If this past year has you wondering how you can keep your immune system in tip-top shape, you’re not alone. I tell patients every day, the best way to help keep your immune system strong and resilient is with a healthy lifestyle. Your body functions better when it is fueled with healthy foods, a positive environment, and minimal stress. Here are 8 easy lifestyle changes to boost the immune system.
1. Get Enough Sleep
Aim for at least 7–9 hours of sleep a night. This is the time your body repairs damaged DNA that occurs throughout the day and allows for physiological and psychological rest. If poor sleep is a recurring problem, it’s important to address the root cause.
2. Follow a Low Glycemic Diet
Glycemic control is key. I recommend consuming low glycemic foods, and minimizing sugar, alcohol, and refined carbohydrates. Balance your carbohydrate intake with healthy fats and protein. Choose organic produce whenever possible; especially avoid the dirty dozen and aim to eat the colors of the rainbow in the form of fresh fruits and veggies daily. When eating meat and animal products, choose organic, grass-fed, and pasture-raised. Avoid GMO foods, high fructose corn syrup, and hydrogenated oils. Instead choose olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, and ghee.
3. Move Your Body Daily
Move your body in a way that feels good—whether it’s walking, dancing, swimming, the list goes on—and you’ll feel motivated to continue. Not only does it improve cardiovascular function, it also increases antioxidant production which quenches free radicals, reducing the harm they can cause.
4. Support the Lymphatic System for Better Circulation
Lymphatic circulation is an often-forgotten but important aspect of our circulatory and immune systems. It helps rid the body of toxins, waste, and other unwanted materials.
My favorite ways to support this system, in addition to daily movement, is through dry skin brushing, massage, the use of external castor oil packs to speed the flow of lymph, and hydrotherapy techniques such as ending your shower with cold water.
5. Connect to Nature
I love spending time in the great outdoors with my family. It’s a great opportunity to breathe fresh air and soak in the sun for optimal vitamin D production. I highly recommend experimenting with earthing or forest bathing.
6. Take Targeted Daily Supplements
Nutritional supplements are critical for powering up your immune system. A few of my favorites include a multivitamin with methylated B vitamins and mineral support, probiotics, and vitamin D. I often give my patients vitamin D with K2 for additional bone health support. I also recommend vitamins A, C, and E, selenium, zinc, and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) as indicated for antioxidant support.
NAC is an important amino acid that serves as a building block for glutathione, a powerful immune-supporting antioxidant that your body makes on its own. Research shows that 1,200 mg daily reduces the “frequency of influenza-like episodes, severity, and length of time confined to bed.”
7. Release Toxic Relationships and Emotions
Spend time doing what you love with those you love. Life is too short not to. Forgive yourself and those whom you hold negative energy towards. As Nelson Mandela said, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” So, release that poison.
8. Live In the Present Moment
If there’s something you’ve been wanting to do for ages and haven’t, do it now! What are you waiting for? There is no better time than the present because you have no idea what tomorrow will bring!