As cold and flu season approaches, you are more than likely seeing dozens of advertisements for miracle products that will strengthen your immune system against any and all pathogens.
In reality, your immune system is best served by performing a number of simple tasks on a daily basis. There is no magical bullet that will make you immune to every germ, virus, or bacterial infection. Rather, ensuring that you give it no reason to falter in the first place is your best line of defense. Listed below are some simple ways to keep your immune system strong around the clock.
1 Get Proper Sleep
This one is both simple and enjoyable. Get at least six hours of sleep a night every night. Poor sleep has long been definitively linked to an increased likelihood of illness. Not only do you function poorly all around, but you are also practically inviting germs and microbes into your body. A recent study found that individuals who slept less than seven hours a night were three times more likely to contract a cold. “Feeling rested” does nothing. You need actual, real sleep for your immune system to operate efficiently.
2 Wash Your Hands
This suggestion will likely surprise no one, but it is actually amazing how few people actually practice it. Washing your hands is possibly the simplest thing you can do to avoid getting sick. Approximately four fifths of all infectious diseases are transmitted by touch, yet only twenty percent of people actually wash their hands consistently.
Many of those that wash their hands do not do it properly. You should sing “happy birthday” twice in your head as you do it, and avoid touching your face until they are thoroughly clean. Wash your hands after bathroom trips, close contact with groups of people, and (obviously) contact with sick individuals.
3 Avoid Alcohol and Tobacco
Alcohol and tobacco, the lovely vices that they are, are excellent at compromising your immune system. Not only will they increase the likelihood that you will catch a cold, but they also tend to cause colds that are more severe and last longer. Alcohol dehydrates you, and germs absolutely love a dry environment. Smoke destroys the cilia in your nose, which are put there to keep germs and pathogens out.
4 Avoid Stress
Stress is bad enough on its own. Not only do you have a task to perform, but now you are experiencing anxiety over it. Stress has been clinically proven to lead to weight loss, and as it turns out, it isn’t great for your immune system either. Stress will actually compromise your immune function on its own, but it also drastically affects the quality of your sleep. This one-two punch is often times a knockout combination for your immune system, jumpstarting a seemingly endless cycle of insomnia, stress, and disease.
Unfortunately, stress is often unavoidable. If you cannot actively navigate around situations that may prove stressful, try learning stress management techniques such as meditation or yoga. if you are successful in reducing stress, your quality of life will improve tremendously.