Natural Support for Healthy Lives
How to Boost the Immune System?
Be ready to fight off common colds, the flu, and other illnesses with a highly functioning immune system.
The immune system is the first line of defense when the body encounters foreign invaders, like viruses and infections. Each time it defeats a foreign microbe, it keeps a record of the cell so that it can quickly recognize and destroy the microbe if the body encounters it again — often before you’ve even gotten sick.
But sometimes the immune system isn’t quick enough to the draw. The foreign invaders replicate and the body suffers unwanted symptoms.
But what if you could give your immune system a boost? Is it possible to ramp up your immune system’s effectiveness?
The Immune System is a System
The most important thing to remember about how to boost the immune system is just that — it’s a system. It’s complex and its efficiency is reliant on multiple different factors. For the system to work properly, you need your body to be functioning at its optimal level.
11 Ways to Boost Your Immune System Naturally
A healthy lifestyle is the best way to support your immune system and protect your body against any unwanted virus or bacteria. The following are some of the critical steps you can take:
Sleep can sometimes feel like one of the hardest things to come by. Kids. Work. Life. It all seems to get in the way of a good night’s rest. But sleep is essential to a healthy immune system.
In a 2015 clinical trail with 164 healthy adults, researchers found that those who slept less than six hours a night were more likely to catch a cold and become sick.
Ideally, you want to aim for 7 (or more) hours of sleep a night.
2. Stay Well Hydrated
Drinking water after you get sick is all well and good. But the better bet is to be well hydrated in advance. Why? Because water literally is the elixir of life. Our bodies are roughly 60% water and when we don’t get enough of H2O, it can have a wide array of negative effects.
A 2016 study published in The Corinthian, ‘The Effects of Dehydration on Cognitive Functioning, Mood, and Physical Performance’, found that even mild dehydration can negatively impact your body’s ability to think straight and function normally.
Ideally, you want to drink 1.5 to 2 liters of water per day.
3. Load Up On Whole Plant Foods
Whole plant foods are rich in nutrients and antioxidants. These essential minerals help decrease inflammation, improve gut health, and maintain higher energy levels. They include:
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, “Malnutrition or a diet lacking in one or more nutrients can impair the production and activity of immune cells and antibodies.”
Just how much can optimizing your nutrient levels with a whole plant diet improve your immune system? In a 2021 study, researchers found individuals who had plant-based diets had 73% lower odds of moderate-to-severe COVID-19 severity, compared to those who did not follow this diet.
4. Stick to Healthy Fats
Our bodies need fat. A 2018 study found that healthy fats may decrease inflammation, helping to boost the immune system.
Cheering because you ate a pound of bacon this morning? Perhaps save those pompoms for your next meal. This study is specifically referring to healthy fats, rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. These include:
- Olive Oil
- Chia Seeds
- Nuts (almonds, peanuts, macadamia, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews)
5. Skip Added Sugar
In a 2017 study, researchers linked high blood sugar to inflammation and a disruption of the body’s natural cell function. In short, sugar disrupts the way your body is naturally supposed to function — from your immune system to metabolism.
While you’re most likely aware that cookies and cakes are loaded with sugar, don’t forget to read the packaging on other foods. Manufacturers have a tendency to sneak sugar into the good to heighten the flavor and extend the shelf life. Be sure to read the labels. Or better yet, stick to unprocessed, whole foods.
6. Enjoy Fermented Foods
Fermented foods are loaded with beneficial bacteria known as probiotics. These bacteria promote healthy gut health. Research shows that the gut plays a major role in how immune cells differentiate between healthy cells and harmful invaders. By developing a healthy gut, you may be able to substantially reduce your risk of getting sick.
Fermented foods include:
7. Keep Stress to a Minimum
A recent article published by the University of Maryland Medical System looked at how stress impacted the immune system. It reported that:
Stress can reduce the number of natural killer cells or lymphocytes in the body, which are needed to fight viruses, according to the American Psychological Association.
The more stress that’s placed on your body, the harder your body has to work to reduce that stress. This limits how much effort it can put into fighting off (or recovering from) an illness.
