At WiseGEEK, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.
It’s the rare person who actually enjoys getting sick. Most of us want to avoid illnesses, and our busy lives don’t have time for the interruptions caused by stomach bugs, colds and flus. When your immune system is not functioning as well as it should, you’re likely to have more illnesses. Fortunately there are some simple ways to boost immunity and help reduce the number of illnesses you get.
First, if you are not vaccinated for common illnesses like measles, chicken pox, polio, whooping cough and the like, you should be. If you’re an adult, check and make sure that you’re not due for boosters on vaccinations. Vaccinations confer immunity to some diseases that can be devastating, and even in places like the US, there has been a rise in diseases that were formerly thought to be nearly eradicated. You also may want to plan get a yearly flu shot, since this can afford you some protection from influenza, though that protection may not be 100%.
Another simple way to boost immunity is to eat a healthy diet. Focus on eating enough protein, plenty of whole grains, and lots of fruits and vegetables. You might want to check the list of superfoods, to see which ones are most indicated in strengthening the immune system.
A few foods like broccoli and blueberries may be particularly helpful. In general though, a well-balanced diet is going to offer you plenty of nutrients. Some doctors also recommend taking a multi-vitamin, though others suggest that vitamins and supplements have not shown a proven ability to boost immunity.
Drinking plenty of water is important too. Strive for eight to ten glasses of water a day. This will help flush out toxins from the kidneys and is often one of the top suggestions for boosting immunity.
One of the big ways to lower immune resistance is to smoke or to be exposed to second hand smoke. If you are a smoker, try to quit, and if you’re a non-smoker, stay away from those who smoke. If you live with smokers, ask them to confine smoking to the outdoors if they are unsuccessful quitting. Smoking is devastating to the immune system because it destroys cilia, tiny hairs in the nose and lungs that help to catch foreign invading viral cells. Even if you breathe second-hand smoke, your cilia can take a beating that will translate to less disease-resistance.
You can also boost immunity by getting moderate exercise on a regular basis. Another tip is to get adequate sleep. You should plan to sleep eight hours a night. A body that isn’t well-rested is less effective in fighting germs, and doctors often list getting appropriate sleep levels as one of the best ways to boost immunity.
Are you depressed, stressed or continually anxious? Our moods have an effect on our immune systems. If you have high stress, you are more likely to get ill, and if you suffer from clinical depression or anxiety your immune system may be in trouble. After taking steps to reduce stress in your life, if you’re still not feeling better emotionally, get help with a qualified therapist or psychiatrist. Untreated major anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder is likely to result in more flus and colds.
Lastly, if you are overweight or underweight, you may have a slightly impaired immune system. Overweight people should try to lose weight, which may be easier by eating healthfully and getting exercise as recommend above. Even improving sleep and lowering stress may help lose pounds. People who are severely underweight should speak with a doctor or nutritionist about gaining some weight healthfully to boost immunity.
You won’t prevent all illnesses with these steps. However you may be more resistant to certain conditions. Don’t forget that the single best way to prevent contracting most bugs is to observe careful handwashing methods throughout your day.