How to boost your immune system naturally
What is exactly is the immune system?
It is perhaps now, more evident than ever that the immune system is essential for our survival.
The immune system is comprised of a network of cells and tissues, proteins and organs that act as watchmen and soldiers on the lookout for invaders in the form of bacteria, viruses fungus and other foreign bodies that would harm our health.
The immune system is complex and fascinating, and when working optimally, it is really a marvel.
It is like this well-organized army with various fighters stationed strategically all working together in harmony.
You have cells that just patrol looking for trouble makers and they signal when they find any.
They are able to show to other cells what the microbe they found is so specialized cells can zoom in and kill the invader.
The immune system is able to recognize that a cell is infected or somehow damaged and goes to work to eliminate it.
The immune system is complex and pervasive: You have some cells that circulate in the body like patrol offices, and some that reside in some tissues like sentry guards, each immune cell playing a particular role and possessing certain ways of recognizing danger, communicating with other cells, and performing their function (source ).
But when it comes to immunity, there is such a thing as too much of good thing.
The immune system is supposed to respond to fight the war and then leave the scene, and not continue to plunder the scene.
You see the immune response involves inflammation and too long of a response and to strong than needed causes problems,
And at the same time, it is supposed to be able to differentiate itself from invaders.
But also, when the immune system doesn’t respond when there is a problem, this is a problem that can lead to extensive disease. However if the response never ends then that is also not good-as that causes systemic chronic inflammation and chronic illnesses.
How to boost your immune system naturally
Protecting yourself from infections is crucial to keep you healthy.
While practicing hygiene is crucial it is also important to boost your immune health through various lifestyle practices.
The enemies to immunity are many in bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites virions etc, and the body must be ready to mount a response if any of these invades it.
We expect the flu and cold every winter and so mostly we take measures to protect ourselves.
But sometimes we still get sick.
Some more than others.
Some are more susceptible than others especially those with weak immune systems such as the elderly, the very young, or some who are sick with other immune system weakening conditions such as cancer, HIV, or those on chronic steroids.
It is important therefore to support your immune system so we can stay healthy or, at least have a fighting chance especially when new viruses such as the novel coronavirus now ravaging the world appear.
In order to understand the immune system and how it works let’s look at types of immunity.
There are two types of immunity, innate and acquired immunity.
We are born with an innate ability to recognize pathogens.
This innate immunity also includes physical barriers such as the skin and the mucous membranes like we find in the gut and the respiratory system.
Other parts of the innate immune system according to Live Science include stomach acids, enzymes such as those found in saliva, and tears. It also includes the cough reflex and skin oils.
This is a fascinating immunity that develops as we get exposed to different pathogens.
As exposure happens specialized cell B lymphocytes make antibodies that keep us safe by developing memory of these pathogens and are ready to mount an attacking way early when the same pathogen tries to attack us again.
Sometimes though the immune system is weak and not working properly.
What are the causes of a weakened immune system?
There are many reasons that the immunes system can become weakened including the following…
Autoimmune diseases happen when the immune system doesn’t recognize self from the enemy and mounts an attack against your own cells and tissues.
This is what happens in cases of autoimmune disease such as the following…
- Diabetes type 1
- Graves disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
In other cases, the immune system is missing some components due to things like genetic malfunctions, and then, there is an immune deficiency.
Immunodeficiency can also happen when the immune system is weakened by an illness that targets the immune cells as well.
Sometimes one or more parts of the immune system are not working. In this case one becomes immune-compromised.
This is what happens in the case of HIV, where the T cells are killed by the virus till a person doesn’t have enough T cells to fight the HIV virus and other invaders and therefore is susceptible to many pathogens.
In other cases, immunodeficiency is caused by conditions such as:
- Inflammatory metabolic diseases such as diabetes type 2
However, lifestyle can also lead to a weakened immune system.
Lifestyle factors that weaken the immune system
While the immune system can weaken due to chronic conditions, sometimes it is due to lifestyle choices that are made regularly.
This also means that you have power over these factors and you can make changes so as to improve your immune health.
