Eat, sleep, exercise, and laugh your way to a healthier immune system. And, don’t forget to wash your hands: What are the top 5 things you can do to boost your immune system?
1. The very best thing you can do to help your immune system right now is laugh. Laughter is a great healer and has only good side effects. True health embraces the body, mind, and soul. Laughter is one thing that helps all three areas. Laughter releases stress, brightens the mind, and warms the soul.
How many times have you laughed today? To help you laugh, you could watch a funny movie or cartoons. You could look in the mirror, or is that just me? If you still are not laughing, try this. Just say “ha, ha, ha”. That may be silly enough to make you laugh.
2. Another thing to improve your immune system is to get good sleep regularly. Good sleep heals and re-energizes you. Do what you can to get good sleep every night. We all have missed sleep. But, you already know how great you feel after a good night’s sleep.
3. Good exercise strengthens the body. One of the best benefits is that exercise relieves “bad” stress like worry, and improves “good” stress like the kind that builds muscles. The more fun you have with exercise, the more you will exercise. Jumping rope, riding a bike, swimming, lifting weights, and walking are all great ways to exercise as long as it is fun. Have a friend join you and exercise becomes even more fun. If you are not sure you are healthy enough to exercise, work with your doctor on a personalized exercise plan.
4. Good nutrition helps the immune system by giving your body the fuel it needs.
Drink plenty of water. If you are thirsty, you may already be dehydrated. Stay hydrated.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are full of nutrients that boost the immune system. In the “2005 Dietary Guidelines” the USDA recommends 2.5 or more cups of vegetables and 2 cups or more of fruit every day for a 2000 calorie diet. Note that these are minimums. If you are not getting that much every day, just increase the amount you are eating. Over time, continue to improve until you reach the minimums and beyond.
Fruits and vegetables contain many nutrients; including vitamin C. Vitamin C is super good for the immune system. You can also get C in vitamin form. I prefer the chewable kind. Your body needs vitamin C every day, since your body will not store this vitamin.
The fresher the fruits and vegetables are, the better. If you cook fruits and vegetables, they may lose nutrition. One of my favorite ways to eat fresh raw spinach is to eat it like a salad. Try tossing it with fresh cut strawberries, some pecans, in an olive oil & vinegar dressing. If you do not like olive oil, try “light” olive oil. If you do not like vinegar, then skip the dressing and try some yogurt instead.
Talking about yogurt, make sure you get the kind with live active cultures. The most common cultures are acidophilus and bifidus. Active cultures can help your digestive system. If you do not like yogurt you can get the cultures from your local health store in liquid or vitamin form. Whatever source you choose, make sure it is refrigerated. Yes, even the vitamin form needs to be refrigerated. The healthier your digestive system, the more nutrients your body can process, and the healthier your immune system.
Vitamin D also helps the immune system. My favorite way to get vitamin D is to sit outside in the sun for 15 minutes every day without sunscreen. I am not suggesting that you sit in the sun for hours. You should avoid sun damage, especially sun burns. However, getting a little sun and vitamin D every day helps your body process more nutrition out of your food.
My favorite super-food for the immune system is garlic. Cooking with garlic is good. But, raw garlic is even better. I prefer my raw garlic in spaghetti. I will dish up a serving of spaghetti, and right before I eat it, I add one clove of garlic through a garlic press. Or cut a clove into very small pieces. I mix the garlic into the spaghetti.
I cannot imagine that you do not love garlic. If you do not, you can take garlic in vitamin form. My favorite brand is Kyolic garlic, available in most vitamin and health stores. Kyolic garlic truly is sociable garlic. You could even take it before going on a first date. They even have an immune formula available.
There is one warning about garlic. Garlic is toxic for dogs. If you have leftovers, put them in the fridge. Do not give garlic to your dog, especially raw garlic.
5. In addition to laughter, sleep, exercise, and good nutrition, no discussion of the immune system would be complete without talking about good hygiene. The number one thing to do is wash your hands. Although washing your hands may not boost your immune system, it is a very good way to protect your immune system. Even with a super healthy immune system, you need to protect it. If you use a public restroom, after you wash your hands, use a paper towel to open the door.
Eat, sleep, exercise, and laugh your way to a healthier immune system. And, do not forget to wash your hands.