Four Ways to Keep Your Immunity Strong

A weakened immune system puts health at risk

A Veteran shopping for healthy itemsGerms are always trying to invade our bodies. You may think you’re unprepared to fight, but your immune system keeps its troops ready. It’s the body’s armor against infections. But your immune system can always use reinforcement. Follow these tips to give yourself some extra support against outside forces.

Eat healthier

Food is one of our best allies when it comes to building up our immune systems. Food’s vitamins and nutrients keep us healthy. Try foods that have vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin C, and zinc to strengthen your army, such as:

  • salmon or tuna

  • dark green leafy vegetables

  • citrus fruits, like oranges and grapefruits

  • red meat, poultry, and nuts

If you have food restrictions or chronic conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure, know your diet. Understanding good food choices and eating mindfully gives your body a well-balanced diet that’ll help keep you protected and healthy.

Stay fit

Getting regular exercise has many benefits. It helps manage body weight, improves mental health, and builds self-esteem. Staying fit also helps our immune systems remain strong. Get your daily dose of exercise, while social distancing by:

  • using water bottles or canned foods if you don’t have hand weights for strength training

  • doing activities with your partner, like tennis or walking around your neighborhood

  • following along to a fitness video

For more help, try the MOVE! Coach app. The mobile app has a self-management guide that teaches you about different weight-management strategies using videos, worksheets, games, and other tools.

Watch your stress

Managing stress during the coronavirus pandemic can give your immune system the extra support it needs to keep you healthy. If you need help coping while social distancing, try these mobile tools:

  • Annie: these coronavirus precautions protocol text messages can help you monitor symptoms and advise you when to contact your VA health care team.

  • COVID Coach app: this mobile app can help you cope with stress, track your mood, and find resources.

Get your rest

One simple thing that enhances our immune systems is getting enough sleep. When we practice good sleep hygiene, our bodies release hormones that help our immune system fight against infections. Without enough sleep, we increase our risks of having high blood pressure, heart disease, and even stroke. To improve your sleep habits:

  • avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed

  • exercise regularly

  • get rid of distractions such as noises, bright lights, and a TV or computer in the bedroom

Remember: You should always check with your health care team about making changes in your lifestyle. Sign in to My HealtheVet and send a Secure Message and ask about what’s right for you.

Increasing support for your immune system doesn’t make you immune to illnesses. Washing your hands and cleaning surfaces and then wiping them down with a disinfectant is still a simple yet effective way to stop the spread of germs.

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