If you find yourself taking more than your fair share of sick days, or you are constantly fighting fatigue and stress, your immune system may need a boost. Even in a healthy state, our bodies are continually fighting bacteria, viruses, and illnesses. A strong immune system will keep our bodies healthy and fit as well as fight the signs of aging. Not only does our physical health benefit from a strong immune system, but our mental health does too. A healthy immune system improves cognitive function which has an overall positive effect on our mood and memory. When we are sick, tired and stressed, these are signs that our immune system has been compromised, and needs attention.
How Does The Immune System Work?
Our immune system is a ‘reactive system’ of white blood cells constantly on alert to keep invaders out. When our immune system is weakened, an invader can get through causing us to fall ill.
What Are The Main Causes Of A Weak Immune System?
A few reasons for weakened immune systems are related to poor diet, environmental pollution, stress, depression, lack of sleep, too little or too much exercise, and unhealthy habits such as smoking, drugs, and alcohol.
What Are The Benefits Of A Strong Immune System?
A healthy immune system can ward off toxins and destroy cells before they turn into major illnesses like cancer. By keeping our immune system strong with the following tips, we can maintain our skin, bodies and mental health for an extended life.
Eat A Protein Rich Diet
Protein is what helps the body produce white blood cells. However, our bodies cannot keep extra stores of protein, so it is important to eat proteins such as nuts, beans, meats or seafood throughout the day.
Avoid High Sugar Foods
Sugar is kryptonite for white blood cells. Sugary sweets such as chocolate and soda reduce the efficiency of our cells weakening the immune system to a point where our bodies become twice as vulnerable to attacks.
Choose Whole Grains
Whole grains such as brown rice, bread, and pasta are full of vitamins and minerals which strengthen the immune system. They also contain fewer sugars than white grains, which are processed and refined.
Drink Lemon Water Daily
Lemon contains bioflavonoids which will strengthen cell walls keeping the body safe from attacks. Lemon also supports healthy bacteria by creating an alkaline environment whereas harmful bacteria thrives in acidic environments.
Eating healthy bacteria called probiotics helps strengthen the GI tract, which is part of our digestive system. These healthy bacteria are found in foods such as yogurt and kimchi and help the GI tract combat harmful bacteria.
Drink 8 Cups Of Water Daily
Being made up of 75% water, our bodies depend on H2O to ensure our immune system is functioning properly. Water transports nutrients to various parts of the body, while waste and bacteria get removed.
Avoid Too Much Caffeine
Caffeine can inhibit our bodies from absorbing calcium, iron, and vitamin D, which are needed for optimal immune function. It can also be dehydrating, so aim to drink 500ml of water after each cup of coffee consumed.
Eat Prebiotic Rich Foods
A special type of fiber, prebiotics are essential for helping healthy bacteria thrive and multiply, thereby strengthening the immune system. Prebiotics are found in oatmeal, garlic, asparagus, peas, and beans.
Have One Glass Of Red Wine
Red wine has been found to reduce cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and help keep the body free from cancer. A single glass is enough to provide all the benefits without the disadvantages of alcohol.
Eat A Mediterranean Diet
Whole foods and olive oil are essential parts of the Mediterranean diet which are known to fight cancer, heart disease, and obesity. Full of vitamins and antioxidants, olive oil is known as a ‘healthy fat’.
Eat Raw Fruits And Vegetables
Cooking can destroy essential nutrients and minerals from food. Eating fruits and vegetables raw will enable your immune system to extract all the nutrients needed to keep your body running.
Eat A Variety Of Colours
When you eat three different colors of fruits and vegetables daily, your body receives a balance of different vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. In general, the same colored fruits and vegetables share similar vitamins and minerals.
Spice Up Your Diet
Capsaicin found in chili peppers strengthens the immune system by producing antibodies and white blood cells. Include chilies in your curries and sauces to reap the benefits of capsaicin.
Eat Antioxidant-Rich Foods
Free radicals found in the environment can damage our cell walls. Antioxidants remove free radicals from our bodies thereby boosting our immune system. Consume antioxidants through fresh fruits and vegetables.
Include Healthy Oils In The Diet
Fat in healthy oils aid cells in transporting them around our bodies quickly and efficiently resulting in stronger immunity. Healthy oils include olive, almond and flax seed that are ideal for cooking or eating raw.
