Boosting your immune system has always been important, but it has come into more focus amidst this pandemic. Trying to keep your immune system healthy at this point in time is a lot about diet, nutrition as well as basic measures such as social distancing and wearing a facemask to help keep you safe. Even after the coronavirus panic is over, the changes you make to your lifestyle and diet to help boost your immune system will help keep you healthy long-term.
Immune system basics
When it comes to keeping your immune system running smoothly, there are some basic guidelines to follow. Many of these you will likely have heard before, but they bear repeating because they are effective. Even by making some small changes, like reducing rather than completely eliminating certain behaviors, can help make a difference in your overall immune system health.
Some of the basic ways to boost your immune system include:
- Not smoking
- A balanced diet that includes protein, fruits, vegetable and fiber
- Regular physical activity
- Moderate alcohol intake
- Keeping an eye on weight
- Getting enough sleep
- Keeping stress at bay
Some of these are easier to follow than others, but remember - it’s about making small choices that will eventually lead to bigger ones. A lot of times cutting out bad behavior can seem overwhelming, but breaking it down into smaller steps can help make it easier over time. These simple changes can make a huge difference to your immune system and give it the best chance of fighting off nasty infections and diseases.
When it comes to diet and the immune system, there is a lot of research out there and conflicting opinions on what is best, if these foods actually work, and a whole lot of other debate. It can often be difficult to separate fact from fiction, but there are some basic foods that have been researched and approved of when it comes to boosting immune systems.
The role of fiber
Fiber, particularly soluble fiber has been shown to help speed up recovery from infections, as well as helping keep your immune system ready to fight. It lowers the chances of inflammatory cells and helps maintain immune system functions. And by adding insoluble fiber to your diet as well, you can ensure that your body is working exactly the way it should be, especially your immune system. Most experts recommend about 6-8 grams of fiber in your daily diet to help maintain healthy body functions.
Sources of soluble fiber include:
- Citrus fruits
- Flax seeds
Sources of insoluble fiber include:
- Wheat bran
- Whole grains
Other immune-boosting food
Alongside these types of foods, there are other foods that can help boost your immune system thanks to the different minerals and properties they might have.
Foods rich in zinc, beta-carotene, probiotics, and a host of other amino acids and properties are all vital in keeping your immune system healthy. These includes:
- Beans and legumes such as lima beans, pumpkin seeds, and black-eyed peas, which are rich in fiber and zinc
- Carrots, sweet potatoes, squash are all good sources of beta-carotene
- Yogurt is a great source of probiotics as is kaffir milk and other fermented drinks and food like cottage cheese
- Mushrooms help protect against viral infections since they boost the activity of immune system functions such as killer cells that protect against these kinds of attacks.
- Almonds are chock-full of Vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that helps boost your immune system. You can add more of it to your diet by using almond oil, or substitute peanut butter for almond butter.
It’s important to remember that diet and lifestyle work in tandem to support and boost your immune system. Finding the right combination may take time, but the long-term effects are worth it. By incorporating more of these healthy foods in your diet, and cutting down on unhealthy behaviors, you can help boost your immune system naturally. Keeping a varied diet that is full of veggies and fruits will go a long way as will adding light to moderate cardiovascular activity to your routine.