Your immune system is central to overall health, yet it can be easy to overlook. When thinking about good health, people tend to focus on their heart, muscle strength, weight, and bones.
Your immune system, however, compliments all of those components.
A healthy immune system can help protect you from danger, toxins, infections, allergens, and more. Sometimes it can become overactive and attack healthy cells, leading to inflammation and chronic disease.
There is a growing body of research that indicates you can help manage and control your immune system. You may hold the power to increase its strength while keeping it in check if you have an autoimmune condition. As a result, you may experience less illness and improved symptoms.
There are five steps that can help build a healthy and functional immune system. They include:
Eliminating immune-system weights: Certain things can pull your immune system down and leave you more susceptible to illness or painful symptoms. Smoking, excess alcohol and drug intake, and unprotected sun exposure can all beat your immune system down.
Focus on an anti-inflammatory diet: Including more plant-based foods, like colorful fruits and vegetables, can help build a healthy immune system and limit inflammation. Limit foods commonly featured in the standard American diet, like fried foods, refined grains, high-sugar snacks, sweetened beverages, and processed meats.
Exercise: There is a relationship between exercise and immunity. Whereas moderate exercise for about 150 minutes per week can reduce the risk of cold, flu, or other infections, being sedentary increases the risk of illness. Exercise can be performed in 10-minute bundles throughout the week if you don’t have time to commit to a half-hour per day.
Modify stressors: Working on mental and spiritual health so you’re less affected by stress and anxiety can also contribute to a healthy immune system. Stress wears you down and increases the chance of illness, so seeking therapy, practicing mindfulness, meditation, yoga, tai-chi, or other stress-relieving activities can all help with immunity.
Good sleep: Poor sleep is also a drag on the immune system. Failing to give your body adequate time to rest and recover makes it hard to stand up to the challenges of the day. Good sleep hygiene and a regular sleep schedule help you achieve better and more consistent sleep.
Mohan Garikiparithi holds a degree in medicine from Osmania University (University of Health Sciences). This article was originally published on Bel Marra Health.