News Tips for Boosting Your Immune System Handwashing, limiting stress, and eating a balanced diet with plenty of vitamins are the shortlist. By Meghan Overdeep Meghan Overdeep Meghan Overdeep has more than a decade of writing and editing experience for top publications. Her expertise extends from weddings and animals to every pop culture moment in between. She has been scouring the Internet for the buzziest Southern news since joining the team in 2017. Southern Living's editorial guidelines Updated on June 4, 2023 Fact checked by Jillian Dara Fact checked by Jillian Dara Jillian is a freelance writer, editor and fact-checker with 10 years of editorial experience in the lifestyle genre. In addition to fact-checking for Southern Living, Jillian works on multiple verticals across Dotdash-Meredith, including TripSavvy, The Spruce, and Travel + Leisure. brand's fact checking process Share Tweet Pin Email In addition to frequent hand-washing, there are ways to give your immune system a better chance at fighting everything from the common cold to coronavirus. First, it's essential to limit stress. (Easier said than done, right?) Numerous studies have shown that the human body does a better job fighting off respiratory illness when it's not under stress. Meditation, controlled breathing, knitting, and other stress reduction techniques can help your immune system stay strong. Good sleep habits are also important. When it comes to warding off illness, the sleeping sweet spot, Harvard University recommends six to seven hours of sleep. You also want to eat a balanced diet. Probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kefir, kombucha, miso, and sauerkraut are always a good idea. From their outpost in your gut, these beneficial live microorganisms protect all other organs from anything circulating through your bloodstream. And, as tempting as it might be to eat nothing but carbs when you're sick, it's important to make sure you're getting enough protein. Protein from lean animal sources and plant-based versions (like chickpeas, beans, lentils, and peas) can increase your immune system by regulating existing cells and creating new ones. udra/Getty Images Keep in mind that no single food or remedy has been scientifically proven to bolster a person's immune system or ward off disease. But, if you enjoy foods with supposed immune boosting properties (ginger, citrus fruits, turmeric, oregano oil, and bone broth), experts say there is no harm in working them into your diet. Remember to drink plenty of water. As Sassos explained to Good Housekeeping, the body's fluid needs increase when it's fighting infection. "Drinking an extra two cups of water plus your daily minimum can fuel regeneration of immune-fighting lymphatic cells to get your body feeling stronger," she notes. As for the vitamins, vitamins C, A, E, and D are all associated with improved immunity, as is Zinc. Try to work oranges, grapefruit, red bell peppers, strawberries, sweet potatoes, broccoli, carrots, spinach, almonds, and fatty fish into your diet if you can. And most importantly, please, please, PLEASE wash your hands. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources Southern Living is committed to using high-quality, reputable sources to support the facts in our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we fact check our content for accuracy. Dhabhar FS. Effects of stress on immune function: the good, the bad, and the beautiful. Immunol Res. 2014;58(2-3):193-210. doi:10.1007/s12026-014-8517-0 Househam AM, Peterson CT, Mills PJ, Chopra D. The effects of stress and meditation on the immune system, human microbiota, and epigenetics. Adv Mind Body Med. 2017;31(4):10-25.