8 Ways to Boost Immunity Naturally

Cold and flu season is just around the corner. It's time to start preparing your body to ward off any unfriendly germs you might encounter this fall and winter. That means get your flu shot, keep your hands clean, and give your immune system a boost. Prevention is the best medicine, after all! Here are some natural, healthy ways to boost your immune system.

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Sleep well: Prioritize your 7 - 9 hours of sleep every night! Lack of sleep increases the hormone cortisol in your body, which suppresses your immune system after prolonged elevation. Sleeping will also help fight infection if someone in your family happens to catch a cold. Body cells are repaired and restored during a sound night of sleep, so don't starve yourself of rest!

Stress less: Prolonged stress increases your body's adrenaline and stress hormone production, hurting your body's ability to fight off infection. Even just a few days of prolonged stress can lessen the number of infection-fighting cells in your body. Try some new ways to beat the stress and keep your immune system running at full steam.

Get moving: Exercise supports everyday healthy living. It can also give the immune system a boost by promoting good circulation of blood and oxygen and get germ-fighting cells moving throughout the body. Moderate exercise just a few times a week is all you need to boost your immunity and help your body be a lean, mean, germ fighting machine! Beat some stress and get your exercise with some immune boosting yoga moves.

Avoid tobacco smoke: Exposure to tobacco smoke, either by directly smoking or secondhand, triggers inflammation and increases mucus in your respiratory system. Smoke inhibits your body from clearing that germ-laden mucus from your body. People exposed to smoke are more likely to get sick.

Eat your fruits and veggies: Eating a rainbow of fruits and vegetables will guarantee that your body gets enough of the right vitamins and minerals to boost your immune system. Malnutrition impairs the immune system. Also, help your body stay healthy by avoiding refined sugars and carbohydrates, and make sure to get enough protein from plant or animal sources.

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Consider probiotics: Beneficial bacteria colonize the intestinal and respiratory tracks and keep the bad bacteria at bay. You can consume probiotics in foods with live, active cultures such as yogurt, or you can find supplements at the grocery or drug store.

Catch some rays: Especially in the winter months, not all regions receive much natural sunlight. It's more important than ever to catch some sunshine outside to get enough vitamin D, which promotes normal immune function. Even just 15 minutes of exposure can help! Try to get outside and walk the dog and get an immune boost from the sunshine simultaneously.

Hydrate: Providing your body with enough water will boost immune health. Water flushes toxins from the body and carries oxygen through the blood. Water also helps you digest foods and will keep your eyes, nose and mouth clean. If you use a reusable water bottle, take care to wash the bottle frequently to avoid the collection of bacteria and germs.

Keep yourself and your family healthy during the cold and flu season!