Your immune system is your body’s central command system for keeping you healthy, strong and free of illness. The immune system is a complex network of organs, tissues, proteins and specialized cells. The tonsils, lymph nodes, thymus gland, spleen and bone marrow are all components of the immune system.
Most days, your immune system is successful at fighting off intruders, preventing disease and keeping you healthy; however, sometimes the stresses of life and other factors can leave you open to attack from infections and illness. Keeping your immune system strong, healthy and functioning optimally involves seeking out certain things while avoiding others.
1. Eat Right
Eating right is one of your first lines of defense in protecting, optimizing and fine-tuning your immune system. Favor a diet with foods that are rich in antioxidants — one of the best things for your immune system. Some examples of such foods would be:
• Blueberries (and other brightly-colored fruits and veggies — berries, carrots, apples, grapes)
• Vitamin C (citrus fruits, bell peppers)
• Omega 3s (fish oil, flaxseed oil)
• Dark leafy greens (spinach, kale)
• Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts)
• Probiotics (Greek yogurt)
• Lean meats (organic beef, chicken, turkey)
2. Get regular exercise
Another immune system booster is being physically fit, so make sure you don’t slack off on your workouts. Use cardiovascular training to get your heart rate up regularly as well as strength training with free weights to build muscle and strengthen your core. Being physically fit promotes immune system health, but you should also make sure to allow your body adequate rest and recovery time between workouts.
3. Stay hydrated
Your immune system thrives when it has enough fluids, so make sure you always have access to plenty of fresh, clean water. Specifics vary for each individual, but the Mayo Clinic advises that men drink around 13 cups per day, and women should have about nine.
4. Get enough sleep
Being well-rested is extremely beneficial to the immune system. Try and get around seven uninterrupted hours of sleep each night. Sleep is one of the main components of feeling fresh, focused, energized and in a good mood each day. It’s also the time when your body does it’s deepest repair and restoration, so make good sleep a priority.
5. Practice stress management
Stress is the number one cause of breakdowns in your immune system’s functioning, so do all you can to manage stress levels throughout your day. Schedule in breaks from work and find time for activities that relax you, such as reading, getting out in nature, or meditating. Make time for positive social connections and laughter, too — good relationships and a good sense of humor are tremendously beneficial to your immune system.
6. Sex. Yes, that’s right
Studies have shown that people who have regular sex (at least once or twice per week) tend to have higher levels of antibodies in their systems than those who don’t. Sex also eases stress and promotes better sleep patterns — two more immune system boosters. Sex seems to have an anti-aging effect, helping you feel more youthful and energized. You might consider printing out this list, highlighting this section and leaving it somewhere your partner will see it
7. Tap your thymus gland (Energy Medicine)
Perhaps Tarzan was onto something when he would thump his chest before facing his enemies? It turns out tapping or gently thumping the thymus gland can help to stimulate the immune response. The thymus gland is located in the middle of the upper chest, and tapping it from time to time — especially if you’re starting to feel under the weather — can help to stimulate T-cell production, your body’s warriors against disease.
First Line of Defense
Your immune system is your body’s first line of defense against bacteria, illness and other tiny intruders, so you’ll want to do all you can to make sure it’s functioning optimally. Use these immune system tips on a regular basis, and you’ll help to keep it primed and ready to handle whatever comes your way.
The editor of Resounding Earth, and pursuer of relatively interesting information, Simon has a Masters Degree in Creative Writing and Journalism from the University of Wales, and is a photo-journalist and writer whose written and photographic work has been represented by the AFP news agency and appeared in newspapers across Europe and Asia.