More and more research is showing that the key to lifelong good health is what experts call “lifestyle medicine” — making simple changes in diet, exercise, and stress management. To help you turn that knowledge into results, we’ve put together this manageable list of health and wellness suggestions.
Research shows that singing is an effective immunity booster – even if you’re off-key. So sing in the shower in the morning. Sing in the car during your commute. Sing at home when you’re doing the dinner dishes. But don’t sing at work. That would be weird. (Just sayin’.)
According to a variety of studies, laughter activates protective T-cells and increases antibody production. So listen to a hilarious podcast or shock-jock while you get ready for work. Watch an episode of your favorite sitcom while you eat breakfast. Watch a stand-up DVD during dinner. Crack open a funny book before you hit the hay. The more you LOL on a daily basis, the more you help your immune system stay strong. (And the nice thing about laughter is, it’s often contagious. So you can spread the healthy benefits to others!)
The health of the GI tract plays a big role in bolstering the immune system. In fact, Amanda Bontempo, a registered dietitian at NYC’s Montefiore-Einstein Center for Cancer Care, told upwave that “the health of the GI system determines the health of the immune system.” A major key to digestive health? Probiotics such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, miso and kombucha, all of which contain so-called “good bacteria” that helps your GI tract do its thing.
4. Human touch
Getting a massage, hugging, holding hands, having sex — all lower the body’s immunity-weakening cortisol levels. According to research, getting a 45-minute massage also bolsters pathogen-fighting white blood cells and reduces inflammatory cytokines, which have been connected to autoimmune diseases. Having sex, hugging and holding hands cause our bodies to release cortisol-lowering oxytocin, making them awesome immune-system improvers. Some experts, in fact, recommend eight hugs a day to take your oxytocin benefits to the max. So get your hug on!
5. Omega-3s – DHA & EPA
Our brain is made with ~40% of the essential fatty acid DHA. DHA & EPA are found in phytoplankton and marine algae and is necessary for your mind and body to continue running on full steam! Supplement your diet with fish oil to boost to your immune system.
6. Solid shut-eye
Studies have found that sleep deprivation lowers your T-cell count, thereby reducing your body’s ability to fight off disease-causing pathogens. If you don’t get eight hours of sleep on a regular basis, start taking steps to improve your sleep hygiene now. For tips (which include making 2 p.m. your last call for caffeine), check out our Start A Healthy Sleep Routine Challenge.
7. Moderate exercise
Exercise doesn’t just help your body fight infection: Research shows that it also decreases your risk of getting diseases such as osteoporosis and cancer. Even taking a 20-minute walk every day will strengthen your body’s disease-fighting capabilities — 10 minutes out, and 10 minutes back. That’s it!