There’s no doubt about it: your immune system has a really important job! This extensive network is what keeps track of every outside invader and keeps you strong throughout your lifetime. Although it is designed to protect your body from pathogens (such as bacteria and other substances), there are things you can do to help your immune system and keep it strong. A lot of these things are also the cornerstones of keeping good health overall! If you want to improve your well-being this year, get to know your immune system a little better and try these six simple ways to strengthen it.
What is the immune system?
Before strengthening your immune system, it is important to know how the immune system works.
The immune system has four primary jobs:
- Barriers (like your skin) stop pathogens before they enter your body
- If they do pass through, the immune system recognizes them
- Your body eliminates foreign pathogens
- Your body recognizes new foreign pathogens due to immune system “memories”
And the immune system completes these jobs with the innate and adaptive immune systems.
- The innate immune system is made up of physical barriers, such as skin and mucous membranes. It acts quickly to stop pathogens from spreading.
- The adaptive immune system is made up of cells that specialize in removing pathogens. This is the second line of defense when the innate immune system does not stop pathogens and other foreign bodies.
When you think about it, it’s pretty amazing what the immune system can do on its own when you might not even realize it.
How to strengthen and maintain immune health
To function optimally, the immune system requires balance. There is not one end-all, be-all way to prop up how your body defends itself. Instead, supporting your immune system naturally starts with several lifestyle choices to encourage harmony in your body. It is important to note that you do not have to be perfect, but that you should do your best. After all, you only have one body, so here’s how you can support it through the immune system.
Don’t roll your eyes… we know that everyone experiences stress sometimes. But when stress is chronic, it can negatively impact the immune system. Emotional stress is linked to many health issues, but it’s hard to define what stress actually is because everyone experiences it differently. Your stress meter might be different from your friend’s stress meter, which makes stress a subjective emotion. Chronic stress can impact your performance at work, your relationships, and overall quality of life. If you find yourself feeling irritable frequently, notice certain changes in your personality, or have low energy, you should discuss it with your personal healthcare practitioner to see if these are signs of stress overload.
It is possible to reduce stress with simple activities. Here are some ideas:
- Meditate (even five minutes helps)
- Exercise (try a brisk 10-minute walk if you’re short on time)
- Spend time outdoors
- Journal (blow off steam!)
- Breathe deeply
Participating in regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for your entire body and that includes your immune system. Exercise improves cardiovascular health and helps manage blood pressure, and it can also promote healthy circulation. This is important because it helps many vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other substances move freely through your body to do their jobs.
Take sleep seriously
When our lives get jam-packed with work, travel, and other activities, one of the first things most of us neglect is the amount of time we spend sleeping. Unfortunately, this does have a detrimental impact on your immune system. According to the Mayo Clinic, people who do not get adequate or quality sleep are more likely to catch the common cold (and take more time to recover). There is science behind sleep and the immune system. The National Sleep Foundation explains that cytokines, the messengers of the immune system, are released when you are sleeping. If you don’t get enough sleep, production of cytokines may decline – and that is just one important reason to take sleep seriously! Many other essential, restorative processes happen when you are sleeping, so don’t skimp out. And if you can’t get enough at night, take a quick nap for 10-20 minutes in the middle of the day for a boost.
If you need extra help getting into the sleep zone, Teami Restore is specifically designed to restore balance and help you relax and unwind so you can feel calm at the end of the day (plus, it tastes delicious). Or you can sip on Teami Relax, which contains calming herbs such as lavender and valerian root, an herb traditionally used to support sleep.
Eat more super foods
One of the essential foundations of health and wellness is a diet full of nutritious super foods! Super foods help your immune system stay strong by ensuring your body receives the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants it needs to thrive. These foods help transport nutrients to other systems, help manage cell health, are involved in DNA repair, and many other functions in the body. When your diet lacks super foods and you instead consume highly processed foods that are high in sugar and trans fats, these foods accelerate aging on the inside and outside – basically, they are not doing your immune health any favors!
Here are some of the best super foods you can eat:
- Citrus fruits (e.g., lemons, limes, oranges, tangerines, grapefruit) are loaded with Vitamin C
- Broccoli contains high amounts of vitamins A, C, and E, plus it contains antioxidants and fiber
- Berries (e.g., strawberries, raspberries, blueberries) are high in vitamins C and K, and contain manganese and other minerals
- Matcha Green Tea is high in antioxidants, especially epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG)
- Leafy greens (e.g., spinach, kale, mustard greens) are high in vitamins C and A (and more!) and also contain fiber
- Garlic is not just a flavorful spice – it contains an active beneficial compound called allicin
- Herbs that contain adaptogens help the body adapt to and better manage stress.* One adaptogen that can be found in Teami Skinny is the traditional herb jiaogulan.
If you need help getting more superfoods into your diet, make a commitment to try one new superfood per week until you figure out what you like! Another simple way to get more superfoods into your diet is to incorporate Teami Greens Superfood Powder into your favorite smoothie. It is packed with 16 green superfoods to boost your nutrition!
Drink more water
Quench, a filtered water company, conducted a survey in 2018 that reported 80% of Arabic don’t drink enough water during their workdays. Water is critical for all systems in your body. It’s so important that most humans can only survive for about four days without water! Water is your body’s natural filtration system, flushing out what you do not need, including waste. Water also moves oxygen around your body. Everything water does also helps support immune health, so it is essential to get enough.
A lot of people do not like drinking water because they think it doesn’t taste good. However, there are a lot of ways you can get and stay hydrated even if you don’t like plain water:
- Try Super Greens Detox Water
- Set a daily hydration goal
- Drink iced Teami!
- Use an app to track how many cups of water you drink
- Add ice to drinks
- Eat water-rich foods (like watermelon and cucumber)
If you are behind on water intake, get creative this year to get and stay hydrated!
Keep it clean
It’s undeniable: foreign substances are everywhere! All surfaces contain an unknown number of germs, whether it is your phone or the apple you brought home from the store. Give your innate immune system a head start by wiping down surfaces and cleaning fruits and vegetables before eating them. Meat, poultry, and fish always need to be rinsed under cold, running water before you cook them. You should also wipe down and wash kitchen utensils before using them on another food. For example, don’t chop up your cilantro using the same knife after slicing up your salmon – wash it first.
Other surfaces that should be cleaned and disinfected include:
- Door handles
- Kitchen counters and tables
- Gym bag and purse handles and bottoms
- Steer wheel
- Water bottles
- Mobile phone (especially this if you’re on it a lot)
Taking time to clean these surfaces reduces your exposure to germs and helps stop them from spreading to others.
Your immune system is a remarkable system of defense in your body. When you take the time to make simple adjustments in your daily life, these can all add up to feeling lighter and more vibrant for years to come!