Factors that Affect Immunity

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Factors that Affect Immunity

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1. Sleep

Well-rested people tend to have stronger immune systems. Not getting enough sleep can lead to higher levels of stress hormones and more inflammation in the body, which increases the likelihood of getting sick. Get 7 to 9 hours of sleep nightly to keep your immunity up.

2. Exercise

Try to get regular, moderate exercise, like walking or biking for 20-30 minutes a day. Increased blood circulation, exposure to sunlight, and endorphins can help your immune system fight infection.

3. Diet

Too much sugar weakens immune system cells that defend your body. Avoid soda, diet soda, energy drinks, boba, sweetened coffee drinks, sugary cereals, candy, and pastries.

Eat more fruits and vegetables containing vitamins A, B, and C – all immune strengthening nutrients. Include apples, bananas, oranges, strawberries, bell peppers, broccoli, onions, mushrooms, spinach, sweet potatoes, and carrots.

Probiotics are necessary beneficial bacteria that live in your gut. They strengthen your immunity and are important in weight management, mental health, and digestive health. Consume yogurt, kimchi, miso, and low-sugar kombucha for natural sources or take a reliable supplement. Prebiotics are food sources for probiotics. Include garlic, onion, leeks, and asparagus to help your beneficial bacteria flourish.

4. Stress

Too much stress makes us more vulnerable to many types of illnesses. Chronic stress causes our bodies to release stress hormones that suppress the immune system. Reducing stress can help you sleep better, which also improves immune function. Meditation, light exercise, listening to relaxing music, praying, talking to a friend, and watching a funny movie or show that makes you laugh are some ways to reduce stress.

5. Social network

People who feel connected to other people tend to have stronger immunity than those who feel alone. It doesn’t matter if it’s with a few close family members or friends, or many people. In one study, lonely college students had weaker immune responses to the flu vaccine than those who felt connected to other students and family. Make an effort to reach out to a friend or family member and strengthen your relationships.

Christina Cha, Registered Dietician Nutritionist

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