Looking to add some extra health to your life? Want to boost your immunity to help your body fight off illnesses, recover faster when you get sick, and just be an overall healthier, well-oiled machine?
Look no further! We’ve got 7 simple immune system hacks to improve your body’s natural defenses and supercharge your health.
1. Sleep More
This might be the most overlooked immune system hack. But if you’re looking for ways to boost your immune system, then getting more sleep belongs at the top of the list.
The average adult should aim for at least 7 hours of sleep every night, but according to the CDC, roughly ⅓ of adults don’t get enough sleep.
Even the strongest coffee in the world can’t make up for a lack of sleep. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body’s cytokine production goes down. They’re proteins that influence how well your body responds to infection and inflammation.
It’s no surprise that insufficient sleep has been linked to getting sick easier. A study of 164 adults published in SLEEP Journal found that those who got less than 6 hours of sleep had a higher chance of catching a cold than those who got 6 hours+ of sleep every night.
If you struggle with getting enough sleep, try instituting a nighttime routine that signals to your body it’s time for bed. This could be reading a book, meditating, taking a relaxing bath, or fixing some hot tea. You just want to get your body in a relaxed state.
It also might help if you make a commitment to limit screen time before bed. The blue light emitted from your phone, tv, laptop, etc can mess with your circadian rhythm and prevent you from going to sleep when you want to.
2. Eat More Plant-Based Foods
Research shows that a plant-based diet is the one of healthiest and most beneficial diets out there. That doesn’t mean you have to swear off meat completely, but instead, try making more of a conscious effort to eat more plant-based foods. Fruits, vegetables, lentils, nuts, and seeds are immune-boosting foods high in the vitamins, nutrients, and all the health goodness your body needs.
Benefits of plant-based foods? They reduce inflammation, which has been linked to health conditions like obesity, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and even cancer.
Another good thing about plant-based foods is the fiber they contain. Fiber keeps you feeling fuller for longer (which is great if you’re trying to lose weight). It also promotes a healthy gut and provides immune support by keeping harmful bacteria, parasites, and viruses out of your GI tract.
The ultimate immune system hack comes from superfoods, like our PrOATagonist Oatmeal. It comes packed with 30g of plant-based protein, vitamin D3, and omega-3 fatty acids to give you the energy and brain power you need to make the most out of your days!
3. Fuel Up on Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are healthy fats with many essential roles in the body. As far as immune system hacks go, omega-3s possess anti-inflammatory properties, which increase your body’s defense against infection and disease.
But there’s a lot more to omega-3s than just immune system support. They also:
- Reduce your risk of heart disease
- Improve cognitive function and help guard against dementia
- Aid in digestion and provide relief from gut disorders like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease
- Are good for your joints, skin, and hair
Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fish (such as salmon, tuna, herring, and mackerel), shellfish, oysters, mussels, clams, chia seeds, and flaxseed.
4. Cut Down on Added Sugars
That’s A LOT of sugar! With that in mind, the rise in obesity should come as no surprise. And the thing is, being overweight increases the chances you’ll get sick.
A study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that people with obesity that received the flu vaccine were 200% more likely to still come down with the flu than those without obesity who got the vaccine.
Limiting your sugar intake reduces inflammation, helps you lose weight, and decreases your risk of developing conditions like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. And since conditions like those weaken your immune system, cutting back on added sugars is the ultimate immunity booster.
5. Get Up and Get Moving
Fitness is freedom and regular exercise is good for the mind, body, and soul. Over time, consistent exercise has been shown to lower blood pressure and reduce cholesterol, both of which decrease your risk of heart disease. Physical activity is also good for brain health, and on the mental side of things, it can help reduce depression and calm anxiety.
You know that exercise is good for helping you losing weight, getting in shape, and building muscle, but let’s dive into the science on the immunity side of things.
Regular exercise is also the ultimate immune system hack. When you workout, it elevates the circulation of your body’s immune cells. Increased circulation means your body is more equipped to fight off viruses and protect you from harmful outside pathogens.
Concerned that you’re too out of shape to exercise? For one, there’s no such thing! And two, interestingly enough, the type of exercise that’s been linked time and time again to living a healthier, happier, and longer life is simply walking. And that’s something we can all do!
It doesn’t have to be this big, long marathon walk either. Start with a brisk 15 minute walk 3-4 times a week. The most important thing when it comes to physical activity is taking the first step and actually getting started. If you wait for motivation to strike, you could be waiting a while. The perfect time to start is today!
6. Hydrate Well
Hydration flushes all the harmful toxins out and keeps your body running smoothly. On the other side of the hydration fence (where you definitely don’t want to be) is dehydration.
If you’ve ever been dehydrated before, then you know it can negatively impact your physical performance. You feel crummy, lose focus, and being dehydrated puts you in a worse mood. Behind the scenes, dehydration can lead to poor digestion and negatively impact your heart and kidney health, which may slow your body’s response to harmful pathogens.
Drink enough water so that your pee is virtually the color of lemonade (this lets you know you’re properly hydrated). And make sure to throw in some electrolytes too for mineral balance.
7. Make De-Stressing a Priority
Life gets stressful when you’re juggling so many different things. You have to balance work, family, kids, and on top of that, having a social life if you don’t want to go completely insane.
In the short term, stress is okay. Your body releases a hormone called cortisol to help you deal with stressful events. Chronic stress though, can wreak havoc on your immune system. It depletes your white blood cell count, which leaves you open to infection. Your body will ultimately have a harder time protecting you against foreign invaders.
How can you relieve stress? Here are some immune system hacks for decompressing:
- Meditation — This can help you get in the zone, center yourself, and embrace your feelings. When stressful situations do arise, meditation helps you face them and bounce back quicker.
- Find a creative outlet — This could be art, writing, or building something like a DIY project around the house. Expressing yourself creatively takes your mind off things and relieves stress.
- Journaling — Just getting your feelings out on paper can do wonders for stress. A couple of journaling techniques people swear by are writing out positive affirmations and jotting down three things you are thankful for each day. Positive affirmations instill a sense of confidence in you and writing out what you’re thankful for helps put things in perspective.
- Social interaction — Sometimes, stressful situations can make you want to insulate yourself and cut off the outside world. But instead of isolating yourself, try connecting with friends, grabbing lunch with a coworker, or join a club that has your interests. A social network to lean on can make getting through stressful times a lot easier.
Immune-Boosting Hacks Wrap Up
Your immune system is at the core of your health. It not only helps you fight off diseases, but it can impact how you feel both physically and mentally on a daily basis.
We’ve gone over some immune system hacks you can easily implement into your daily life:
- Get more shut-eye
- Fuel up on plant-based foods and omega-3 fatty acids
- Cut back on added sugars
- Exercise regularly (walking improves your lifespan!)
- Stay hydrated
- Make managing stress a priority
Connect with us on social media and let us know your favorite immune system hack!
About the Author:
Chad Richardson is a freelance writer from Cincinnati, OH. When he’s not behind his computer cooking up content, you’ll find Chad at the gym making extremely ugly workout faces or watching sports with friends. He likes to pretend his hometown teams will play better if he yells at the TV.