As more and more people attempt to put pandemic life in their rearview mirror, immune health may be the last thing you want to discuss. However, it’s always important to nourish your immune system—and simple actions make a big difference!
Set the following expert-backed habits on autopilot so you can go about your daily routine knowing your immune system has just what it needs to stay strong.
1. Snack on cruciferous vegetables
If you’re looking for an excuse to keep a veggie and ranch platter in your fridge, here it is. Cruciferous vegetables, like the broccoli and cauliflower in most veggie platters, contain sulforaphane, which has immune-supporting benefits, says Amy Archer, R.D.N., C.L.T., C.H.W.C., owner of Wellness RD and author of An Integrative & Functional Approach to ADHD Management.
2. Get Your vitamin D
Another simple must-do for immune health, according to Archer: Get your vitamin D checked at least once a year (your annual physical is an easy time to do it) and supplement if needed based on your results. Consuming the ‘sunshine vitamin’ alongside any other supplements can go a long way. In fact, Archer highlights one study published in Nutrients that shows that optimizing your vitamin D levels to 40 to 60ng/ml has a significant immunity payoff.
3. Add unripe bananas to your smoothies
Got some green bananas lying around in your fruit bowl? Throw one in your morning smoothie or post-workout shake. “Unripe or green bananas, while not commonly consumed, are one of the world’s richest sources of prebiotic-resistant starch, which resists digestion as it travels through your gut,” says Kara Landau, R.D., gut health expert and founder of Uplift Food. “When it reaches the gut, it feeds the beneficial bacteria living in your large intestine. A well-nourished gut microbiota will multiply and diversify, leading to better gut health.”
In case you didn’t know, a healthy gut is an absolute must for a solid immune system. “Good gut health is linked to improved immunity, which will have you [feeling] fit and avoiding illness,” she adds.
Thought of adding unripe bananas to your smoothie doesn’t appeal? Try adding a scoop of green banana flour instead.
4. Eat more legumes
Speaking of that healthy-for-you gut bacteria, legumes may help on that front, too. “Adding a source of legumes to your meals provides the gut with nutrients that feed the good bacteria living in the large intestine,” Landau says. Incorporate legumes like beans, peas, lentils, and peanuts into snacks and meals.
5. Manage Stress with Actionable Steps
“Chronic stressors have been associated with suppressed immune function,” says Joshua Burnham, D.C., chiropractor at Precision Chiropractic Services in Owatonna, MN. “Identifying sources of mental and emotional stress we revisit on a daily basis—and taking actionable steps to address or remove them—may help boost immune function.”
Many people find that regular journaling can help them alleviate stress. While writing, take note of the top three things that occupy your thoughts and stress you out each day. Other proven ways of coping include yoga, meditation, listening to relaxing music, and therapy.
Read More: 6 Strategies For Curbing Obsessive Thoughts
6. Maintain a solid sleep routine
There are so many reasons adults should aim for the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night, and you can go ahead and add increased immunity to that list.
Having a hard time making that happen? “A good way to improve sleep is to maintain adequate magnesium,” explains Archer. Eating plenty of beans, leafy greens, nuts, and seeds or taking a supplement (Archer likes magnesium glycinate) may help you score more of that precious shut-eye.