6 Things You Can Do to Boost Your Immune System Right Now

Updated 02/13/17

It’s the thick of winter, so either you’ve already caught the common cold or you are desperately avoiding the co-worker who came in sick. Instead of dancing around the sniffles, why not take action and use these all-natural immune system boosters to ward off nasty germs?

While there is no surefire way to prevent a cold from wreaking havoc on your system, you can boost your immunity with these six all-natural tips. From properly washing your hands and preventing the spread of bacteria to getting your daily sweat on and improving your overall health, we’ve rounded up the easiest and most effective ways to prevent falling ill. For more tips on how to avoid the common cold and boost your immune system this season, keep reading.

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Well + Good

1. Eat Your Antioxidants

According to the Cleveland Clinic, a healthy immune system functions best when it’s been fed a balanced mix of vitamins and minerals over time. So instead of ingesting a quick burst of vitamin C when you feel a cold coming on, plan ahead, and include immune-boosting foods packed with plenty of vitamins A, C, E, folic acid, and iron into your daily diet to help your immune system perform at optimal levels.

2. Take Probiotics

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Culturelle Probiotic All Natural Dairy & Gluten Free Vegetable Capsules $21
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According to a study in European Journal of Nutrition, certain probiotics can boost the body’s immune function and reduce the risk of infection from the common cold. So what type of probiotic should you be taking? According to Frank Lipman, MD, you should look for a probiotic with 10–20 billion organisms, like Culturelle’s capsules, and take one every day.

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The Chriselle Factor

3. Say No to Stress

When it comes to staying healthy, we have just one word for you: breathe. According to a study conducted by Sheldon Cohen, the Robert E. Doherty professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, psychological stress affects the body’s ability to regulate inflammation and can thus lead to disease. To prevent a case of the sniffles or the flu, try to reduce your stress levels. While that is easier said than done, we have some suggestions that might make it easier for you.

4. Skip Antibacterial Soap

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Honest Hand Soap in Lavender $4
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We all know that washing our hands keeps germs at bay—but make sure to rinse with regular soap and water, Lipman says. The recent popularity of antibacterial soap has created harsher products loaded with toxins that can actually increase the risk of creating resistant bacteria. These soaps also tend to overdry and crack the skin, making the transmission of viruses that much easier. So stock up on nondrying soaps like the one above, and keep them on hand throughout the season.

5. Sweat It Out

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Yeti Yoga The Gemini Yoga Mat $60
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Regular exercise helps expel toxins from your body. Plus, David Williams, DC, explains that the heat you generate while exercising can kill pathogens, while at the same time energizing your cells and metabolism for improved health. So whether it’s your weekly sweat session at CorePower Yoga or a quick at-home workout, make exercise a priority!

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Madewell

6. Hit the Hay

We all know that sleep is essential regardless, but it really applies to a healthy immune system as well. According to the experts at the Mayo Clinic, people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus like a nasty cold. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover, so it’s absolutely essential to get enough rest, especially when you are experiencing a busier social life than normal. Do you have a hard time falling asleep? Try this quick trick for falling asleep in less than one minute.

Looking for more immunity-boosting tips? Check out these five immune-boosting supplements.

Opening Image: Free People

This story was originally published December 29, 2015.

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