Eat Raw Carrots Daily
Beta Carotene found in carrots help the immune system produce cells called macrophages which fight off and destroy infections. Cooking carrots will destroy the beta carotene, so make sure to eat them raw.
Include Iron Rich Foods In The Diet
The immune system needs iron to produce white blood cells. A diet lacking in iron can cause lethargy, bleeding gums, and an overall weakened immune system. Red meat, seafood, and vegetables are rich in iron.
Eat Foods Rich In Selenium, Vitamin E and Zinc
Harmful pollutants can be prevented from entering the immune system by consuming foods high in selenium, vitamin E, and zinc. Nuts, seafood, and whole grains are full of these nutrients.
Include Omega 3 In The Diet
Omega 3 aids the immune system in fighting off illnesses such as asthma and cancer. It also helps prevents obesity by burning fat for energy. Omega 3 is found in fish and flaxseed oil.
Eggs are rich in nutrients such as selenium, calcium, and magnesium which produce bacteria fighting antibodies. Alpha GPC is a nutrient found in eggs that help repair brain cells improving memory and mood.
Add Garlic To Food
Garlic helps increase white blood cell production and boosts productivity in fighting bacteria. Rich in antioxidants, garlic is capable of destroying cancer cells. Add it to cooking or to top dishes.
Drink A Cup Of Tea
Tea is full of antioxidants that fight free radicals and fuel the production of new cells. Drinking tea can also stop the growth of cancer cells and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Snack On Berries
Full of vitamin C and fiber, berries strengthen white blood cell production while also speeding up metabolism. Consuming berries has also been found to help with memory.
Include Leafy Green Vegetables In The Diet
Leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale, and broccoli are superfoods full of nutrients, minerals, and antioxidants. They can fight disease and pollutants attacking the body. Eat them raw to get the most benefit.
Add Tomatoes To The Diet
Rich in antioxidants and vitamins, tomatoes fight free radicals. They also contain lycopene which reduces the response time when the immune system is under attack.
Supplement The Diet With Avocados
Avocados are vitamin and nutrient rich fruits full of antioxidants. They fight free radicals and pollutants in skin cells, resulting in more youthful looking skin.
Have Fruit And Vegetable Smoothies For Breakfast
By morning, our bodies need vitamins and nutrients that were used up repairing old cells during the night. A fruit and vegetable smoothie can restore essential nutrients giving our immune system a boost.
Chew Slowly To Aid Digestion
When we take the time to chew, our saliva causes food to become alkaline deterring the survival of bad bacteria in our bodies. Saliva also contains enzymes that help absorb vitamins and minerals from food.
Rinse Pesticides From Food
When pesticides from food enter our bodies, the immune system must work hard to remove these chemicals. It is important to scrub our food clean of chemicals or better yet, eat pesticide free food.
Consume Honey Regularly
Used as a home remedy to fight flu and colds, honey has an antibacterial effect. Dark honey is extra high in antioxidants which rids the body of free radicals.
Drink Filtered Water
Removing contaminants from drinking water means fewer chemicals and pollutants end up inside our bodies, allowing our immune system to function optimally. Be aware of bottled and treated tap water which may still have chemicals.
Eat Enough Calories
It is important to not deprive our bodies with too few calories or to feed it too much. With too few calories the body cannot create or repair cells, while too many calories result in excess body fat.
Take A Multivitamin
Unfortunately, most food today is insufficient in nutrients due to modern farming and processing practices. Taking a quality multivitamin can supplement our diet enabling our immune system to receive all necessary nutrients.
Supplement With Multi Mineral Supplements
The way food is processed today has caused a deficiency in minerals and nutrients. Ensure your body is getting the minerals needed by taking a multi-mineral supplement.
Add Protein Shakes To The Diet
Protein shakes are full of proteins, vitamins, and minerals that can be quickly consumed and give your body instant access to much-needed nutrients. Mix with water or add to smoothies, yogurts or cereals.
Energize With Vitamin B Complexes
Found in meat, fish, whole grains and leafy green vegetables, vitamin B is important in creating antibodies as well as providing energy for our bodies. Vitamin B also helps to maintain hair, skin, and nails.
