Maintaining a healthy immune system is vital for your overall health and wellbeing, this will help to ensure that your body can fight off illness easier, while keeping your body at its fittest.
At this time of year there are more illnesses circulating than ever, so what ways are there to naturally boost your defenses against viruses, bacteria, and other harmful pathogens?
Here are 15 great ways to improve your immunity and give your immune system a much needed boost:
Conjure your inner yogi and cultivate balance in your life by perfecting your stress management techniques. Feeling stressed raises the level of hormones in the body called catecholamines, as well as increased levels of suppressor T cells, which can weaken the body’s defenses. By taking deep, slow breaths, you relax your body and naturally strengthen your defenses.
The power of mushrooms
Edible mushrooms are particularly useful for strengthening the immune system, did you know there were so many mushroom benefits? Reishi increases the white blood cell count to help fight against RNA viruses, as does Chaga. Turkey Tail will help to fight off illnesses and grow healthy gut bacteria with Lion’s Mane. When it comes to mushroom nutrition, there is a wide range of immunity boosting varieties.
Why not add medicinal mushrooms to your menu? Especially life-giving shiitake and maitake, which easily replace the standard button or field mushroom. The active compound, Lentinan, found in shiitake mushrooms, has been extensively studied for its immunity-boosting superpowers. And a compound in maitake mushrooms called D-fraction has been shown to strengthen the immune system and even fight cancer cells.
Try a positive mental attitude
Gratitude and optimism are powerful mind tools that have an immediate effect on the body. It is not clear why, but research shows that a positive mental attitude strengthens the immune system, possibly because it ‘tricks’ the body into feeling less stressed.
Have regular sex (twice a week seems to be the sweet spot)
Yes, you read that correctly - orgasms = life. According to a recent study, having sex up to a couple of times per week seems to promote optimal IgA levels in the saliva – an immune molecule that helps protect us against illnesses like the common cold. Who knew sex was a great immune system booster.
Call a friend
Did you know that those with strong social relationships are most likely to live longer than those with poor social connections? When you pick up the phone to call or text a friend, you are increasing your physical and mental health.
Own a pet
Pet owners have lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and triglycerides compared to those who do not own pets. In the future this means better overall heart health, a reduced risk of heart disease and better overall health too. Owning a dog is a great reason for fresh air and exercise too.
Laugh yourself stronger
It might delight you to know that watching a funny movie can boost natural killer cell activity, helping to protect your body from viruses and other illnesses. Laughing is also great for breathing and muscle activity, strengthening your core!
Eat the rainbow
Colorful fruits and vegetables contain high levels of antioxidants, helping to boost overall health and immunity. When it comes to these magical vegan foods – The brighter and more colorful the better. Think oranges, kiwis, berries, broccoli, carrots and peppers. Variety is great for digestive gut health and eating a diet heavy in fruit and vegetables (or a vegan diet) is much better for your immunity.
Vitamin and mineral supplements
Vitamins are critical for immune function and function of many enzyme reactions in the body. Some of the most essential include vitamins A, C, D, and E. Zinc, selenium, and magnesium. These vitamins and minerals help your body perform consistently at its best. Be careful not to overdose on certain vitamins, as these can become harmful to your digestion. Fiber supplements are a great one to add if you’re optimising gut health.
Use healing herbs
Some plants and herbs are known to boost immunity. The most effective include garlic, astragalus, milk thistle, ginseng, green tea, black cumin, mushroom and licorice. Each herb has its different strengths, such as being anti inflammatory, so make sure to choose one that’s best for you.
Move your body
For best results, it is recommended to move your body for at least 30 minutes a day. This movement naturally boosts immunity and can be as simple as taking a 30-minute walk. However, you could also try activities such as gardening, yoga or cycling if you want to try something a little different.
Being well rested with a good 7-9 hours of sleep improves the function of white blood cells, and this means you'll be less likely to get illnesses. A good sleep routine is also essential to keep immunity levels high, that means waking up and going to bed at the same time every day, even on weekends.
Did you know that alcohol can cause inflammation in the body as well as interfere with immune-boosting sleep. This causes more work and stress for your body, weakening your immune system. Even if you’re on an anti inflammatory diet, alcohol can undo that good work. Of course sticking to anti inflammatory foods can help too.
Nicotine depresses the immune system and weakens the body. For optimal health and wellbeing it is highly recommended to avoid smoking or to cut down on your current amount. Doctors can recommend items such as nicotine patches or antidepressants to help you cut back.
Wash your hands
Your hands collect and transfer germs more easily than you might realise. To prevent infections and to protect your immune system, it is recommended to thoroughly wash and scrub your hands regularly using antibacterial soap.