The following are lifestyle factors that weaken immune health and changes that you can make to strengthen your immunity.
Insufficient sleep or bad sleep hygiene.
Sleeping enough and well is important for all your health including the proper functioning of the immune system.
Sources show a strong relationship between the immune system function and good sleep.
For example, it was found that slow-wave sleep enhanced the function of T cells and their interaction with the antigen-presenting cells.
That means that immune cells were able to respond early and well to invasions of bacteria, and other infectious microbes.
Also, lack of sleep or enough sleep acts as a stressor to the body thereby increasing circulating cortisol the stress hormone. And cortisol suppresses your immune system.
This is almost like being on chronic steroids and makes one more susceptible to infections
Poor sleep hygiene leaves you feeling fatigued.
When fatigued one is likely to make poor lifestyle choices, such as eating the wrong things.
That father impacts health and the immune system.
Another thing that is important to note is that during the day, there is a high level of cortisol circulating to keep you alert, and this also suppresses your immune system.
At night, cortisol drops and cell repair work begins including the repair of your immune functions.
So sleep plays a big role in the immune system.
Additionally, lack of adequate sleep may interfere with preventative measures intended to boost immune health. A 2017 study published in Behavioral Sleep Medicine found that inadequate sleep caused an inadequate flu vaccine response.
So you may get that shot, but if you don’t sleep well or enough, the shot is not going to fully protect you. Sleep enhances immunologic memory.
So one easy way to keep your immune system strong is to make sure you are sleeping enough.
Start bedtime routines and rituals that will help you sleep well every night.
See other reasons why sleep is so important and tips for improving your sleep hygiene.
Being on Medications can affect the immune system
Some medications can lead to a weak immune system. NSAID, for example, can cause inflammation in the gut which destabilizes the microbiome.
Inflammation in the gut causes leaky gut and leads to the dysfunction of the gut immune cells and systemic inflammation.
Other medications like proton pump inhibitors are bad for the immune system too.
While it is understandable if you have GERD, (an inflammatory condition), taking proton pump inhibitors reduces the production of stomach acid.
This is good to prevent acid reflux but that stomach acid is needed for fighting bacteria and viruses and fungi-to keep them from taking over and making you sick.
But these medications suppress that acid production and can make this protective layer inadequate.
The best thing may be going to the route of the acid reflux. Try and change your diet and correct leaky gut.
Unhealthy diet: Some foods you should not eat to keep the immune system strong
It turns out having a sweet tooth is bad in so many ways including weight gain, metabolic disturbances that can lead to diabetes, mental health problems including Alzheimer’s, but sugar consumption is bad for the immune system too.
Diet and food choices that include too much sugar weaken immune health.
Research found that when faced with a threat- such as a pathogen, infection-fighting blood cells showed a weekend ability to mount a proper defense in the presence of too much sugar.
So it is important to consider reducing sugar consumption to boost your immune system.
In other cases, poor diets lack essential vitamins such as vitamins C, A, and E and minerals that are required for a well functioning immune system.
Another common cause of weak immune health is a leaky gut. There is widespread research on leaky gut and its effects on the whole body.
Gut health is very important to health especially since 70% of the immune cells are found in the gut and the gut microbes have a major effect on your immune health.
One problem with leaky gut is the systemic inflammation that ensues.
This leads to chronic illness like diabetes that further weakens the immune system.
Remember one of the effects of chronic high blood sugar is a weak immune system.
Luckily leaky gut can be corrected with lifestyle changes.
A few things like eating gut healthy foods like sugar- free yogurt many fermented foods and healthy organic vegetables can help keep your gut microbiome in harmony and strengthen your immune health.
See this post on leaky gut management.
Smoking releases a host of bad chemicals in your body and especially in your airway. This causes inflammation in the lungs and respiratory tract.
This of course, reduces how well the airway works to protect you from pathogens.
You see there is a protective layer of immunity in the airway including mucous.
When you smoke the body responds by producing lots of mucous and narrowing your airways, and eventual lung fibrosis.
The whole thing interferes with the removal of toxins, produces more toxins. While more toxins are trapped inside instead of being propelled out.
