Top 4 Tips For Boosting Immunity Naturally
Copyright 2011, Kris Heeter, Ph.D.
Having a healthy immune system is not only critical for fighting off things like the common cold and flu but also for helping reduce the risk of cancer and other serious diseases.
While there are many of immune boosting supplements out there, boosting your immune system can be done naturally by simply paying attention to what you eat and how you get through the day.
While there are certainly more than four tips, here are four that can be started easily:
1. Ditch the sugar
Love sugar? So do I, but sugary drinks and goodies are not kind to your immune system. One of the best things we can do to boost our immunity is to eliminate as much refined (processed) sugar from our diets as possible.
By eliminating refined sugar, energy levels increase -- this ultimately affects daily activity levels. The more active you are, the easier it is to lose weight, and that helps improve your immunity.
A word of caution though: avoid artificial sweeteners as an alternative. Artificial sweeteners have no health benefits and most have not been tested for the long term affects on humans. Aspartame is an example of an artificial sweetener that went to market, was used for years and later found to be carcinogenic (cancer-causing).
2. Get some ZZZZ's - quality sleep is important
Sleep is critical for keeping the immune system in tip-top shape. Our bodies go into a "repair" mode when we sleep. During the sleep cycle, cells go to work, repairing DNA that was damaged throughout the day due to environmental toxins, chemicals in our food, the sun, etc.
If the sleep cycle is too short or of poor quality, then the cellular repair can't be completed, DNA damage remains and ultimately that damage can lead to one or more chronic diseases.
3. Cut back on caffeine
While drinking several cups of regular coffee a day might give you some "pep in your step", too much can ultimately sabotage the immune system.
Too much caffeine, no matter what the source, acts as a diuretic. It dehydrates the body and robs it of important vitamins and minerals through the body's waste elimination process.
If you drink regular coffee and just can't seem to make the switch to decaf coffee or eliminate it all together, be sure to drink an additional two glasses of water for every cup of coffee to keep the body hydrated.
If you need something to warm you up, try an herbal tea instead of coffee. Many herbal teas contain nutrients that boost the immune systems naturally. One that I just tried recently: dandelion tea. Yes, dandelions, those pesky weeds, makes for a great natural healthy tea.
4. Reduce your stress level
Reducing stress - that's easy to say but hard to do, right?
We are all familiar with some of the more common side affects of stress: upset stomach, ulcers, high blood pressure, trouble sleeping, and depression. But there are a number of ways your body can react that are not as obvious. Rashes, hives, weight gain, and acne can also be indicators of high stress levels.
What has become clear from research done by immunologists in recent years is that stress reduces your overall immunity. Those experiencing high stress levels are more prone to colds, flu and chronic diseases.
Getting through life without stress is really next to impossible. However, there are ways to manage stress and keep it from becoming chronic. How we choose to handle stress as it comes along is critical.
How can you manage stress? Find little things that you can do each day that either relax you or boost your endorphin levels whether you are feeling stressed or not. Making one or more of these things a daily habit will keep that mind-body connection in check and reduce your risk for getting sick.
Some simple examples:
1. Exercise - find something you like to do and stick with it daily. Exercise boosts endorphin levels (the feel good hormone) in your body.
2. Eat better - eat healthier food, lots of fruits, veggies and whole grains.
3. Learn simple meditation techniques.
4. While working, get up and step outside for 5-10 minutes during a break. The fresh air will do wonders.
5. Use essential oils known for their relaxing properties (e.g., lavender).
Bottom line: find what relaxes and works for you.
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