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Top 4 Tips For Boosting Immunity Naturally

Updated on April 20, 2015

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.

Skimping on sleep leads to lower immunity and an increased risk for colds, flu, and more serious disease like diabetes, heart disease, and mental illnesses.


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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    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 5 years ago from Indiana

      @2particias - thanks for sharing and I wish you the best on your efforts to cut back on sugar and caffeine:) I cut out caffeine for the most part many years ago. I was hard at first but I have no regrets - (my blood pressure came down when I did so!

    • 2patricias profile image

      2patricias 5 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

      Hello Kris,

      This sounds like good advice, especially as winter approaches. For some of us, cutting back on stress may be difficult. However, it is much easier to cut back sugar and caffeine, so I'll give it a try.

      I have voted up - and am sharing this hub.

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 5 years ago from Indiana

      @Techicated- thanks for stopping by and adding to the conversation. As you pointed out, self control is the key. And for some, they may need to recognize that sugar can be an addiction just like nicotine, alcohol, etc. and may need to be dealt with we would any other addiction.

    • Techicated profile image

      Kathryn Kutny 5 years ago from New York State

      Beautiful Hub! :) I agree with your tips on how to have a better immunity. Sugar is very bad to consume and its better to eat healthy foods that have natural sweetness, such as apples, bananas and strawberries. Eating lot's of fruit and veggies is so much healthier than eating cookies and ice cream. I know we can be tempted to eat those things, but we need to practice self control if we want to have a better immune system. Our bodies are counting on us! Thanks again for your well written and helpful Hub.

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 5 years ago from Indiana

      @Millionaire Tips - I, too, have a hard time with sugar. It can be very addictive!

      @healthylife2 - I finally mastered the sleep. I used to run on just 5-6 hours and now make it point to do 7-8 and I feel much better. Good luck and thanks for stopping by!

    • healthylife2 profile image

      Healthy Life 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      These are excellent tips for boosting the immune system. I'm still working on the first two and eat little sugar but haven't completely eliminated it. Hoping to achieve quality sleep eventually. I guess sometimes easier said than done. Thanks for the motivation!

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      These are great tips - instead of taking medicine, it is much better to find simple ways to reduce our health issues. Reducing sugar and caffeine is hard for me, but I am working on it. Voted up.

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 5 years ago from Indiana

      @miscellanea - you are welcome, and thanks for stopping by:)

    • miscellanea profile image

      Tarik Aarbaoui 5 years ago from Morocco

      Thank you so Kris! so much information, indeed. I'm sure I'll follow all of these tips

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 5 years ago from Thailand

      Some good general tips, especially about the sugar, I was unaware of that. You can also take Propolis, I find the boost it gives is really worth the small annual cost.

      Shared, up and interesting.

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 5 years ago from Indiana

      @Peggy W - that's a great point about tea, especially if it's a black, green or white tea. Most herbal teas are caffeine free. Thanks for contributing!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Excellent article filled with useful tips on how to boost our natural immunity. I liked that tip about drinking an extra glass of water for each cup of coffee consumed. It should probably also be done for each glass of tea. Voted up and useful.

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 6 years ago from Indiana

      @LL Woodard - thanks for sharing this hub. I'm glad you found some useful information on the sugar and caffeine!

      @Veronica Farkas - thanks also for sharing this hub!

    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 6 years ago from Oklahoma City

      More than once in my life I have succumbed to one illness or another after an extended periods of anxiety, so I know from firsthand experience that reactions to stress challenge the immune system.

      I didn't know about the sugar and caffeine relationship to strength of immunity. Thanks for the info.

      Voted up and SHARED.

    • alexa001 profile image

      alexa001 6 years ago from HOLTSVILLE NY

      I pleased to read your post. You have done excellent job over here. Thanks for nice sharing...

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 6 years ago from Indiana

      Debbie- LOL on "ish" :) After the holidays, I seem to be craving sugar more, but I'm working hard at limiting it and so far so good...

    • debbie roberts profile image

      Debbie Roberts 6 years ago from Greece

      It is that time of year where we do all we can to avoid those nasty germs and bugs going around and what better way than to strengthen our immune systems as best we can.

      Your hub is full of tips that are do-able-ish...The ish being..."What no sugar??!"....I see I'm not alone on that one!!

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 6 years ago from Indiana

      @GoGreenTips and @Pamela99 - I'm with you both on sugar. It's SO hard to limit or get rid of it completely. It is definitely a bit addictive:)

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

      These are all things that I do wrong! I have cut back to very little coffee and sugar, but stress is a problem. I enjoyed your hub. Rated up.

    • GoGreenTips profile image

      Greg Johnson 6 years ago from Indianapolis

      Great simple tips, although I have always had trouble getting rid of the sugar in my diet. The sodas always seem to have a place in my diet.

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 6 years ago from Indiana

      @pmccray - thanks for stopping by and I'm glad to hear you found this hub useful and interesting.

    • pmccray profile image

      pmccray 6 years ago from Utah

      Very informative hub,interesting subject matter. Thank you for sharing, voted up, marked useful, interesting and book marked.

    • Shelly McRae profile image

      Shelly McRae 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Good exploration of the topic, Kris. Sound advice. Thanx for sharing with us.

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 6 years ago from Indiana

      @Gypsy Rose, @phdast7, @Homewardbound, @kellyward - thanks for stopping by. This time of year, there will be many new resolutions but as @phdast7 put it...what "will" we keep doing on the long haul. It's easy to say and hard to implement sometimes:)

      I wish you ladies the best for the New Year!

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 6 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Great tips. Bookmarking this one. I don't use too much sugar and I don't drink too much coffee but I do need more exercise. Hope your New Year's great.

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Excellent Hub. You covered some basic changes that almost all of us can make. I especially like the final phrase in your final sentence, "find what works for you." That is so important and such good advice.

      There are a myriad of things we should do to improve our health. But what "will" we do and keep on doing. Incremental changes and improvements that become life habits are so much better than drastic and dramatic changes that we give up on after a week or two. Thanks. :)

    • profile image

      kelleyward 6 years ago

      Thanks for the reminder! As a type 1 diabetic it's very impt for me to increase my immune response! Thanks again

    • homesteadbound profile image

      Cindy Murdoch 6 years ago from Texas

      Great tips. The sugar one is the hardest for me. I am getting ready to fight that battle starting tomorrow. Dr's orders.