Tips for Improving Your Immune System

March 30, 2020
| by:
Communications and Public Affairs

Enhancing your body’s natural ability to fight off infection can help you to protect yourself against coronavirus during the outbreak. Lifestyle choices, such as a nutrient-rich diet and regular stress reduction and exercise, can help improve your immunity and keep you healthy.

“Taking care of your overall health and well-being can help improve your immune system,” said Kara Boley, Wellness Coordinator for the City of Chandler. “Get enough sleep, manage stress in healthy ways, make healthy food choices and move your body — these are all great ways to stay healthy, mentally and physically.”

Incorporate Nutrients

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, you can incorporate immune-boosting nutrients from the following list into your diet by seeking out the foods in which they’re found:

  • Beta Carotene is found in sweet potatoes, spinach, carrots, mango, broccoli and tomatoes
  • Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, berries, melons, tomatoes, bell peppers and broccoli
  • Vitamin D is found in fatty fish, eggs, milk and 100% juices that are fortified with vitamin D
  • Zinc is found in animal sources such as beef and seafood where it is best absorbed but is also found in vegetarian sources such as wheat germ, beans, nuts and tofu
  • Probiotics (healthy bacteria that promote health) are found in cultured dairy products such as yogurt and in fermented foods such as kimchi
  • Protein (animal and/or plant-based) is found in milk, yogurt, eggs, beef, chicken, seafood, nuts, seeds, beans and lentils

Lifestyle Tips for Better Immunity

1. Give time to stress management
A man holding a cup of tea

Have you ever gotten sick after a stressful time in your life? Stress is known to weaken the immune system if improperly managed. Getting plenty of sleep, exercising and eating a healthy, balanced diet are all known ways to cope with stress. However, in times of prolonged stress and disrupted routine, you may consider finding additional stress-relieving techniques that work for you. 

Whether it's mediation, yoga, music, writing, cooking, hobbies or simply taking a break from news and social media, having a way to de-stress is important for both your mental and physical health. 

2. Focus on fruits and vegetables

Try to incorporate five to seven servings of fruits and vegetables every day to ensure your body has enough vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Be sure to include a variety of colors when choosing produce. We get different vitamins and minerals from red, blue, green, white and purple plants, etc. The main source of our vitamins and minerals should be from the foods we choose, not supplements. Don’t get caught up thinking you need to take megadoses of vitamin supplements to stay healthy. 

3. Get enough sleep

We all know that being tired can cause stress, but lack of sleep can also weaken the immune system and inhibit the body’s ability to fight off infection. Seven to nine hours of sleep is recommended each day for adults, and children need eight to 14 hours, depending on their age. Luckily, with much of the country working from home and social distancing, you may finally be able to find some extra time to rest. 

4. Incorporate exercise

Getting quality exercise doesn’t have to mean going to the gym. Simply taking a walk outside or doing some stretches in your living room can give you important health benefits.

Exercise works wonders on the mind and body, including improving our immune function. Physical activity helps burn calories, reduce stress and lowers your risk of chronic disease. 

5. Avoid alcohol

Heavy drinking can make you more susceptible to getting sick, as alcohol is known to weaken the body’s cells that help fight off infection. Try healthier options to pass the time at home, such as hobbies or exercise. 

6. Practice good hygiene

You’ve seen the message everywhere: wash your hands. To prevent the spread of germs, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, with warm water if possible. Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol in between washes. Keep your hands away from your face; germs can easily enter through our eyes, nose and mouth. Frequently disinfect heavily used surfaces, including phones, tables, counters and chairs. And of course, stay home if you are sick. 

Mental Health During COVID-19

With the outbreak of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), this time may be stressful for many people. Because prolonged and unmanaged stress can weaken the immune system, it is important that, if you or someone in your family is experiencing additional stress and or anxiety due to the events of COVID-19, you consult a professional or work to manage your mental health at home.