Smoking also causes low antioxidants levels as all are being used to fight free radicals from toxic cigarettes.
Researh also shows that due to the chemicals in cigarettes immune health function is hampered, and found that those who smoke are more likely to suffer worsened viral and bacterial infections.
Note on smoking:
In regard to the Novel coronavirus, it has been found that smokers and vapers have more severe disease.
Drinking in excess
Drinking in excess is bad at so many levels. It ruins your health in many ways both psychosocial and physical.
As far as the immune system is concerned, alcohol disturbs the balance of the gut microbiome.
This strips off the good immune-boosting bacteria, causing more inflammation. Drinking harms the cells lining the gut.
These cells are very important. Some of the cells in the gut are constantly producing antibodies that keep the immune system healthy.
And drinking also suppresses the immune cells- the T and B cells.
Too much chronic stress suppresses your immune system.
The fact is that the central nervous system, the endocrine system, and the immune system work together.
Stressors such as anxiety, depression even day to day excess stress can dysregulate the immune system (source).
And when stressed, the immune system is not able to mount a full attack on pathogens, it diminishes the effect of vaccines and even reactivates latent herpes infections.
Additionally, stress can lead to a bigger inflammatory response making one sicker when inflammation occurs.
It is important to find a way to reduce stress to keep your immune system strong.
Unfortunately, during pregnancy, some elements of the immune system are lowered while others are at a high alert.
The hormones of pregnancy, HCG, estrogen, and progesterone all impact the immune system.
That explains why some people tend to get severe symptoms with cold and flu because some elements of the immune system really get kicked into high gear, causing a bigger inflammatory response.
At the same time, you may find that your body is also very sensitive to smells, and that also is to keep you alert fro eating bad things.
However, some elements meant to keep the body from rejecting the body also keep parts of the immune system lowered.
The immune system sees the fetus as a foreign thing and may attack the pregnancy, therefore immunity is lowered during pregnancy.
Not drinking enough water or drinking contaminated water
It is important to drink enough water to flush out toxins and for metabolic functions that also support your immunity.
But also important is drinking good quality water.
Water, especially municipal water may have toxins due to inadequate regulation.
The governing bodies per( source) that regulate water purity have been known to use outdated research and some counties have water that may contain toxins like fluoride in many hundreds of the recommended amounts.
Flouride in such quantities, research has shown, suppresses the immune system.
Lack of exercise
The benefits of exercise are many. But lack of exercise can lead to many health problems.
The body was made to move. Furthermore, lack of movement affects circulation, mood, and of course contributes to obesity.
Obesity leads to metabolic syndrome and one is likely to be more susceptible to infections due to obesity, but also in metabolic syndrome, heart disease diabetes and other illness are likely.
All these weaken the immune system.
Moderate exercise is encouraged and research shows that moderate exercise positively influences the immune system, lowering infections’ incidence and inflammation.
It seems it is necessary to let everyone know that the CDC recommends scrubbing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds especially after blowing your nose, sneezing, after using the bathroom, and also before preparing food.
Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly after you have been out to the market or other places.
Carry hand sanitizer and use it after touching any public space. Think about the gas station. That pump. How many hands have touched it?
Yea, especially in this time of the coronavirus it is scary to think how filthy that is.
Sanitize around the house often. A solution of bleach and water is sufficient to wipe doorknobs, fridge and microwave handle, and other frequently touched suffices.
As far as the coronavirus is concerned see the CDC for best practices as they update the information as new research comes in.
While we know we have to wash our hands, avoid hugging, shaking hands, and stay in and quarantine if sick, it may be also necessary to wear a mask or a facial covering if you go out.
But please DO NOT WEAR THE SAME GLOVES from one place to another.
And it is also now recommended to stand at least 6 feet away from others if you have to go out like to the market.
But in supporting and boosting your immune system, you want to do all you can to sanitize environments and surfaces touched often.
So now that we know the causes of a weak immune system, are there any other measures that can help to boost your immune system?
And the answer is yes.
