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5 Daily Habits To Boost Your Immune System (That Require Zero Effort)

September 30, 2020
NASM Certified Personal Trainer
By Matt Scheetz, NASM-CPT
NASM Certified Personal Trainer
Matt Scheetz is a brand strategist at mindbodygreen and a NASM-certified personal trainer.
Image by Nikita Sursin / Stocksy
September 30, 2020

Even in the pre-pandemic days (remember those?), prioritizing your immune health wasn't exactly a hot take—but here at mbg, it's always been top of mind.

But while many people still believe that helping your immune system requires big, sweeping changes to their lifestyles, we think a simple, consistent, and—most importantly—proactive approach is the way to go. Here are some small habits that will strengthen your immune system in meaningful ways (some of which you might already be doing, in which case—keep it up!).

Monitor your sugar intake.

Image by Lily's Sweets / mbg Contributor

It's probably safe to say that many of us are already trying to actively limit our sugar for a variety of health reasons—whether we're trying to monitor our weight or prioritize dental hygiene. But studies have also shown that increasing your intake of refined sugars can also compromise on your immune system.

Fear not, though, because this doesn't mean you have to eliminate sugar altogether—reducing your intake by a few grams a day will go further than you think. Craving some candy? Swap it for a handful of seasonal berries. Chocoholic? Try out a lower-sugar brand—we're huge fans of Lily's Sweets, whose products include chocolate in all its glorious forms (bars, chips, nut butter cups), all with no added sugar. And since we're talking about simple, sustainable methods here, what's an easier habit to stick to than enjoying a piece of chocolate?

Catch some (quality) Zzz's.

Add this to the many, many benefits of a good night's sleep—it can do wonders for your immunity. By now we're all familiar with melatonin (the hormone released by your body at night to signal it's time for sleep), but did you know it's also an incredibly important immune mediator too? A less-than-ideal night's sleep may prevent melatonin from doing its job (activating certain immune cells to release infection-fighting cells into your system).

Our solution? Find a wind-down routine that works for you—and stick to it. Our bodies are huge fans of regular schedules, so doing the same things every night before bed (like minimizing screen time, drinking something warm, getting lost in a good book) is all it takes.

Chill out.

These days (those "unprecedented" and "uncertain" times you hear about), stress management has taken center stage in the health conversation. And all these external triggers aren't just making you tired or anxious—they're messing with our immune system too. Similar to poor sleep, increased levels of stress hormones can also prevent your body from mobilizing those protective cells that do so much for our health.

There are plenty of steps we can all take to reduce our stress—starting as soon as today. Tried-and-true techniques like meditation and exercise are great starts; sometimes there's nothing more rewarding than a good old-fashioned (mindful) indulgence. To us, this means foods that are rich and decadent but also that sport an ingredient list we can get behind. Among our current obsessions are the dark chocolate bars from Lily's Sweets, which deliver all of the goods...with less of the sugar.

Move your body.

In this weird, ever-changing world of wellness, there are very few universal practices that should be in everyone's routine (different strokes for different folks, right?). But among them is this: Moving your body on a regular basis is one of the most impactful things you can do for your overall health.

Image by Marc Tran / Stocksy

And before you think this means you need to join a CrossFit gym or sign up for a triathlon, know that you can reap these awesome benefits (like flushing bacteria from your lungs or boosting your production of those feel-good endorphins) with as little as a daily 20-minute walk. In fact, overextending yourself (like training for that triathlon) can actually drain your body and lower your immune defenses.

If you're keeping score at home, so far we've told you to eat more chocolate and avoid long bouts of exercise—who says this immunity thing is hard?

Drink your fluids.

You may not recall much from biology class (other than the mitochondria being the powerhouse of the cell, of course), but you probably remember that the body is about two-thirds water. So it's no surprise that adequate fluid intake is important for a ton of bodily functions—including, of course, immune response.

Not only does water flush out toxins from the body, but it also delivers oxygen to your cells, which basically helps everything function more optimally. Want to take these immune-boosting powers to the next level? Infusing your water with things like lemon, kiwi, or grapefruit will add an extra punch of vitamin C—the OG immunity booster.

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