When you think about all the natural ways to keep your immune system healthy and strong, typically a few things come to mind right off the bat: Getting regular exercise and enough restful sleep, eating healthfully, and managing stress are some of the big ones. But there’s another big one many of us tend to forget that’s just as important—and requires relatively zero effort in comparison: drinking lots of H2O.
Here’s one way to put it: Your body is mostly comprised of water, and almost all of your bodily functions require a delicate fluid balance. So when you’re dehydrated—aka that fluid status is low—your energy levels drop and you can start feeling fatigued because your body has to work a little harder to keep things going. Exercise can feel tough, and your sleep might be affected, too—all triggers for a weakened immune system.
But importantly, staying hydrated is key for producing lymph, which the colorless fluid that carries white blood cells, immune cells, and nutrients around the body to remove harmful pathogens and waste product buildup in the tissues. (Think of the lymphatic system like your body’s drainage system.) When you’re dehydrated, your lymph can have difficulty flowing and your tissues can get backed up with bacteria, setting the stage for a weakened immune system.
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Hydrate, but make it fun.
While it’s easy to stay hydrated in the summer when a glass of water feels cooling and refreshing, we don’t blame you if you’d rather sip on hot cocoa during winter’s cold and flu season. But why not support your immune system around the clock to help avoid any potential pharmacy runs?
Increasing your fluid intake (there’s debate around how much water we should be drinking a day, but many doctors recommend we drink half our body weight in ounces—i.e., if you weigh 130 pounds, drink 65 ounces of water daily) is one of the best things you can do to boost your immune system and protect against illness, and it doesn’t have to be boring. Here are some of our favorite ways:
- Make it taste amazing: Up the chances you’ll actually reach for that extra cup of water by adding a tasty blend of botanicals and electrolytes from an effervescent tablet. Nuun Immunity tablets include vital electrolytes, vitamins, and a healthful blend of herbals (including elderberry, ginger, turmeric, and Echinacea) for full-on immune system support with a boatload of hydration benefits. You’ll want to keep a tube at your desk and in your gym bag. Stash one in your travel carry-on, too, for extra support in fighting germs and dehydration at 35,000 feet in the air.
- Reach for your favorite hydrating foods: When we think hydration, our minds think liquid. But don’t forget all the foods that have high water content. Harness the hydration of your fruits and veggies by going raw. Opt to snack on high-hydration foods like berries, baby carrots, celery, and cucumber. And though it’s technically liquid per se, bone broth is a comforting and savory way to up your fluid intake and help balance electrolytes (plus it has a hit of amino acids to boot).
While many factors affect the strength of your immune system year-round, staying hydrated is one constant that’s in your control. Drink up!