How To Boost Your Immune System
Our human immune system is very complex containing numerous types of cells and tissues that inhabit other tissues and circulate throughout the body. The immune system is always working hard and is our first line of defense against unwanted viruses and bacteria that may enter the body.*
The immune system is designed to react immediately in support of every area of the body. The stronger your immune system response is the less chance you have of becoming ill.*
Keeping the immune system in balance is of the utmost importance for staying healthy and avoiding illness. By properly managing your diet and routine, you can ensure that your immune system is strong enough to protect you against all forms of disease. *(source)
Special Note: Immune System And Aging
“While some people age healthily, the conclusion of many studies is that, compared with younger people, the elderly are more likely to contract infectious diseases and, even more importantly, more likely to die from them. Respiratory infections, influenza, and particularly pneumonia are a leading cause of death in people over 65 worldwide. No one knows for sure why this happens, but some scientists observe that this increased risk correlates with a decrease in T cells, possibly from the thymus atrophying with age and producing fewer T cells to fight off infection.” (source)
Wash Hands Often
The transfer of germs from your hands by touching your face where the germs may enter your body through the nose, mouth, eyes and ears is how you end up sick. Be aware of where germs tend to linger such as door handles, counter tops and shaking hands with someone.
By frequently washing your hands you can prevent this spread of germs to your face that cause flus, colds and other viral infections. Wash your hands with soap under running water. Scrub the fronts and backs of your hands as well as in between fingers and under fingenails. Antibacterial soap and hand sanitizer may give you additional protection against unwanted germs.
Lower Stress Levels
Stress has been proven in many scientific studies to suppress the immune system thus increasing the risk of several types of illnesses. Stress leads to the release of cortisol, which has been linked to increased anxiety and histamine, a molecule involved in having allergies.*
Research into the effects of stress on inflammation has demonstrated that stress exposure can increase the likelihood of developing disease, as well as exacerbate preexisting conditions. Combat stress daily with activities like yoga, deep breathing, meditation, moderate exercise, and relaxation. *(source)
Keep A Positive Attitude
In many ways your immune system reflects your attitude. Having a more optimistic outlook on life has been shown to reduce your susceptibility to illness. A consistent practice of cultivating gratitude will also bolster your immunity.
One minute of negativity can weaken the immune system for 4-5 hours and one moment of joyful laughter serves to boost the immune response for up to 24 hours. Live with an attitude of gratitude to keep your immune system as healthy as possible.
You can practice gratitude by making a list of everything you are grateful and add to it often, smiling more, volunteering, compliment a friend or helping someone in need just to name a few.
Moderate Your Alcohol Intake
Scientific studies have shown that excessive consumption of alcohol can weaken your immune system. Researchers have long observed an association between excessive alcohol consumption and adverse immune-related health effects. (source)
Determining whether it is safe for you to consume some alcohol has to do with many factors including overall health status, risk for disease, and any medications you are taking. Consult a trusted healthcare provider to help understand your risks and how much it would be safe for you to consume.
Get Sufficient Sleep
Several studies indicate that a lack of sleep can cause the immune system to be weakened. Sleep is like putting your immune system on a battery charger for the night. If it doesn’t recharge to 100% then performance and immune response will be compromised.
Most of us require between 7 and 9 hours of sleep to feel adequately rested. Avoid substances that can interfere with sleep quality, like caffeine or alcohol, in the hours leading up to bedtime.
Enjoy a warm soak in the tub or shower, soft music, or a cup of chamomile to help you doze off to sleep more easily. If desired you can even monitor your sleep with a sleep tracking device to help you better understand your sleep cycles.
Get Moderate Exercise
It is not necessary to over-do-it when it comes to exercise and a healthy immune system. In fact over-training can actually compromise immunity. Moderate physical activities such as walking, cycling under 10 mph or water aerobics for approximately 30 minutes on a regular occasion can give the immune system a beneficial boost. Some other moderate exercise activities include gardening, dancing and golf. The key with moderate exercise is to be consistent without over training.
Eat Organic Fruits And Vegetables
Organic fruits and vegetables are loaded with a plethora of nutrients that are essential for the immune system. Consuming them in a wide array of colors provides the best mix of antioxidants to boost your immunity. Leafy greens, cantaloupe, carrots, blueberries, asparagus, apples, mangoes, mushrooms, grapes and other brightly colored produce give your immune system the boost it needs to function at its best. You can mix them up in smoothies, salads and healthy soups.
Take Your Vitamins
Most experts agree that taking a daily multivitamin can help ensure that you are meeting your recommended daily allowance (RDA) for necessary nutrients. The vitamins and minerals that are crucial to immune function are A, C, D, E, zinc, selenium and magnesium. Your immune system isn’t able to function at its best without having an adequate supply of these essential nutrients.
Try Herbal Supplements
Herbs like astragalus, black elderberry, echinacea, olive leaf and oregano can help amplify the function of the immune system in a variety of ways.
- Astragalus is considered an adaptogen, helping support the body’s adrenals by allowing the body to naturally adapt to daily stress.
- Black Elderberry is unique in providing both antioxidant and immune support through its natural concentration of anthocyanins and other flavonoids.
- Echinacea is used to support acute and continual immune health.
- Olive Leaf also helps maintain immune function with antioxidant support.
- Oregano supports the body’s natural resistance, a healthy microbiome in the intestines and a healthy immune response.
The immune system uses many mechanisms to combat potential illness such as the bacterial and viral infections that cause flus and colds. These mechanisms work together to tailor a fully integrated immune response to the specific invading microbe. Everyday preventive measures such as the ones mentioned above as well as avoiding contact with sick individuals, and good hygiene can go a long way in reducing your risk for viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens.
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