How to Naturally Boost the Immune System

Good health has a lot to do with a strong and vigorous immune system – with “system” being the operative word.  As it affects the entire body, boosting immunity requires balance, harmony and a number of healthy strategies.  Take a look at these ways to naturally boost the immune system.

Eat a Healthy Diet and Stay Hydrated
Diets containing plenty of fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts help to support immune-system health because these foods are chock full of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that protect cells from free radical damage.  Free radicals have been found to contribute to a number of chronic diseases, including hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), cancer and arthritis. 

  • Try adding mushrooms to your diet.  Shiitake, maitake and reishi mushrooms are packed with beta-glucans, which are complex carbohydrates that naturally boost immunity against infections and allergies.
  • Consume friendly bacteria.   Beneficial microorganisms thrive in the intestine, lower urinary and upper respiratory tracts. They crowd out harmful bacteria and naturally boost immune function. Friendly bacteria can be found in live-cultured products like yogurt, kimchi and sauerkraut.  Probiotic supplements can be found at natural food stores and through online natural supplement sites.
  • Beware of simple sugars.  According to Brigitte Mars, herbalist and author of The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicines, simple sugars weaken the immune system and should be avoided. 
  • Drink at least 64 ounces of pure water per day.  Dehydration can result in fatigue, dry skin, headaches, and constipation – all of which may contribute to a lowered immune system.

Take a Daily Vitamin and Mineral Supplement
Research has linked shortages of vitamins A, B6, C, D, E and folic acid, selenium and zinc to lowered immunity.  However, exact levels of these important nutrients for immunity have yet to be determined.  In the meantime, it might be wise to make a vitamin and mineral supplement part of your daily routine.

Reduce Exposure to Toxins
Limit alcohol consumption.  Most experts recommend two drinks or less per day for men and one drink or less per day for women.  Also, as we all know by now, cigarette smoking is bad for the health.  If you smoke, quit – this simple act will do wonders for naturally boosting the immune system.

Many household cleaning products contain ingredients that can be toxic.  For better health, purchase environmentally-safe products.  Also, limit exposure to aerosols like hairsprays and perfumes.

Reduce Stress
When the body experiences stress, it produces adrenaline and cortisol, which is a hormone involved in metabolism, maintenance of blood pressure, regulation of blood sugars, inflammatory response and immune function.  While acute stress can boost immunity, stress over the long term can put a strain on the immune system.  Manage stress with activities like yoga, tai chi, deep breathing or listening to soft music – anything to quiet the mind and return the body to a state of relaxation.

Stay Active
It has been shown that moderate exercise can release tension and boost immune function.  A year-long study in 2006 examined 115 obese, post-menopausal women who were typically inactive.  Stretching exercises were prescribed once a week to half of the group and the other half were prescribed 45 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise for five days per week.  Results of the study showed that participants of the stretching group were afflicted with three times as many colds as the moderate-exercise group.

Get Enough ZZZs
In deep sleep, the body releases growth hormone which aids in the growth and repair of the body and consequently, naturally boosts immunity.  If you have trouble sleeping, follow these guidelines:  make the bed for sleeping only (no reading or watching TV), avoid eating or drinking a full hour before bed, take a warm bath before bedtime, and maintain a regular sleeping schedule.
 
A thriving immune system is a large part of a healthy body and small lifestyle changes can help.  Take advantage of the guidelines above to naturally boost your immune system for a happy, healthy body.

Sources:
http://www.health.harvard.edu/flu-resource-center/how-to-boost-your-immune-system.htm
http://www.motherearthnews.com/natural-health/strengthen-immune-system-z10m0vau.aspx

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