Diseases run rampant; have you ever wondered why some people fall ill and others remain perfectly healthy? The answer lies in the immune system of the individual. A healthy immune system is a powerful deterrent against viral infections such as the common cold and the flu. Investing in your immune system is an important step that you can take to prevent illnesses.
There are several natural ways to boost your immune system:
1. Manage Stress Levels
Cortisol is the human alarm system. When we sense that we are in danger, our body releases cortisol, one of our stress hormones. This is a common cause of the “fight-or-flight" instinct in crisis situations, but cortisol can also be released during perfectly safe but moderately stressful situations. In times of long-term stress, high cortisol levels can wreak havoc on the immune system by decreasing the lymphocytes (white blood cells that help fight off infection). To keep your immune system healthy and happy during stressful times, consider calming your mind with peaceful practices like meditation and yoga.
2. Add a Squeeze of Citrus
Vitamin C is a well-known enhancer of the immune system. This is because vitamin C increases the body’s white blood cell production, the cells that are critical in fighting infections. Since our bodies do not store vitamin C, it must be continuously consumed in the diet to maintain a healthy immune system. Luckily, vitamin C is found in high concentrations in citrus fruits, giving us a tasty method to boost the immune system. Consider adding a grapefruit, orange, or tangerine to your next meal – or squeeze some delicious lemon or lime on your salad for a tangy dressing!
3. Reduce or Eliminate Hard Alcohol Intake
Hard alcohol (such as whiskey or rum) can impair the immune system and increase the chances of getting sick. Our gut microbiome, which includes the beneficial bacteria living in our intestines, are critical in fighting illnesses. When an excess of hard alcohol is consumed, the microbiome behaves differently, allowing unhealthy bacteria to pass into blood and negatively impact the health of the immune system. Additionally, hard alcohol impairs another important marker for immune system health: sleep quality and quantity. Trade that glass of alcohol for some fresh-squeezed organic orange juice instead! In contrast to hard alcohol, research shows that moderate consumption of wine (preferably organic) can be beneficial to the immune system and can help fight infections.
4. Choose Superfoods
In addition to citrus fruits, there are several other tasty fruits, vegetables, and herbs that can promote a healthy immune system. Red bell peppers contain even more vitamin C than many citrus fruits, and broccoli is packed full of vitamins A, C, and E as well as antioxidants and fiber. Garlic is a delicious addition to nearly any dish and comes with a side dish of immune-boosting allicin. The vibrant spice turmeric contains high concentrations of curcumin, which may have inflammatory-modulating properties that boost the immune system. Good nutrition plays a huge role in healthy immune system support and ensures that you and your family can obtain a wide variety of organic fruits and vegetables to help fight off those pesky bugs.
5. Sleep It Off!
Have you ever thought that skipping a night of sleep would have no impact on your health? Think again! A lack of sleep can trigger the activation of the body’s inflammatory immune response, reducing the activity of T cells (a type of immune cell) in the body. This weakens the immune system. Getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep per night is an easy way to maintain your immune health – and has the added bonus of reducing stress, promoting recovery from exercise, and improving memory and mood.
6. Consume Robust Vitamins and Minerals
Your body needs dozens of vitamins and minerals to function properly and so does your immune system. Take a close look at your diet and nutritional regimen to make sure you are getting a robust variety of organic fruits, vegetables, and whole foods. You may be surprised to find that you are missing more than one important vitamin or mineral. If that is the case, consider adding a food or trusted supplement to your routine to keep your immune system in tip-top shape!