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The immune system is a series of systems within the body. Balance and harmony are required for the various systems to function effectively. Medical experts are still researching the intricacies of the immune response, but there is strong evidence that incorporating the following lifestyle habits can improve its performance.

1. Eat a diet rich in antioxidants
Including specific types of food in your daily diet can improve the body's ability to fight pathogens. Foods rich in antioxidants can help by assisting the body's natural defense systems. Examples include blueberries, broccoli and spinach. Spices such as ginger and basil are rich in antioxidants and they can be sprinkled on food or included in recipes. Smoothies made with nutrient-rich leafy greens and berries can pack a punch to toxins lingering in the body.

2. Recharge with sleep
Numerous studies have highlighted the mental and physical importance of getting adequate sleep. In 2013, research by the National Institutes of Health highlighted the importance of sleep for controlling stress hormones and protecting the immune system. Skimping on sleep can have an adverse effect on the immune system and make you more susceptible to flu and other viruses. The exact amount of sleep each person needs varies depending on age and other factors, but seven to eight hours is generally considered best for optimum health.

During sleep, the body produces a type of proteins called cytokines. These are associated with controlling infections and inflammation within the body. If work and family commitments make it difficult to enjoy a full night's sleep, taking naps of between twenty and thirty minutes can also boost cytokine levels.

3. Target your immune system with vitamins
Eating foods rich in certain types of vitamins can help boost your immune system and fight off illness. For some people, vitamin supplements may be appropriate, but there are plenty of ways to ensure adequate intake from natural sources. Vitamin C is at the top of the list for immune system boosters. Sources include citrus fruits, bell peppers and spinach. The body doesn't produce or store vitamin C, so daily intake is important.

Vitamin D is also believed to have benefits for the immune system. It can be found in oily fish, eggs and some cereals, but the best source is sunlight. Research carried out by the University of Copenhagen and Bispebjerg Hospital in Denmark suggests that vitamin D primes T cells within the body to fight infection. Public Health England was one of several government bodies around the world suggesting that vitamin D could help people deal with the impact of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.

4. Stay hydrated
Drinking water throughout the day has many health benefits. Being properly hydrated can protect your immune system by staving off infections. Your body can naturally eliminate many toxins and harmful bacteria if your kidneys have adequate water to function properly. Moisture in your eyes and mouth helps to prevent infections from gaining access to the body.

5. Wash your hands regularly and carry sanitizer
The World Health Organization and many other respected bodies advise that basic hygiene, including regular hand washing, is a simple way to prevent the spread of infections. Soap and water are very effective against COVID-19 and other viruses. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are a good alternative when washing facilities aren't available. Minimizing the number of infections entering the body helps to keep the immune system fit.

6. Incorporate moderate exercise
Pushing the body too hard with excessive physical activity can suppress the immune system, but moderate exercise can give it a boost. The most appropriate forms of exercise depend on your fitness level and other factors, but examples include light jogging, swimming or brisk walking. Physical activity can promote the turnover of immune cells and reduce harmful inflammation in the body. Exercising outdoors has the added benefit triggering the production of vitamin D when the body is exposed to sunlight.

Changes to diet and lifestyle and understanding how viruses are transmitted are key steps to protecting yourself against the threat of infection. It's not possible to prevent infection, but there are steps you can take to prepare your body for recovery and build natural defenses against pathogens.

We hope you found this information helpful. From all of your friends at Rio Car Wash, we wish you and your family a happy and healthy month!