5 Ways To Naturally Boost Your Immune System
Winter is fast approaching in Australia, and with COVID-19 still lingering, knowing how to boost your immune system is crucial.
So what is the function of the immune system, and why is it so important?
The immune system is your body’s network of organs, tissues, and cells that work together to keep you healthy by fighting off harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi. It acts as a barrier between your body and the things that can make you sick.
What does the immune system do?
The main tasks of the body’s immune system are:
- Neutralizing pathogens like bacteria, viruses, parasites or fungi that have entered the body, and removing them from the body
- Recognizing and neutralizing harmful substances from the environment
- Fighting against the body’s own cells that have changed due to an illness, for example cancerous cells.
Therefore, adopting a healthy lifestyle and being intentional about specific practices that promote good immune function will certainly have a positive impact.
How to strengthen your immune system
According to research, about 80% of immune cells are found in the gut. It makes sense then, that this should be the first place to start when boosting your immune system.
Here are 5 ways to boost your immune system naturally:
Probiotics are good bacteria that help you digest nutrients that boost the detoxification of your colon and support your immune system. It’s useful to supplement with a quality probiotic as well as eat probiotic foods, because we need bacterial biodiversity in our gut. When it comes to choosing a quality probiotic, you want to make sure to choose probiotic products with at least 1 billion colony forming units and containing the genus Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium or Saccharomyces boulardii, some of the most researched probiotics.
- NUTRIENT-DENSE FOODS
It’s clear that eating a wide variety of plant-based whole foods promotes healthy gut function, which therefore also can improve immune function. If you’re new to eating this way, aim for 20 different plant-based foods each week and slowly build it up to 40+ each week. Your gut and immune system will love you for it. Here are 3 nutrient-dense foods:
- Raw garlic - This bad boy has powerful antimicrobial and antiviral properties. Aim for about one raw clove a day to boost your immune system.
- Raw ginger - Ginger helps to break down the accumulation of toxins in your organs due to its warming effects. It’s also known to cleanse the lymphatic system, the network of tissues and organs that help rid the body of toxins, waste and other unwanted materials. Raw ginger is also great to add to fresh juices and salad dressings.
- Oregano oil - This powerful herb contains antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. If you’re feeling under the weather, add 3 drops each of essential oregano oil, ginger oil and lemon oil to a capsule and take it every 3-4 hours.
We all know how important it is to drink adequate pure water each day, but it can be challenging, especially in the cooler months. When the body’s immune system is low, drinking high sugar or high caffeinated drinks is not the way to help. Ditch these drinks for pure water and hot herbal teas. During winter, aim to drink at least 1.5 litres of filtered water as well as have a couple of herbal teas throughout each day.
- HOT & COLD SHOWERS
Hydrotherapy has been shown to have amazing effects on the body, including the increase in circulation, reducing inflammation and boosting immune function. The simplest way to practice hydrotherapy at home is to have an alternating hot & cold shower as part of your daily routine. Aim for 3-4 rounds of a time ratio of 3:1 hot to cold. For example, 90 seconds under hot water followed by 30 seconds under cold water.
Lack of sleep decreases the activity of T-cells (a crucial type of immune cell) and weakens our immune response to vaccines. Not getting enough sleep can also lead to higher levels of stress hormones and more inflammation in your body. So, if you’re wanting to boost your body’s ability to fight off any nasties, then you must prioritise sleep.
Improve your routine in the hour before going to bed by:
- Reduce noise in the home.
- Avoid physical activity that elevates your heart rate for an extended period for at least two hours before bed.
- Try to avoid emotionally stimulating activities prior to sleep e.g. social media, intense movies or TV shows, and news programs, and important discussions with your partner (have them long before bedtime).
- Try to avoid having a TV in the bedroom, or computer, tablets and phones.
- Limit exposure to blue light an hour before you go to sleep. You can do this by installing software on your computer that will orange-tint your screen as the evening progresses. You can also install night-friendly light bulbs with yellow or orange hue in your bedroom, or a salt lamp. Also ensure your room is as dark as possible.
- Read a good book!
- Take a soak in a hot bath or even a foot soak. Add magnesium flakes or epsom salts for even more relaxation.
- The ideal temperature for sleep is between 15.5 and 20 degrees Celsius. Our core temperature during our deepest sleep drops 1 to 2 degrees Celsius below baseline, so if your room is too hot, it’s harder for your body to reduce its core temperature to achieve this deep sleep state.
- Make your bedroom a haven of comfort. Keep it as uncluttered as possible. Keep your closet doors closed.
- Keep air flow into your bedroom all the time, even in winter.
- Use a good-quality mattress and pillow (you spend up to one third of your life here)
- Have a light dinner, preferably 4 hours before bedtime
- Skip desserts and sweets at dinner time
- Enjoy a herbal (caffeine-free) tea before bed e.g. chamomile, peppermint or lemon tea
- Avoid drinking a large amount of water before bed, so you won’t wake up needing to urinate
- Reduce electromagnetic fields in your environment
In conclusion, your immune system will function well if you are adopting a holistically healthy lifestyle. The tips above are in addition to an overall healthy lifestyle and may be beneficial if you have a low immune system or notice your immune system struggling.
This article was adapted from our partner Unleash Fit Living. For more information on immune system booster foods, check out Foods And Their Healing Powers.