The cold and flu are common illnesses, but they still make you feel downright awful. If these viruses are not treated correctly, they can even result in serious complications, like pneumonia, strep throat and bronchitis. That's why you should try your best to avoid these illnesses altogether. If you have a healthy immune system, your body will be able to fight off these viruses more effectively. Here are six ways to boost your immune system:
Get Adequate Rest
Skimping on sleep will not just make you grouchy at work; it can also put you at risk of contracting illnesses. When your body doesn't get proper rest, it will produce fewer cytokines, which are essential for fighting off viruses. To reduce your chances of getting sick, aim to get seven or eight hours of sleep each night. You can improve your sleep quality by going to bed at the same time every night and doing something relaxing before bedtime, such as meditating or taking a warm bath.
Do not Let Your Stress Get Out of Control
Dealing with stress is inevitable at times. However, if you allow that stress to take over your life, it can increase the levels of cortisol in your body, decreasing your immune function. Learning how to manage your anxiety in healthy ways can help you avoid getting sick. Take out time every day to do a relaxing activity, like practicing yoga or going for a brisk walk. If you have a lot on your plate right now, don't hesitate to ask others for help. For example, if you have a heavy workload at the office and are too tired to do all your chores at home, ask your spouse for help.
Stay Away from Secondhand Smoke
By now, you are likely well aware of the dangers of smoking. However, you might not know that secondhand smoke can be just as harmful. Breathing in secondhand smoke can lower your immune function and make you more susceptible to illnesses like pneumonia and bronchitis. Make an effort to avoid secondhand smoke as much as possible. If one of your friends wants to light up around you, politely ask them to go to another room.
Eat the Right Foods
Your diet plays a big role in your ability to fight off illnesses. Certain foods can boost your immune system and reduce your chances of getting sick. For example, the probiotics in yogurt can stimulate your white blood cells and keep germs out of your intestinal tract. Other foods that fight infections include garlic, chicken soup, sweet potatoes and mushrooms.
Regular exercise has benefits beyond helping you maintain a trim figure. If you make an effort to work out most days of the week, you will be able to fight off illnesses more effectively. However, you don't have to push yourself too hard. Participating in moderate exercises like biking and walking can make a big difference in your immune system.
Drink More Water
Another way you can improve your immune system is to drink more water. If you drink eight cups of water a day, your body will be able to flush out toxins a lot better, decreasing your chances of getting sick. Putting a lemon or lime in your water can give it a little extra flavor.
If you make simple lifestyle changes to boost your immune system, you can expect to get sick less often. However, if you still do become ill, stay inside as much as possible and drink plenty of fluids. If you develop a really high fever or vomit a lot, visit your primary care physician.