It is a great time to be focused on keeping your immune system strong. The immune system is your first line of defense against foreign invaders such as germs, bacteria, toxins and tumors. While you may be aware of the benefits of handwashing and exercise, there are some ways to boost your immune system that you may not know about.

Sleep. During sleep, the immune system is working to address inflammation, infection, and damage from stress. The body is recuperating from the day’s tasks and the mind gets to slow down, giving you a reprieve from emotional stress. Sleep is an essential part of staying healthy. Adults aim for 7-9 hours and children 10-12 hours.

Hydration. Often overlooked when thinking of the immune system, dehydration can happen quite easily and cause serious damage. Every organ in your body, especially your heart, needs to be hydrated to work optimally. Dehydration causes a myriad of ailments, from fatigue to headaches, but notably, it hinders the lymphatic system from eliminating toxic waste. When properly hydrated, your organs are in a healthier position to work properly and your immune system has a better chance at staying strong. 

Meditation. Yes, meditation! Stress is highly damaging to the body. So, damaging that its effects can cause physical symptoms like gastrointestinal issues, headaches, and even dull-looking skin. Meditation is an effective way to help reduce stress. In addition to reducing stress, during meditative practices the body (physically) does some beneficial things! Read more here.

Ax artificial additives and colors. Something you may have thought of that can be toxic to your health and weaken your immune system exists in many foods. Research and studies show that certain food additives and colors that are eaten can be detrimental. According to the Pharmaceutical and Biosciences Journal, “Food additives have been implicated as a contributing factor to dementia, bone disease, microcytic anaemia … nausea, weakness, headaches, and difficulty in breathing.” Eating foods in their natural state can help boost your immune system, and at the very least, reduce the number of toxins in your body.

In addition to a healthy, nutritious diet, daily exercise, and limited alcohol use, start implementing these less-discussed lifestyle changes for optimal immune system function.