LifestyleHealthy LivingHow to Boost Your Immune System Before Flu Season

How to Boost Your Immune System Before Flu Season

While we may be smack in the middle of summertime, the way the last few years have flown by before you know it the days will begin getting shorter, the weather will cool, and winter will be upon us. And with those cooler temperatures and shorter days comes one of winter’s uninvited companions: flu season. If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s the importance of stopping the spread of viral diseases, including the flu. So, how can you make the most of summertime and boost your immune system before flu season? Here are six simple tips.

Why You Should Boost Your Immune System Before Flu Season

Before diving into how you can boost your immune system before flu season, it’s important to understand why you should.

Your immune system is your body’s first line of defense against disease-causing microorganisms. Put simply, your immune system protects you against germs, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and toxins that would otherwise make you sick. Your immune system relies on your bloodstream and lymphatic system to deliver nutrients throughout the body to get rid of toxins that can harm the body.

It’s probably safe to assume that you’ve heard the phrase ‘boosting your immune system,’ but what exactly does that mean, and why should you care?

The best way to boost your immune system is to live a healthy lifestyle. Studies have shown that almost 60% of your immune system is affected by nongenetic factors. In other words, there is more of your immune system affected by your lifestyle than there is by factors that are outside of your control.

Knowing this, it should come as no surprise that nearly every part of your body, including your immune system, functions better when you practice a healthy lifestyle. But, what exactly does it mean to live a healthy lifestyle? Additionally, what steps can you take to boost your immune system before flu season? Let’s take a look.

How To Boost Your Immune System Before Flu Season

How To Boost Your Immune System Before Flu SeasonWhile a healthy lifestyle sounds easy enough to fulfill, there’s much more that goes into it than you may think. And while there’s no surefire way to prevent the flu, there are steps you can take to boost your immune system before flu season and hopefully avoid getting sick. Below are six simple steps you can take that may help.

Get Vaccinated

Perhaps the most obvious, and most effective, way to boost your immune system before flu season is to get vaccinated. Getting vaccinated against the flu not only protects you from getting sick but also helps prevent the spread of the virus to other people. The importance of the flu vaccine has become even more obvious in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, which helped highlight the importance of developing immunity against viral infections like the flu.

Getting the flu vaccine is simple, easy, and in almost all instances free. If you’re unsure as to where you can get the flu vaccine, utilize resources provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to find the nearest clinic to you. Currently, the organization recommends that everyone ages six months or older receive an annual flu vaccine.

Get Plenty of Sleep

We’ve all heard that sleep is a vital part of a healthy lifestyle. But, did you know that not getting enough sleep can make you more vulnerable to infections like the flu?

When you don’t get enough sleep, your body produces more of the stress hormone cortisol. This excess hormone production can eventually lead to inflammation and can also weaken your immune system. Furthermore, sleep deprivation can also make you more susceptible to illnesses and viral infections by decreasing your ability to fight off infections.

While it can differ from person to person, most adults need somewhere between seven to nine hours of sleep each night. If you’re looking for an easy way to boost your immune system before flu season, consider going to bed and waking up at the same time each day to help regulate your body’s natural sleep rhythm.

Eat a Balanced, Healthy Diet

A healthy diet is important for a healthy lifestyle. This includes your immune health and your body’s ability to fight infections. While the phrase, “you are what you eat” may be a bit exaggerated, what you eat plays a major role in many of your body’s vital functions.

First, eating a diet high in essential vitamins and minerals ensures that your body is getting the proper nutrients it needs to function properly. Examples of nutrients that have been identified as critical for the growth and function of immune cells include vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, selenium, iron, and protein.

Secondly, a healthy diet, coupled with regular exercise, can help you maintain a healthy weight. While being overweight in and of itself does not put you at risk of getting the flu, studies have found that obesity puts you at greater risk for developing chronic health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers—all of which can weaken the immune system.

Lastly, a healthy, balanced diet can help reduce inflammation. Inflammation is a major contributor to many diseases and ailments, many of which can affect your body’s ability to fend off infections.

Get Regular Exercise

Get Enough ExerciseA strong, flue season-ready immune system starts with a healthy, active body. One of the best ways you can boost your immune system before this year’s flu season is to exercise regularly. Not only does regular exercise release endorphins that can help balance your mood and lower stress levels, but it also helps keep your body healthy and fit.

Regular exercise helps improve circulation, which can help aid your body’s lymphatic system, which is responsible for carrying white blood cells and other immune-boosting chemicals throughout your body.

While starting an exercise routine can be difficult, especially for those with chronic pain, it’s not impossible. Light exercises like walking, swimming, jogging, and yoga can all be great ways to ease into a more active lifestyle. As always, before starting an exercise routine or making any changes to your lifestyle, it’s important to talk with your doctor first.

Avoid Alcohol and Tobacco

Whether you’re looking to boost your immune system before flu season, or you’re just looking to make some healthier lifestyle changes, it’s a good idea to avoid tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption. Tobacco and alcohol can actually suppress your immune system and make you more susceptible to illnesses like the flu and even COVID-19.

Tobacco use is one of the most harmful things you can do to your body. Not only does using tobacco increases your risk of developing cancer and other diseases, but it can also severely weaken your immune system. If you smoke or use tobacco products, and you’re looking to boost your immune system before flu season, the time to quit is now. If you need support or further guidance to help you quit, try utilizing some of these free resources provided by the CDC.

While the occasional, moderate alcohol consumption may not be harmful to your health, we all know that excessive consumption can be harmful. While many people are quick to point to liver damage or heart disease as common side effects of excessive alcohol consumption, consuming too much alcohol can also weaken your immune system.

Alcohol consumption can oftentimes result in dehydration, which in turn can make you more susceptible to illnesses like the flu. So, how can you boost your immune system before flu season while still enjoying the occasional adult beverage? Simple, stick to moderate alcohol consumption, which the CDC defines as roughly one to two drinks per day.

Lower Your Stress Levels

While it may sound easier said than done, lowering your stress levels is one of the most effective ways you can boost your immune system before flu season. Numerous studies have found a link between higher stress levels and a weaker immune system. Stress can take a serious toll on your immune system, as well as the rest of your body. If you’re under a lot of stress, your body may not be as well prepared to fight off infections like the flu or the common cold.

So, what can you do? While lowering stress isn’t as simple as not letting things bother you, trying to find ways to relax and reduce stress before flu season is important. You may find that practicing relaxation techniques like yoga, mindfulness, or meditation may help keep your stress levels in check.

By following these tips, you can help boost your immune system before flu season and reduce your risk of getting sick. As always, for more information about how you can make changes to your lifestyle, or for more guidance on navigating flu season, talk with your doctor or primary care provider.

How Do You Boost Your Immune System Before Flu Season?

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