I hope these tips will help you to make your own immune system as strong as possible. Feel free to share any other immune boosting tips in the comments!
It’s that time of year again…everyone seems to be getting sick or has sick kids or sick parents. The weaker your immune system is, the more susceptible you will be to catching whatever bug may be going around. Instead of waiting to get sick and then muddle through the misery of a red nose, sore throat and feeling lethargic and slothful, you can take some natural steps to get your immune system functioning more efficiently.
Your Immune system is the first line of defense when sickness comes around and there are certain nutrients, foods and other components which will bolster the system. Here is a list of 9 things that may be helpful:
This powerhouse of a vitamin, when acting as Calciriol, helps to keep T cells from launching an attack on your on body’s tissue (i.e. autoimmunity). It also has the helpful role of blocking chemicals that are harmful to your body’s tissue.
A great way to up the amount of Vitamin D you are getting is to spend about 20 minutes a day outside in sunlight. You can also supplement with Vitamin D capsules if being outside is not a viable option for you.
Most Americans (over 75%) are deficient in this nutrient and this is a shame because Magnesium is used daily in over 300 bio-chemical exchanges in our bodies. It also takes 54 molecules of Magnesium to deal with just 1 molecule of sugar. With the Standard American Diet being fairly sugar laden this can correlate to creating a lack of available Magnesium.
You can take a Magnesium supplement but the best way to get your magnesium levels higher is actually through the skin as it absorbs more transdermally than taking it in oral form. A simple way to accomplish this would be to take an epsom salts bath for at least 20 minutes 2-3 times per week. If you’re not a bath person, there are also magnesium oils that can be applied to the skin.
Pro-biotics help to populate the gut flora with beneficial bacteria which then help to increase immunity levels. Pro-biotics are available in pill form but you can also eat and drink pro-biotic rich foods/ drinks such as kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, and yogurt.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar has made a popular comeback lately and that is due to the many uses and benefits it affords. It has the trifecta of being anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial all in one product. This makes it perfect for boosting the immune system against different kinds of invaders. It also has many vitamins and minerals including the ones your body may be missing. You can find ACV at most grocery stores but be careful to make sure that the kind you pick up has “the Mother” in it. Otherwise it will not necessarily provide the benefits I have just laid out above.
Our family has gotten used to the fact that when someone starts to cough a little bit I start handing out the raw garlic cloves. Not only does garlic serve as a rich source of antioxidants and natural antibiotics it also helps with clearing the mucous membranes that are commonly troublesome when someone has cold or flu like symptoms.
The key with raw garlic is to make sure that you chop or crush it about 15 minutes prior to consumption to let the Allicin (powerful anti-microbial) develop. 1-2 cloves per day taken with something to eat and drink (raw garlic is strong and spicy!) can relieve cold/flu like symptoms.
Bone broth is definitely my favorite part of having pasture-raised animals on hand. I love making broth that is collagen rich (that’s where those feet come in). Simmering the bones/ feet releases collagen, glycine, proline and glutamine which are all beneficial for bolstering immunity, hence the infamous healing of mom or grandma’s chicken soup.
If you don’t have access to bones of your own, check out your local butcher or grocery store to see if they have some available. They are usually very reasonable and can last for several broth-making sessions.
Cutting Back on Sugar
Another strategy, along with adding nutrients to bolster your immunity, would be to strictly limit foods that harm your immunity. The most notable food item in this regard is sugar. I know it tastes so yummy and can sweeten up your favorite treats but too much sugar will hinder the immune system’s ability to do its job properly due to the fact that it hampers the work of the white blood cells.
One study by researchers at Loma Linda University in Southern California stated that “sugars impaired the neutrophils to engulf bacteria.” As the main kind of white blood cells, Neutrophils have the role of consuming bacteria and viruses entering the body; they can be worn out by sugar and then can’t function as well.
If you want to make sure that your immune system is in tip-top shape, then you want to make sure that you are getting enough sleep. This should be apparent and even obvious, but a lot of people skimp on sleep regularly. Think of sleep as being “Vitamin S”, a super nutrient desperately needed by the body to be able to keep up with the demands that are put on it daily. 7-9 hours per night is what most adults need.
Stress is a biggie. Most people have some kind of stress in their lives. How you deal with this stress, however, can have an impact on your immune health. If you take some pro-active steps to try to lessen the effects of stress then you will be lowering the amount of inflammation present in your body and therefore bolstering your immunity at the same time. Some practical ways to reduce stress might look like adding a time of prayer/meditation/time alone in nature a few times per week, going for walks, listening to calming music, chatting with a friend who relaxes you, doing something you truly enjoy like painting, playing an instrument, or reading.