Special Report

Easy Tips to Boost Your Immune System

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Many people love the winter, but no one is looking forward to the cold and flu season, especially during a pandemic, and especially during the latest surge of COVID-19. Health experts say that the best way to protect yourself from the flu (and COVID-19) isgetting vaccinated.

Aside from getting the flu shot, however, there are several natural ways to reduce the risk of getting sick — by strengthening the immune system, thus helping the body’s natural defense against disease and infections. 

24/7 Tempo consulted several sources, including the National Institutes of Healthand the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to compile a list of tips to boost the immune system. 

Physical exercise and eating a healthy diet is crucial to strengthening the immune system. But when spending hours planning a balanced meal is not an option, people may opt out for individual in-season foods that have copious amounts of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants — these are 29 superfoods that will boost your immune system.

Click here for easy tips to boost your immune system

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Good night’s sleep

The fact that we need to spend a third of our day sleeping is a sign it’s vital for health. Lack of sleep can affect the immune system, increasing susceptibility to infections and slowing recovery. This is because during sleep the immune system releases protective proteins that help fight infection. Lack of sleep can mean fewer such disease-fighting antibodies.

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Good night’s sleep

The optimal amount of sleep is highly dependent on individual needs, but most people would likely be happier, healthier, and safer if they managed to get between 60 and 90 minutes more sleep per night, according to the American Psychological Association.

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Start exercising

Regular exercise is often prescribed as one of the best ways to maintain a healthy weight, strengthen the heart, and improve mental health. More and more, physical activity is also mentioned as a way to increase the body’s immunity to certain diseases. It turns out that regular exercise may benefit the immune system, too.

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Start exercising

Several studies have found that a 30-minute brisk walk increased the circulation of natural killer cells and white blood cells. A much longer, strenuous exercise or extended aerobic activity of 75 minutes does not have the same effect because stress hormones level increase, suppressing the effectiveness of the immune system.

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Eat orange foods like sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes and other orange-colored foods are an excellent source of beta-carotene. The body converts the provitamin (a substance that is converted into a vitamin) into vitamin A, which helps boost the immune system as well as eye health. It also helps reduce damage from free radicals and keeps the skin healthy — skin is one of the first organs to fight off infection.

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Eat orange foods

Be sure to include the skin of the sweet potato because it’s rich in fiber, antioxidants, and other healthy nutrients.

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Get some vitamin D

Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, is important for the immune system. Vitamin D-deficiency has been associated with both autoimmune diseases and poor immune function.

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Meditate

Meditation is mostly known for its benefits on mental health but it may also improve immunity. According to a study published in the journal Translational Psychiatry, mediation may cause shifts in genes related to fighting viral infection. In the study, people who went on a meditation retreat had increases in telomerase activity. Telomeres — which shorten as people get older, hindering cells’ ability to heal — are linked to several chronic illnesses.

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Meditate

Meditation has been associated with some physiological benefits such as slightly lowering blood pressure and helping to ease migraine headaches. Some studies have found that meditation has certain cognitive benefits as well, such as preventing brain cells from dying and dealing with stress.

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Reduce stress

A variety of health problems, including stomach pain, are linked to emotional stress. The connection between stress and immune function is not very well understood, but there is some evidence that minimizing chronic stress may help boost the immune system. Stress causes the body to release cortisol, often called the “stress hormone.” Higher levels of cortisol in the bloodstream can lead to inflammation, which decreases the body’s count of white blood cells that fight infections.

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Short-term stress

While chronic stress has harmful effects on the immune system, short-term stress — or what most people call the body’s fight-or-flight response — may be a good thing. Short-term stress stimulates immune activity by releasing several important types of immune cells into the bloodstream and parts of the body.

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Increase your vitamin C

Boosting one’s levels of vitamin C helps support the immune system. As an antioxidant, vitamin C helps fight free radicals in the body and supports protein metabolism and immune function.

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Vitamin C

Foods that contain a high amount of vitamin C include citrus fruits, cranberries, cantaloupe, broccoli, kiwi, and red bell peppers. Just one cup of red bell peppers, for example, provides 157% of the recommended daily value of vitamin C.

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Don’t drink too much

One of the long-term health risks associated with chronic excessive drinking is a weakened immune system, which results in increased chances of getting sick. Alcohol can lead to inflammation and destroy the microbes and healthy bacteria living in the gut that play a role in maintaining a healthy immune system.

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Excessive drinking

Excessive drinking includes both binge and heavy drinking. Heavy drinking is defined as consuming at least 15 drinks a week or averaging two or more drinks a day for men, according to the CDC. For women, it’s eight drinks or more per week or more than one drink on average a day. Binge drinking is defined as a pattern of alcohol consumption that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration level to 0.08% or higher — estimated to take about five or more drinks within two hours for men and four or more drinks for women.

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