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Proven Ways to Boost Your Immunity, Say Experts

Five ways to get a healthy immune system, according to experts.
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab

As we head into flu season, battle COVID and fight off the Omicron variant, having a strong immune system is vital. While there's no magic pill that can instantly boost your immunity, there are several things we can do to keep healthy. Eat This Not That! Health talked to medical experts who explained ways to help give our immune system a boost and stay well. Read these essential six tips—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

Manage Your Stress Levels

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According to Robert G. Lahita MD, Ph.D. ("Dr. Bob"), Director of the Institute for Autoimmune and Rheumatic Disease at Saint Joseph Health and author of the upcoming book Immunity Strong, "The difference between us and an antelope running from a lion is that the antelope's stress is momentary. An antelope doesn't have time to worry, whereas we worry for long periods of time. This worry can make you sick and chronic stress can have distinct effects on your immune system. Most of us will never suffer from PTSD, but experienced early in life, stress can cause long-lasting changes in physiology and behavior. Stress lowers our immune system's resistance and opens us up to various infections through immunosuppression, specifically through increased corticosteroids, which are potent immunosuppressants. The biological reason for this immunosuppression is the influence of the nervous and endocrine systems on the immune system that leads to inflammation, a condition that results in pain, fever, redness, and feelings of being unwell accompanied by loss of appetite, excessive fatigue, and/or sleeplessness."

2

Get Vaccinated

The female doctor syringe injection to the young patient put on a mask in the hospital
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"A vaccine is medicine that trains your body to fight foreign invasions and, in many cases, provides acquired immunity to the invader," Dr. Bob explains. "All vaccines begin with an exposure to a virus or pathogen to trigger a strong cellular immune response that involves your MHC class I natural killer T cells. They learn to respond to that viral infection and eliminate it. Vaccines have been with us for more than 200 years and no advance in public health short of sanitation has been more important. Both control infections, the leading causes of death in the world." 

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3

Get More Sleep

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Dr. Bob says, "Lack of sleep can be devastating to your mind and biological soul. I suggest getting around seven hours of sleep each night. Data going back decades have shown that sleep is critical to good health. When it comes to immunity, we now know lack of sleep enhances immune-mediated inflammatory diseases and that the sleep cycle is of particular importance to proper immune homeostasis. Resistance to infection is also a major aspect of the lack of sleep." 

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4

Regular Exercise

woman with long hair in gym doing a pushup from her knees
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Dr. Daniel Boyer of Farr Institute states, "Exercise results in several health benefits for the body and may improve both your physical and mental health, making you live longer. It may prevent the development of many risk factors that may lead to several health-related conditions including weight management, combating some health-related conditions like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and many types of cancers, and also boosting your general immune health. All these conditions may lead to a life-threatening situation and also result in death if you develop any of them at an older age when your immune system is already compromised." 

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5

A Regular Healthy Diet

woman eating salmon and quinoa
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"A proper diet will ensure an effective supply of important nutrients to the body which may support proper cell functioning, growth, and development leading to better health," Dr. Boyer says. "It may also boost your immune system, which is responsible for combating several health conditions that may shorten your lifespan. In addition, a healthy diet should exclude foods that may cause risk factors of health conditions like foods containing high sugar and fat contents, contaminated foods, or any other highly processed foodstuffs."And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more