A strong immune system is essential to help the body fight disease. Some aspects of immunity are beyond our control, such as age. However, it turns out that some common habits that contribute to overall health and wellness may also help give your immune system a boost. Read on to find out four simple ways to help strengthen your immune system.
1. Focus on Immune-Boosting Foods
A healthy diet that focuses on fruits, vegetables, berries, nuts, legumes, whole grains and healthy fats can help to keep your immune system functioning properly. “A plant-based powerhouse that I recommend everyone add to their diet is pistachios,” says Dr. Mike Roussell, PhD, nutrition advisor to Men’s Health. “Pistachios have a wealth of vital nutrients, which may help the immune system to operate at its best, including vitamin B6, zinc, copper, iron, selenium, folate, polyphenols, carotenoids, fiber and protein.”
2. Get More Sleep
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 3 adults aren’t getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep every night. We know that sleep is an important component of overall health and this includes the immune system. “Research has shown that consistent sleep helps to strengthen our immunity,” says Roussell. “Accumulated sleep deprivation can cause the immune system to weaken and become less effective at fighting viruses and other stressors on the body.”
3. Exercise Often
Daily physical activity has a host of health benefits, including helping to boost immunity. In fact, recent research suggests that exercise can help improve immune response, lower illness risk and reduce inflammation. “Aim for 150 minutes per week of moderate activity (or exercise),” says Roussell. “The key with exercise is to be consistent — it’s a lifelong habit that can benefit everything from immunity to weight maintenance and mental health.”
4. Support a Healthy Gut
A large part of the body’s immune system is actually located in the gut, and helping to increase good gut bacteria is another way we may be able to strengthen our body’s immunity. The good news is the healthy diet discussed above is also likely to help create a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut. “Gut health is another area where pistachios really shine,” adds Roussell. “Pistachios are a good source of fiber, and fiber is known to benefit gut health. And research also suggests that pistachios have properties similar to prebiotic fiber that helps to increase the good bacteria in the gut.”
 Nieman DC and Wentz LM. The compelling link between physical activity and the body’s defense system. Journal of Sport and Health Science.2019. 8:3(201-217).