Include Vitamin E In The Diet
Vitamin E increases production of white blood cells and fights cancer cells. It can also reduce the risk of heart attacks and slow down the signs of aging.
Supplement With Vitamin C
In addition to reducing the risk of heart disease, Vitamin C helps our bodies fight the common cold by creating antibodies. Take Vitamin C in food sources such as fruits and vegetables.
Take Green Tea Supplements
Green tea contains a special type of antioxidant called ‘catechins’ which help the immune system fight viruses by reducing the risk of catching infections, particularly the influenza virus.
Take Echinacea Supplements
Echinacea boosts the immune system by bonding with white blood cells as they fight off infections. When cold symptoms first appear, take echinacea to reduce the severity of illness.
Take Butterbur Extract To Fight Allergies
Butterbur is a plant that can block allergy symptoms caused by histamines. Only take butterbur short term as it can cause nausea and stomach issues if taken for longer than two weeks.
Drink Chamomile Tea For The Common Cold
The polyphenols found in chamomile tea increases white blood cell activity and fight attacks from viruses such as the common cold. Chamomile tea extract can also be taken in pill form.
Take Aloe Vera Extract Supplements
Aloe vera is an herb containing many useful vitamins, minerals, and digestive enzymes. It is also made up of a special substance known as acemannan, which has been found to increase white blood cell production.
Supplement With Mushroom Extract
In Japan, Shiitake mushrooms are ingested to fight illness and boost the immune system. They contain lentinan, a special antiviral compound. Shiitake mushrooms can be found in pill form as an extract.
Take Elderberry Extract Supplements
In ancient times, lords and ladies drank elderberry wine to fight illness. Elderberries can prevent the influenza virus while also boosting energy levels. Take it in tea, juice or pill form.
Boost Immunity With Ginseng
Used in Asia for centuries, ginseng herbs are a staple part of the diet to fight viruses and infection. Ginseng has been found to increase white blood cell production.
Take Supergreen Fruit And Vegetable Extract Supplements
Made up of 30 different types of fruits and vegetables, these supplements are full of vitamins and antioxidants. Supergreen supplements come in powder form which can be mixed with water or added to a smoothie.
Aim To Sleep Between 6-9 Hours
Sleep deprivation puts stress on the immune system causing illness, while also lowering metabolism and mental capacity. People who exercise need more hours of sleep than someone with a sedentary lifestyle.
The chemicals from cigarettes keep the immune system hard at work ridding the body of toxins and pollutants caused by smoking. Smoking also increases the chance of developing cancer and heart disease.
Stay Away From Second Hand Smoke
Much like the health risks of first-hand smoke, second-hand smoke can be just as hazardous. Children especially should avoid cigarette smoke as their lungs are still developing.
Include 30 Minutes Of Low-Intensity Cardio Daily
Including 30 minutes of low-intensity cardio (LIC) has been found to cut the chances of catching a cold in half. LIC includes walking, jogging, swimming and cycling at a comfortable pace.
Dance For Better Health
Dancing not only improves our physical health but also releases endorphins decreasing pain and stress. In addition to burning calories, dancing can also improve flexibility and coordination.
Practice Martial Arts
Research has found martial arts such as Taekwondo and Tai Chi helps the immune system increase white blood cell production while also providing a meditative practice, benefiting mental health.
Avoid Carrying Too Much Body Fat
Too much body fat causes our immune systems to weaken, allowing more bacteria and viruses to enter our bodies. People who are overweight are more likely to contract illnesses than those who have a lower BMI.
Do Not Over Exercise
Over exercising can release too much adrenaline and cortisol, which suppresses the immune system increasing the chance of illness. Use moderation when exercising giving the body time to recover and rest.
Avoid Being Underweight And Undernourished
Being underweight can mean your immune system is not getting enough nutrients to properly function. Combine a hearty diet with weight lifting to gain muscle mass to reach a healthy BMI.
Aim For 10% Body Fat For Men And 15% For Women
Body fat helps regulate body temperature. Too little fat lowers body temperature and blood circulation resulting in a suppressed immune system. For a man, 10% body fat and 15% for a woman are the minimum percentages needed.
Take Cold Showers
Stimulate the lymphatic circulation system with a cold shower. Cold water will cause muscles to contract to allow toxins and pollutants to be easily removed.
