Joy Bauer of the ‘Today Show’ Shares 3 Easy Ways to Boost Your Immune System

NBC’s Today Show health expert Joy Bauer knows that a strong immune system is vital to help ward off disease.

Reducing stress, exercising, eating antioxidant-rich foods, and getting a good night’s sleep can help individuals stay healthy, especially during a pandemic. Although eating a bowl of chips while binging on Netflix may have been the norm at the beginning of the crisis, Bauer says now is the time to get off the couch, nourish your body with healthy foods, and get a good night of sleep.

Joy Bauer from 'Today Show'
Joy Bauer |Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

She told Showbiz Cheat Sheet that boosting your immune system doesn’t have to be complicated, require an expensive gym membership, or involve a complex nutrition plan.

“It’s really a combination of looking and feeling our best,” she says. “But at the same time every single physician you talk to now, they make strengthening the immune system their top priority.”

Start with nutrition

Bauer acknowledged that a number of Americans are re-emerging into society after being in a COVID-19 cocoon. Some people may have added a few pounds to their frame due to the stress of being locked down too.

But she views this as a unique opportunity for Americans to get serious about their health. “Because it’s about survival,” she remarks. One transformative aspect of the lockdown is that many people have become better home chefs. So rather than hitting the same pasta recipe, Bauer suggests weaving immune-boosting foods into meals.

RELATED: ‘Today Show’s’ Joy Bauer Says These 4 Foods Can Keep You Looking Young

“Specifically [meals] loaded with produce and antioxidants,” she suggests. “Now is the time to find recipes that you can create around your repertoire and learn how to make things that are healthy and immune-boosting.”

Plan meals for success and savings

Plan out your week with at least three or four meals for each meal category, to keep the variety fresh. Thinking ahead means you’ll be better prepared at the grocery store and more likely to save money. Going back to the office? Double up on the recipes, portion out sizes, and store extras in the freezer. When it’s time to head to work, grab a packaged meal, and go. Don’t forget to date your stored items.

Bauer recommends integrating Vitamin C immune-rich produce, such as citrus and mangos, into daily meals. Also, consider zinc to boost your immune system. Zinc-rich foods include cashews and pumpkin seeds.

RELATED: Foods That You Should Never Touch If You’re Over 50

Vitamin D is also important. “It plays a major role in the immune system,” she says. Milk and milk alternatives are good sources. But the important resource is salmon. “The omega-3 fats with salmon are so great for every part from head to toe of your body,” she says. Bauer also shared three immune-boosting recipes. They include loaded bell pepper nachos, plus her longevity smoothie and mango-ginger cashew smoothie.

Lace-up your sneakers and just walk

Not feeling comfortable going back to the gym just yet? Bauer says taking a walk every day will give you the immune-boosting exercise your body craves. “The easiest thing anybody can do to boost their immune system, mood and regulate weight from the exercise standpoint is just put on your sneakers and walk for at least 30 minutes a day,” she remarks.

RELATED: 5 Healthy Habits You Should Remember Every Day

“It’s so simple and the health payoff is tremendous,” Bauer adds. “I always tell people to do it first thing in the morning because I think it sets you up to have a productive day. We know from research it boosts your mood.” Harvard Health cited additional benefits, which include a possible cancer risk reduction, reduced sugar cravings, and less joint pain.

Bauer suggests using the time to catch up with friends on the phone or to listen to a book on tape. “Make a deal that you are only going to listen to the audio when you are exercising,” she suggests. Also, find a podcast to dive into for fun.

Don’t skimp on sleep

Bauer says the third key to a strong immune system is getting a good night of sleep. “Sleep has gotten so much attention within this last year, even prior to the COVID stuff,” she says. “Being sleep deprived is directly related to increased levels of stress, being overweight, and having Type 2 diabetes. Also having memory issues.”

RELATED: ‘Today Show:’ Former Co-Host Kathie Lee Gifford Said She Would ‘Get Creamed’ For Talking About This On the Air

“People should try to aim for seven to eight hours a night,” she recommends. But with people experiencing anxiety and stress, how can you still grab those vital hours of shut-eye? “One of the things people can do is drink a calming cup of chamomile tea,” Bauer says. Avoid drinking alcohol and also keep technology, such as phones and tablets, out of the bedroom.

“And melatonin for sure,” she says. “Melatonin is a hormone and it helps to regulate our sleep-wake cycle.” Bauer recently partnered with Life Extension’s Fast- Acting Melatonin. “It’s a citrus vanilla [flavor],” she describes. “And it helps you get a restful sleep pattern.”