5 immune-boosting habits to start today

When it comes to supporting our immune health, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach for getting it right. Instead, try these different, daily habits, and take a holistic approach to immune health.

Written by Medibank

Cold and flu season is on the way, which means there’ll be winter lurgies hiding around every corner. At least, that’s how it can feel.

The good news is that there are simple yet effective habits we can incorporate into our lives to strengthen our body's natural defenses. From nourishing our bodies with the right nutrients to exercising regularly, there are plenty of ways to support our immune system and enhance our overall wellbeing.

1. Embrace the Mediterranean diet

The so-called Mediterranean diet (of which there are many varieties) is regularly touted as one of the better guides to healthy eating. That’s because a cornerstone of good immune health is a well-balanced diet, one that’s rich in nutrients and vitamins, and the Mediterranean diet has that in spades.

The Mediterranean diet emphasises wholegrains, plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats like olive oil. It’s full of zinc, vitamin C and vitamin D—all of which play a crucial role in supporting our immune function.

For zinc-rich foods, think lean meat, fish and seafood, legumes, nuts, and seeds.

You can find vitamin C in more than just oranges. Strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli and kiwi fruit are all good sources of vitamin C.

Vitamin D can be found in food like liver, eggs and oily fish such as salmon. You can also get a good dose of vitamin D from safely enjoying some sunshine. In fact, most people can get sufficient vitamin D through regular incidental exposure to the sun, according to the Cancer Council.

READ MORE: Caramelised leek, sweet potato and hot smoked salmon frittata recipe

While zinc, vitamin C and vitamin D are undoubtedly all important for supporting proper immune function, just remember that there is no single vitamin or supplement that can ‘boost’ your immune system beyond ‘normal’ levels.

If you want to make sure your body gets all the nutrients it needs to support good immune function, aim to eat a varied and well-balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables.

2. Get plenty of sleep so your body can recharge

Getting a good night’s is key to helping your immune system function correctly. When you sleep, your body undergoes vital repair processes, including the production of cytokines — proteins essential for immune response. When we don’t get enough sleep, this process breaks down. Chronic sleep deprivation can compromise our immune function, making us more susceptible to infections.

The Sleep Health Foundation of Australia recommends adults aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night.

Are you getting enough sleep? Check out our tips for how to set your bedroom up for better sleep.

3. Keep your stress levels down to keep your immune system strong

Chronic stress is no friend to a healthy immune system. Prolonged periods of stress can wear your immune system out, making it harder to fight off infections. And a fatigued immune system will take longer to recover than a healthy one.

Stress management is therefore key to proper immune function. If you’re feeling stressed, take steps to reduce it before it gets out of control. You might try exercising, spending some time in nature, doing an activity you enjoy, or connecting with friends and family.

Your immune health will thank you for it.

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4. Exercise regularly for good immune health

Physical activity isn’t just good for our cardiovascular health and mental health, it also plays a pivotal role in supporting immune function. That’s because moderate exercise promotes the circulation of immune cells and helps reduce inflammation.

So, how much exercise? Try for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. And if you want to boost the health and fitness benefits, try to find time for regular, vigorous exercise in your week.

5. Tuck into some fermented foods

Aside from being plain delicious, fermented foods such as yogurt, kimchi, and sauerkraut are teeming with good bacteria known as probiotics. Eating fermented foods such as these can help us maintain a healthy gut microbiome — the epicentre of our immune health. Probiotics play a pivotal role in regulating immune function by promoting the production of antibodies and enhancing gut barrier integrity.

Written by Medibank

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While we hope you find the information on this webpage helpful, please note that it is general in nature. It is not health advice, and is not tailored to meet your individual health needs. You should always consult a trusted health professional before making decisions about your health care. While we have prepared the information on the webpage carefully, we can’t guarantee that it is accurate, complete or up-to-date. And while we may mention goods or services provided by others, we aren’t specifically endorsing them and can’t accept responsibility for them. For these reasons we are unable to accept responsibility for any loss that may be sustained from acting on this information (subject to applicable consumer guarantees).

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