How This Helps

If you are wondering about how to boost your immune system, then following a healthy lifestyle and eating healthy foods can help. There are many natural immune system booster foods that can keep your immune system healthy. Getting sufficient sleep, avoiding processed and unhealthy foods, regularly exercising, and many other ways are there to boost your immune system. Several key healthy lifestyle habits can help keep your immune system working to fight off illness and infections like coronavirus. Research suggests that compounds in herbs and supplements can enhance your immunity. Garlic, astragalus, milk thistle, ginseng, and other herbs can also help. Here are some foods that can help along with many other helpful tips for those wondering about how to improve the immune system. 

Proper handwashing

Handwashing helps protect against viruses and bacterial infections

Start with good defense. Do not give germs an opportunity to cause harm. Proper handwashing is a simple and effective way to avoid the spread of infectious conditions and respiratory ailments like coronavirus, flu, and colds. Some bugs are easily transmissible from one person to another once we come into close proximity with one another. It's also easy to transfer these germs from your hands to your face with a simple touch. This can make you get sick. Many doctors and country leaders have displayed the proper hand washing techniques on TVs all around the world with the coronavirus pandemic. Scrub all surfaces of your hands: front, back, in between fingers, and areas under the fingernails. Antibacterial soap and hand sanitizer may give additional protection against germs you cannot otherwise see. 

See: Ayurvedic herbs for immune system

Regular exercise

Importance of Regular Exercise

Engaging in regular exercise can work as an immune system booster. Studies have shown that even one session of mild to moderate exercise can help increase the effectiveness of vaccines in people who have a weakened or compromised immune system.[1] Regular exercise is also known to increase the production of T cells, which are a kind of white blood cells in the body that are responsible for fighting off infection. At the same time, exercise also lowers the levels of inflammatory cytokines in the body that are responsible for aging and are also believed to play a role in causing cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's disease, osteoporosis, and type 2 diabetes.[2]

The best and one of the most straightforward exercise you can practice for improving our immunity is walking or brisk walking. Walking has been shown to protect you during the flu and cold season. A study conducted on over 1,000 participants, both men and women, discovered that those participants who walked for at least 20 minutes in a day, for at least five days a week, had 43 percent lesser sick days as compared to those who only exercised once in a week or less. The study also found that if these participants did fall ill, then it was for a shorter duration, and the symptoms they experienced were also milder.[3, 4]

So all those who are wondering how to improve the immune system should think about walking for at least 15 minutes a day. Exercise has numerous health benefits and can protect you against cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and even certain forms of cancer. Exercise and physical activity is also an immune booster. Walking can be peaceful and one of the easiest ways to work out. You can also try yoga, gardening, biking, or swimming.

See: How to do Prone Leg Lifts Correctly

Good Sleep

Getting adequate sleep

A good night's sleep is a critical requirement for boosting the immune system. In fact, poor quality of sleep or insufficient sleep is associated with a higher likelihood of sickness. Researchers have even found that proper sleep helps boost the T cells in the body and helps them fight off infection more aggressively. 

Several studies have reported that a good night's sleep improves the primary cells of the immune system known as T cells.[5]

Adults ideally need to get a minimum of six to seven hours of sleep each night for their overall wellbeing and health. However, people often underestimate the importance of sleep and cut back on sleep in order to complete their work or for a night out with their friends. Prolonged lack of sleep can have many adverse effects on the body, including creating a fight or flight state. When the body is perpetually under a fight or flight state, there is an increase in stress hormones and an increased production of adrenaline. All these factors have been found to be responsible for many chronic diseases.[6, 7]. Adequate hours of sleep not only acts as an immune system booster but sleeping when you are unwell, allows the immune system to better fight against the disease, making you sick.[8]

Following essential sleep hygiene tips such as avoiding screen time just before bedtime, sleeping in a completely dark room, using an eye mask for sleeping, and sticking to the same bedtime every night, are necessary for ensuring a good night's sleep to boost your immune system.

See: Ashwagandha for sleep before bed

Reduce sugar

Restrict the intake of sugars

Several studies have discovered that an increased intake of added sugars along with refined carbohydrates contributes to obesity, being overweight, which, in turn, increases the risk of falling sick.[9, 10]

A study carried out on 1,000 participants found that the participants who had obesity and were administered the influenza vaccine were twice as likely to catch the flu as compared to those who were not obese and received the same vaccine.[11]

Restricting the intake of added sugars is essential to boosting your immune system. In fact, anyone who wants to know how to boost the immune system must try to limit their sugar consumption to less than five percent of their total daily calories. This means that for an individual on a 2,000 calorie diet, they should not be having more than two tablespoons of 25 grams of sugar in a day. 

