Updated: Feb 3
Now more than ever a strong healthy immune system is of critical importance. Hopefully the pandemic will soon be a distant memory, but a healthy immune system never goes out of style.
The immune system defends us against viruses by attacking germs to keeps our bodies healthy. I want to stress that you can’t simply boost your immune system overnight. The strength of your immune system is based on a culmination of a variety of lifestyle choices over time. Sounds like something we all want a piece of right? Watch the video above or read below for my best tips to support your immune system.
The #1 thing you can do to boost your immune system is simply go to bed. Nothing makes you feel better than getting a good night’s sleep, and the best part is its FREE. Lack of sleep can cause the body's inflammatory immune response to activate. This can weaken your immune system and response to vaccines.
In a study in 164 healthy adults, those who slept fewer than 6 hours each night were more likely to catch a cold than those who slept 6 hours or more each night.
Take a probiotic
About 70% of the body’s immune system calls the digestive system or gut “home”. By consuming probiotics you can arm your immune system with all that it needs to fight off invading viruses and bacteria. Research suggests that a flourishing network of gut bacteria can help your immune cells differentiate between normal, healthy cells and harmful invader organisms. You can get probiotics from food sources such as yogurt, kefir, miso, kombucha, fermented kraut or kimchi and tempeh or by taking a probiotic supplement. If you would like to learn more about this topic refer to this gut health webinar.
In a 28-day study in 152 people infected with rhinovirus, those who supplemented with probiotic Bifidobacterium animalis had a stronger immune response and lower levels of the virus in their nasal mucus than a control group.
Water helps your body produce lymph, which carries white blood cells and other immune system cells. Drink lots of water throughout the day to cleanse your liver (your body's filter). Try to avoid overdoing beverages that can make you dehydrated, like coffee. You can also try eating more hydrating foods, such as cucumbers, celery or watermelon. Dehydration can cause headaches and hinder your physical performance, focus, mood, digestion, and heart and kidney function. These complications can increase your susceptibility to illness. Aim to drink half you body weight in oz. of water daily.
Eat the Rainbow
Like any fighting force, the immune system army marches on its stomach. Healthy immune system warriors need good, regular nourishment. The old saying “an apple a day can keep the doctor away does have some truth to it after all. Eating a variety of whole plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes rich in vitamins and minerals can help your body fight off viruses. The antioxidants in these foods help decrease inflammation by combatting unstable compounds called free radicals, which can cause inflammation when they build up in your body in high levels
Take your Vitamins
Ideally you would be getting all your immune boosting vitamins straight from the source. In some cases this isn’t always possible. These vitamins are key in immune support.
Vitamin D: Modulates thousands of genes and many aspects of immune function, both innate and adaptive. The scientific evidence shows higher vitamin D blood levels are associated with lower rates of virus infection and lower risk of a severe case. Ideally Get outside for fresh air and sunshine, but I also recommend taking a daily supplement of 1,000 to 2,000 IUs of vitamin D.
Vitamin C: One of the biggest immune system boosters of all. A lack of vitamin C can even make you more prone to getting sick. Foods rich in vitamin C include oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, strawberries, bell peppers, spinach, kale and broccoli. Daily intake of vitamin C is essential for good health because your body doesn’t produce or store it.
Vitamin E: A powerful antioxidant that helps the body fight off infection. Foods rich in vitamin E include nuts, seeds and spinach.
Vitamin B6: Supports biochemical reactions in the immune system. Vitamin B6-rich foods include chicken and cold water fish such as salmon and tuna. Vitamin B6 also is found in green vegetables and in chickpeas.
Zinc: In a review in 575 people with the common cold, supplementing with more than 75 mg of zinc per day reduced the duration of the cold by 33%
Chronic stress suppresses the immune response of the body by releasing the hormone cortisol. Long-term stress promotes inflammation, as well as imbalances in immune cell function. Activities that may help you manage your stress include meditation, exercise, journaling, yoga, and spending time outdoors in nature.
Excessive alcohol consumption depresses your immune system. Consume in moderation.
Regular exercise is one of the pillars of healthy living. It improves cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure, helps control body weight, and protects against a variety of diseases. Regular exercise has been scientifically proven to support the immune system. Additionally, regular, moderate exercise may reduce inflammation and help your immune cells regenerate regularly. Examples of moderate exercise include brisk walking, steady bicycling, jogging, swimming, and light hiking. Most people should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week
Not only does it increase the risk of cancer but it also impairs the immune system.
In conclusion, its important to lead a healthy, balanced lifestyle everyday to strengthen your immune system and reinforce your body’s defenses against harmful pathogens.