How to boost your immune system naturally
While there are many factors that affect the strength and function of the immune system, we can boost our immune system naturally.
You can include the following as part of a healthy lifestyle…
Eat a healthy diet to boost immune health
What should you eat to boost your immune system?
Some of the best foods to include to boost your immune system foods that are rich in vitamins minerals and proteins.
Leafy greens like collard, spinach, kale
Leafy greens such as collards, kale, spinach are rich with all kinds of antioxidants like vitamins A, C, and E.
These antioxidants play a role in reducing the number of free radicals that damage cells. and Research shows they play an important part in the immune process.
They also contain healthy minerals that are also needed for a healthy immune system.
Think of magnesium which is found in greens like kale and collard.
You can make salads with them, saute them and serve on the side, add them to smoothies, and more.
Make sure you are including foods that are rich in:
Vitamin A is an antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory that fights free radicals to keep your cells and DNA healthy.
It also keeps your skin and tissues intact so pathogens don’t enter.
The good news is that it is easy to get sufficient vitamin A through your diet as there so many foods that contain vitamin A.
Look for brightly colored fruits and vegetables such as carrots, leafy greens, broccoli, sweet potatoes, red bell peppers, pumpkins, apricots, mangoes, oranges, and, even leafy greens and eggs.
Vitamin C is commonly known as essential in fighting the cold and flu symptoms and also preventing these illnesses.
Research shows that this reverence of vitamin C as an allay to immune health is warranted.
A 2017 study in Nutrients found that vitamin C is essential in protecting the cells of the skin, our first defense against infections and acts as a potent antioxidant preventing oxidative stress from free radicals that can damage the skin cells.
Vitamin C also helps immune cells such as neutrophils which usually gobble up disease-causing microbes. And vitamin C also is used in cleaning out of dead immune cells and other dead cells so damage and death of other healthy cells and eventual tissue damage don’t occur.
Additionally, vitamin C helps in the growth and maturation of B and T cells and researchers think this is likely due to its gene-regulating ability (source).
Research further states that vitamin C deficiency is associated with increased susceptibility to infections. And when infections happen, more vitamin C is used as well, an indication of its key role in immune health.
And what everyone really wants to know is does vitamin C helps with respiratory infections like the cold and flu?
Research shows it does, stating that supplementation with vitamin C appears to both prevent and even treat respiratory and systemic infections.
But if you are eating a well – balanced diet, dietary vitamin C is sufficient for preventative measures, but if supplementation is needed then 200 to 400 mg a day is sufficient, but higher doses of vitamin C are needed for on-going infection. Check with your Dr about apt dosage.
Furthermore, the role of vitamin C in those with autoimmune diseases shows that such populations including people with diabetes, the elderly, and even obese individuals tend to have insufficient plasma vitamin C.
In such cases, increased dietary intake or supplementation may be needed.
It is easy to get vitamin C from many fruits and vegetables, so deficiencies really shouldn’t occur.
This is a good thing too because vitamin C has to be replenished daily as the body doesn’t store it.
Good sources of vitamin C include:
- citrus fruits like oranges, limes lemon
- Red bell peppers
- blueberries, strawberries
- pineapples and mangoes
Lean Protein-rich foods
Protein is essential in immune health playing a role in healing and recovery, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Protein plays a key role in the production of antibodies and immune health cells. Research has found that those with protein malnutrition also tended to suffer more and longer viral infections such as the flu.
Also, lean protein-containing foods contain zinc, a mineral that is known to help in healing.
Zinc is involved in the production of white blood cells that are involved in the immune response.
Include lean proteins from naturally grown beef, chicken pork, as well as seafood.
Foods rich in Omega 3s Acids
Omega 3s have in recent years come to light due to their anti-inflammatory qualities which seem to help in many health areas from mental health and immunity.
In a 2014 study published in Military Medicine, whose aim was to investigate the effect of PUFFAS in wound healing and depression in soldiers, the study found that omega 3fatty acids had a positive effect on inflammation, stress, and depression after surgery.
While the study concentrated on soldier’s stress, wound healing, and mental health the anti-inflammation effect of omega 3s is helpful in other areas in health.
