9 WAYS TO BOOST YOUR BODY'S NATURAL DEFENSES
Updated: Feb 12
If you want to boost your immune health, you may wonder how to help your body fight off illnesses.
While bolstering your immunity is easier said than done, several dietary and lifestyle changes may strengthen your body's natural defenses and help you fight harmful pathogens, or disease-causing organisms.
HERE ARE 9 TIPS TO STRENGTHEN YOUR IMMUNITY NATURALLY.
1. GET ENOUGH SLEEP
Sleep and immunity are closely tied.
In fact, inadequate or poor quality sleep is linked to a higher susceptibility to sickness. Getting adequate rest may strengthen your natural immunity. Also, you may sleep more when sick to allow your immune system to better fight the illness
Adults should aim to get 7 or more hours of sleep each night, while teens need 8–10 hours and younger children and infants up to 14 hours
If you're having trouble sleeping, try limiting screen time for an hour before bed, as the blue light emitted from your phone, TV, and computer may disrupt your circadian rhythm, or your body's natural wake-sleep cycle
Other sleep hygiene tips include sleeping in a completely dark room or using a sleep mask, going to bed at the same time every night, and exercising regularly
Inadequate sleep may increase your risk of getting sick.
2. EAT MORE WHOLE PLANT FOODS
Whole plant foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes are rich in nutrients and antioxidants that may give you an upper hand against harmful pathogens.
The antioxidants in these foods help decrease inflammation by combating unstable compounds called free radicals, which can cause inflammation when they build up in your body in high levels
Chronic inflammation is linked to numerous health conditions, including heart disease, Alzheimer's, and certain cancers.
Meanwhile, the fiber in plant foods feeds your gut microbiol, or the community of healthy bacteria in your gut. A robust gut microbiol can improve your immunity and help keep harmful pathogens from entering your body via your digestive tract
Furthermore, fruits and vegetables are rich in nutrients like vitamin C, which may reduce the duration of the common cold
Several whole plant foods contain antioxidants, fiber, and vitamin C, all of which may lower your susceptibility to illness.
3. EAT MORE HEALTHY FATS
Healthy fats, like those found in olive oil and salmon, may boost your body's immune response to pathogens by decreasing inflammation.
Although low-level inflammation is a normal response to stress or injury, chronic inflammation can suppress your immune system
Olive oil, which is highly anti-inflammatory, is linked to a decreased risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Plus, its anti-inflammatory properties may help your body fight off harmful disease-causing bacteria and viruses
Omega-3 fatty acids, such as those in salmon and chia seeds, fight inflammation as well
4. EAT MORE FERMENTED FOODS OR TAKE A PROBIOTIC SUPPLEMENT
Fermented foods are rich in beneficial bacteria called probiotics, which populate your digestive tract
These foods include yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, and natto.
Flourishing network of gut bacteria can help your immune cells differentiate between normal, healthy cells and harmful invader organisms
If you don't regularly eat fermented foods, probiotic supplements are another option.
Gut health and immunity are deeply interconnected. Fermented foods and probiotics may bolster your immune system by helping it identify and target harmful pathogens.
5. LIMIT ADDED SUGARS
Emerging research suggests that added sugars and refined carbs may contribute disproportionately to overweight and obesity
Obesity may likewise increase your risk of getting sick.
Curbing your sugar intake can decrease inflammation and aid weight loss, thus reducing your risk of chronic health conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease
Given that obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease can all weaken your immune system, limiting added sugars is an important part of an immune-boosting diet
6. ENGAGE IN MODERATE EXERCISE
Although prolonged intense exercise can suppress your immune system, moderate exercise can give it a boost.
Studies indicate that even a single session of moderate exercise can boost the effectiveness of vaccines in people with compromised immune systems
What's more, regular, moderate exercise may reduce inflammation and help your immune cells regenerate regularly
Examples of moderate exercise include brisk walking, steady bicycling, jogging, swimming, and light hiking. Most people should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. Moderate exercise can reduce inflammation and promote the healthy turnover of immune cells. Jogging, biking, walking, swimming, and hiking are great options.
7. STAY HYDRATED
Hydration doesn't necessarily protect you from germs and viruses, but preventing dehydration is important to your overall health.
Dehydration can cause headaches and hinder your physical performance, focus, mood, digestion, and heart and kidney function. These complications can increase your susceptibility to illness.
