7 Tips For Strengthening Your Immune System
Cold and flu season is at its peak. You will probably come into contact with several people who are battling an infection. That doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily get sick. There are strategies you can use to strengthen your immunity and reduce the risk of illness, or minimize the severity of an infection. Read on for some tips.
1. Soak up the sun
Vitamin D strengthens your immune system by effectively fighting off invaders before they can develop into a full-on infection. Vitamin D also reduces inflammation throughout the body, and it is very common for people with recurrent infection or autoimmune disease to be lacking in vitamin D. The easiest way to obtain vitamin D is through sun exposure. To increase vitamin D levels, aim to get brief yet frequent sun exposure between the hours of 11am and 2pm. This may not be possible during winter where you live. Taking a vitamin D supplement is an effective alternative.
2. Get your beauty sleep
Not only is sleep good for our physical appearance, but adequate sleep can reduce our risk of infections, boost immune function, increase energy levels, improve heart health and support a healthy weight. This is likely because loss of sleep increases the production of ghrelin, the hunger hormone, and decreases the production of leptin, the satiety hormone. Thus, not getting enough sleep can cause us to eat more, leading to weight gain. Lacking in the sleep department suppresses immune function, making ourselves more susceptible to cold and flu infections. If you struggle to get to sleep or stay asleep, read Dr Cabot’s book ‘Tired of Not Sleeping’. You may benefit from taking magnesium, a mineral which helps to promote healthy sleep.
3. Try probiotics
The word probiotics literally means “to promote life”, which is appropriate as probiotics promote the growth of good bacteria in our gut, and 70% of our immune system resides in our gut. This collection of bacteria in our gut refers to our microbiome, and probiotics are what colonise our gut with good bacteria to prevent the proliferation of bad bacteria. Sources of probiotics include, kefir, kimchi, miso, apple cider vinegar, yoghurt, sauerkraut and kombucha. You will get more benefits from a probiotic if you first take a natural anti-microbial remedy, to kill harmful bacteria and yeast in the intestines, such as BactoClear capsules.
4. Get into juicing
Raw juicing is a super convenient way to get a concentrated dose of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, to help dispel toxins from the body, improve liver detoxification pathways, reduce inflammation and calm the immune system. They are also a great way to boost levels of vitamin C; an essential vitamin for optimal immunity. Good immune boosting foods to juice are leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, apple, garlic and ginger. Leafy greens and citrus fruits are bursting with vitamin C. Apple contains pectin, which helps to dispel harmful substances from the intestines. Garlic is a natural anti-microbial, anti-bacterial and anti-biotic, and ginger has natural antibiotic properties and helps relieve mucous congestion. There are great juice recipes in Dr Cabot’s book ‘Raw Juices Can Save Your Life’.
5. Avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates
Having the opposite effect of vegetables and fruits which are bursting with antioxidants to boost immunity, sugar and refined carbohydrates reduce immunity and are very inflammatory to the body. Foods like white bread, white pasta, white rice, most cereals, crackers, baked goods and candy are the types of foods you should be minimising or avoiding altogether, as they do not do your body any favours. These foods are the ones that are often addictive, but after avoiding them for 3 weeks you will find your cravings have greatly lessened, like the expression ‘Out of sight, out of mind’.
6. Take some selenium
Selenium is a powerful mineral that is lacking in many individuals due to the deficiency in some soils. It can be difficult to obtain sufficient selenium through diet alone, however the highest dietary source of selenium is Brazil nuts. Selenium is a powerful antioxidant to fight free radicals, support healthy immune function and exert anti-inflammatory properties.
7. Manage stress
I’m sure we all know stress isn’t good for us, but did you know being stressed weakens your immune system? If you are constantly stressed, your body will be secreting large amounts of cortisol which lowers your immunity, increasing your chances of infection. Have you ever noticed that people who are stressed frequently catch colds, the flu and other illnesses? Cortisol suppresses lymphocytes, powerful immune cells that defend against harmful substances. Great ways to manage stress include yoga/meditation, spending time in nature, reading a relaxing book, deep breathing exercises and discussing your troubles with a close friend/family member. You may benefit from taking magnesium, a powerful mineral which helps to improve the physiological response to stress and helps to promote relaxation.
The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.