Health and WellnessThe immune system is the body’s defense against infection and disease.  It’s made up of special cells, tissues, and organs that work together to protect the body and keep it healthy.  When the immune system isn’t working as it should, the body is left vulnerable.  As we age, our immune system response becomes reduced, leading to increased infections and less ability to fight them.  It is important to do what we can to strengthen our immune system so that it can do its job effectively.  Here are ways to boost your immune system for better health.

Develop Smart Eating Habits

Eat more fruits and vegetables to give the body needed nutrients.  Blueberries, blackberries, and broccoli contain antioxidants that can improve immune health.  Foods rich in vitamin C, including citrus and bell peppers, and those high in vitamin A, such as sweet potatoes and kale, are especially helpful to the immune system.  Yogurt contains probiotics that can keep the gut and intestinal tract healthy.  Salmon and herring are rich in omega-3 fatty acids which reduce inflammation in the body.

Get Enough Sleep

The body responds better to fighting infection when it is well rested.  According to the CDC, adults generally need 7-9 hours of sleep each night, teenagers need 8-10 hours of sleep, and school age children require 9-12 hours of shut eye.  To improve sleep habits, keep a consistent schedule for going to bed and getting up.  Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bedtime.  Exercising during the day can help us sleep better.  Turning off electronic devices (computer, phone, TV) at bedtime is also a good practice.

Exercise Regularly

Exercise improves circulation, lowers blood pressure, helps control weight, and helps alleviate stress.  All these factors can help boost the immune system.  Exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous.  Even a 30-minute daily walk can be helpful.  In addition, exercise during the day often leads to better sleep at night.

Reduce Stress

Many people find themselves overcommitted and stressed.  Slow down, relax, and connect with family or friends.  Listen to music.  Meditation or yoga is helpful for some people.  Take a walk or do some stretching exercises.  Reduce your caffeine intake.  Stop smoking.