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4 smart ways to supercharge your immune system

Skip the boosters and stick with science.

CHRISTOPH BURGSTEDT/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Yulia Reznikov

But while there are a countless number of “immune boosters” on the market — from supplements to probiotics to superfoods — few have been tested for efficacy or safety.

"We can do something about our immune systems. The concerning part has been sorting fact from fiction."

— Dr. Taz Bhatia, integrative primary care physician

Bowonpat Sakaew / EyeEm

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Instead of buying into these “miracle” products, you can supercharge your immune system by focusing on four core dimensions of health. >>

*Nutrition

*Exercise

*Stress

*Sleep

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1. You are what you eat

David Malan

David Malan

Doctors suggest eating a plant-based diet with lots of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables to support immune function. That means eating foods like blueberries, spinach, ginger, and avocados.

David Malan

It’s also helpful to cut down on sugar, sugar substitutes, and processed foods, which wear down the gut and influence the body’s ability to fight infections.

2. Get moving

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Westend61

Over the long term, consistent exercise creates a cascade of benefits on mood, stress, sleep, inflammation, and diseases like obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease, which influence immune function.

“Every bout of exercise stimulates immune cells to enter the circulation, enhancing their ability to patrol the body on the lookout for potential pathogens or infected cells."

— Exercise immunology expert Glen Davison

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Ippei Naoi

Every day, sweat or get your heart rate up for about 30 minutes to an hour.

3. Relax

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Westend 61

Chronic stress causes system-wide inflammation and increases the production of stress hormones like cortisol, which can suppress the immune system.

"We know that chronic stress is going to keep the body depleted and keep it in a fight or flight mode rather than in a mode where it's ready to heal."

— Dr. Taz Bhatia

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Meditation, exercise, and breathing exercises can help bring stress levels down.

Sleep helps the body produce vital immune cells and fight infections. It also helps the mind and body repair after stress, which in turn, benefits the immune system.

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Aim for about eight hours each night.

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In a world that’s upended our routines and wrenched away control, taking these proactive steps can give your immune system a boost and empower you.

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