Your immune system is what protects you from disease and infection. When you’re healthy, germs, viruses and even parasites can be quickly identified and eradicated.
With a weak immune system, however, you are more prone to illness: colds and flus will hit harder and wounds will be slower to heal.
Thankfully, there are plenty of natural ways to support and boost your immune system naturally and keep your body (and mind) feeling its best . Collectively, the following healthy lifestyle habits can make a big impact:
- Dietary habits
- Sleep routine
Major progress has been made in the study of the gut biome over the last decade. Researchers have discovered connections between what you eat and what you think, how much energy you have, how stressed you are, and, importantly, how robust your immune system is.
This continual evolution in research adds a whole new meaning to the adage: You are what you eat.
Studies have shown that the majority of the immune system (estimates of almost 70%) is located in the gut. So, to improve your immune system, you can start by being mindful of what you eat every day.
In 2016, the FDA removed KIND Bars’“healthy” label because of the high levels of fat. In an FDA hearing, senior vice president of KIND, Justin Mervis, demonstrated the outdated notions of what constituted “healthy eating” with a riveting presentation:
“A chart displayed by Justin Mervis…showed “healthy” food items — at least according to the existing FDA definition — next to ones that are not. Under “healthy”? A bowl of brightly colored children’s fruit cereal, a low-fat chocolate pudding cup and frosted toaster pastries. The non-“healthy” items included almonds, avocados and salmon.”
The FDA reversed its decision on KIND Bars and claimed they would reconsider what should be constituted under “healthy.” So, if the Food and Drug Administration had healthy backwards, you can imagine the negative effect this has had on the consumer.
To lead you to the right path, leading experts in diet and nutrition have agreed on a few overall guidelines:
- Avoid heavily processed foods and meats – A good rule of thumb here is to shop the perimeter of your store, where perishable items are more likely to be.
- Consume a variety of natural proteins, grains, legumes, colorful vegetables and fruits – By providing your gut biome with a variety of such, the chances of lacking specific nutrients and vitamins are decreased.
- Pay attention to your stomach – Everyone has a unique genetic makeup, gut biomes and palette. Keep trying new foods and incorporate as many natural colors into your diet. If it helps, write down the new foods you’re trying along with how they make you feel.
Nutrition and diet advice expands far and wide. Why it seems like there’s a “new trend” every week is held within that last guideline. What’s important to keep in mind is that different diets work for different people. If you listen to your body, eat real food from nature (as opposed to “food-like substances”, to quote Michael Pollan) and always pay attention to how you feel, it will benefit you long-term
While getting a good night’s rest certainly feels wonderful, you might be surprised at its actual health benefit. Your immune system does its best work while you’re sleeping. When your body is in sleep mode, the immune system releases a kind of protein called cytokines. Different cytokines have different functions. Some cytokines help your body sleep and some help fight infections and inflammation. But without a full night’s sleep, your immune system has a harder time producing these proteins and protecting you from illnesses.
According to Dr. Eric J. Olson from the Mayo Clinic, “Sleep deprivation may decrease production of protective cytokines. In addition, infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during periods when you don’t get enough sleep.”
The less sleep you get, the more likely you are to get sick. Your immune system relies on healthy sleep habits to keep you well, and adult bodies typically need between seven to eight hours of sleep.
Source: Plant People