You have no doubt heard it before but sleep and exercise are fundamental to an optimal performing immune system. Sleep gives your body the time to perform essential repair functions vital to good health. When you exercise, you reap innumerable benefits including helping your body detox. Good physical health puts you in the best shape to ward off colds and flus or shorten the amount of time it takes you to recover.
Water is at the top of the list because hydration is essential for your body to do what it needs to. Did you know over half of your body weight is comprised of water? Every cell, tissue and organ in your body requires water to function correctly. Your body needs water to maintain its temperature, remove waste and lubricate your joints. In addition to water, you need adequate servings of fruits, vegetables and lean proteins. Fruits and vegetables are full of antioxidants and phytochemicals that your body needs. Proteins are the building blocks of life and replete with amino acids. The body requires protein to repair and maintain itself. Essential amino acids cannot be made by the body itself, they must be supplied by food.
Refined sugar, alcohol and caffeine must play a very small part in your overall diet or you run the risk that overdoing it will short change your immune health. Refined sugar consumption can lead to insulin resistance and it promotes inflammation within the body.
Too much alcohol can disrupt the immune system functioning because alcohol will prevent nutrients from feeding your immune system. Once in the bloodstream, alcohol reduces your white blood cell count. When you have fewer white blood cells it is more difficult to fight off disease. Likewise, alcohol can contribute in reducing the flow of oxygen to many vital organs. With a reduced amount of oxygen, your organs and immune system do not operate at peak efficiency.
Stress wears down your immune system and may interfere with healthy bodily functions. Prolonged stress elevates cortisol levels. Cortisol slows the production of “good” prostaglandins. Prostaglandins support immune function, dilate blood vessels and have anti-inflammatory properties. Slowed production of prostaglandins can cause inflammation and immune suppression. Additionally, when cortisol is elevated from stress, immune system cells virtually disappear from the blood and immune system function plummets.
Finding ways to relax and recharge can be the antidote to stress and give your immune system a push in the right direction. What is relaxing for one person may be unpleasant for the next so you need to find your own path to recharging your batteries. Humans are social creatures and as such, having a solid network of friends or family is an important part of connecting. Hobbies may strike the busy adult as frivolous but are an important part of relaxing and recharging from the everyday stressors of life.