Top 8 Immune Support Tips
Do you seem to always catch whatever illness is going around?
We all want to protect ourselves and those we love from powerful invisible enemies such as viruses, bacteria, fungi or parasites. Improving or supporting the immune system is crucial in order to do this. This proactive action generally requires a multi-pronged approach, one that may include nutrition, activity, and other actions. The immune system on its own does a remarkable job of keeping us well most of the time. If our immune system realizes that something in our body is potentially harmful, it triggers the release of special immune cells. These travel to where the trouble is, and attack the intruder to remove it. However, sometimes it is not as strong and thus it fails such as when a virus or bacteria enters the body successfully and takes hold. The good news is that we can make choices that have a profound and powerful impact upon the strength of the immune system thereby keeping us healthy and well. Making choices that support our immune health affects every area of our body.
Here are 8 tips to bolster your immune system and ultimately protect your body each day:
Ensuring you get enough sleep is vital to immune health. During sleep, protective cytokines are released via the immune system to not only help with sleep but to clear the harmful viruses, bacteria, etc. This is why when we get sick, we often sleep more than usual. If we are not getting enough sleep, these infection-fighting cytokines and anti-bodies are reduced increasing our chances of getting sick.
Ensure you get 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
You’re doing everything right to keep your immune system optimized. You are exercising, sleeping well, and reducing stress, taking supplements and more. But what if simply eating one food can erase all of your efforts? It’s true and that one ‘food’ is 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.
In addition, 80% of bacteria and viruses are actively looking for any cell’s surface coating of sugar – allowing them to proliferate. You may want to rethink your sugar intake to keep your immune system strong.
Wash Your Hands!
Washing our hands and cleaning them properly can literally be a lifesaver. Handwashing is literally your first-line defense to staying healthy in all ways! By engaging in this simple but powerful action, we can prevent the spread of diseases and infections.
However, unfortunately (and surprisingly), the Healthy Handwashing 2021 survey conducted by Bradley Corporation, has found that handwashing is on the decline during the Coronavirus pandemic. The survey was conducted in January and found that 57% of Americans are washing their hands six or more times a day. That’s quite a drop off from the 78% of Americans who were washing that frequently when the survey was conducted in April of 2020.
Other important solutions to stopping the spread of germs in homes and businesses are touchless faucets and the use of paper towels. According to the Healthy Handwashing Survey, Americans say making everything touchless is their number one request for improving restrooms.
What is the optimal way to wash our hands? Wash hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Create a full lather and make sure the lather reaches all crevices of your hands (including under nails) and wrists.
In addition to washing your hands, there are other actions you can take to ensure your immune system can withstand the nasty invaders such as the cold and flu viruses.
Add Fermented and Cultured Foods
Fermented and cultured foods are excellent to optimize gut health, as our gut is the epicenter of every area of health including brain health, weight and mood.
Both cultured and fermented foods are similar in that they both provide healthy probiotics or bacteria that gets planted in your gut.
Almost 80% of our immune system resides within our gut so that’s why it is vital we ‘plant’ these healthy bacteria or probiotics with cultured foods such as yogurt, pickles, kimchi and others and then ‘fertilize’ or feed these new bacteria with prebiotic fiber from artichokes, leeks, onions, dandelion greens, potato starch, dark chocolate and much more. However, all vegetable fibers have some prebiotic benefit.
The human body is meant to move. The majority of folks are sitting way too much and unknowingly depressing their immune system. When we exercise, white blood cells are called upon to protect the body against both infectious disease and foreign invaders. White blood cells are the body’s immune system cells that fight disease.
Recent research shows sedentary behavior can change the activity of dozens of genes, including the gene responsible for making an enzyme that helps break down fat so it can be used for energy or stored in the body. Essentially, the less we move, the less fat loss can occur. Movement is crucial for optimal health.
Water is required for every single process in the human body. We are 68% water and that’s why this is crucial. Many people are unknowingly mildly dehydrated and that leads to a whole host of complaints outside of immune health.
Water is vital for the functioning of all of your organs, and it’s a huge part of keeping your immune system functioning at an optimal level. Not having an adequate water intake leaves us vulnerable to bacteria, viruses and more.
Water flushes out toxins from the body, oxygenates blood and encourages the production of lymph fluid which is a crucial part of our immune system. Keeping mucus membranes moist is vital to preventing these invisible invaders from easily entering through dry tissue.
Actively Reduce Stress
Stress is a part of life but chronic stress is unhealthy. The stress hormone corticosteroid can suppress the effectiveness of the immune system – stress lowers the number of lymphocytes that fight off infection.
To actively reduce stress, means to be aware, to apply your knowledge on how to reduce stress and be consistent. Practicing stress reduction each day will help you increase the quality of your life and health.
Simply meditating, practicing gratitude, walking, exercise, tai chi or deep breathing, are examples of how we can proactively reduce stress.
The 4-7-8 Technique is an example of a powerful deep breathing exercise:
- Breathe in 4 seconds through the nose
- Hold for 7 seconds
- Exhale for 8 seconds
Repeat 6 times or as needed (in any situation, including to fall asleep).
Immune Support Supplements
While an anti-inflammatory diet packed with leafy greens, healthy fats, proteins and micronutrients is crucial to immune health, targeted supplementation, with your doctor’s approval, is highly beneficial. Supplements are available in various forms, such as capsules, tablets, lozenges, and liquids.
Top Immune Support Supplements:
- Vitamin D
- Elderberry Extract
Making small key choices each day to support your immune system will keep you healthy and well.