A strong immune system is essential for overall health and well-being. Here are a few recommendations, provided by our health professionals, to help you maintain a strong immune system :
1. Hydrate for Optimal Immune Function
Proper hydration is important for overall health, including maintaining a strong immune system. Water is the hydration of choice, but other fluids can also contribute to your daily water intake. Listen to your body and drink fluids according to your thirst. Aim for 2 liters of water daily, but keep in mind that your water needs may vary depending on factors such as your level of physical activity and the climate you live in.
2. Fuel Your Body with Nutritious Foods
Eating a balanced and nutritious diet is crucial for a strong immune system. Include fruits and vegetables in every meal, good sources of fat like fatty fish, olive oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds, and protein-rich foods. Make sure to include animal and/or plant-based protein sources at each meal. Limit your intake of ultra-processed foods like deli meats, canned soup, carbonated drinks, store-bought cookies and cakes, and chips.
3. Essential Nutrients to Strengthen Your Immune System
Certain nutrients are crucial for supporting a strong immune response:
- Vitamin D: cow's milk, enriched soy drinks, salmon, eggs, and a daily 1000 IU supplement of vitamin D3.
- Vitamin C: citrus fruits, strawberry, bell pepper, broccoli, cabbage, grapefruit, kiwi, guava, and berries.
- Vitamin A: sweet potato, carrot, kale, spinach, romaine lettuce, eggs, cow's milk, cheddar cheese, and enriched soy drinks.
- Zinc: fish (e.g. salmon), seafood, meat and poultry, legumes, and nuts and seeds.
- Magnesium: whole grain cereal products, legumes, nuts and seeds, and salmon.
If you are unable to obtain adequate amounts of these nutrients through your diet, consider meeting with a registered dietitian or taking supplements. It's important to consult with your doctor before taking any supplements, particularly if you have other medical conditions, to ensure their safety and effectiveness for your specific health needs.
4. Safe Food Preparation and Consumption
Cooking safely is important for protecting your immune system. Avoid cooking for your family if you experience symptoms, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds before cooking and eating, and wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before consumption. To avoid food poisoning, it's important to be cautious not to leave certain foods, such as meat, at room temperature for an extended period of time. Any of those foods that have been sitting out for more than two hours should be discarded to reduce the risk of bacterial growth and foodborne illness.
5. Avoid Alcohol for a Strong Immune System
Reducing alcohol consumption can be easier said than done, so we have some helpful dietitian tips to get you started. Alcohol has been shown to significantly decrease the immune system's ability to function. By reducing your alcohol consumption, you can help reduce your chances of getting sick.
6. Restful Sleep to Support Immune Health
Getting enough sleep is important for maintaining a healthy immune system. Adults should aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night, while children and teenagers require more. If you have trouble falling or staying asleep, try to establish a bedtime routine, avoid caffeine and electronics before bed, and keep your bedroom cool, quiet, and dark. If you continue to have trouble sleeping, speak to your healthcare provider to rule out any underlying medical conditions that could be causing your sleep issues. Getting enough quality sleep can help you feel more energized, reduce stress, and boost your overall health.
7. Stay Active to Boost Your Immune System
Regular exercise and physical activity can boost your immune system and promote overall health. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity each week. This can include brisk walking, cycling, swimming, or other activities you enjoy. If you're new to exercise, start with shorter sessions and gradually build up to longer ones. Remember to consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new exercise program, especially if you have any medical conditions or concerns. Staying active can help you feel more energized, improve your mood, and support your overall well-being.
Maintaining a strong immune system is key to staying healthy and feeling your best. Remember that these tips are meant to be general recommendations, and everyone's needs may vary based on their individual health status and lifestyle. If you need more personalized advice or have specific questions about your diet, making an appointment with a registered dietitian or nutritionist can be a helpful step towards achieving your health goals.