Sweat Every Day
The purpose of sweating is to release toxins and other waste from our bodies cleaning up our immune system. This is often why our bodies heat up inducing fever and sweating when sick.
Getting more than 6-9 hours of sleep a night can cause a hormone imbalance suppressing the immune system. Aim to sleep and wake up at the same time to establish a good bodily rhythm.
Take Deep Breaths
Deep breathing allows more oxygen to be ingested which our immune system uses to move around and destroy bacteria. Shallow breathing makes it difficult to release carbon dioxide and other toxins after each breath.
Soak Up The Sun For 20-30 Minutes
Vitamin D from the sun strengthens our bones while increasing melatonin which helps us to sleep. Getting 20-30 minutes of sun daily produces all the Vitamin D our bodies need.
Get Fresh Air
The high amount of oxygen in the fresh air will help the immune system rid our bodies of toxins and pollutants. Air derived from air conditioners and heaters decrease oxygen while increasing carbon dioxide.
Try Dry Brushing
The lymphatic system aids the immune system in excreting toxins and pollutants through our skin. Dry brushing the skin can increase the efficiency of the lymphatic system by removing dead skin cells allowing toxins to escape.
Dress Warmly In Cold Weather
When we shiver our blood thickens to keep heat in, making it more difficult for white blood cells to move around the body. Layer up in cold weather to stay warm.
Socialize With Family And Friends
Social support from family and friends improves mood and reduces stress and depression resulting in a stronger immune system. Quality over quantity. Focus on nurturing one strong relationship rather than keeping many distant friends.
Limit Television Viewing
Too much time in front of the television can shorten attention spans as well as decrease the production of melatonin, which affects our sleep cycle.
Hold Hands And Give Hugs
Hugging and holding hands stimulates the skin, causing our immune system to produce more white blood cells. Research has shown that people who give and receive hugs are less likely to get sick.
Decrease Noise Pollution
When we hear loud and unwelcome noises, our immune system releases a stress response putting our bodies on high alert. Over time, this increases muscle tension, heart rate, and blood pressure.
Turn Your Favourite Music On
Listening to music we enjoy lightens the mood and decreases stress and anxiety resulting in a stronger immune system. Whether it is through headphones or in the car, make a daily habit of listening to tunes (not too loudly of course).
Turn Off Unpleasant Music
Listening to music that you do not enjoy can have a negative effect on our immune system. It can increase anxiety causing a release of stress hormones making our bodies more susceptible to illness.
Become A Pet Owner
Whether it's a dog, cat or bird, having a pet greatly boosts mood and strengthens our immunity. Studies have shown having a pet lowers blood pressure and the presence of stress hormones in our bodies.
Opt For Full Spectrum Light Bulbs
Regular cool white bulbs can trigger a stress response in our bodies. Research has shown that full spectrum light bulbs do not trigger the same response.
Incorporate Daily Meditation
When we meditate, our bodies enter a relaxed state allowing for the creation of antibodies essential to fight bacteria. Twenty minutes is enough to receive all the benefits focused meditation provides.
Make Time For Relaxation
Letting our bodies rest and relax reduces blood pressure and heart rate. Taking 10 minutes to relax after every 50 minutes of work gives the body and mind time to rest and recharge.
Visualize Your Immune System
Close your eyes and imagine your immune system working hard to keep your body free from bacteria and toxins. Research has shown visualization exercises can strengthen our immune system.
Spend Time With Yourself
Giving yourself time to be alone can be a time to relax and reduce stress. Your body will create feel good hormones making you happier and stress-free.
Use Toxin-Free Cosmetics
Being conscious of what we put on our skin is important for greater immunity. When we use harsh chemicals or ingredients that cause an allergy, the immune system must work harder to keep toxins out.
Regularly See Your Dentist
Bacteria can grow in our mouths which can ultimately develop into serious illnesses such as cancer. Dental check-ups can prevent mouth and gum disease as any issues can be treated before they become serious.
Do Not Overuse Your Mobile Phone
Studies have found the electromagnetic frequencies emitted by wireless phones can weaken our immune system. When talking is necessary, use a hands-free headset to communicate.
Keep Your Desk Clean
Keep bacteria away from your desk by using disinfectant regularly. Avoid eating at your desk as it can build up bacteria in your keyboard and mouse, and can even infect your food.
