Your immune system is essential in keeping you healthy, which is why many wonder “how can I boost my immune system naturally?” Find out our 7 tips, here.
Your immune system performs a vital function of protecting you against disease causing microorganisms. However, sometimes it does fail and you fall sick, which causes many people to wonder “how can I boost my immune system naturally?”
There are loads of products on the supermarket shelves marketed at being ‘immune function boosting’, but sadly simply sipping a vitamin C enriched drink isn’t going to do a great deal. This is because your immune system is very complex, which makes a lot of sense. Not only does it need to be strong enough to fight off invading illnesses and infections, it has to play a delicate balance and not be so strong that it reacts to everything and causes allergies and autoimmune system disorders. With that being said, there are ways to boost your immune system naturally with some lifestyle changes.
From eating a healthy diet to making time for regular exercise, here’s our top 7 lifestyle changes that can help to boost your immune system naturally:
This is one of the most important things you can do to ensure the proper functioning of your immune system. Try and eat a diet that’s rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, lean proteins and healthy fats. Make sure you’re getting enough essential vitamins and minerals each day, especially those that help to maintain your immune system, such as:
The best way to get these vitamins is by making sure you’re eating a balanced diet, but if you’re lacking there are supplements you can take. It’s best to speak to your doctor if you suspect a deficiency as there may be an underlying cause that’s responsible.
Everyone knows the importance of drinking enough water, especially considering up to 60% of the human body is made up of it. According to Houston Methodist, lymph which is a fluid in your circulatory system carries infection-fighting immune cells around your body that are largely made up of water. When you’re dehydrated it slows down the movement of these cells which could result in an impaired immune system. Try to ensure you’re drinking fluids throughout the day and start your morning with a glass of water to replenish lost fluids from sleeping.
Did you know that long-term stress can lead to higher levels of the steroid hormone cortisol? When you’re under stress, your body relies on hormones such as these when you go into fight or flight mode, and it actually stops the immune system from responding until after the event. This is a good thing initially as it allows you to focus on the immediate stressor, but when it’s happening too often it can block your immune system from functioning correctly. Make time for stress-reducing activities throughout your day that work for you, this could be anything from exercise, to meditation to even art.
Regular exercise can have numerous fantastic benefits to your health and that includes maintaining a healthy immune system too. For one, it helps to promote blood circulation which allows cells and other infection fighting substances of the immune system to move through your body easily. Not to mention, exercise helps to release endorphins, so it’s a great stress reducer too.
Dr Kaplan speaking for Everyday Health suggests where possible to take your exercise outside. Not only does nature have a positive impact on mood, it also can lower blood pressure and reduce inflammation, which all in turn helps to boost your immune system naturally.
When you sleep, your body heals and regenerates so getting a good night’s rest is important to your overall health and your immune function too. When your body’s at rest it produces and distributes immune cells such as cytokines (a protein to fight or promote inflammation), T cells (a type of white blood cell to help regulate immune response) and interleukin 12 (a pro-inflammatory cytokine). On top of this, sleep deprivation can lead to an increase in cortisol levels which as you know from previously in this article, really isn’t good for a healthy immune system.
Interestingly, one study carried out on healthy adults with and without insomnia found that the former group was more susceptible to the flu, even those that had the flu vaccine!
In terms of how much sleep you should aim for, The National Sleep Foundation recommends around seven hours each night to stay in good health.
You don’t have to be a doctor to know that too much alcohol is bad for you, but did you know it can affect your immune function too? When you regularly consume a lot, your body works incredibly hard to try and detoxify itself, which means it’s too busy doing that to ensure the proper working of your immune system. Thus, too much alcohol on a regular basis can slow down recovery time and reduce your ability to fight infection, putting you more at risk of developing certain diseases and illnesses such as pneumonia, liver disease and some cancers.
If you smoke, one way to boost your immune system naturally is to ditch the cigarettes. The chemicals released by the smoke alone contains carbon monoxide, nicotine, nitrogen oxide and cadmium which all interfere with the growth and function of immune cells. Additionally, smoking can worsen viral and bacterial infections, post-surgery infections and rheumatoid arthritis. Even if you don’t actively smoke cigarettes, you should avoid second-hand smoke as this is highly damaging too.
Now you know how to boost your immune system naturally! Want to find out more about your immune system and how it works? Read our guide on symptoms and causes of a weak immune system, next.