Natural ways to boost and keep your immune system healthy

immune system
Every day, our immune system works hard for us, like an army, fighting off harmful organisms, bacteria, and viruses, to keep us well. While we can’t control everything in our environment, there are some simple strategies we can do to help those fighters do their job even better.

What is your immune system?

Your immune system is a network of cells, organs, proteins, and antibodies that work to protect you against bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Whilst we usually only think of our immune system when we feel ill, it’s actually working every day to keep us safe.

What are the best ways to keep your immune system healthy?

Your immune system is made up of lots of individual parts, which all work together to protect you from infection. Due to its complexity, even scientists don’t fully understand how it all works, but they do know that following a healthy lifestyle will help support each function of your immune system.

Before you get your tissues out check out this handy list of the top things you can do to help boost your immune system. Arm yourself with these and you won’t feel like the ice victim anymore, but the snow queen! (or King) And don’t worry, they’re all natural!
  • Eat to strengthen yourself – Focus on eating a healthy balanced diet, adding all components of foods in your meals- fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and sprouts. Eat clean and organic products as much as you can (regional and seasonal). The nutrition in these foods will more than take care of your immunity!
  • Add herbs and spices to your food – Herbs and spices have been known to have antibacterial and antiseptic healing properties, plus they make any dish taste great! Just a dash of this and a sprinkle of that and you’ve got yourself an immunity meal!
  • Natural antibiotic garlic – This bulb has earned a special place in this list for its anti-microbial properties. Eating raw garlic is one of the most potent (and pungent!) ways to improve your immunity!
  • Drink enough water – Water is the best way to cleanse our body of all the toxins and to ensure that our system stays healthy and hydrated as well as help strengthen your immune system!
  • Workout – This doesn’t have to be at the gym or a fitness studio, it could be a simple half-hour walk every day. Exercising every day is vital for good health. It reduces the risk of heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other diseases. It can improve your appearance and delay the aging process.
  • Make sure you get enough sleep – The immune system is strengthened and fine-tuned during sleep, and sleep deprivation can lead to weakening it. Ensure that you get a good 8 hours of sleep every night to keep your immune system in good shape.,
  • Try not to stress too much – It is now a well-known fact that stress increases our susceptibility to illness and those with higher stress levels are falling ill more often. The best way to protect yourself is to relax! Find some time to recharge, meditate, read or do yoga. Essentially, take a chill pill!
  • Cut back on the sugar – Sugar is potentially damaging to your immune system because of its tendency to cause inflammations in the body, a thriving ground for microbes of the flu. Switch to natural sources such as fresh/dried fruits and your gut will thank you.
  • Have a massage – What could be a better way to improve your immunity system than having a relaxing massage? Massages stimulate the lymphatic system, the defense force of our body. Besides, they feel great, don’t they?
  • Dress smartly! Make sure you are well-protected in the cold winter weather, especially paying attention to your hands and the face, which often tend to be forgotten. Wear snug gloves and a warm scarf good and of course, make sure you wear an appropriate jacket and winter boots. Stay warm, stay healthy!
  • Wash your hands often – Of course, you need to do this regardless of what season it is, but come winter with colds and the flu going around you’d be better off taking this simple precaution than having to worry about catching germs and getting ill.
  • Reach out – Studies show that feelings of isolation and loneliness correlate with lowered immunity. So make an effort to connect with your family and friends and allow their warmth to make your winter more pleasant.
  • Stay away from the toxins – We unknowingly surround ourselves with toxins through our cleaning products, some of which may be dangerous to our immune system. Use green cleaning products to keep your house and your body clean!
  • Switch your moisturizing lotion to coconut oil – Coconut oil is natural healing and protecting substances and acts as a barrier for the skin from microbes. It will also leave your skin feeling incredibly soft and supple!
  • Stay sober – Alcohol is known to suppress the immune system and you definitely don’t need this with flu and colds going around. Drink fresh fruit juice instead!

And there are a few things you can do to stop germs spreading if you do get ill:

  • Cough and sneeze into a tissue and away from other people
  • Don’t reuse tissues
  • Don’t go into work (and avoid public places, if you can)
  • Regularly clean surfaces and door handles around your home
  • Wash your hands regularly to minimize the spread of germs

The best vitamins and minerals for your immune system

There are a few key vitamins and minerals that are known to help support your immune system. If you eat a healthy, varied diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, you should be able to get all the nutrients you need.

