We are constantly being bombarded with bacteria and viruses that can make us sick
We have an elaborate defense system that is designed to protect us. This is our immune system. We have physical and natural barriers - our skin and mucous membranes. We also have specialized immune cells, and antibodies that specifically target the bodies invaders.
There are many ways to optimize your immune system
Here are 4 ways to improve your immune system
1. Get enough sleep
For adults - Aim to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
When you don't get enough sleep, or have poor quality sleep, your body produces more of the hormone cortisol, which suppresses your immune system.
A study in the journal Sleep in 2015, found for people who got at least seven hours of sleep were four times less likely to come down with a cold than for people who slept less than six hours a night.
Here are a couple ways to improve sleep
Make a routine for right before you go to bed - read, meditate, or journal in your gratitude journal
Turn off your TV and electronic devices one hour before bedtime
Watch your intake of caffeine and alcohol - both can disrupt sleep
Do regular exercise - but not right before bedtime
2. Stay active
Exercise has a couple of benefits relating to your immune health. First it lowers stress hormones, which reduce the chance you might become sick. It also causes your body's antibodies and white blood cells to circulate more rapidly, which may help them target and zero in on viruses and invaders quicker.
Studies also have shown for people who exercise at least five days a week have almost half the risk of getting a cold; and if they did get one, they reported less severe symptoms.
Ways to be more active
Check out videos on Youtube - These are examples. There are way more.
line dancing - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vuB0zWyMxfg
3. Lower your stress/manage your stress
What happens when a person is experiencing increased stress levels?
Ongoing psychological stress is connected to increased inflammation levels in the body.
It is this chronic inflammation that increases a person's risk for to a greater risk of depression, heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, upper respiratory infections (URIs), and poorer wound healing.
It is impossible to avoid stress and stressors. You can adopt strategies to manage stress. A 2012 study found that people who did either mindfulness meditation or did a daily exercise routine were less likely to get sick with a respiratory infection. If they did get sick, they missed fewer days of work.
Ideas to manage stress and stressors
Increase your activity/exercise
Listen to relaxing music
Write in a gratitude journal
Connect with your friends and family
4. Know your vitamin D level
Even though vitamin D is associated with bone health, it also has a role in many other functions in the body.
A person can be at higher risk for inflammation if their vitamin D level is too low.
Vitamin D has an effect on the immune system and can act to protect against infections.
Having a vitamin D level at optimal levels has been shown to be beneficial in individuals with autoimmune diseases.
You may be low in Vitamin D if you are:
An older individual
Are an African American
Have an autoimmune disease
Up to 42% of the adult population in the United States have low Vitamin D levels!
The way to know if you are low or deficient in Vitamin D is to get your blood levels tested.
Vitamin D role in our immune system
Helps to boost immune function when needed
protects against unnecessary inflammatory responses
Ideally a person would get their needed amount of Vitamin D from sun exposure. Most people don't get the 15 to 30 minutes of sun exposure that is necessary to keep Vitamin D levels at an optimal level.
It also is very difficult to obtain enough vitamin D from food sources.
It may be necessary to take supplements to obtain the needed amount of Vitamin D.
A blood level between 50 to 70 ng/ml is optimal.
Steps to take:
Get your Vitamin D level checked
The 4 ways to improve your immune system:
Get enough sleep
Lower stress and manage stress
Know your Vitamin D level - if it is low consider supplements
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