The idea of boosting your own immune system is a particularly fascinating one. In fact, throughout history, people have always been fascinated with the thought of extending their natural life, and the concept of “fountain of youth” or “immortality potion” has been a theme of much literature!
Indeed, whenever someone speaks of extending their own youth, it often has a direct correlation with a person's immune system! Why? Simply because the immune system is the body’s natural defence mechanism against all the microorganisms that attack your health, causing both diseases and premature aging. Unfortunately though, there are times when your defences aren't strong enough to keep the attackers at bay and, left unguarded, these nasty microorganisms invade your body and wreak havoc.
Boosting your immune system is all about enhancing the body’s natural defences against these disease-causing organisms. Since the immune system isn't a single standalone entity, but rather a web of interconnected functions, boosting your immunity cannot be based simply on a few tweaks to your daily diet. That is why a holistic approach is required in order to truly build up your defences.
In this article, we'll be exploring a few changes and lifestyle habits that you can employ to naturally prop up your body’s natural defences.
A Healthy Lifestyle
There is no escaping this one. You can’t be leading an unhealthy and careless lifestyle and hope for a strong immune system at the same time. An overall healthy way of living has to be adopted to boost your immune system. A healthy lifestyle is always the first line of defence. By adopting healthy habits such as working out, eating right and meditation, you can naturally enhance every bodily function and automatically keep your immune system at its best.
The following are some of the lifestyle habits that you should consider adopting.
Getting Adequate Sleep
Sleep deprivation or lack of sleep is linked to the activation of the inflammatory immune response which goes to hamper the T cells activity in your body. As a result, your body’s natural defences are weakened and you’re more prone to getting sick. Therefore, it is extremely important that you’re getting enough shut-eye on a daily basis to keep your system working at its best. Aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep every night and avoid those all-nighters like the plague. If you're constantly travelling between time zones, try to use a natural melatonin supplement to help retune your circadian rhythms.
Stress may be difficult to define accurately, especially as the effects it has can vary from one person to another. What may seem like a stressor to one individual may not appear so to another. However, there is no denying the scientific fact that stress goes on to smother your immunity as it releases cortisol - a hormone known to disrupt the workings of the T- cells (a vital white blood cell).
Stress also causes the cerebrospinal fluid that lines the respiratory tract and the gut to diminish, leaving them defenceless against harmful pathogens. As such, stress has to be managed properly. There are different ways you can achieve this and it works differently for different people. Some find intense and physically demanding activities such as weight lifting or running to be de-stressing, while others go with meditative de stressors such as yoga.
Here are some ways of managing your stress levels:
This practice involves deep breathing coupled with clearing your mind of all the stressful thoughts by focusing on a particular object. Meditating has been proven to mitigate the risks of cardiac diseases by lowering blood pressure levels.
Cutting the cord has been an effective strategy in modern times when technology allows stressors to follow you everywhere you go. Going off the grid, avoiding emails, texts, and social media and just being by yourself for at least 15 to 30 minutes a day can be a major relief and help you distress.
A Healthy Diet
Feeding your body the right food may be an obvious strategy, but many of us still struggle with this one the most. As a general rule of thumb, you should be eating a balanced diet that incorporates a diverse range of food to ensure that you’re squeezing in all the essential nutrients. It is also essential to avoid the things that are harmful to your body and immune system, things such as processed foods, sugary foods and beverages, excessive alcohol, and tobacco. All these things will definitely have to go if you want to maintain a healthy immune system.
Below are some of the foods that you should definitely try to incorporate into your diet.
This vegetable is known as the repository of the most essential vitamins and minerals. You’ll be able to get your dose of vitamin C, E and A, along with fibre and a number of antioxidants by incorporating broccoli into your diet. It is best served uncooked or lightly steamed to preserve its goodness.
Garlic is famous for its immune-boosting properties and is easily available across every region in the world. Throughout history, garlic has been used as an important ingredient for fighting infections. Its immunity-boosting abilities come primarily from the high amounts of sulphur compounds it contains, such as allicin.
Simply put, probiotics are the good bacteria that are indispensable for your gut health. They support a well functioning and strong immune system and are known to assist in nutrient absorption and general digestion. To get enough probiotics, try to consume fermented foods, such as yoghurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, or try adding some probiotic supplements to your diet.
Fish is a powerful source of omega 3 fatty acids, well known to guard against autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, and to naturally boost your immunity system. Try to consume more fish throughout the week or consider taking a natural omega supplement. Remember, always avoid taking synthetic omega supplements, such as 'fish oil' or 'krill oil', often sold at your local pharmacist.
Even after eating all the right foods and adding more superfoods into your diet, there still might be areas where you fall short on nutrients, minerals and vitamins. This is mostly a consequence of overproduction of soil and the use of GMOs in fruits and vegetables. In such cases, you can always turn to natural and organic 'wholefood' supplements to make up for anything lacking in your nutrient profile.
This is one of the most vital nutrients that your body’s natural defences require to function. In fact, vitamin C deficiency is one of the main reasons why people find themselves falling sick.
There are many foods that are rich in vitamin C, such as grapefruits, bell peppers, spinach, and tangerines, however, if your vitamin C levels are still low, you can always resort to a vitamin C supplement. This is primarily because the body cannot produce vitamin C naturally, so a minimum daily intake is important.
This is another absolutely vital ingredient for a healthy and efficient immune system. It can be found in poultry and other natural foods, but just so you don’t fall short of consuming the optimal amount, there is always the option of taking a natural superfood supplement that contains this essential vitamin.
Catch Some Sunlight
When it comes to naturally boosting your immune system, we cannot ignore the importance of sunlight. The significance of getting the right amount of sunlight is often underemphasised. Sunlight activates the production of vitamin D within your body, so getting 10-15 minutes of sunlight daily can be extremely helpful for your daily recommended intake of vitamin D. Low levels of vitamin D has been linked with respiratory illnesses and studies have shown that increasing the vitamin D intake for kids greatly mitigates their risk of contracting respiratory infections. Furthermore, vitamin D promotes the production of antibodies, which are crucially important for a strong and healthy immune system.
So make it a habit to step out into the sun every day to get enough of essential vitamin D. If however, getting some sunshine isn't possible, you can always try taking a vitamin D supplement.
As you can see, there are quite a few things that you can do to help boost your natural defences, but they can't each be done in isolation. You can’t be doing one thing right and doing other things wrong, so a holistic approach has to be taken for all your efforts to work. Always aim for healthy ways of living, cutting out unhealthy foods and habits while adopting a more balanced and healthy lifestyle!