Including omega 3 rich foods in your diet is beneficial to the immune system.
It is important to balance the ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 but the modern diets are predominantly omega 6 rich, causing inflammation in the body.
Foods such as wild salmon and other fatty fish are rich sources of omega 3 fatty acids. Other sources of omega 3 fatty acids are seeds such as
- flax seeds,
- pumpkin seeds,
- chia seeds
or nuts such:
Spices and herbs
For ages, spices like cumin, cinnamon, coriander, thyme, cloves, and oregano, and rosemary have been used not only to flavor food but also as preservatives in food storage.
And research finds that these spices contain compounds that are anti-microbial against various bacteria like Ecoli, and many other very toxic bacteria and fungi.
Most of these spices had a much stronger effect against bacteria and fungus when used as essential oils research found.
However, I would caution the ingestion of the oils but may be used topically with a carrier oil.
But when these spices are used in cooking, they will protect you against an extensive array of bacteria according to research.
The use of honey to treat diseases dates back to stone-age, and even early Egyptians were known to have used honey for medicine. The use of honey as medicine is evident in many other ancient civilizations. (source)
Honey contains antioxidants, flavonoids, polyphenols, and vitamin C, and research shows that honey is used in many healing practices due to these powerful compounds.
Many research studies now support its effects in wound healing. Honey has been shown to be anti-cancer, antibacterial, antiviral, and antiinflammatory.
One of the most potent types of honey is Manuka honey.
This honey kills even some of the most resistant bacteria like MRSA and is used frequently for nonhealing wounds, research shows.
Herbs and supplements to support and boost the immune health
But first things first:
If you want to take any supplements even when they are natural, it is important to let your doctor know for medical advice.
Some natural supplements and herbs can interfere with other medications.
Just to name a few, garlic and turmeric can interfere with blood-thinning medications and increase their effects.
Okay now that is out of the way, here are some herbs and supplements that can improve your immune health.
Your gut is the center of your immune health. Have you ever heard the saying that all disease begins in the gut? Hypocrites, the father of modern medicine said it.
And it is true. Does that also mean all diseases begin in the gut? Perhaps.
The best way to support your immune health is to ensure a healthy gut.
There is a lot of research showing that those who suffer from leaky gut also tend to have other illnesses ranging from gut health issues, other physical illnesses, mental health problems, and immune health problems.
So one way to help keep your gut healthy is to eat foods that nourish your gut bacteria, the real supporters and protectors of your gut immunity.
Prebiotic foods such as vegetables are great as well as taking a good quality probiotic with live cultures in it.
Elderberries are packed with vitamins A, B and C and have been shown to have antiviral and anti bacterial properties. Some research has shown that they even stop the flu virus replication. Now that is powerful immunity.
Elderberries have been used for centuries for their many health benefits including immune-boosting properties.
They have been used for centuries to fight the flu, colds, and other viral infections including herpes simplex. Due to its potency as a fighter of viral illnesses elderberry has even been referred to as natures own flu vaccine.
Studies show that elderberry activates the immune system by increasing cytokine production and also acts to prevent infection. And if infected elderberry has a strong impact on flu infection lowering the illness severity.
A 2004 randomized study found that elderberry was effective, safe, and cost-effective treatment for the flu and in fact, other studies found that elderberry inhibited the early stages of infection by blocking key viral -proteins necessary for viral attachment and entry into the cell. Now that is some powerful anti-viral protection.
But there is some COVID 19 controversy…
Elderberry, COVID 19 and Cytokine Storm
There is an expressed concern that elderberry may cause a cytokine storm. That means that one gets a bigger inflammation than is needed thereby causing more organ damage.
There isn’t enough evidence to support this yet fully. The best thing to do is if worried about a cytokine storm then don’t take elderberry.
See this post for further discussion on Cytokine storm and COVID 19
Ginger was heavily used in Ayurvedic medicine and ginger has the ability to breaks down toxins in the bloodstream through its warming effect.
