7 Tips to Strengthen Immunity
When we use the word immunity, we are referring to the body’s ability to be protected from or resistant to foreign invaders, such as viruses, bacteria, fungi or any type of pathogen. Unfortunately, many of us are not supporting our immune system so that it works optimally.
The saying “it takes a village” is very applicable here. It does! Being proactive with our immune health requires a multi-pronged approach. Not just one action.
A healthy immune system reacts powerfully and immediately once it detects that something in the body is potentially harmful and triggers the release of special immune cells. These cells travel to where the trouble is and attack the intruder to remove it. However, as is so often the case, these invaders successfully take hold and thus, we have a cold, influenza, COVID or something else.
How to support your immune system
If you would like to have an immune system that works powerfully, check out these tips.
Our diet dictates the power of our immune system. It is a foundational piece. So, it is crucial to eliminate or greatly minimize added sugars, starches, etc. – all refined foods. There are even whole grains, such as whole oats that can skyrocket blood sugar. Research has shown that simply eating sugar depresses your immune system for up to five hours after ingestion. Eating or drinking excess sugar reduces cells that fight foreign invaders within the body.
Eating a highly processed diet every day will negatively affect the immune system overall.
Handwashing is Key!
We’ve all been told to wash our hands and yet, the Healthy Handwashing Survey™ from industry leader Bradley Corporation found a decrease in handwashing during 2023. Our hands are the origin for most contagious illnesses. Because of this, most of us know that removing germs from them is ideal to prevent infection.
“Handwashing, using soap and warm water, is an easy and effective way to reduce the spread of
According to the Healthy Handwashing Survey, 93% of adults believe handwashing is essential to maintaining their overall health – a sentiment that’s nearly universal across gender, geography and age.
The survey found that 65% of Americans have a particularly negative impression when they see someone who doesn’t wash their hands after using a restroom. 40% say someone who frequently touches their nose, mouth or eyes is also a turn off.
“Germ avoidance and handwashing diligence are two habits that should always be a priority, and businesses can support hand hygiene by providing well-maintained restrooms,” says Jon Dommisse, vice president of marketing and corporate communication for Bradley Corp. “No matter where you are or what you’re doing, everyone should lather up, scrub thoroughly, rinse and dry their hands.”
Because of health concerns, many Americans are leaning more towards touchless faucets and dryers to help avoid contact with germs.
Exercise is crucial to immune health. Research shows that moderate exercise mobilizes immune system cells, helping the body defend itself against pathogens or foreign invaders. Those who regularly exercise have fewer illnesses and less systemic inflammation. Exercise may also protect the immune system from the effects of aging which decreases in its ability as we age.
During sleep, our immune system releases proteins called cytokines to help reduce inflammation, infection and more. Certain cytokines help us sleep and that is why, without sleep, we lose this very important protection and are thus vulnerable to illness. Long-term lack of sleep also increases your risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
How much sleep do you need to bolster your immune system? 7-9 hours each night is optimal.
We all experience stress. However, chronic, unrelenting stress will take its toll on the body in many ways, including our immune health. Stress has been implicated in altered immune functioning in many diseases. Stress creates a hormone in your body called cortisol. Cortisol can suppress your immune system’s effectiveness in fighting off invaders
To protect your immune system, ensure that you practice stress reduction activities, such as deep breathing, meditation, prayer, exercise, hydration, a healthy diet packed with antioxidants and targeted supplementation if necessary.
Stay at a Healthy Weight
Why does weight gain and obesity lead to a weakened immune system? Obesity alters our immune response thanks to the chronic inflammation associated with this condition. Any time we have chronic inflammation, we are at risk of illness, disease, faster aging and weight gain. When fat tissue becomes unhealthy, as often happens in people with obesity, it can become dysfunctional and secrete hormones and other chemical signals that promote chronic low-grade inflammation.
Keeping our weight lower with daily movement (including resistance training), following a healthy, whole foods diet and eliminating refined foods, will help reduce this risk and promote many health benefits, including an optimized immune response.
Supplements Can Help
We all need support at times and supplements can provide that for a healthier immune system. Making healthy lifestyle choices, such as consuming nutritious foods, getting enough sleep and exercise are the foundation. Research has shown that adding certain supplements can improve immune response and protect us further.
Be sure to check with your doctor before taking any supplements as some supplements can interact with prescription or over-the-counter medications you’re taking.
Here are 5 supplements known to boost immune function:
-Medicinal Mushrooms such as Lion’s Mane or Turkey Tail mushrooms
The small choices we make each day such as handwashing, eating a nutrient-rich diet, adequate sleep, practicing stress reduction, everyday movement and supplementation, will all help to optimize your immune health to keep you healthy all year long.