Take Office Breaks
The typical workplace office is full of bacteria and viruses floating around due to lack of flowing air and high volumes of people. Take regular breaks to go outside and breathe in fresh air.
Eliminate Household Mold
Mold produces airborne bacteria and can cause allergies. Often found in humid areas such as the bathroom, eliminate moisture with an efficient fan or air purifier.
Air Dry Towels
Wet towels are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria to grow. After a shower, let them dry in a non-humid area or in the hot sun. Wash towels at least once a week.
Keep Hands Clean
Hands are usually the first point of contact for bacteria passed on from other people and animals, so take great care in washing them before you touch your face and food.
Change Your Toothbrush Often
Regularly changing your toothbrush ensures bacteria cannot linger and enter our bodies over time. Rinse your toothbrush after each use to clean away germs.
Keep Germs Out Of The Kitchen
The kitchen contains the highest amount of bacteria and germs in your home according to research. Thoroughly clean and sanitize kitchen surfaces and regularly replace sponges.
Rid The Home Of Dust Mites
By eating human skin, dust mites trigger allergies and make us more susceptible to bacteria. Regularly open windows to kill dust mites and clean household bedding often.
Distance Yourself From Sick People
People who are sick can spread bacteria, germs, and viruses to others through coughing and sneezing. If you work or travel with someone who is ill, keep the windows open for fresh air.
Wear A Face Mask When Sick
To help curb the spread of your illness to others, consider wearing a face mark. These surgical style masks are commonly used in Asia to prevent spreading illness and germs.
Avoid Touching Your Face
Germs and viruses enter our body through our ears, eyes, and mouth. Even just rubbing or scratching around those areas on our face puts us at risk, so avoid it when possible.
Avoid Going Overboard With Cleaning
While keeping our bodies and environments free from bacteria and toxins is the goal, letting our immune system get attacked occasionally is necessary. Do not keep your environment clean and sterile all the time.
Do Not Bite Your Nails
The bacteria beneath our nails can easily make their way into our mouths when we chew them. Replace this bad habit with something more healthy, such as meditation or deep breathing.
Take A Yoga Class
In addition to the cardiovascular benefits, yoga stimulates the lymph glands causing them to work harder to remove toxins from the body. Yoga can also increase metabolism and decrease body fat.
Get Regular Massages
Massages can release the feel-good hormones called endorphins putting our bodies and minds in a relaxed state. When endorphins are released, stress hormones are suppressed causing our immune system to work efficiently.
Acupuncture can increase energy and the efficiency of our transport system by unclogging blockages in our body. Research has found one acupuncture session can strengthen the immune system for weeks at a time.
Keep A Diary
When we write down our thoughts and feelings, it can help clear brain fog. Clarifying our goals and purpose by writing it down has been shown to strengthen our immune system.
Laughing increases the number of antibodies our immune system produces. It can also lower blood pressure and relieve muscle tension. Surround yourself with funny people as laughter is contagious.
When we feel good, our body creates endorphins boosting the immune system. Contrarily, when we feel bad or have negative thoughts, stress hormones are released. Make an effort to think positively for better overall health.
A pleasing pastime, sex releases endorphins to lower stress and helps us get a better sleep. When we have sex, the antibody immunoglobulin A is released. Immunoglobulin A fights against bacteria and viruses.
Play Challenging Games
When we challenge our brains with crosswords, chess or board games, these games improve memory and decision making. By brain training, we take some of the burdens off of our immune system to improve cognitive function.
Try Something New Every Day
Our bodies rely on a process called homeostasis to balance us. Learning something new forces our homeostasis limits to grow resulting in a stronger immune system.
Take An Epsom Salt Bath
Epsom salt (aka magnesium sulfate) added to a bath can increase the production of immunity cells. Epsom salts also slough away dead skin and other surface pollutants.
Take A Walk Barefooted
Walking in bare feet causes the body to absorb electrons that behave in the same way as antioxidants do. In addition to releasing free radical and toxins from the body, these electrons reduce inflammation.
Smell Essential Oils
Many essential oils have antiviral, antibacterial and antiseptic properties which rid the body of toxins and inflammation. Smell or diffuse oils like cinnamon, lavender, and eucalyptus to combat stress and improve sleep.