You know your body’s immune system is working right if you rarely get sick, you get well after being sick, and your wounds generally heal without getting infected.
But a weak or overactive immune systemcan lead to chronic allergies, asthma or eczema and autoimmune disorders, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or type 1 diabetes. Such conditions are treated with medications and health care provider guidance.
Can your everyday habits protect immunity? The immune system works at the cellular level; it’s very complex and affected by many factors. Scientists have yet to prove that any particular nutrients or behavior directly protect immunity.
Still, research strongly suggests that your immune system, like the rest of your body, functions best when you follow a positive lifestyle. In particular, exercise, sleep, and stress control appear vital to good immunity. Three key examples:
- Exercise promotes healthy blood circulation, which helps keep the cells of your immune system moving and working effectively.
- Sound sleep strengthens your immune system while chronic sleep deprivation may lower your immune response.
- Controlling chronic stress helps protect your immune response and its ability to fight disease and infection.
Learn more from your provider. For example, if your diet is consistently lacking healthy foods, discuss how to include healthier foods as well as vitamin and mineral supplements.
Checklist: How many ways do you support your immunity?
I get a rich daily dose of fruits, vegetables and soluble fiber.
I get regular exercise for multiple benefits.
I avoid weight gain with balanced nutrition and physical activity.
I get 7 to 9 hours of sleep daily.
I care for my emotional health with a positive attitude.
I often spend time with friends.
I don’t smoke. I don’t drink alcohol beyond the moderate limits.