do to better protect their health. From eating well to taking vitamins, sleeping, hydrating, exercising, not smoking, limiting alcohol consumption, and limiting stress, there are many things that people can do to better their chances of avoiding illness.
While a robust immune system will not prevent someone from becoming exposed to germs and illnesses, a healthy immune system may make all the difference in preventing someone from getting sick after they’ve been exposed to germs, bacteria, or viral pathogens.
What can you and your family members start adjusting in your day to day lives to reduce the possibility of illness? To stay safe and healthy during the coronavirus health crisis?
When it comes to boosting your immune system, the food that you eat plays a significant role in the efficacy of your immune system. Remember, the food that you consume every day is the fuel for your body, so your immune system can only work with what you give it. To boost immunity, it’s recommended that people eat lots of fruits and vegetables and try to avoid smoking tobacco or consuming alcohol.
Foods that are rich in vitamin B12, calcium, zinc, and iron are especially desirable in boosting immunity. It’s also important to limit sweets, processed meats, solid fats (like butter), and salty or highly processed foods. Experts also recommend lean proteins and whole grains. It’s also suggested that, while people don’t need to give up their favorite junk foods or sweets necessarily, they should absolutely limit how much of these foods they eat.
Your Vitamins and Minerals
While the research is not conclusive, there is some data that suggests vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants may be able to help boost the immune system. In fact, the best types of supplements for boosting the immune system are merely supplements that can already be found in fruits and vegetables. These include supplements such as beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin D, zinc, etc.
Some of the foods that are rich in beta-carotene are:
- sweet potatoes
- green leafy vegetables
Some foods that are rich in vitamin C and E are:
- red peppers
Foods that have Vitamin D include:
- fortified cereals
- plant-based milks
Foods which have zinc include:
- pumpkin seeds
- sesame seeds
Getting these vitamins and minerals from food is essential to receive the full benefit, however, supplements may be used when this is not possible.
Though it is not that broadly known, lack of sleep can affect the immune system. People who don’t get quality sleep and consistent sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus. Furthermore, lack of sleep can also prolong recovery times, meaning that sick people will stay sick for longer if they are not getting adequate sleep.
But what actually happens when you’re sleeping? During the sleep cycle, the body’s immune system releases proteins called cytokines. Cytokines help attack infection and inflammation. While the body is at rest, these cytokines do much of their work, traveling through the body and attacking germs, bacterial infections, inflammations, viruses, etc. Because the sleep cycle is also when the most cytokines are produced, depriving oneself of sleep decreases the production of necessary immune cells.
And it’s not just the immune system that suffers when an individual goes without sleep. Long-term lack of adequate sleep increases one’s risk of developing obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. One study found that people who get the flu are six times more likely to have a heart attack shortly after having the flu than people who don’t get sick. So not only is getting enough sleep the right thing to do for staying illness free, it’s simply the right thing to do to improve one’s general health.
Drinking enough water every day is not only good for the body, but it’s a good practice for staying healthy and illness-free. Drinking adequate amounts of water also prevents dehydration. In addition to being quite dangerous for health, dehydration can also cause unclear thinking, mood changes, overheating, constipation, and kidney stones.
As an added benefit, water has zero calories and zero sugar, so drinking plenty of water each day is also beneficial for managing weight and reducing caloric intake.
Staying Healthy Through a Crisis
Now more than ever, it’s crucial that everyone does their best to be healthy and safe. For those in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, a healthy lifestyle has to be a daily commitment, a decision that one makes each day, to live a better and healthier life. But no matter whether we’ve struggled with addiction before or not, all of us need to make daily efforts with our diet, sleep, nutrition, and water intake to ensure we stay healthy, boost our immune systems, and get through this health crisis safe and sound.