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How to Boost the Immune System Naturally

Updated on February 21, 2013


Your immune system is always on guard, ready to fight off the pathogens that are ready to invade. Pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, yeast, fungi, cancer cells or foreign proteins are always around us. The immune system usually does a pretty good job of staving off illnesses most of the time.

However, everyone gets sick sometimes. The good news is there are things you can do to reduce the severity and duration of the illnesses you do get. In this hub, I will outline the best foods, supplements and lifestyle tips to keep you healthy.

Each person is unique and each person has their own unique immunity. Listen to your body and follow the tips below that feel right for you.


How can you tell if you have a weakened immune system?

You will get colds, the flu and infections more often. You will feel tired most of the time. If you get cuts or scrapes, they will take longer than usual to heal.You may develop allergic reactions. You may even develop an autoimmune disease, a disease where the immune system attacks the body, such as lupus.

These things can impair your immune system:

  • Stress- whether it is physical, emotional or mental stress, it is hard on the immune system.
  • Improper nutrition, including people on strict diets, people who eat a lot of junk food, or elderly people.
  • Under active thyroid
  • Poor liver function due to disease or overload.
  • Drugs
  • Chronic diseases
  • Mercury amalgam fillings
  • Toxins, pollutants and infections

If your immune system is not as good as it should be, what can you do about it?


Source

Food is medicine

A good diet is your best bet. Focus on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and some animal foods. Avoid sugar and too much fat.

Variety is the key to a balanced diet. Eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables and try to eat some leafy greens everyday. Have at least five different grains that you eat throughout the week, such as whole wheat pasta, brown rice, couscous, quinoa and oats. This should ensure that you get all the nutrients you need plus an adequate amount of fibre.

Protein will stimulate your immune system response and decrease the occurrence of bacterial and parasitic infections. You should get between 40-70 grams a day depending on your gender, age and situation. Find protein in meat, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds.

Eat lots of onions, garlic and ginger to stimulate blood flow and kill off pathogens.

Drink water, about two litres a day to flush out toxins.

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that supports immune strength, tissue health and adrenal function. Aim for 1000mg a day. When you are fighting a cold or flu, you can take a supplement every four hours up to 10,000 mg a day, if you can tolerate it. Your bowels will tell you when you've had too much.

Zinc is important in immune cell function. It is found in animal foods, whole grains, nuts, yeast, soy and mushrooms. Zinc lozenges can reduce the severity of cold symptoms if they are taken from the first time you feel a little tickle in your throat. Aim for 15-75mg daily.

Essential fatty acids are vital for cell membrane health and immune cell production. It is found in fish, flax seeds, flax seed oil and vegetable oil.

Probiotics, found in yogurt, balance intestinal flora and prevent infections. Look for plain, sugar free varieties as sugar and sugar substitutes depress the immune system.

Astragalus

This pretty herb, astragalus, is a powerful immune system booster.
This pretty herb, astragalus, is a powerful immune system booster. | Source

Herbs to try if you do get sick

Please consult your doctor before using any herbal remedies and do not use if you are pregnant.

Echinacea stimulates the immune response. Take at the first sign of a cold or flu and do not use for more than seven days.

Astragalus contains antioxidants and has anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties. It enhances and stimulates the immune system.

Ginseng stimulates the immune system. It is excellent to take if you are over most of your symptoms but just can't shake that cold completely. Do not take if you have high blood pressure.

Goldenseal supports and heals the mucous membranes. It is very potent and should not be taken for more than seven days.

Oil of oregano has antiviral, antibacterial and anti fungal action. It should be taken with probiotics.