Vitamin A – this supports the normal functioning of the immune system as it’s thought to help develop a type of white blood cell that produces antibodies. Some sources of vitamin A include eggs, dark green leafy vegetables, and cod liver oil.

Vitamin C – this can help support cellular functions needed by the immune system. Oranges, orange juice, broccoli, tomatoes, strawberries, and red/green peppers are your best source.

Vitamin D – this will help to keep your immune system strong, with the ability to fight off infections quickly. As most vitamin D is received from sunlight, the UK Government recommends a daily supplement between October and March.

Zinc – this contributes to the normal function of the immune system and can be found in seafood, red meat, chickpeas, eggs, pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Be careful not to consume more than the recommended daily allowance, which is 25mg.

What are the best foods to boost your immune system?

Whilst eating a healthy, balanced diet is vital in supporting your immune health, there are several foods that are thought to give it that extra little kick.

Cinnamon – can reduce bacteria’s ability to multiply, and if you do end up suffering from a cold, it should help it to clear up quicker. Sprinkle some over hot chocolate or a cup of tea, or try mixing it with raw honey, which has similar properties.

Citrus fruits – are great for vitamin C, which can help to fight off infections. Vitamin C can’t be stored by your body, so you need to try and incorporate foods that are rich in vitamin C every day. Try oranges, lemons, and limes.

Watermelon – these contain citrulline, which helps keep your heart healthy, and they’re rich in vitamins A, C, and B6 too. Their red flesh supplies your body with lycopene, which helps keep your immune system balanced.

Broccoli – when it comes to choosing your five-a-day, make sure broccoli becomes a firm favorite as it’s bursting with nutrients like vitamins A, C, and E and contains choline which is good for your gut. Instead of cooking your broccoli, try to eat it raw if you can, as it’s more nutritious this way. Similar vegetables that are classed as superfoods when it comes to your immune system include sprouts, kale, and cauliflower.

Chicken – zinc is needed for white blood cell production so your body can fight off infection and for healthy skin, hair, and nails. Zinc can be found in seafood (like oysters), eggs, chickpeas, mushrooms, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and cashew nuts, so eat these more regularly.

Garlic – raw garlic is brilliant at giving your body’s immune system a helping hand. It has natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, helping you ward off illness and recover quicker. Raw garlic can increase the number of t-cells in your blood, which in turn fight viruses. Crush or slice garlic cloves and add to salad dressings as garlic’s health powers are best when it’s raw.

Yogurt – instead of pouring milk on your cereal in the morning, why not add a dollop of yogurt instead? You need to choose a yogurt that contains live cultures or ‘friendly bacteria’ as these help your immune system fight against bad bacteria in the gut. They can also encourage your body to produce more white blood cells.

Mushrooms – these are an interesting food ingredient, because – just like us – they synthesize Vitamin D when they are exposed to UV light. You should, therefore, choose wild mushrooms or mushrooms grown in UV light. They are the only plant source of vitamin D, which supports your immune system.

Bell peppers – these contain lots of vitamin A, which can help repair your body’s mucosal barriers (easily damaged by infection).

Chilies – fresh red and green chilies are incredible health boosters. They contain lots of vitamins A and C (nutrients which can boost the immune system) and capsaicin which can help clear congestion and phlegm.

Elderberries – these are full of flavonoids and they can help stop viruses in their tracks. Even if you do develop a cold or flu, you may find that your body recovers much more quickly if you’ve been eating elderberries.

Top Tip:
When you go shopping, the easiest way is to pick a wide range of fruits and vegetables that are lots of different colors. Not only will your plate look more tempting, but you’ll be getting all your immune-boosting nutrients as well.

Supporting your immune system whatever your age

We’re all born with an immune system but not every baby’s immune system is healthy and functions as it should. Some babies and young children can be more prone to picking up bugs, especially when they start nursery or school.

A healthy diet, physical activity, good hygiene, and sleeping habits can all help support a child’s immune system.

Everyone’s immune system changes throughout their life. As you get older, your immune response starts to decline, which means you’re more susceptible to infection. Good nutrition and some levels of physical activity become even more important for elderly people, to ensure their immune system remains in good working order.
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