What is the immune system? It is the body’s defense against everything in and outside our bodies, particularly against disease-causing microorganisms. If it’s impaired, it’s most likely that the body may be invaded more easily, and illness may occur more easily and frequently.
Even the fittest may still get sick if their immune system is not in its healthiest state. The most common causes of a weakened immune system include the lack of sleep, exercise, nutrition, Vitamin D, and good quality water in the body, as well the presence and prevalence of stress and autoimmune disease. Most of these can be addressed easily through healthier and more sustainable habits and lifestyles.
How to Strengthen the Immune System Naturally?
Currently, with the novel coronavirus and it disease, COVID-19, spreading to 29 countries, alert has been raised and fear has made people become more cautious to prevent its further spread and infection. More than wearing a face mask and washing your hands frequently, the need for protecting and boosting the immune system has become more urgent than ever. However, caring for your immune system isn’t all about your diet or level of vitamin C intake through supplementation. It requires a multi-faceted approach. And, these general health-giving natural strategies are great what will provide us with strong and bulletproof immunities in our bodies.
The ‘right’ foods include those that provide your body with the nutrients that help your immune system function properly, and keep it strong to fight off potential threats.
- Fruits and Vegetables that are rich in antioxidants found in colorful foods, vitamins C and E, beta-carotene and zinc. Some examples are citrus fruits, strawberries, apples, grapes, avocados, onions, carrots, and green leafy vegetables.
- Herbs and Spices that are rich in antioxidants and can reduce inflammation. The best examples are turmeric, ginger, garlic, cinnamon, oregano and cayenne pepper. (1)
- Fermented and Cultured Foods, and Probiotics. 70% of our immune system lives in the gut, and our gut bacteria help our T cells develop properly. Thus, a healthy gut is connected to a healthy immune system. Taking in these foods can help rebalance and heal your gut microbiome: kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, miso and fresh pickles. (2)
- Refined Sugars curb our immune system cells that attack bacteria. Also, it has been linked to increased inflammation in the body which can be a precursor to a number of diseases.
- Alcohol. Excessive consumption impairs the immune system and increases vulnerability to lung infections. (3) Aside from this, alcohol decreases the absorption of many vitamins and minerals, adversely affecting our white blood cell count.
Drinking water can help strengthen the immune system by making sure the body gets enough oxygen. Aside from water, you can hydrate by drinking herbal teas, and fruit and vegetable juices.
- Measure and monitor your water intake during the day through phone apps or fitness tracker watches to make sure you are drinking enough.
- Drink hot tea in the morning or evening, during your downtimes.
- Infuse fruit or herbs in your water to add flavor.
Sleep and Rest
Not getting enough sleep can create a cascade of stress hormones like cortisol in the body. Stress hormones cause inflammation which then suppress the immune system. (4) Remember that sleep helps cells replenish and regenerate which is necessary to maintain a healthy immune system.
- Create a relaxing evening routine which excludes blue light from electronic gadgets like your phone, computer and television.
- Set your bedtime and follow it consistently.
- Make your bedroom sleep-conducive adding relaxing scents and music, and installing dimmer light.
Moderate consistent exercise mobilizes immune system cells, helping the body defend itself against pathogens and cancer cell growth. Those who regularly engage in movement have fewer illnesses and less systemic inflammation.(5)
- Walk at least 30 minutes a day or reach at least 8,000-10,000 steps a day.
- Jog or run for at least 30 minutes at a time.
- Exercise in your favorite ‘playground,’ whatever that may be. It could be a gymnastics gym, a dance or yoga studio, basketball court or football field – A place that would make you want to be active for just fun.
Like sleep deprivation, stress, when not managed well, increases the hormone cortisol which suppresses the immune system. Prolonged unmanaged stress may wear down the immune system and increase the body’s vulnerability to illness.
- Identify activities and environments that cause you extreme stress, and take measures to avoid them.
- Practice relaxing activities like meditating, journaling, listening to calming music or whatever activity that relaxes you.
- Make friends with stress in a healthy way. (6)
These are a few simple and natural key strategies to strengthen your immune system. A multifaceted approach is better than focusing only on one. Thus, make sure to take on a holistic approach to achieve better results in your overall health, and keep you strong in preventing diseases from viruses, bacteria and other harmful sources.
How about you? Are there simple and natural ways which you’ve incorporated into your lifestyle that is effective to you? Would you like to have personal guidance on boosting your immune system? Let us know in the comments below.
(1) Seven Healing Herbs and Spices to Boost the Immune System. https://www.onegreenplanet.org/natural-health/seven-healing-herbs-spices-boost-immune-system/
(2) What Healing your Gut can Do for your Immune System. https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/arthritis-and-your-immune-system
(3) Alcohol Abuse, Immunosupression and Pulmonary Infection. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19630706
(4) Sleep and Immune Function. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3256323/
(5) Can Too Much Exercise Decrease Your Immunity? https://www.verywellfit.com/exercise-and-immunity-3120439
(6) How to Make Stress your Friend? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcGyVTAoXEU