While the mechanisms of immunity are complex and no one thing is going to suddenly make it work perfectly, there are lifestyle habits that create the balance the body needs for the immune system to function at its best. Let’s take a look at 4 things you can start implementing every day to drastically improve your overall health, including your immune function.

#1 Hydrate
While drinking water isn’t going to fight off germs, it is going to improve your body’s ability to do so. Without proper hydration, your body’s cells can’t do what they need to do to keep the body working as it should. Dehydration can have negative consequences on a variety of systems including digestion1, which is closely tied to immune function. A general rule of thumb is that you should be drinking half your body weight in ounces each day. That means that if you’re a 180-pound person, you should be taking in about 90 ounces of water a day. Pure water is better than juices and sodas, and don’t forget that soups and fresh fruits and vegetables provide quite a bit of water as well. If your urine is a clear, pale yellow, you’re most likely properly hydrated.

#2 Get Plenty of Sleep
There’s a reason you sleep a lot when you’re sick; your body needs rest in order to fight off that sickness. Even if you’re not actively experiencing symptoms of an illness, that doesn’t mean your body’s not fighting all kinds of battles under the surface. You’re regularly exposed to a plethora of pathogens and your body has an incredible ability to fend off most of them without you even knowing it. But in order to do so, your body has to be well-rested. If you’re getting less than 6 hours of sleep per night, you’re more prone to illnesses like the common cold2

#3 Eat More Whole Foods
Whole, unprocessed foods like fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes all contain a wide variety of important vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants that ward off inflammation and help your immune system function at its best3. The fiber in these is also crucial for your gut microbiome, a major factor in your immune system, so eat up.

#4 Lower Your Stress
Numerous studies have shown that long-term stress created activity within the body that ravaged the immune system4. In fact, these studies indicate that duration of stress, not severity, is the key factor. That means making the effort to keep your stress levels as low as possible, so be sure you’re committing to regular self-care, taking breaks when needed, and allowing your body and mind to get away from it all. 

While we’re all going to get sick now and then, keeping your immune system working at its best is going to make that an uncommon occurrence and help you to fight off anything you do catch much faster and easier. So, if you don’t already, start implementing these positive lifestyle changes and take better care of your body today.


1 Popkin BM, D’Anci KE, Rosenberg IH.
Water, hydration, and health. Nutr Rev. 2010 Aug;68(8):439-58.
doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00304.x. PMID: 20646222; PMCID: PMC2908954.

2 Prather AA, Janicki-Deverts D, Hall MH, Cohen S. 
Behaviorally Assessed Sleep and Susceptibility to the Common Cold.
Sleep. 2015 Sep 1;38(9):1353-9. doi: 10.5665/sleep.4968. PMID: 26118561; PMCID: PMC45314

Serafini M, Peluso I.
Functional Foods for Health: The Interrelated Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Role of Fruits, Vegetables, Herbs, Spices and Cocoa in Humans.
Curr Pharm Des. 2016;22(44):6701-6715. doi: 10.2174/1381612823666161123094235. PMID: 27881064; PMCID: PMC542777

4 Suzanne C. Segerstrom, Gregory E. Miller
Psychological Stress and the Human Immune System: A Meta-Analytic Study of 30 Years of Inquiry
Psychological Bulletin 2004, Vol. 130, No. 4, 601–630