See: Beat Sugar Detox Symptoms and Feel Better

Immune system boosting foods

Immune System Booster Foods

While following the above steps can also boost your immune system, there are many different types of foods also that can help you improve your immunity. Here are some immune system booster foods that you should include in your diet:

•        Citrus Fruits: Citrus fruits are a powerhouse of vitamin C. Vitamin C is known to be a natural immune booster as it increased the production of white blood cells, which are vital in fighting against infections and diseases.[12, 13] Some popular citrus fruits you can think of having are oranges, tangerines, lemons, clementines, grapefruit, and limes.

•        Broccoli: Broccoli is a powerhouse of many essential nutrients, including vitamins and minerals that help the body fight against infections. Broccoli is loaded in vitamins A, E, and C, along with a healthy dose of fiber and antioxidants. Antioxidants are necessary for your immune health as they protect the cells in the body from damage caused by free radicals.[14, 15]

•        Garlic: Garlic is a common ingredient we add to many of our dishes. It not only adds a dash of flavor to our meals, but it is also an immune system booster. Garlic can help in the management of high blood pressure and even slow down the hardening of the arteries. The immune-boosting properties of garlic are known to be because of a rich concentration of several sulfur-containing compounds, including allicin.[16]

See: Broccoli Nutrition & Health Benefits Diabetes, Cancer, Heart

Boost immunity by reducing stress

Stress & anxiety is an enemy of your immune system.

Chronic stress is bad for your immune system and increases the risk of various types of illnesses. It increases the level of hormones known as catecholamines. Being stressed out contributes to elevated levels of suppressor T cells, which suppress the immune system. If this branch of the immune system is impaired, you're more prone to viral illnesses such as respiratory ailments like colds, flu, and the novel coronavirus disease. Stress contributes to the release of histamine, a molecule involved in allergies. You can combat stress and anxiety with plans like deep breathing, meditation, exercise, and comfort.

See: Naturopathy and Yoga for Stress Management

Get your vitamins

Take multivitamins if needed.

Taking a daily multivitamin can help ensure you are meeting at least your minimum everyday requirement for specific nutrients. Vitamins which are critical for immune function include vitamins A, C, D, and E. Zinc, selenium, and magnesium are minerals your immune system needs to function at its best. These minerals can also be critical for the function of many enzyme reactions in the body. Your immune system and body can not function at their best without the fundamental building blocks they need to operate correctly.

See: Ayurvedic Diet

No junk food

Say no to junk food diet. Processed foods such as fast foods and snack foods contain empty calories that don't supply your body with vitamins, nutrients, or fiber. They frequently also contain chemicals and preservatives that aren't great for your health. Ditch processed foods in favor of vegetables, fruit, healthy fats, lean meat, and whole grains to provide your body and immune system everything they need to function at their very best. Boost your dietary habits to support your wellbeing.

See: Boost your immune system with Ayurveda

Herb and supplement immune boosters

Some research has indicated that compounds in supplements and herbs can enhance immunity. Green tea, black cumin, and ginger Garlic, astragalus, milk thistle, ginseng, are simply a couple of herbs which were reported to have immune-boosting benefits. Speak with your health expert before adding supplements and herbs to your regimen. They may produce side effects, particularly when combined with other herbs, supplements, or medications. Probiotics are beneficial strains of bacteria which have also been described as immune boosters. Start looking for supplements with lactobacillus and bifidobacterium. Probiotics can also help enhance digestive health.

See: Green Tea Benefits

No smoking or alcohol

Alcohol suppresses immunity: Alcohol depresses the immune system, so it is better to consume it in moderation or not at all. Men and women may have the ability to consume up to 2 and 1 alcoholic beverages daily, respectively. There are many factors, including general health status, risk factors for illness, and any medicines you might be taking. Consult with your doctor if it is okay for you to have an occasional alcoholic beverage.

Nicotine increases the risk of several diseases: Smoking is bad for the immune system. Individuals who use tobacco are also at higher risk of medical problems such as lung cancer, asthma, stroke, and heart attack. Any material that depresses your immune system isn't something that you need to use. There are lots of unique strategies that will assist you in quitting. Many natural remedies are available that can help you quit smoking. 

See: Panchakarma therapy to prevent chronic diseases

Social & lifestyle changes

Strong social ties help you boost immunity: Evidence from research studies suggests loneliness and social isolation are incredibly detrimental to health. In one study, those with the most important social relationships were most likely to live longer than people who have poor social relations. There are lots of approaches to develop and strengthen social ties. Pick up the phone and call friends frequently. Make plans to get together in person. Volunteer for a cause you believe in. Join a class or keep up with old friends and make new ones to fortify and expand your social circle.


