With summer around the corner, it can be easy to feel like the pandemic and any whiff of regular flu season are far behind us. But with allergy season in full swing and COVID cases spiking in counties across the country, protecting your immune system is more important than ever. And since your immune system is just that—a system—the best way to keep it healthy is through maintaining healthy habits day and night.
Sound daunting? Don’t worry, it’s not. Here are three ways to stay healthy without having to think about it—
Breathe through your nose, especially in public areas like the gym, grocery store, or park. Your paranasal sinuses produce nitric oxide, a potent antimicrobial that helps annihilate viruses and bacteria before they can enter your body. You only activate these when you breathe through your nose, not your mouth. Your nose is also equipped to filter out particulates like pollen and other allergens, so you’ll double-down on your defenses.
Regularly get more than six hours of good-quality sleep. Losing out on a good night of sleep is like not brushing your teeth—you can’t make up for it the next night because the damage is already done. Boosting your duration and quality of sleep each night is when you start to see significant health improvements. A study performed by APSS on 164 healthy adults found that those who got less than 6 hours of sleep nightly were more likely to catch a cold than those who got 6 hours of sleep or more each night. Additionally, catching a few extra zzz’s when you’re already sick can help your immune system recover more quickly.
Take a probiotic supplement, or eat more fermented foods. A major player in your immune system is your gut microbiome—the healthy bacteria in your digestive system. Research has shown that a strong, healthy gut microbiome supports a strong, healthy immune system, and can help prevent harmful pathogens from entering your body via your digestive tract. You can build a robust gut microbiome by consuming more foods like yogurt, kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut, or by taking a probiotic supplement. The fiber in whole plant foods also boosts your microbiome, and helps keep your whole body healthy.