Like any other aspect of your health, supporting your immune system isn’t a one-and-done process. Instead, a lifetime of commitment is needed to keep your immune function at peak performance as you age.
And despite a 'lifetime of dedication’ sounding like a BIG task, all it takes is simple daily changes to support your immune health long term.
Why You Should Prioritize Long Term Immune Health
Your immune system is a complex collection of systems – organs, tissue, cell, and chemicals – and procedures that work together to protect your body against outside pathogens. Not just your blood and lymph system, but even your skin is involved in this process!
Potentially harmful pathogens this collective of systems protects you against include bacteria, viruses, and environmental toxicants. When they invade your body, they can cause illness and infection and stimulate the development of disease. Internal complications can also cause damage and disease that the immune system protects against.
Your immune system needs to be functioning at total capacity to make sure you're thriving in life. However, a weakened immune health reduces the ability to prevent illness. A variety of reasons can cause this, some are controllable, and some are not:
- Poor diet
- High exposure to pollution
- Chronic inflammation
- Aging (immune decline typically occurs at age 60)
- Genetic or acquired immunodeficiency
It's essential to be proactive in preventing controllable immune susceptibility and decline by fortifying long-term immune health.
There is no "Quick Fix" for a Stronger Immune System
You’re not alone – most people out there want a “quick fix” to improve their immune system's lifetime health. Unfortunately, long-term health isn't that simple.
Taking an immune-boosting supplement may be helpful in some cases, but it is not an effective way to build life-long immune health. A proven method for supporting your immune system is adopting balanced, lasting lifestyle changes that naturally aid immune function and resilience.
It's understandable that building a long-term commitment to health and sustaining your immune function isn't a fast process that sounds daunting. But believe it or not, it can be a simple process.
You can focus on integrating easy habits that are attainable and customizable for your lifestyle. The best part – these habits won't require significant changes in your daily routines.
6 Habits that can ACTUALLY Improve Your Immune Health
Your immune system’s ability to function and protect you from illness and disease depends on being fortified and healthy as you age.
These are the six healthy habits that are easy to adopt into your daily routine and can provide long term benefits to your immune health:
1. Eating an immune-supporting diet
The best step you can take in improving lifelong health is an immune-fortifying, nutrient-dense diet.
Prioritize foods that contain immune-boosting nutrients like protein, zinc, and vitamins A, C, E, and D. Examples of foods that offer a variety of these nutrients are:
- Colorful fruits and vegetables
- Lean proteins
- Whole grains
- Probiotic and prebiotic foods
- Immune-boosting herbs (i.e., garlic, ginger, tea catechins, etc.)
While diet is important, don’t feel pressured to neglect affordability. Canned or frozen fruits and vegetables contain similar nutrient content to fresh produce. Beans and lentils are excellent sources of lean protein. A nutritious diet can exist within any budget!
2. Engaging in regular, enjoyable exercise
Moving your body is vital for keeping your immune function top-notch. A mix of cardio, strength training, and flexibility activities maintains your body’s strength and range of motion. Exercise also helps the immune system produce white blood cells and flush out potential pathogens faster.
Remember – the most crucial part of getting enough exercise is ensuring it is enjoyable to you. Don’t force yourself into an activity because you "have to." In reality, any movement is an immune-fortifying movement.
3. Get plenty of sleep every night
If possible, adults should be getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Sleep is an essential activity that allows the body and immune system to replenish and recover from daily stress.
Not getting enough nightly sleep – especially REM sleep – can impact your internal clock and disrupt your immune defense. As a result, you will become more susceptible to short and long-term illnesses.
4. Reducing daily stress in your life
Stress – both mental and physical – can reduce the effectiveness of your immune system.
Stress comes in many forms and can look like:
- Anxiety, depression, or mental illness
- Chemical or hormonal imbalances
- Chronic inflammation
Diet, exercise, and getting enough sleep are great ways to improve stress, but seeking mental health care is also essential. Therapy or more affordable options, like guided meditations found online, are great routes to stress management.
5. Avoid habits that negatively impact your immune health
Excessive drinking, smoking, and even intake of certain foods (i.e., refined sugars, saturated or trans fats, processed foods, etc.) can harm your overall health.
While most habits are acceptable in moderation, excessiveness can stimulate poor health outcomes.
6. Be proactive at preventing illness and infection
One of the most critical actions you can take for your immune health, no matter your age, is to be proactive about contracting and spreading illness and infection. Daily hygiene practices and regular health examinations with a physician are examples.
7. If needed, seek additional immune support
Considering additional immune support from a nutritional supplement is also an option for fortifying your immune health. Such as:
- Nutritional immune supplement
- Herbal supplement
- Meal supplement or replacement
After adopting the above steps, consult with a Registered Dietitian or physician to determine if supplementation is proper for you.
Find Balance to Support Your Immune Health Long-Term
The immune system is a complex system that is responsible for keeping you healthy. Supporting your immune system isn’t a one-and-done process, and a lifetime of commitment is needed to maintain your immune health.
Luckily, healthy habits that boost your immune function – through whole-body health – are easy, attainable, and customizable for your lifestyle.
If you feel your immune system needs additional support, complete nutrition supplements, like those from Soylent, are available and affordable. Our meal replacements provide complete nutrition and support long-term immune health, from protein and slow-burning carbs to immune-fortifying zinc and vitamins A, C, E, and D.
So, what are you waiting for? Improve your immune health for a lifetime today!
About the author:
Allie Lansman, RDN is a dietitian and owner of Allie Lansman Sustainable Nutrition Writing & Education Services. She is passionate about creating exciting, research-based educational nutrition and wellness content that is relatable, empowering and attainable for all readers.