What is Immune System?
Our immune system is quite remarkable as it acts like a lifeguard and protects our body against multiple diseases and organisms, which cause diseases. However, in some cases, our immune system can become weak and fail to defend our body in which case, disease causing organisms successfully invade our body resulting in sickness. The old adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” need not always be true, especially if your immune system is weak.
However, there is no reason to panic, as there are many natural methods where you can boost your immune system by changing your lifestyle habits and by consuming foods which boost our immune system naturally.
How to Boost Immune System Naturally?
The idea of boosting our immune system naturally is very appealing, but it is not that simple, as our immune system is not a single entity, but is a complex system. In order to have good immunity, perfect balance and harmony is required. However, we still can keep our immune system running smoothly, by making some simple changes, such as eating a proper diet, sleeping well, exercising daily and quitting some bad habits such as smoking, alcohol consumption and avoiding stress.
Lifestyle Changes to Boost Immune System Naturally
First line of defense in boosting our immunity the natural way is to follow a healthy lifestyle, as sometimes only making this simple change of lifestyle habits helps in keeping our immune system healthy and strong. The following lifestyle modifications help in boosting our immune system naturally:
Sufficient Sleep: Sleep deprivation leads to increase in cortisol, which is a stress hormone, and increased levels of cortisol suppresses the immune function. Getting around 7 to 8 hours of sound sleep is very important for a healthy life and a healthy immune system.
Stress Management: Stress overload also leads to elevated level of cortisol, which again cuts down on our immunity. Stress is the root cause of all the diseases, it is important to keep stress at bay by relaxing and doing breathing exercises and meditation; otherwise increased level of stress also sends our immune system into a tizzy.
Healthy Diet: It is important to follow a healthy diet consisting of plenty of fruits, vegetables, seeds, proteins, nuts, whole grains, and low saturated fat. Following a healthy diet provides out body and immune system with plenty of nutrients along with naturally boosting the immune system. Increasing the intake of fruits and vegetables also improves the antibody response to the Pneumovax vaccine.
Alcohol Abstinence: Excessive alcohol intake impairs our immune system and increases the risk of infections. So it is important to quit alcohol or at least decrease the level of alcohol consumption to maintain a healthy body and to boost immune system naturally.
Water Intake: It is important to drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water daily to keep ourselves hydrated and improve digestion and to flush out the toxins from our body.
Probiotic Supplements: According to studies, Probiotic supplements also help in boosting the immune system naturally and also cuts down the frequency of gastrointestinal and respiratory infections.
Exposure to Sunlight: Catching early morning sun rays is beneficial to our health, as sunlight triggers the production of vitamin D. Decreased levels of vitamin D leads to increased risk of respiratory infections. During summer season, about 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure is beneficial.
Go Garlic: Garlic is a natural immune booster and a broad-spectrum antimicrobial agent. Daily consumption of single clove of raw garlic helps in keeping blood pressure and cholesterol under control. Cooking the garlic deactivates an important ingredient in it, so it should be added to foods just before serving.
Medicinal Mushrooms: Some of which include maitake and shiitake mushrooms and their concentrated extract helps in boosting the immune function naturally.
Immune-Supportive Herbs: Herbs, such as Asian ginseng, eleuthero, American ginseng or astragalus helps in fighting against recurrent infections and boosting immune system naturally.
Echinacea Tincture: This helps in dealing with respiratory viruses and infection.
Exercise & Weight Control: Exercising daily helps in releasing endorphins, maintaining our weight, controlling other diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension, keeps stress under control and also boosts our immune system naturally.
Foods to Boost Immune System Naturally
Yogurt: Yogurt contains Probiotics, which are healthy bacteria that keep our intestine and gut free from disease-causing germs. Daily consumption of 8-ounce of yogurt is extremely beneficial in boosting our immunity naturally.
Barley & Oats: These contain beta-glucan, which is a type of fiber having antioxidant and antimicrobial actions, and is more effective than Echinacea. Consumption of oats and barley helps in speeding the wound healing process, boosting our immunity naturally, and increases the effectiveness of antibiotics.
Shellfish: Selenium rich foods, such as lobsters, oysters, clams and crabs encourage the production of white blood cells and cytokines, which help in eliminating flu viruses from the body. Mackerel, salmon and herring are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help in fighting inflammation, increasing oxygenation, protecting lungs from respiratory infections.
Garlic: Garlic contains an active ingredient, allicin, which is effective in fighting against bacteria and infections. Garlic extract also helps in fighting against cold and flu, and also lowers the risk of cancer. Two raw cloves of garlic can be consumed daily or crushed garlic can be added to meals after cooking.
Chicken Soup: This delicious remedy helps in fighting cold and flu and also boosts our immune function naturally. Chicken helps in blocking the transportation of inflammatory white cells thus helps in alleviating cold. When chicken is cooked, it releases amino acid cysteine, which is chemically similar to acetylcysteine, which is a bronchitis drug. The salty broth of the chicken soup also helps in keeping the mucus thin just as the cough medicines do. Adding spices, such as onion and garlic to the chicken soup also enhances the soup's immune-boosting power.
Beef: Deficiency of Zinc is a common nutrition deficiency in Americans, especially vegetarians. Beef is an important source of this immunity-boosting mineral, i.e. Zinc, and even if there is mild zinc deficiency it increases the risk of infection. It is very important to have adequate amount of zinc in diet for development of white blood cells, which are immune system cells responsible for identifying and destroying viruses, bacteria and other organisms that cause diseases. Zinc is important in diet to boost our immune system.
Tea: Drinking black or green tea about 3 to 4 times a day helps in fighting virus and other disease causing organisms. The amino acid L-theanine is abundantly present in black and green tea and boosts the immune system naturally.
Mushrooms: Mushrooms are very beneficial for a healthy immune system. They help in increasing the production and action of white blood cells, which in turn help in fighting infections. Some of the mushrooms which pack the immunity punch include maitake, shiitake and reishi mushrooms.
Sweet Potatoes: Sweet potato contains beta-carotene, which gets transferred into vitamin A in our body. Vitamin A is important for our health and boosting our immunity.
So, you can see there are several natural methods by which we can boost our immune system. We just have to put in a little bit of effort and concentrate on the above mentioned changes and additions to lead a long and healthy life with less sickness and medications.