7 Ways To Boost A Struggling Immune System
Your immune system health can ebb and flow throughout your life, even if you don't have any chronic health conditions. Things like stress, mental illness, and lack of sleep can all build up and cause immune system struggles. The good news is that you can boost your immune system naturally by making small, easy changes in your daily life.
What you do every day can majorly impact your immune function. "Lifestyle habits play a large role in how our immune systems function," natural health doctor Dr. Fred Pescatore, author of The Allergy and Asthma Cure, tells Bustle. "Vegetables and leafy greens high in antioxidants can help support your immune system. Sleep is also an important habit to improve if you have immune health issues. Our bodies rely on the sleep cycle to reduce inflammation in the body, which helps the immune system run efficiently." So if you notice you may be having immune difficulties, some lifestyle tweaks can help.
Like any medical changes, it's important to talk to your doctor before deciding on any changes to your lifestyle. Blood work and consultations with professionals can help you discover whether your immune system issues may be something more serious. So while many of these changes are easy to integrate into your daily life, it's still important to consider your immune system struggles with your overall healthcare.
Here are seven ways to boost a struggling immune system.
1. Support A Healthy Gut
What you eat is likely going to affect your immune system. So making sure you eat what you need to benefit your gut health is one good way to boost your immune system if it's struggling.
"The immune system is highly impacted by what you consume," naturopathic physician and certified nutrition specialist Dr. Bethany Tennant tells Bustle. "You can improve the immune system by supporting a healthy gut including probiotics, prebiotics and fiber." It's best, however, not to add any medicines or supplements to your diet without consulting your doctor, so make sure your doctor is on board with these changes.
2. Get More Sleep
Another way to boost a struggling immune system is simply to get more sleep. And if you have trouble getting more sleep, you can at least aim to get higher-quality rest in the meantime.
"Sleep is medicine," Dr. Tennant says. "Quality sleep is crucial for supporting the immune system." Sleep hygiene is one of the best ways to attain this. Try not watching TV or eating in bed, and keeping your bedroom cooler and screen-free at night.
3. Do Resistance And Strength Training
It can be annoying to have people constantly telling you to exercise away all of your health problems. To help your immune system, however, certain forms of movement can help.
"Resistance and strength training are particularly important as contracting muscles moves [the lymphatic system] (a key player in immune support)," Dr. Tennant says. "And after training, research shows a reduction [in inflammatory cytokines]." So finding light exercises that target these two areas may help.
4. Try To Get More Zinc
Zinc, which can be found in meat and shellfish, seeds and dairy, can be great for the immune system.
"Zinc is really important for normal development and function of the cells that contribute to our immune system," registered dietician Shana Minei Spence, MS, RDN, CDN, tells Bustle. You don't need to go and buy zinc supplements, but eating foods with a bit more naturally-occurring zinc may help.
5. Incorporate More Magnesium Into Your Diet
"Magnesium contributes to many reactions in the body, including keeping the immune system strong and supporting cardiac and brain function," Spence says. Talk to your doctor if you think you may need a bit more magnesium for your health.
6. Make Sure You Have Enough Vitamin D
A vitamin D deficiency could be the culprit behind a struggling immune system. If you go to the doctor and find that you have low levels of vitamin D through a blood test, then that's something important to work on.
"One simple change [you can make for your immune system] is to boost one's vitamin D synthesis and intake," Chirag Shah, MD, former Medical Director of Accesa Health, tells Bustle. "Vitamin D deficiencies are thought to be associated with an increased susceptibility to infection." Everything from increasing sunlight exposure, to eating nutrient-rich foods, to taking supplements, can help you get your vitamin D levels back on track if you're deficient.
7. Drink More Water
One of the simplest things you can do to help boost a struggling immune system is to make sure you're drinking enough water.
"Besides for the obvious dangers of not drinking enough water, dehydration can cause constipation, headaches, and compromised immunity," health and wellness expert Samantha Morris tells Bustle. "Similarly, proper hydration facilitates a healthy immune system by helping the body flush out toxins and foreign infections." So while you talk to your doctor and try to find other ways to help boost your immunity, you can also make sure to keep drinking as much water as possible.
When your immune system struggles, you run the risk of developing more serious health issues; so it's always important to talk to your doctor if you're feeling symptoms of immunodeficiency. Some small changes to your daily life can help you, however, if your immune system is struggling on a smaller scale, when you need just a little added boost.