Even the healthiest of us sometimes gets sick. And with fall upon us and winter looming, you might be one of the many women who are interested in natural ways to boost your immune system.
The good news is that it’s easy to fine-tune certain aspects of your diet and daily wellness routine to help you strengthen your immune system’s defenses naturally. This will help your body fend of all the nasty things like viruses, pathogenic bacteria, and parasites while also helping you to remain non-reactive to things in your environment you might be allergic to. And for those suffering from an autoimmune disease, strengthening your immune system will prevent our immune system from attacking our own body.
The bottom line is that a healthy immune system ensures a healthy body. And by eliminating some destructive habits, stressors and toxins while embracing natural immune boosters, you can remain healthy. So, let’s take a look at some natural ways to boost your immune system.
7 NATURAL WAYS TO BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
1. Take Care of Your Gut Health
Believe it or not but immunity comes first and foremost from the gut. Your digestive track is where about 80 percent of your immune cells reside. By strengthening your natural microbiome and digestive tract you are much less likely to get sick, have allergies, and develop autoimmune disease.
One way of supporting your gut health is by taking a probiotic that has a broad array of species.
Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are two of the most important and they have been shown to positively affect immune health. Find a probiotic which has at least 30 to 50 billion colonies and at least eight strains of bacteria. Because these are live organisms, it’s worthwhile spending a bit more on a good quality product. And remember to store your probiotics in the fridge to extend shelf-life.
If you feel like you might be coming down with something or if you have to take antibiotics, you can double the dose. In addition you can also add in some fermented foods like sauerkraut, yogurt and kombucha to up the gut-health-boosting stakes.
2. Avoid Drugs and Over-the-Counter Medications.
It’s no secret that drugs like antibiotics can wreak havoc one your gut health, taking three to six months for your microbiome to recover from one week of treatment. Unfortunately doctors tend to reach for antibiotics too quickly, so if it’s not definite that you’re suffering from a bacterial infection, ask your doctor if there is an alternative option. For instance, flu and most colds and upper-respiratory infections are viral and won’t get better any faster with antibiotics.
It’s also helpful to avoid medications which lower stomach acid, such as proton pump inhibitors like Prilosec and Nexium. The reason for this is that you need a healthy amount of stomach acid to kill the parasites, viruses, and bacteria that you accidentally ingest on a daily basis. Also limit your use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) like naproxen and ibuprofen as these have also been known to damage the gut and weaken immune health.
3. Take Your Supplements
There are several different minerals and vitamins which support the immune system and although these are good to add, there are three which really pack a punch – vitamin C, vitamin D and zinc.
- Vitamin C: The immune boosting properties of vitamin C has been known for centuries. Vitamin C deficiency has been shown to cause immune system defects with an increased frequency and duration of colds. Similarly, it’s free-radical busting effects also significantly protects against infectious disease. Make sure that you get at least 1,500 mg of vitamin C daily for maximum benefits.
- Vitamin D: Our modern indoor lifestyles often leave us deficient in this immune boosting vitamin leaving the body unable to effectively modulate the immune system. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased frequency of infection as well as autoimmune disease. Taking a 2,000 IU daily dose is guaranteed to ensure you have a healthy immune system.
- Zinc: Zinc is vital for healthy cell function and affects multiple aspects of the immune system. It also acts as an antioxidant by fighting off free radicals. A zinc deficiency is very common worldwide so to be on the safe side, take 15 to 30 mg of zinc a day.
4. Ingest Some Fungi
It might surprise you to know that some of the most powerful immune-boosting, antiviral, and anti-cancer substances are found in mushrooms. Mushroom supplements should always be organically sourced for maximum benefit and safety.
- Reishi: Although not edible, can be taken as a dried capsule supplement, tea or tincture as a powerful antiviral agent
- Shiitake: This delicious mushroom is often used in Oriental cooking and can easily be found in grocery stores. Shiitakes contain substances called β-glucans, which stimulate the immune system and strengthen our white blood cells.
- Maitake: Also called “Hen of the woods”, maitakes contain immunomodulating agents are not and increase our immune cells’ ability to fight off bacteria.
5. Eat Natural Antimicrobials
One of the best natural ways to boost your immune system is through a few key anti-microbial superfoods. Incorporate them into your diet on a daily basis to ensure that you are continuously improving and strengthening your immunity.
- Raw garlic: The strong antimicrobial and antiviral properties of garlic have been used in home remedies and traditional medicines for centuries. Garlic contains a potent sulfur compound called allicin which can treat serious gastro-intestinal infections as well as kill parasites and yeast infections. If eating raw garlic is not your thing, consider supplementing with a concentrated allicin extract.
- Oregano oil: Oregano oil has powerful antimicrobial, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties and can also be taken internally to combat yeast infections as well as be used topically to treat antibiotic-resistant staph infections of the skin.
- Manuka honey: There is a growing body of research supporting the benefits of honey as a natural immune booster, natural anti-inflammatory agent, and antimicrobial agent. But Manuka honey in particular contains compounds which not only kill bacteria topically, but when ingested, work synergistically with antibiotics to enhance their effectiveness.
6. Get Enough Sleep
A chaotic sleep-wake cycle and chronic sleep deprivation can cause a decrease in the activity of T-cells – a vital type of immune cell – which weakens your immune response. A lack of sleep can also cause the activation of the immune systems inflammatory response increasing inflammation markers as well as immune markers. Try to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep on a regular basis and avoid all-nighters. If you work shifts or travel through time zones frequently and have trouble getting sleep, try to use small amounts of melatonin (2 to 3 mg) to reset your circadian rhythm.
7. Manage Your Stress
When you’re chronically stressed out, your body releases cortisol which interferes with T-cells’ ability to proliferate and get signals from the body and suppressing your immune system. What’s more is that cortisol also lowers secretory IgA, an important antibody which is your first line of defense against invading pathogens and lines the respiratory and digestive tracts.
Managing and lowering your stress levels is vital to boosting and supporting your immune system. One excellent way of doing this is through daily meditation with studies showing that even a short course of meditation can increase levels of IgA and improve immune function.
DISCLAIMER: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Consult with a physician if you have a serious medical condition or use prescription medications. A doctor’s advice should always be sought before before embarking on any new treatment.