No one wants to get sick. And when cold and flu season hits, it’s all hands on deck to fight off invading bacteria and viruses. And while eating a clean, whole food diet, reducing stress and keeping active is foundational to a healthy immune system, there are also other things you can do to keep your immune system strong to fight off infections and improve your overall resilience.
Below, I have described how a strong immune system prevents illness. I have also compiled a detailed list of easy ways to boost your immune system on a daily basis. When you incorporate these strategies into your routine, you’ll be taking effective measures to decrease the risk of illness.
HOW DOES THE IMMUNE SYSTEM WORK?
Your immune system is an intricate group of organs, tissues, and cells that help your body fight germs. Its job is twofold: the first is to recognize germs that may cause harm to the body. The second part is to prevent these pathogens from entering the body. If the germs do successfully enter the body, your immune system’s job is to destroy them.
A healthy immune system defends you from unhealthy bacteria, parasites, and viruses. This protects you from a whole slew of ailments, including the flu, colds, urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and more.
DAILY HABITS THAT PROMOTE A HEALTHIER IMMUNE SYSTEM
The following list includes easy ways to strengthen your immune system that you can incorporate into your daily lifestyle. They are simple and don’t take much time to implement, but by implementing them, you may greatly improve your overall health and help reduce your number of sick days.
1. Get Enough Sleep:
Sleep has a huge impact on your overall health and wellness. It reduces stress levels, curbs chronic inflammation, and – you guessed it – supports a healthy immune system!
The average adult needs seven to eight hours of sleep a night, so make this a priority.
If insomnia is something you struggle with, check out How to Overcome Insomnia and Get Better Quality Sleep for helpful strategies. Your well-rested body will thank you!
2. Increase Your Zinc:
According to Harvard Medical School, micronutrient deficiencies compromise the body’s immune system. Zinc is one of the most important anti-virals around and can provide serious immune support to you and your family. I highly recommend a chelated version, such as Zinc Citrate. Word to the wise – always take this with food or else you may feel nauseous ;)
3. Reduce Sugar Intake:
While it’s fine to consume sugar in moderation, it’s definitely something you should limit – especially refined sugar. Consuming large quantities of refined sugar weakens the immune system, making you more susceptible to infections and illness, and less prepared to recover quickly. Consider opting for natural sweeteners, such as raw honey or real maple syrup. Check out my other natural sweetener options below:
4. Grab some Garlic:
Another proven way to boost your immune system is to consume garlic. Not only does garlic improve immune functions, but it also possesses antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral\ benefits. You can add it to the foods you eat, or you can even eat one peeled garlic clove a day.
If you absolutely can’t stand consuming garlic but still want to reap its benefits, the next best option is to supplement with allicin, one of the most bioactive compounds found in natural garlic. As always, be sure to only consume professional-grade products to achieve the best results.
5. Ginger to the rescue:
One of my absolute favorite medicinal foods is ginger root. This is such a powerful anti-viral and anti-inflammatory agent!
Yes, you can add ginger to your meals, but my favorite way is to start each day with a large glass of Ginger tea. Add some lemon to it for a further immune boost. The amount of unhealthy, man-made toxins in our environment is high, and drinking ginger/lemon tea will help detox your system and get rid of potential disease-causing agents while providing some massive immune support.
6. Keep Your Stress Under Control:
We are currently facing one of the most global stressful events of our lifetime, possibly in human history. Feeling stressed right now is totally normal. However, it can also be controlled so that you don’t down with the ship. It is normal to feel worried or anxious from time to time, but chronic stress can seriously weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to disease and infection.
According to NIH, Dr. Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, an expert stress researcher at Ohio State University, has found that chronic stress diminishes your body’s immune response and makes it more difficult for your body to recover from wounds and illnesses.
Fortunately, there are plenty of easy ways to reduce stress, such as:
- Reducing your caffeine consumption
- Staying connected to nurturing relationships with friends and family
- Avoiding unnecessary situations that trigger anxiety
- Journaling your thoughts and feelings
- Practicing yoga and stretching
An added bonus is that meditation forces you to calm down, be quiet, and intentionally notice your mind and body sensations. This can help you notice if you are just starting to feel sick, so you can give yourself the extra self-care you need before it turns into a full-blown cold that really puts you out of commission.
7. Take Care Of Your Gut Health:
As the great Hippocrates once said, “All diseases begin in the gut.” In fact, 75-80% of our immune system is located in our gut! There are numerous foods and pathogens that can irritate the gut. One way to take care of your gut health is to consume lots of pre and probiotics.
However, gut health is a complex issue, and there is no single solution that works for everyone. If you suspect that your gut health is subpar, I recommend functional medicine diagnostics to get to the root cause and find effective solutions.
Probiotics are a healthy type of bacteria that prevent the risk of infection. They also reduce inflammation, help your body absorb healthy nutrients from the foods you eat, and promote good gut health.
You can take probiotic supplements or eat fermented foods, which are rich in probiotics. Some examples of fermented foods include sauerkraut, miso, and kimchi. You can access many more strategies in my online program The Healthy Gut Institute – an easy to follow, fun, yet in-depth guide to making your gut function at its best potential. Check it out here!
8. Remember To Wash Your Hands:
This list wouldn’t be complete without a friendly reminder to wash your hands. Do this mindfully, so that you’re thoroughly cleaning every square inch of your hands. Take it a step further than just washing your hands after using the bathroom; make it a habit to wash them before you eat and after you get home from running errands, too. Always dry your hands after washing them, since wet skin can be a magnet for germs.
9. Take Advantage Of Vitamin C:
Vitamin C should come as no surprise here. It is for good reason. Vitamin C is one of the most widely recognized and used anti-oxidants in the world. This nutrient plays a critical role in helping the immune system, joints and arteries heal and function properly. However not all vitamin c products provide the same level of absorption. The type I recommend the most is a liposomal vitamin C due to its technological breakthrough in nutrient assimilation and offers incredible health benefits.
Vitamin C plays an important role in the health and function of the immune cells. White blood cells depend upon vitamin C in order to survive and withstand the attack of pathogens and free radicals. Vitamin C also plays an important role as an anti-histamine and reduces inflammatory conditions associated with colds, fevers, flu’s and allergies.
10. Get an air purifier:
Did you know that the air in our home is often 5-8x more toxic than the air we breathe outside in major cities? A combination of pollutants like smoke, dust mites, mold, and chemicals are often to blame. We also have persistent viruses that are airborne and don’t clean well off surfaces entering our homes.
Most people aren’t aware of the potential dangers and have no idea how to improve it. In fact, most people don’t even realize that their immune system can be weakened by air pollutants.
Not all air purifiers are the same, not by a long shot. The most effective air purifier I’ve come across is the Air Doctor Pro. You can check it out here.