When possible, remove yourself from stressful situations. Another good approach is to use deep breathing tactics to help lower your stress levels in the moment. You can try it now by following these simple steps:
- Breathe in deeply from your belly for a count of 5.
- Hold your breath for a count of 5.
- Exhale slowly for a count of 7.
- Repeat 3 times.
8. If You Drink Alcohol, Drink in Moderation
Do you enjoy the occasional glass of red wine or beer? In a 2013 study conducted by Oregon Health & Science University, researchers looked at the effects of moderate alcohol consumption.
They found that those who drank in moderation had better cardiovascular function than those who didn’t drink at all. And even more surprisingly, the study suggested that, “moderate drinking may actually bolster our immune system and help fight off infection.”
But that doesn’t mean you can happily down a fifth of vodka or a bottle of wine to stay healthy. Rachel Nuwer’s Smithsonian Magazine article ‘Binge Drinking Suppresses the Immune System,’ explored how “binge drinking not only makes people more accident-prone, it impairs their ability to recover from those accidents.”
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIH) defines binge drinking as:
5 or more alcoholic drinks for males or 4 or more alcoholic drinks for females on the same occasion (i.e., at the same time or within a couple of hours of each other) on at least 1 day in the past month.
Even just ‘heavy drinking (defined by NIH as 4 drinks on any day of more than 14 drinks a week for men and 3 drinks on any day or more than 7 drinks per week for women) can negatively impact immune response.
9. Don’t Smoke
It’s a well-known fact that smoking causes cancer, but multiple studies have also shown that it can have devastating impacts on the immune system.
In a 2019 study published in the Journal of Nuclear Medicine, researchers found that smoking significantly changed the body’s immune system. Specifically, it altered the inflammation and immunosuppression throughout the body.
This reduces the body’s ability to fight off infection when it encounters it, making an individual more prone to getting sick and being sick for a prolonged period of time.
10. Engage in Moderately Difficult Exercise
Exercising regularly offers a myriad of benefits from helping improve your mood and control your weight to boosting your immune system. But that doesn’t mean to just go all out. A 2007 research study found that, “moderate exercise seems to exert a protective effect, whereas repeated bouts of strenuous exercise can result in immune dysfunction.”
Even better news, a 2020 research study found that physical exercise can help fight COVID-19: “During and after physical exercise, pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines are released, lymphocyte circulation increases, as well as cell recruitment.”
11. Give Your Nutrients a Boost
A healthy, balanced diet is critical to supporting your immune system. But generally speaking, it can be difficult for your body to get all of the key nutrients it needs to operate at its optimal level.
Not only do many of us simply not consume enough vegetables, healthy fats, and fresh fruit — our body’s digestive tract has trouble processing and absorbing them. IV Drip Therapy allows your naturopathic doctors to identify the key minerals and vitamins your body needs. Then, they can create a personalized cocktail, delivered directly to your bloodstream so your body can utilize those nutrients nearly instantaneously.
Should You Take Immunity Shots?
Immunity shots generally contrarian prebiotics, probiotics, vitamins, and other ingredients specifically designed to support the immune system. They are sometimes also labeled:
- Wellness Shots
- Functional Beverages
- Immunity Support Drinks
- Immunity Booster Shot
Are immunity shots effective? They can be. If your body is deficient in key vitamins and minerals that they contain, they can help optimize your nutrient levels. That being said, immunity shots do not stop you from getting sick.
There are a wide variety of immunity shot recipes. Typically, these shots include some (or all) of the following ingredients:
- Citrus (such as oranges, lemons, and/or limes)
- Apple Cider Vinegar
Need More Help Learning How to Boost Your Immune System?
At Premier Integrative, we believe health is a whole-body approach. Our naturopathic doctors don’t simply treat symptoms. We identify any underlying causes so that we can help your body heal and restore its optimal wellbeing.
As you explore how to boost your immune system, we can help you optimize your nutrient levels, treat any hormone imbalances you may have, achieve and maintain a healthy weight, reduce pain, and increase your overall energy.
It all begins with a personal consultation to discuss your current lifestyle, environment, and goals.