To prevent dehydration, you should drink enough fluid daily to make your urine pale yellow. Water is recommended because it's free of calories, additives, and sugar.
While tea and juice are also hydrating, it's best to limit your intake of fruit juice and sweetened tea because of their high sugar contents
As a general guideline, you should drink when you're thirsty and stop when you're no longer thirsty. You may need more fluids if you exercise intensely, work outside, or live in a hot climate
It's important to note that older adults begin to lose the urge to drink, as their bodies do not signal thirst adequately. Older adults need to drink regularly even if they do not feel thirsty.
Given that dehydration can make you more susceptible to illness, be sure you're drinking plenty of water each day.
8. MANAGE YOUR STRESS LEVELS
Relieving stress and anxiety is key to immune health.
Long-term stress promotes inflammation, as well as imbalances in immune cell function
In particular, prolonged psychological stress can suppress the immune response in children
Activities that may help you manage your stress include meditation, exercise, journaling, yoga, and other mindfulness practices. You may also benefit from seeing a licensed counselor or therapist, whether virtually or in person.
Lowering your stress levels through meditation, yoga, exercise, and other practices can help keep your immune system functioning properly.
9. SUPPLEMENT WISELY
Supplements which may 'strengthen your body's general immune response:
• Vitamin C. According to a review in over 11,000 people, taking 1,000–2,000 mg of vitamin C per day reduced the duration of colds by 8% in adults and 14% in children. Yet, supplementing did not prevent the cold to begin with
• Vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency may increase your chances of getting sick, so supplementing may counteract this effect. Nonetheless, taking vitamin D when you already have adequate levels doesn't seem to provide extra benefits
• Zinc. In a review in 575 people with the common cold, supplementing with more than 75 mg of zinc per day reduced the duration of the cold by 33%
• Elderberry. One small review found that elderberry could reduce the symptoms of viral upper respiratory infections, but more research is needed
• Echinacea. A study in over 700 people found that those who took echinacea recovered from colds slightly more quickly than those who received a placebo or no treatment, but the difference was insignificant
• Garlic. A high quality, 12-week study in 146 people found that supplementing with garlic reduced the incidence of the common cold by about 30%. However, more research is needed
THE BOTTOM LINE
You can make several lifestyle and dietary changes today to strengthen your immune system.
These include reducing your sugar intake, staying hydrated, working out regularly, getting adequate sleep, and managing your stress levels.
Boosting IMMUNITY WITH HOMOEOPATHY
Immunity is the balanced state of multicellular organisms having adequate biological defenses to fight infection, disease, or other unwanted biological invasion, while having adequate tolerance to avoid allergy, and autoimmune diseases.
Passive immunity is the transfer of active immunity, in the form of ready made antibodies, from one individual to another. Passive immunity can occur naturally, when maternal antibodies are transferred to the foetus through the placenta, and can also be induced artificially, when high levels of human (or horse) antibodies specific for a pathogen or toxin are transferred to non-immune individuals. Passive immunization is used when there is a high risk of infection and insufficient time for
the body to develop its own immune response, or to reduce the symptoms of ongoing or immunosuppressive diseases.
HOMEOPATHIC MEDICINES TO INCREASE IMMUNITY
The immune system within your body is what protects you from all the attacks of various microbes from the world outside. However, the immune system itself can face problems and can defend the body only so much. Thus it is wise to add some homeopathic medicines and help the immune system fight the possible intruders better.
This medication is extracted from the vine Gelsemium sempervirens, and is known as a very effective remedy when you have flu like symptoms with the cold such as, exhaustion, body ache and fever.
A very well known remedy for food poisoning as well as other digestive disorders, Arsenicum album can be very effective in treating a wide variety of stomach related illnesses caused by the reaction to foreign microbes.
This medication contains trace amounts of duck liver and heart and is known to be a good immune booster. Effective in the cases of cold and flu like symptoms, oscillococcinum can effectively treat fever with flu and other symptoms, although it may take a bit of time for it start acting. It is thus best to consult with your homeopathic doctor before starting a course.
If you have flu like symptoms with teary eyes and nasal congestion, Allium cepa is a very good remedy. You have to take a few doses before the symptoms start subsiding.
There are multiple medical combinations, which can help you boost your immunity as well. Consult your Homeopathic doctor to get the best combination for your specific condition. Some of these combinations are:
CALCAREA CARBONICA 30-1 DOSE,
LYCOPODIUM 30-1 DOSE:
This combination is very effective in treating sensitive colds where fever may or may not exist but causes extreme nasal blockages.
