Your immune system is a network of cells, proteins, and organs that defend your body from invaders like viruses and bacteria. Though it is very efficient, it occasionally fails and, when this happens, you often get sick.
Strengthening your immune system is the best way to intervene in this process. This can be done in a number of different ways:
- Through targeted nutrition
- Beneficial lifestyle changes
- Supplementation with vitamins and minerals
By following a daily regime that includes these factors, it is possible to keep your immune system strong and healthy.
Here are our top 10 ten things you can do to boost your immune system, starting today:
1. Eliminate refined and processed sugars from your diet
Refined sugars—such as those you would find in processed foods, sugary drinks, or any high-sugar food —slow down your immune process, making it more difficult to fend off illness. Sugar also affects white blood cell function and production, leading to excess inflammation in the body. This is often one of the most difficult changes to make, but it really is the MOST important.
2. Get plenty of good, quality sleep
A good night’s sleep is essential to brain and body function. Recent studies have shown that sleep disruption has a negative effect on immune response. Most adults need about seven to nine hours of good quality sleep per night to support optimum health and function.
3. Reduce stress
Though we all live with a certain level of stress in our days, not all of it is necessary. Chronic stress makes us more susceptible to illness as the immune system’s ability to fight infection is greatly reduced. When we are stressed, our bodies produce a hormone called cortisol, which can reduce our immune system’s efficiency. Stress-reduction strategies like meditation, mindfulness, and yoga are very effective. Just 15 minutes a day can make a significant difference in the way your body functions and feels.
Daily exercise is essential for whole-body health and immunity. Studies show how high-intensity exercise can improve immune health – and you don’t even have to do it for very long. Just 15 to 20 minutes daily can make a big difference. It contributes even directly by promoting good circulation, which allows the cells and proteins of the immune system to move efficiently through the body to do their job effectively.
5. Supplement with Vitamin D
We get vitamin D naturally through sun exposure, but most adults are chronically vitamin D deficient, whether it is due to geography, too much time spent indoors (working, for example), or using sunscreen. A lower level of vitamin D can put you at risk for a range of viral, bacterial, or fungal infections while high doses of vitamin D taken during an illness has been shown to shorten the duration.
6. Supplement with Vitamin C
Vitamin C is essential to breaking down and killing virus cells. Since your body does not naturally produce or store vitamin C, it is essential to take it on a regular basis. If you are ill, high doses of vitamin C will shorten the duration of your cold symptoms. The recommended dosage when fighting a cold or flu is three-to-four grams of high-quality vitamin C every hour until relief is attained. Regular supplementation strengthens the immune system and will help to reduce the frequency of viral infection.
7. Eat Your Collagen
Collagen is a protein that fights free radicals in your body. It also is essential for forming and maintaining connective tissues like tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. Collagen is considered conditionally essential to a range of body functions, including:
- Skin health
- Joint health
- Brain function
- Healthy sleep cycles
- Reduction of inflammation
- Muscle restoration
- Metabolic health
- Regulating appetite
The good news is, collagen can be supplemented through diet. While homemade bone broth is the best way to enrich your diet with collagen, we highly recommend supplementing with collagen hydrolysate. Be sure to use a HIGH QUALITY, GRASS-FED collagen source, like Great Lakes Collagen Hydrolysate.
8. Supplement with curcumin
Curcumin, also known as turmeric, has some of the highest antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties you can find. It is also anti-carcinogenic, antiviral, and antifungal and recent studies have supported its designation as an immune modulator. Chronic inflammation contributes to almost every common Western disease, including the common cold and flu. Curcumin can suppress many molecules known to play major roles in the disease process.
9. Laughter:It really is the best medicine!
It’s officially not just a cliché – there is increasing evidence that laughter strengthens immunity by increasing our natural “killer cells”. It also improves our psychological and physiological health by lowering cortisol caused by stress and anxiety. In addition, it increases the antibodies that we need to fend off disease. Plus, it’s free and makes you instantly feel great! You definitely can’t beat that.
10. Practice mindfulness
It is widely known and accepted that what we think and what we feel has a significant impact on our immune health. Stress, anxiety, negative thinking, and unhealthy emotional states can lower our defenses and make us more susceptible to disease. Mindfulness is associated with a decrease in all of these mechanisms. When you teach your brain to be mindful of the things that are going on around you, it is possible to remodel the structure of your brain and immune system.