Your immune system plays an important role in helping you stay healthy. But what exactly is it and how does it do that?

The immune system is a complex system of cells including skin cells, blood, bone marrow, tissue and organs. They work together to fight bacteria and viruses, defending your body against illness and disease.

Imagine your immune system is a band. For them to put on the best show, everyone has to be performing at their best and in harmony. It’s the same story for your immune system.

So how can you ensure your immune system has everything it needs to do its job well?

While the idea of ‘boosting’ our immune system with a simple remedy sounds appealing, the reality is that the best way to look after your immune system is to practice healthy habits.

Here are five ways you can support your immune system:

Healthy food

Eat a healthy diet

It’s true. The nutrients you’re feeding your body are really important for keeping your immune system in tip top shape.

Try to incorporate more fruits and vegetables and plant-based foods into your diet. Drink plenty of water and try to limit your intake of sugary foods and drinks.

Another tip is to look at changing the way you prepare your food. Try baking instead of frying. Other healthy food preparation methods include steaming, stewing or poaching.

Some foods like carrots, broccoli, spinach, red capsicum, citrus fruits and berries along with nuts and seeds are great sources of vitamins that work to keep your immune system healthy.

For more tips on eating healthy see this Inform article: Fabulous foods to fight cold and flu.

Lady sleeping with sleep mask over eyes

Get plenty of sleep

As you sleep, your body is working hard to repair and regenerate. It’s also working to produce important immune cells. So if you’re not getting enough sleep, that could hamper your immune system doing its job.

If sleep is a worry, why not try a sleep routine that you can follow every night to prepare your body for sleep. This could include turning off screens, a warm bath or meditating.

For more tips on sleep see this Inform article: Are you getting enough sleep?

Man prosthetic leg hiking

Exercise regularly—outside if you can!

Regular exercise is super important for good health. Exercise releases endorphins, the feel-good hormone, but it also improves your cardiovascular health, helps to lower your blood pressure and contributes to a healthy immune system.

But how much exercise do you need? According to Australia’s national guidelines, adults need 150 to 300 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity a week or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity a week.

What’s moderate and vigorous activity? Moderate activities include brisk walking, cycling at moderate speeds, swimming, social tennis or dancing. While vigorous activities include aerobics, cycling fast, jogging and competitive sports.

The Australian guidelines suggest that any physical activity is better than none. So if you don’t currently do any regular physical activity, start small and gradually work your way up to the recommended amount.

For some more tips on how to get moving, check out this Inform article: Simple ways to get moving.

Lady doing yoga

Stress less for a healthier immune system

While reducing stress can be helpful for supporting a healthy immune system, it’s often easier said than done. However, there are are number of techniques that can help you to reduce your stress.

Foe example, you could try meditation, journaling or writing in a diary or deep breathing. There’s also yoga, pilates and tai chi, which can be useful for stress reduction, as can other forms of exercise. But so too is just doing something that you enjoy, whether that be reading or drawing or baking or gardening.

Try to do one of techniques every day. And if you don’t have a lot of spare time, just start small.

Drink in moderation

Moderation is the key

Consuming alcohol in large amounts is linked with a range of health impacts. In fact, research indicates that high or excessive consumption of alcohol can increase your chances of pneumonia, liver disease and some cancers.

Australian guidelines suggest that adults should not consumer more than 10 standard drinks a week, and no more than 4 standard drinks per day.

What’s a standard drink? Use this calculator by Drinkwise to work out what a standard drink looks like.

Other things you can do to help support your immune system include quitting smoking. If you’re ready to quit, Inform has some tips and tricks to help you.

Other ways to help support your immune system are washing your hands thoroughly and if you have a chronic health condition, monitoring your symptoms and manage your condition.

Please note the information supplied is general in nature. Please consult your medical practitioner for individual advice.

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