How to Boost Your Immune System Naturally
If you're prone to colds and infections, particularly as the weather turns cooler, you may have a weak immune system. Thankfully there are many things you can do to strengthen your immune system that don't involve drugs. The following simple steps can be used to help prevent and heal common illnesses.
A strong immune system requires:
- Eating healthy
- Adequate rest
- Minimum stress
- Minimum toxins
- Keeping well hydrated
- Regular exercise
Please use common sense where your health is concerned! This information should not be relied upon for optimum health and symptoms may be caused by something more serious than a cold or flu~ if in doubt, go see your health adviser.
What Is The Immune System?
Your immune system is a complex network, designed to protect you from anything that could disrupt your health~ such as bad bacteria and toxins. If your system doesn't manage to prevent you getting ill, it will do everything it can to remove the invader from your body.
The Immune System is made up of various organs, tissues and cells all working together. It is like your bodies monitoring system~ it recognises all cells that are meant to be there. If it can't identify something in your body (referred to as antigens), your immune system will attack and destroy it.
A strong immune system isn't just important for small illnesses. It's been proven to make a considerable difference to fighting diseases such as cancer as well.
An autoimmune disease, is when your immune system can't identify cells that should be in your body and so turns on itself. This makes autoimmune diseases particularly damaging and difficult to treat.
Immune Boosting Foods
These foods are particularly important when you're fighting a cold, flu, or infection. They either boost your immune system and/or are antibacterial:
- Vitamin C rich foods~ such as oranges, lemons and strawberries.
- Pepper/ Spices
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”
If you're anything like me, when you're not well all you want is either comfort food, or not to eat at all! But what you eat can make a huge difference to preventing and healing illness.
Eat lots of fruit and vegetables, healthy fats and avoid anything processed.
A diet rich in Zinc and Vitamins A, C , E and D* is shown to dramatically improve your immune system. Where possible get vitamins and minerals from natural, whole foods rather than supplements or processed food~ they have many other added ingredients that can harm you.
Most illnesses start in the gut, so it's important to eat a diet that is kind to your digestive system. This means eating fibre rich foods, healthy oils and keeping hydrated.
*Vitamin D is produced when you're exposed to sunlight. If you're in a country that has little natural sunlight you may benefit from a supplement.
Adequate Rest And Minimum Stress
Allowing your body to rest regularly and fully lets your immune system work at its best. It is no coincidence that many high flyer's are prone to colds. If you are constantly strung out, stressed and don't sleep well, your body is put under a lot of pressure and will eventually shut down. It's like putting more and more books on a shelf, without taking the time to take some of them off~ eventually the shelf will break!
When sleeping, your body is still busy at work. This is when your body recharges and repairs itself, so it's important to let your body get on with it.
Taking time to rest (not just while sleeping) will reduce physical and mental stress. When you're stressed, your immune system is triggered in readiness to heal what may be coming. If there is then no physical damage to repair and you are frequently stressed, your immune system is constantly on high alert. Over time this can lead to chronic illness and autoimmune disease.
It's hard to avoid all toxins~ especially in the modern world with highly processed food, pollution and chemical based products. But your immune system will thank you if you limit the amount of toxins you're exposed to.
As mentioned above, your system works hard to eliminate cells that it doesn't recognise as being natural to the human body. As much as you can, avoid anything that can overload and suppress your immune system. Things that can damage your immune system include:
- Refined carbohydrates (sugar and wheat)
- SLS & Parabens
- Heavy metals
Part of your immune system is the lymphatic system. The lymph nodes are a network of tiny soft structures which use lymph fluid to filter bacteria from your body.
Lymph fluid is partly made up of water and so if your body is dehydrated, there isn't enough water to produce enough lymph fluid to clean your system properly.
Water flushes out toxins and bacteria~ often just drinking enough water will prevent illness, as bacteria is flushed out of the body before it can turn into an infection. If you are ill and have a fever, it's important to drink even more water than usual. Your body will use more water than normal through sweating and creating more lymph fluid and so is at greater risk of dehydration.
We all know the importance of exercise, but many of us don't take it seriously. Unlike your cardiovascular system~ which has the heart to pump blood around your body~ your Lymphatic System doesn't circulate itself. It relies on you to get the lymph fluid around your body. So a sedentary lifestyle can prevent your body from cleaning bacteria and preventing disease.
You don't have to be a gym bunny for your immune system to reap the rewards of your work, but make sure you move regularly. An active lifestyle is more important than sitting all day and then working out in the gym for an hour, so try to make movement part of your life~ this will eliminate the need for willpower to do a workout each day too.
Try to incorporate the following into each day and build up as your body strengthens:
- Brisk walks
- Vigorous Housework
- Meditation/deep breathing
- Active hobbies