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4 Ways To Improve Your Immunity
The immune system is the human body’s first line of defense against disease. Is there anything we can do to make it stronger? It turns out that your immune system is highly influenced by the foods you eat, and the type of lifestyle you lead. Keep reading our list of the four key behaviors that can strengthen your immunity and help you ward off illness!
1. Whey Protein
This stuff is not just for elite athletes and bodybuilders! Made from a liquid byproduct produced during the making of cheese, whey protein can help strengthen your immune system.
It is usually sold in powdered form and is traditionally consumed after a workout because it helps the muscle fibers recover and grow faster after exercise. A study at the University of Alberta in Canada found that male college students who engaged in aerobic exercise were able to maintain normal levels of gluthione after drinking whey protein. Gluthione is an antioxidant that helps regulate the immune system, among other things. Strenuous cardiovascular exercise can deplete your body’s levels of this compound, but researchers found that participants who drank whey protein were able to keep their levels from going down significantly.
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is probably the first nutrient that comes to mind for most people when they think about how to strengthen their immune system — and with good reason! This powerful vitamin goes a long way toward helping your immune system do its job more effectively. Vitamin C is available as a standalone supplement, and it is easy to get large amounts of it through your diet. The key is to pick the right foods that will give you the most bang for the buck.
Perhaps the most obvious source of vitamin C is oranges, since almost every carton and bottle of OJ lists it prominently on the label. But other citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C as well, including lemons, limes, grapefruits, pomelos, and all the various cousins of oranges like clementines. Other fruits like strawberries, peaches, and more are good choices. Fruits in general are plentiful in the vitamin!
But vegetables are also necessary for your health, and offer high amounts of vitamin C as well. Cruciferous (leafy green) vegetables like kale, spinach, collards, and mustard greens are also an excellent choice.
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Make sure you are getting enough sleep. It has been conclusively proven that not getting enough sleep can weaken your immunity, making you more susceptible to disease, and increasing the time it takes you to recover from health problems like the common cold.
In today’s world of busy schedules, commutes and too much caffeine, it can be easy to fall into the habit of getting insufficient sleep. Everyone’s body is different, but it is generally a good idea to shoot for eight hours per night. Avoid using electronic devices one hour before bed, and be mindful of how much caffeine you consume, as both of these can make the brain take longer to fall asleep.
4. Reducing Stress
Perhaps the single biggest thing you can do to improve your immunity in terms of your behavior is to reduce the amount of stress in your life. Stress, whether it is caused by problems in our relationships, work, or anything else, all has the same effect: a reduced ability to fight disease.
When your body is stressed, it releases a hormone called cortisol, sometimes known as the “stress hormone.” Cortisol serves some important functions, but it also has side effects. One of these is that it temporarily suppresses the immune system, making it less effective. Chronic stress can reduce your overall immunity. If you have a lot of stress in your life, you will probably notice that you tend to get sick more often.
Do whatever you can to lower the amount of stress in your life. Start doing yoga. Exercise. Identify the people, problems, and situations that cause you stress, and take steps to fix or eliminate them from your life.
Life is already too short, and stress will only make it shorter and less pleasant.
Take these four simple steps — a combination of dietary and lifestyle changes — and you could see a significant improvement in your health, thanks to a robust immune system.