It’s June, and many children are out of school, but there are a lot of bugs still going around. Keeping your family’s immune systems strong is vital for a healthy and fun summer. Here are five ways to boost immunity and dodge summer illness.

1. Get Your ZZZs

Just because the sun stays up later doesn’t mean that you should. Sleep is the most important thing you can do for your immune health. All the herbs and vitamin c in the world won’t make up for chronic sleep deprivation. Your body repairs and renews itself as you sleep. Your body and brain need time to go through all the sleep phases, including REM and NREM sleep. Stage 3 NREM sleep is a deep, dreamless stage of sleep essential for physical restoration. During this stage, your body produces growth hormones necessary for tissue and bone repair. Researchers believe this stage is essential for hormone regulation, immune function, glucose metabolism, and memory.

To get more sleep, create a healthy bedtime routine that includes avoiding screens for an hour before bed and giving yourself time to get in eight hours before your alarm goes off. A dark room is essential since light interferes with your brain’s ability to progress through sleep stages. You can try black-out curtains or a sleep mask to make your room darker. If you struggle to fall asleep, you can experiment with relaxation and sensory practices like journaling, yoga, or a white noise machine. Seeing your chiropractor regularly can also improve sleep by reducing stress and pain.

2. Stay Hydrated

Summer weather makes staying hydrated difficult, but it’s essential for your overall health and immune function. The eight glasses of water rule is reasonable for most people, but you may need more or less depending on your environment and activity level. If you are active outside on a hot or humid day, aim for eight ounces of water every 15-20 minutes. Sports drinks or other electrolyte replacements may be necessary if you are outside during scorching temperatures or doing extreme exercise.

Being dehydrated, especially in the heat, can have immediate and potentially life-threatening health consequences. A less obvious side effect of dehydration is its effect on your immune system. Even mild dehydration suppresses immune activity. Your bloodstream is mainly made of water, so keeping hydrated allows it to flow better and effectively deliver nutrients and immune cells where they are needed.

3. Get Moving

Many of us are more active during warm weather months than in the winter, but sweltering temperatures may keep you indoors for part of the season. Try to develop a fitness schedule you can stick to no matter the weather. Working out for at least half an hour three days a week is good for your whole body, including your immune system. On days when you don’t work out, try not to sit for hours on end. Not only is this bad for your heart, but it also leads to sluggish immunity. Walking around, doing household chores, and other non-workout activities are good for you. It’s better to be active with these sorts of things every day and never work out than sit around all the time except when you work out.

Your lymph system plays a key role in immunity. The lymph system consists of vessels and glands that move a fluid called lymph around your body. Lymph contains white blood cells that attack viruses, cancer cells, and other threats. The catch is that lymph isn’t pumped the way your blood is. It depends on the motion of muscles and joints to move through the body. When you aren’t active, lymph doesn’t flow effectively, and your white blood cells will have trouble reaching germs they need to kill.

4. Take Care of Your Nervous System

The nervous system is the control center of the body. It triggers muscle and organ movement, hormone secretions, and other vital functions. Things that adversely affect the nervous system can cause problems in other body systems. One key example of this is stress. When you experience chronic stress, your brain signals your adrenal glands to keep producing cortisol– the “stress hormone.” Short term bursts of cortisol are good and can help you deal with a stressful moment or physical stress like an illness. When cortisol levels remain elevated long term, they increase inflammation, lower your immune function and cause anxiety and depression. Healthily managing stress, getting enough sleep, and eating a healthy diet can help keep cortisol levels in check. This, in turn, will boost your immune function.

Your spinal cord, the highway of the nervous system, runs through the vertebrae of your spine. Sometimes daily wear and tear causes vertebrae to slip slightly out of alignment. When this happens, nerves become impaired, and symptoms can show up in the part of the body those nerves control. Increased asthma symptoms and other breathing problems are associated with vertebral misalignments and curvature problems in the upper back. Misalignments can also affect your immune system, both directly by impairing nerves that regulate immune functions and indirectly by disrupting your sleep or causing you to feel tenser or stressed. Chiropractors are trained to correct spinal subluxations, and visiting one regularly can keep them from adding up and causing a problem.

5. Improve Your Nutrition

The immune system is a coordinated effort between several body systems, including your digestive, cardiovascular, and musculoskeletal systems. A healthy, well-rounded diet will improve the health of all these systems so your immune system can stay strong. Nutrients like omega-3 fats, the chemicals found in dark red and green fruits and veggies, and vitamin D are crucial for inflammatory balance and immune health. Protein is also vital, and many people don’t get enough. A sedentary adult needs .8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight to prevent deficiency. Ideally, you should aim for a bit higher than this. If you are active, you will need much more. A good rule is that between 10%-35% of your calories should come from protein every day. If you eat 2000 calories per day, you’ll need 200-700 calories from protein.

You can get vitamin D from spending time in the sun. Still, many people in temperate climates have to supplement their vitamin D. Adults can safely take vitamin D supplements in doses as high as 4000 IU per day.

The microbiome in your gut is crucial to immune health. Eating plenty of fiber and fermented foods like kefir, yogurt, and kombucha will keep your good bacteria happy and your immune system strong.

Holistic Healthcare in Kentucky

At All Star Chiropractic, we provide spinal adjustment and nutritional advice to help our clients stay healthy and meet their wellness goals. Schedule a consultation today to find out how we can help your family have a healthy summer.