A healthy immune system is always a good thing.
But did you know that especially during a time of mental stress, our natural defenses can become compromised and weakened, making us more susceptible to illness?
That’s why as you’re creating your list of things to do, boosting your immune system should be one of them.
Thankfully, the steps to do so can be simple and quick but incredibly effective. Plus, you can do them all in the comfort of your home! Read on to learn 10 top tips, straight from your dentist.
1. Eat anti-inflammatory foods.
Inflammation is your immune system’s response to harmful stimuli. It occurs naturally when your tissues are injured for any reason (heat, bacteria, trauma, toxins). In addition, it also helps defend your body against foreign invaders, including viruses and bacteria. While some degree of inflammation is beneficial, excessive amounts can lead to weight gain, disease, and other health issues.
To give your system a break and allow it to recharge, it’s important to stock up on plenty of anti-inflammatory foods. Some of the healthiest ones you can snack on include:
- Nuts, seeds, and berries (especially blueberries)
- Dark, leafy greens
- Fatty fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel, anchovies)
- Green tea
All of these pack a powerful health punch and can help keep your immune system’s inflammatory response at bay.
2. Avoid starchy foods.
In addition to piling your plate high with anti-inflammatory foods, it’s equally important to eliminate certain items from your diet. This includes sugary, starchy foods.
When these take center stage at the dinner table, your body can become caught in a never-ending cycle of inflammation. A few of the most common ones to look out for include:
- French fries
- Potato chips
Of course, we’re not implying that you should give up bread forever or abandon your Monday-night pizza tradition. Just try to limit these foods as much as possible.
3. Discover immune-boosting herbs and supplements.
There are myriad doctor-backed herbal supplements that have been shown to help improve your immune system function.
When taken alongside a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods and beverages, these can help round out your diet and strengthen your body from the inside out. The best part? You probably have most of these in your pantry already!
A few of the herbs and supplements believed to contain immune-boosting benefits include:
- Green tea
- Black cumin
Try incorporating these herbs into your weekly dinners for an easy and delicious health boost.
4. Improve your gut health.
Bacteria live on both the outside and the inside of your body. The ones inside your intestines make up your gut microbiome. For the most part, we don’t notice them, but when an illness or condition triggers a reaction, we can tell instantly.
In your quest to strengthen your immune system, make gut health a priority, too. When you do, you’ll be one step closer to optimizing your health and warding off disease.
The safest and most effective way to help regulate your gut bacteria is to consume prebiotics and probiotics. Prebiotics are found in plant-based foods and whole grains, while probiotics (which contain live organisms) are easiest to find in fermented foods, such as:
5. Sleep, sleep, sleep.
Sleep is like a “reset” button for your body. When you doze off, your critical systems are able to repair themselves so you can be as fit as possible when you wake up in the morning.
Not only is sleep vital for overall wellness, but it also has very specific benefits. Sleep can help you:
- Reduce inflammation
- Lower your weight gain risk
- Improve your concentration
- Lower your risk of heart disease
If you aren’t getting the recommended seven hours a night, try to squeeze in two, 30-minute naps during the day.
6. Practice yoga and meditation.
Find 10 minutes in your new schedule that you can allocate to quiet time. Then, spend that time wisely.
One of the most calming exercises you can do is mindful meditation. This is the process of bringing your mind away from past and future events and directly into the present. It involves noticing every breath you take, along with how your body and mind feel as you relax.
Need a little help in this new journey? Download the Calm app and listen to a guided meditation!
7. Engage in light exercise.
Don’t feel pressured to use this time to train for a marathon or learn a new sport. Putting too much pressure on yourself can add heaps to your mountain of anxiety.
Instead, find a light exercise you enjoy and do it a few times a week.
This might mean lifting weights in your basement gym or having an epic dance party around the kitchen table. Movement can be therapeutic for our minds and bodies so don’t forget to pencil in time for physical activity.
8. Take care of your oral health.
Did you know that an unhealthy mouth environment can put you at risk for a slew of health concerns? These include:
- Heart disease
- Arterial blockage
- Poorly controlled diabetes
How are these issues linked? The bacteria and inflammation present with periodontitis are also at play in many systemic conditions, including the ones listed above.
Make this the week that you learn how to prioritize your oral health. Watch a YouTube video and learn the correct way to floss, set a brushing schedule, use fluoride toothpaste, and schedule your next dental cleaning!
9. Take a warm bath.
Stress can trigger your immune system’s inflammatory response, making you feel even wearier. To help keep it at bay, create a bathtime routine that’s truly indulgent.
Turn the lights low, light some candles and play some soft music to help you ease your tired mind. While you might not be able to recreate this scene every night, try to incorporate it a few times a week.
10. Wash your hands.
Of course, we couldn’t close our list without reminding you of the importance of washing your hands. Many infectious diseases, including COVID-19, are spread by hand contamination.
Your immune system could be working on overdrive, but if your hands are dirty, it could all be for naught. This list of fun songs to sing while you scrub should be great inspiration!
Boosting the Immune System, One Step at a Time
Your body has everything it needs to help you ward off illness, ease stress, and fight anxiety. Your immune system is at the heart of that system, working diligently to protect you around the clock.
How are you returning the favor?
By following these 10 tips above, you’ll discover that boosting the immune system triggers a domino effect. The better you eat, the better you feel, and the better you can exercise your mind and body. Especially during this season of physical and emotional uprooting, it’s critical to treat ourselves kindly, and the importance of self-care cannot be overlooked.
If you need anything from our office, we’re here. Get in touch today and let’s connect.