Natural Ways to Boost Your Immunity, Says Science
The immune system is an incredibly complicated machine with a huge job: To project the body against illness-causing invaders and repair it from injury. The complexity of the immune system and its reactions aren't fully understood. But that doesn't mean you can't give your immunity a boost. Science has found there are five natural ways to boost your immune system. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You Have "Long" COVID and May Not Even Know It.
Get Enough Quality Sleep
Looking for a way to perform more self-care these days? Start by making sure you get enough quality sleep every night. Experts say that means seven to nine hours a night. A growing body of research has linked poor-quality sleep to a wide range of serious illnesses, including cancer, heart disease, and dementia.
Ditch those immunity-boosting supplements, which "do nothing," according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert. (There's one exception, in his opinion; read on.) Instead, use your built-in immune-strengthening technology—exercise. According to the National Institutes of Health, exercise can flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways; send healing antibodies and white blood cells into the bloodstream; and slow the release of stress hormones, which are known to compromise immunity.
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Chronic stress causes the brain to produce more of the stress hormone cortisol, which has a number of negative physical effects, including weakened immunity. According to the American Cancer Society, people who experience chronic stress are more prone to the common cold and viral infections like the flu. "Try to avoid or alleviate severe stress, which we know can sometimes impact the immune system," advised Dr. Fauci last fall.
Drink Less Alcohol
Science has long known that alcohol is an underminer of immunity. "Alcohol compromises the body's immune system and increases the risk of adverse health outcomes," said the World Health Organization in April 2020. To avoid that, abstain from alcohol or drink moderately, meaning no more than two drinks a day for men and one for women.
Take a Vitamin D Supplement
Many health experts, including Fauci, say they take a daily vitamin D supplement to boost their immunity. "If you're deficient in vitamin D, that does have an impact on your susceptibility to infection," said Fauci in an interview last fall. "I would not mind recommending—and I do it myself—taking vitamin D supplements. There is good evidence that if you have a low vitamin D level, that you have more of a propensity to get infected when there are infections around." And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.