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9 Natural Ways to Boost Your Immune System

1.    Make sleep a priority: Sleep is essential for the health of your body, brain, and provides your immune system an all-natural boost.  Lack of sleep or poor-quality sleep can cause an increase in inflammation cells, thus decreasing your immunity.  Adults are suggested to sleep seven to eight hours a day, while children and teens require more sleep. In addition, your body will require more sleep when sick to fight the illness.   

2.    Eat a colorful, well-balanced diet with more whole plant foods: Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is key to building a healthy immune system.  The daily consumption of fruits and vegetables offer a variety of nutrients to help you feel better, heal faster, and maintain overall good health. Fruits and vegetables offer nutrients rich in antioxidants to combat free radicals (chemical byproducts known to suppress the immune system and cause inflammation in your body when high levels build up) and offer an advantage against harmful pathogens.   

3.    Add more healthy fats to your diet: Healthy fats from olive oil, chia seeds, oily fish, flaxseed, and krill oil can help fight inflammation and increase immunity. Chronic inflammation can suppress your immune system, these anti-inflammatory fats naturally help your body fight disease-causing bacteria and viruses to combat illnesses. For an additional immune boost, try adding garlic or ginger to your meals on a regular basis.   

4.    Eat more fermented foods or take a probiotic supplement: Adding fermented foods to your diet such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, and natto provide a beneficial bacteria called probiotics.  Probiotics are good for your gut health and digestive system (see food label for "live active cultures").  They support your immune system by identifying and targeting harmful pathogens and stopping them from entering your body via the digestive tract.   

5.    Reduce sugars in your diet: Reduce the consumption of processed foods, sugars and beverages that offer no nutrients. These added sugars and refined carbs contribute to extra weight, decrease immunity, and ultimately increase your risk of getting sick. Reducing your sugar consumption will decrease inflammation and encourage weight loss, thus diminishing your risk of chronic health issues.   

6.    Make regular exercise a part of your routine: Regular exercise keeps your weight in control and promotes good blood circulation. This is essential to deterring chronic illnesses such as heart disease and high blood pressure. Regular physical activity contributes to your overall health and supports your immune system’s functions to prevent illnesses.   

7.    Take time to reduce stress: Daily stressors can overload your immune system and increase your vulnerability to illness. To diminish stress, incorporate yoga, meditation, or deep breathing into your daily schedule.  Make time for self-care and take the time to “reset” depending upon your own personal needs.    

8.    Practice good hygiene: Keeping your hands clean is such a simple concept, but one of the best ways to reduce illnesses.  Wash your hands for 20 seconds using warm water and soap before preparing food or eating, as well as after coughing, sneezing, using the bathroom, or touching public surfaces.    

9.    Drink 8 glasses of water daily: Regular water intake enables your body’s cells to function properly, allows your body to process food and eliminate waste.  In addition, water is used by organs and cells to maintain bodily functions, helps regulate temperature, and is essential for your body to function well. Your immune system is your first line of defense when preventing the common cold, flu, or other ailments. These natural ways to boost your immune system will help you heal, stay well, and protect your body against illness.

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