Getting outside and walking in nature are two of the best things you can do to improve your health.
Getting outside and walking in nature are two of the best things you can do to improve your health. | Source

Healthy lifestyle tips

  • Wash your hands often. Be sure to wash your hands for long enough. Lather up for at least 30 seconds. Moisturize when you are done. Dry skin is prone to cracking which can let germs into your skin.
  • Get enough sleep all the time, but especially when you are fighting a cold or flu. The best day to take off of work is actually before you are sick. When you first feel that little tickle in your throat or you start feeling sluggish. If you rest then, you may not even get sick all.
  • Keep a positive outlook on life. Depressed people are more susceptible to certain infections such as the common cold. It feels good to help others, so practice random acts of kindness or give to charity to give your own immunity a boost.
  • Laugh more. Laughter stimulates the production of brain chemicals called catecholamines and endorphins. These chemicals affect the hormone levels in the body that are related to strengthening immune response and feelings of joy and pain reduction.
  • Exercise regularly. Regular exercise is great for your immunity. It circulates lymph around your body which aids in toxin removal. Exercising outdoors and yoga are top immune system boosting workouts. Aim for 30-60 minutes of activity on most days.

Yoga for immunity

Eat lots of veggies for good health.
Eat lots of veggies for good health. | Source

Feel Better

So you have tried your hardest to not get sick and it happened anyway. There are a few things you can do to make yourself feel better. Suck on some sugar free lozenges for your sore throat, or make a little tea with honey and lemon. Make sure to get enough fluids, especially if you really don't feel like eating anything.

Here is a broth recipe you can make to sip on throughout the day:

Healing Broth

3 stalks celery or bok choy

3 carrots

1 cup spinach leaves

parsley

1 onion

2 cloves garlic

6 potatoes

Chop and place in a large pot, cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer about an hour. Strain and drink hot or cold.

It is probably a good idea to make a big batch of this in the fall and freeze a few jars to have on hand. No one feels like putting this much effort in when they are sick, so have it ready at your disposal.

A neti pot can be a big help when you are stuffed up. Some say it even helps you get over a cold faster.
A neti pot can be a big help when you are stuffed up. Some say it even helps you get over a cold faster. | Source

How to use a neti pot:

Comments

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    • daisyjae profile imageAUTHOR

      daisyjae 

      7 years ago from Canada

      Thanks ladda boonmee, I am glad you found it useful.

    • Ladda Boonmee profile image

      Ladda Boonmee 

      7 years ago from Vancouver

      It is very informative. Thank you very much. I'm glad to be your fan!

    • daisyjae profile imageAUTHOR

      daisyjae 

      8 years ago from Canada

      Thanks for your comment HerbalScience. I will have to look into elderberry extract.

    • HerbalScience profile image

      HerbalScience 

      8 years ago from Naples, Florida

      These are great suggestions to boost immunity naturally. You pointed out that food is the best medicine. Fruits and vegetables are the best sources of most immunity boosting vitamins and nutrients. One fruit that you didn't mention was elderberries. Recent studies have shown that elderberry extract not only boosts immunity, but also shortens the symptoms of the flu. Thanks for all of your suggestions!

    • daisyjae profile imageAUTHOR

      daisyjae 

      8 years ago from Canada

      Thank you prasetio30, I'm so glad you found this useful.

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 

      8 years ago from malang-indonesia

      I like something natural. And I found it in this hub. You have great tips and I think your recipes is work for us. I liked the combination in using herbal remedies like onion and vegetables like spinach, celery and carrot in your recipes.

      I agree that food is medicine. When we eat regularly and consume healthy food like vegetables and fruit , those are good for our health.

      I rate this UP! thanks

    • daisyjae profile imageAUTHOR

      daisyjae 

      8 years ago from Canada

      Thanks for your comment, Lrobbins.

    • LRobbins profile image

      Laurel 

      8 years ago from Germany

      Great info, thanks. I'm definitely going to try the healing broth the next time I'm sick.

    • daisyjae profile imageAUTHOR

      daisyjae 

      8 years ago from Canada

      I am too ethel. Thanks for your comment.

    • ethel smith profile image

      Ethel Smith 

      8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Some great ideas. I am on a bit of a health kick right now

    • daisyjae profile imageAUTHOR

      daisyjae 

      8 years ago from Canada

      Great! I hope they help.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      I use a neti pot and love it. Now I'm going to try your other suggestions!

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