LYCOPODIUM 30, SABADILLA 30:
This combination is very effective when the cold and nasal blockages are due to pollen sensitivity and occur during the pollinating season. This can be used in a regular dosage to not only stop the symptoms but to also stop the allergy from happening in the first place.
Strengthen Your Immune System With 4 Simple Strategies
FROM BOOSTING FOODS TO LIFESTYLE CHANGES TO A HEALTHY ATTITUDE
GET READY TO BOOST
YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
“Let's start with the basics: Wash your hands for 20 seconds, don't touch your face and take social distancing seriously. “If you only do these three things, you'll be well on your way to staying healthy.”
But there's more you can doHere is four stay-healthy strategies.
Focus on food
Believe in the power of immune-boosting foods. Choosing whole, unprocessed foods does wonders for overall health.
• GARLIC: Allicin, a compound in garlic, is well-known for its ability to boost the immune system. The most benefit comes from eating one-half of a raw garlic clove daily. If you can't stomach raw garlic, the next best thing is to roast it.
• PREBIOTICS: Robust gut bacteria protect us against infection. Keep those bacteria healthy with prebiotics that contain fiber, specifically inulin fiber. Excellent sources of prebiotics are Jerusalem artichokes, green bananas or plantains, Jicama root and asparagus.
• VITAMIN C-RICH FOODS: Vitamin C is known to boost immunity. One study found that older adults who ate kiwi every day for a month had a significant decrease in the severity and duration of upper respiratory infection symptoms. People often reach for orange juice to get vitamin C, but juice has a lot of sugar. It's better to get vitamin C from oranges, broccoli, kiwi or cantaloupe.”
• ANTIOXIDANTS: Stress can lead to lowered immunity and make you more prone to illness. Colorful fruits and vegetables including berries, carrots and spinach have antioxidants that protect you against oxidative stress, which translates to a stronger immune system.
Living under constant stress, even low-grade, that continues day in and out, causes the body to produce too much cortisol, the stress hormone. Over time, elevated cortisol lowers your resistance to fighting off infection and contributes to poor sleep and higher blood pressure.
Protect yourself from stress and bolster your immune system with a few lifestyle tweaks:
• Sleep: Yep, it's easier said than done (especially if you're an insomniac). But here's the deal — you need seven to eight hours of quality sleep each night to fight off infection. “Prioritize sleep. If you need help, choose a tried-and-true technique known as cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, or CBT-I,” says Dr. Darling. “Talk with your doctor to find a reputable therapist or download a CBT-I app.”
• Meditation: Even five minutes a day of guided meditation, or simply sitting quietly and focusing on your breath, can make a difference. Meditation lowers your heart rate and blood pressure and reduces anxiety. Plus, it's calming. So it's not surprising that it also helps you sleep.
· Exercise: Exercise increases your resilience so you can fight off infection. Our bodies function better when we're physically active every day. Doctors recommend carving out at least 10 minutes a day, ideally 30 minutes, and doing a mixture of cardio and strength training.
ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING
A positive mindset is vital for health and well-being. Research shows that positive thoughts reduce stress and inflammation and increase resilience to infection — while negative emotions can make you more susceptible to the common cold and flu.
NATURAL IMMUNITY AIDS
If you're ready to give it all you got when it comes to avoiding the coronavirus, consider these extra measures:
• SUPPLEMENTS: A lot of people are deficient (or low) in vitamin D, and a deficiency may increase your susceptibility to infection. Get outside for fresh air and sunshine, but I also recommend taking a daily supplement of 1,000 to 2,000 IUs of vitamin D.
• ESSENTIAL OILS: Eucalyptus and tea tree oils have antiviral properties that may protect you against infection from viruses. Use in an oil diffuser to inhale them or make a hand sanitizer using tea tree oil mixed with aloe vera gel and isopropyl alcohol. Studies also show that lavender essential oil has a calming effect, so it can help ease anxiety and improve sleep. Add a few drops to a warm bath or use the oil in a diffuser while you work or sleep.
And sometimes, even with lots of sleep and vitamin C, superheroes get sick. It's OK! The key is to take time off to recharge (and avoid getting others sick). In no time, you'll be donning your cape again. But for your health and the health of those around you, make sure you're fully supercharged before you do.
- Dr Sanjeev Singh Chawla