For centuries ginger has been used in traditional medicine for various healing purposes. Research has shown that ginger reduces inflammation and helps in allergic respiratory conditions by reducing allergic airway inflammation.
Ginger is a health-promoting herb likely because of its rich phytochemistry. Research shows that ginger can treat a whole array of diseases through immunonutrition activities and anti-inflammatory responses.
Ginger is a powerful anti-inflammatory that has the power to break down toxins and boost the immune system.
Various studies have shown ginger has potential as an anti-cancer treatment
Besides the anti-cancer potency, ginger also improved cardiovascular disorders, diabetes, and gastrointestinal health (Source) conditions that can adversely affect the immune system.
Ginger offers great support to the immune system perhaps due to its antioxidant effect. According to research, ginger leads to the production of more antibodies, hence boosting immunity.
The great thing is that you can incorporate ginger in many dishes.
Green tea has many health benefits. It contains catechins, powerful antioxidants that are also anti-cancer, anti-fungal, and anti-viral. Green tea also contains amino acids that are immunomodulatory as well.
The EGCG and the EGC in green tea act as immunomodulatory influencing the proliferation of T lymphocytes and cytokines production.
Green tea extract induces lymphoblast production of lymphocytes while EGCG modulates inflammation (source).
So if you like drinking green tea, you have now one more good reason to drink a cup daily. Add some ginger and a dash of turmeric to add some punch to that immunity.
Tea is so soothing and the very act of drinking tea, holding a warm mug is so soothing and good for mental health too.
This mind to immune health connection also promotes wellness.
And if sick some tea like lemon ginger turmeric tea will confer the antioxidants, vitamins and, minerals in these that further strengthen the immune system.
Echinacea is a group of flowering plants in the daisy family commonly found in the prairies of North America.
The plant can be used in teas, tinctures tablets, and extracts and contains many healthy compounds many of which are anti-inflammatory, improve immunity, and even reduce blood sugar levels (source).
Echinacea is one of the most well-known herbs to boost the immune system.
It stimulates and strengthens the immune system and is best used at the first sign of illness.
Echinacea may also shorten the duration of illness some studies have found in the same way as drugs like Tamiflu do.
The lower part of the plant contains powerful immune system boosters and stimulants that include essential oils, inulin, and vitamin C.
Echinacea is an effective medicinal herb against upper respiratory infections.
It raises the body’s immune response by increasing the activities of macrophages and T cells.
Garlic has been used for ages for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
The good thing is that garlic is widely used in every day cooking.
You can increase the amount of garlic you use such as roasting chicken with a whole head of garlic or making your own pesto at home.
Garlic enhances the immune function by stimulating certain cells such as macrophages, lymphocytes, dendritic cells, and NK cells and eosinophils by modulation of cytokine release, immunoglobulin production, phagocytosis, and macrophages activation (source).
However, keep in mind that garlic can thin your blood so be careful if on blood thinners.
Sage works as an expectorant, helping you bring all that mucous out of the lungs and your airway.
Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory and ani oxidants that enhance immune health.
According to research, curcumin the substance that gives turmeric the yellow color, has a potent immunomodulatory effect on the activation of T and B cells, macrophages, neutrophils, natural killer cells and dendritic cells.
Curcumins benefit has been reported in arthritis, asthma, allergies, heart diseases, diabetes, and cancer, and even Alzheimer’s disease.
Turmeric may be a consideration in treating immune diseases (source).
Astragalus root has been used in Chinese medicine for hundreds of years. Some studies have found that astragalus root enhances the body’s immune response and likely also stops viral infections.
Now if you wonder how on earth do you use this root, wonder no more. You can find it in capsules form or you just make a tincture with it.
Mushrooms have been revered for ages due to their potent nutritional and even pharmacological powers.
Mushrooms have been referred to as food fo the gods a by the Greeks, food for warriors by the Romans and as health elixir by the Chinese all due to their many health benefits.
A few mushrooms to consider would be some of the following:
Reishi mushrooms for example, are known for their antiviral power. These are not edible but are best taken in capsule form.
Shiitake, Cordyceps, among many other types of mushrooms have been found to have many medicinal properties including improving the immune system.