Positive thinking to Boost Immune System: Expect great things, and your immune system will follow. A study of law students discovered that their immune systems were more powerful when they felt optimistic. Practice gratitude and consider at least three items that you're grateful for every single day. Imagine the ideal outcome for scenarios, even difficult ones. You may not always have the ability to control events around you, but you could control your reaction to them. Respond with a positive attitude to increase the odds of the very best outcome and to strengthen your immunity.


Laughter is the best medicine: Can laughter actually boost your immune system? The results of several studies suggest it could. In a study of healthy men, watching a funny movie increased natural killer cell activity when viewing an emotionally neutral movie didn't improve immune system function. While more research is required to establish a conclusive link between laughter and enhanced immunity, go ahead and have a great chuckle. Belly laughs feel great. They can not hurt, and they may help improve your immune system and lessen the probability of illness.

See: Natural Flu Remedies

Detox

Keep toxins away: Toxins can be Devastating to the immune system. By way of instance, mycotoxins from mold are famous for destroying immunity. A number of different toxins appear to have a detrimental effect on immunity also. So try to minimize exposure to chlorinated drinking water, pesticides, aromatic hydrocarbons heavy metals, air pollution, and food additives. Liver detoxification is vital to reduce toxins' burden on the body.

See: Heavy Metal Detox Diet and Foods

Summary

By consciously making healthy lifestyle and dietary changes to your daily life, you can boost and activate your immune system. Reducing the intake of junk and processed foods, getting a good night's sleep, managing your stress levels, and regularly exercising are all various ways in which you can improve your immunity and your overall wellbeing.

See: Relaxing Yoga Poses to help you sleep

References

1. Simpson, R.J., Kunz, H., Agha, N., and Graff, R., 2015. Exercise and the regulation of immune functions. In Progress in molecular biology and translational science (Vol. 135, pp. 355-380). Academic Press.

2. Sander, R., 2012. Exercise boosts immune response. Nursing older people, 24(6), pp.11-11.

3. NIEMAN, D.C., Henson, D.A., AUSTIN, MD, and BROWN, VA, 2005. Immune response to a 30-minute walk. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 37(1), pp.57-62.

4. Kimura, F., Shimizu, K., Akama, T., Akimoto, T., Kuno, S., and Kono, I., 2006. The effects of walking exercise training on immune response in elderly subjects. International Journal of Sport and Health Science, 4(Special_Issue_2_2006), pp.508-514.

5. Dimitrov, S., Lange, T., Jensen, A.T., Szczepanski, Gouttefangeas, C., M., Lehnnolz, J., Rammensee, H.G., Soekadar, S., Born, J. and Besedovsky, L., 2019. Journal of Experimental Medicine, 216(3), pp.517-526.Gαs-coupled receptor signaling & sleep regulate integrin activation of human antigen-specific T cells.   

6. Von Ruesten, A., Weikert, C., Fietze, I. and Boeing, H., 2012. Association of sleep duration with chronic diseases in the EPIC (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition) -Potsdam study. PloS one, 7(1).

7. Liu, Y., Wheaton, A.G., Chapman, D.P., and Croft, J.B., 2013. Sleep duration & chronic diseases among US adults age 45 years & older: evidence from the 2010 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Sleep, 36(10), pp.1421-1427.

8. Besedovsky, L., Lange, T., and Haack, M., 2019. The sleep-immune crosstalk in health and disease. Physiological Reviews, 99(3), pp.1325-1380.

9. Johnson, R.J., Sánchez-Lozada, L.G., Andrews, P., and Lanaspa, M.A., 2017. Perspective: a historical and scientific perspective of sugar and its relation with obesity and diabetes. Advances in Nutrition, 8(3), pp.412-422.

10. Chow, K.F., 2017. A review of excessive sugar metabolism on oral and general health. The Chinese Journal of Dental Health, 20(4), pp.193-198.

11. Neidich, S.D., Green, W.D., Rebeles, J., Karlsson, E.A., Schultz-Cherry, S., Noah, T.L., Chakladar, S., Hudgens, M.G., Weir, S.S. and Beck, MA, 2017. International journal of obesity, 41(9), pp.1324-1330. Increased risk of influenza among vaccinated adults who are obese. 

12. Thomas, W.R., and Holt, P.G., 1978. Vitamin C and immunity: an assessment of the evidence. Clinical and Experimental Immunology, 32(2), p.370.

13. Bourne, G.H., 1949. Vitamin C and immunity. British Journal of Nutrition, 2(4), pp.341-347.

14. Chew, BP, 1996. Importance of antioxidant vitamins in immunity & health in animals. Animal Feed Science & Technology, 59(1-3), pp.103-114.

15. Knight, J.A., 2000. Free radicals, antioxidants, and the immune system. Annals of Clinical & Laboratory Science, 30(2), pp.145-158.

16. Nccih.nih.gov. 2020. [online] Available at: [Accessed 2 April 2020].

See: Amla Health Benefits & Side Effects

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