5 Ways to Boost Your Immune System
Are you especially susceptible to sickness, with seemingly year-round sniffles? Do you frequently find yourself feeling fatigued or stressed?
If so, you may have a weak immune system. In order to keep yourself functioning and feeling your best, it’s important to maintain a strong immune system.
Whether you’re immunocompromised or simply trying to maintain your immune health, there are a few steps you can take to naturally boost your immune system. Keep reading to learn more!
What is the Immune System?
Simply put, the immune system is the body’s natural defense against illnesses and infections.
When the body encounters an antigen—a harmful germ or substance—for the first time, the immune system produces antibodies to fight them off. The immune system will then store information about those antigens so that if the illness or infection occurs again, the body remembers and can fight it off.
This is why sometimes, after contracting a certain virus, the body naturally develops an immunity to it. (Remember those “chicken pox parties” from back in the day?) That said, there are some infections, such as the cold or flu, that the body needs to fight off repeatedly; this is because there are multiple strains of those viruses, and our bodies simply can’t keep up.
The immune system isn’t just one part of your body. As its name implies, it is an entire system made up of multiple cells, organs, and tissues that all work together to keep you as healthy as possible.
Just as the immune system affects our overall health, our overall health and lifestyle directly affect our immune system.
Understanding Autoimmune Disease
Sometimes, the body mistakes its own cells for potentially harmful antigens, attacking and damaging its own otherwise healthy tissues. This abnormality is called an autoimmune disease.
Common autoimmune diseases include (but are not limited to):
- Rheumatoid arthritis, in which the immune system attacks the joints.
- Lupus, in which the immune system attacks various tissues in the body.
- Celiac disease, in which the immune system attacks parts of the gut after gluten consumption.
- Multiple sclerosis, in which the immune system attacks nerve cells.
- Alopecia, in which the immune system attacks the hair follicles.
What Causes a Weak Immune System?
A weak immune system; immunodeficiency; immunocompromised—these somewhat interchangeable phrases all refer to the same idea: your body is unable to effectively fight off viruses, bacteria, and other antigens, leading to increased risk of illness and infection.
Causes of immunodeficiency can include:
- Old age
- Poor sleep schedule
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Unhealthy diet
- Excessive alcohol use
- Chronic stress, or other mood-related issues such as depression
- Not taking steps to avoid infection (washing hands, cooking meats thoroughly, forgoing recommended vaccines)
That’s not to say that all immunodeficiencies are the result of one’s lifestyle choices; some immune system issues are genetic or may be the result of another health condition or medication.
5 Ways to Naturally Strengthen Your Immune System
While there is no magic formula for immediately boosting your immune system, there are several steps you can take to maintain a healthy lifestyle and strong immune system—just remember that consistency is key.
1. Eat a Healthy Diet
Nourish your body from the inside out with a well-balanced, nutrient-rich diet.
Not sure where to start? Try these tips:
- Choose whole, unprocessed foods such as fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts (and avoid processed foods)
- Eat healthy fats such as fish and olive oil
- Eat plenty of probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt and sauerkraut
- Limit alcohol and added sugars
- Opt for lean proteins
2. Move Your Body
Exercise isn’t just about maintaining a healthy weight. In fact, daily moderate exercise can reduce inflammation and aid with the healthy turnover of immune cells. Plus, regular movement helps you feel better overall as it can boost your energy levels, promote your mental health, and help you get better sleep.
You don’t need to do anything too intense—a hike or brisk walk, bike ride, or jog for 30 minutes each day can do the trick.
3. Get Sufficient Sleep
Ideally, you should be sleeping between 7-9 hours each night on average. In fact, studies show that adults who sleep fewer than 6 hours each night are much more susceptible to the common cold than those who get adequate sleep.
4. Minimize Stress
There’s a direct link between physical health and mental health, so it’s no surprise that long-term stress can wreak havoc on our immune systems. Over time, chronic stress can promote inflammation. It also decreases your body’s white blood cell count, which is essential for fighting off infection.
If you’ve made the decision to prioritize exercise and sleep, you’re already on the right track to reducing your stress levels!
5. Try Immune-Boosting Supplements
As their name suggests, supplements are meant to be just that—supplementary. In addition to healthy lifestyle changes, it’s also helpful to add some health-boosting supplements to your diet, keeping in mind that they should never act as a complete substitute for a healthy diet and any prescribed medications.
Recommended immune-boosting supplements include:
You can also try Go Organic’s Immune Support Gummies, made with a blend of natural immune boosters including elderberry, vitamin C, and zinc.
Sometimes, even if you’re doing everything right, you can still get sick. Some viruses are simply that powerful!
If you get sick, be sure to take plenty of time to rest and recharge, as trying to push through the symptoms may only drag it out.
Additionally, do what you can to limit your sickness from spreading to others (especially those who are immunocompromised), whether this means staying home, keeping your distance, or masking up.