Oregano oil is antimicrobial,- antiviral, antibacterial and anti-fungal (source)
Ginger essential oil
Ginger is so versatile as an immune booster as it can be used in food, tea and even as an essential oil.
When the root resin is distilled and oil is extracted one is left with the pure concentrated gingerol compounds support healthy immune response and modulate inflammation.
This oil can be used topically with a carrier oil or diffused to purify the air.
However, if you diffuse use just a drop o three drops as the oil is strong. You can mix it to dilute it with citrus oil, lemongrass or peppermint.
Ginger oil can also be taken internally but is it very strong so just about a drop would do and mix with honey or coconut oil. Be careful to ensure that for internal purposes, the oil FDA approved grade.
Lemon oil helps to detoxify the body and helps to maintain a healthy lymphatic system.
Your lymphatic system is a part of the immune system so this boosts your immunity.
Lemon essential oil is great as this versatile oil can be diffused, and can easily be blended with other oils to purify the air. It can be applied topically too with a carrier oil or even taken internally.
For internal use always make sure the oil is FDA approved grade.
Supplements to boost the immune system
Zinc is a trace element that is quite vital to health. Zinc participates in at least 100 enzymatic functions in the human body and is heralded for its healing properties and helps with the immune system.
Studies support findings that zinc helps with colds and actually shortens the duration of a cold (source).
A zinc deficiency while not common can still occur especially in those who do not eat a balanced diet or in cases of alcoholism.
When deficient the body’s immune response is weakened and cells such as macrophages that attack pathogens don’t work well in zinc deficiency research has found.
Also, the body requires zinc to develop and activate T- lymphocytes, study states. And some studies have found that a deficiency has been shown to be associated with pneumonia in children.
New research is finding more and more ways that vitamin D is important in health and not just bone health and calcium metabolism. Indeed vitamin D does so much more.
Vitamin D receptors are found in immune cells and these cells are able to synthesize the active vitamin D metabolite research states.
This is an indication that vitamin D is required for immune functions.
This is an indicator of its role in immune health. And indeed, low vitamin D is associated with autoimmune diseases (sources).
Bone broth supports and promotes gut health. And gut health is profoundly important in immune health because about 70% of the immune cells are found in the gut:
Some cells on the gut -lining for instance secrete antibodies that fight infections. Leaky gut, on the other hand, impairs the function of these immune cells.
Bone broth contains collagen an amino acid that nourishes the cells that line the gut keeping the integrity of this lining as well. Keeping these cells healthy and preventing leaky gut boost the immune system.
There is a great reason why chicken soup feels so good when you have a cold. It is healing.
The amino acids and collagen boost the immune system by helping with gut health.
You can also get collagen from sources such s leafy greens or if no time or energy to cook, get a supplement collagen powder.
full of healthy nutrients from ingredients like garlic and onions are powerful at preventing upper respiratory infections research shows
Other ways simple and fun ways to boost and to strengthen your immune system
- Have a pet
- have more sex (monogamous)
- laugh; of course, laughter is good for immune health and all overall health. See all the other benefits of laughter in this post.
So go on and watch those funny cat videos on Facebook or youtube.
Keep up with your friendships, make new a friend by joining groups, volunteering is another way of widening your social circles.
These feel good activities lower stress, ( remember the bad guy cortisol) and they give you more endorphins. Remember too that there is a strong connection between the mind and your immune system.
In the same way keep your mind positive and control your thinking and limit negative thoughts.
Negative thinking elevates your stress hormones.
So do many activities that take you to a zen state of mind and you will keep your immune system working better too as you brain is not sending signals to stop all vital activities to fight other wars, and immediate danger such as being devoured by a bear, even if that bear is just that project you got to do do, or a visit from your mother-in-law, or a teenager who is troublesome, stress is taken more seriously and immunity comes second.
Do make sure to practice lots and lots of self-care and you will keep your immune system strong.
Now, over to you! How is your immune health? Do you take supplements or do you just eat healthy food? What natural remedies have you used or would like to use?