Saturday, June 9, 2012

10 Ways to Boost Your Immune System

A strong immune system is crucial in terms of overall health and well being  so if you find you’re frequently run-down or getting sick, then this article may be helpful. Your immune system is like your personal medical team ready to fight the battles that will keep you healthy and strong. It’s something that's worth looking after so that you can function at your best, and these days there are so many things that can stress our immune systems and keep us from staying well. I have divided it into ways you can boost your immune system to hopefully prevent getting sick, and things you can do when you are getting sick or already unwell.

5 Ways to Boost Your Immune System: 

1. Eat plenty of colorful, varied fresh fruit and vegetables, especially red, orange and purple colored produce like berries, sweet potatoes and red peppers.  Include plenty of vitamin C-rich foods such as broccoli, peppers, peas, cabbage, lemons, oranges and strawberries.

2. Talk to a health professional about taking immune system boosting supplements. These could include: Vitamin A, a B complex, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Calcium & Magnesium, Iron, Selenium and/or Zinc. 

3. Get enough sunlight, ideally every day. Skin cells produce powerful immune boosting substances and natural daylight stimulates them, which is why it’s important to spend time outdoors every day (approximately 15-20 minutes without sunscreen so your body can absorb enough Vitamin D and possibly a supplement in the winter months). Even better is combining it with some type of exercise outdoors like running, cycling or walking since getting your heart rate up for just 20 minutes, 3 times/week is associated with increased immune function.

4. Try to get good night’s sleep (usually 7-9 hours for an adult).This may be harder depending on your living situation but fatigue increases your susceptibility to illness studies show that your immune function drops by an average of 60% after 3 nights of poor sleep. Like stress, this can cause a  rise in inflammation in the body, which is likely because lack of sleep also leads to an increase in the stress hormone cortisol.

5. Do dry skin brushing once per day to activate your immune system. Dry skin brushing has been shown to help strengthen the immune system and can reduce the length of infections and illness by moving the toxins more quickly through the lymphatic system. For instructions on how to perform dry skin brushing see this link:

5 Ways to Boost Your Immune System When You Feel Like You’re Sick:

1. Increase your intake of Vitamin C. This is one that most people know about, and the ideal daily intake of vitamin C is between 1,000 and 3000mg. For anyone fighting an infection you may need a much larger amount such as up to 20,000mg/day short-term. If you have a cold, take 3 grams (3000mg) every 4 hours until symptoms start to improve. Always take a large doses divided into smaller doses, take lots of fluids at the same time and gradually decrease your intake as you get better.  Speak to a health professional in regards to any questions about appropriate dosing of Vitamin C. When you’re sick or coping with additional stress you can take Zinc supplements, and you can often find Vitamin C and Zinc combinations.

2. Take Echinacea droplets or drink Echinacea tea. This is one of the most well-known herbs used for boosting the immune system. It can be taken regularly or when you feel like you’re becoming unwell.

3.  Eat lightly and rely mainly on fruits, vegetables and foods rich in Vitamins A and C such as carrots, citrus fruit and green peppers. Some studies show that it can be beneficial to avoid mucus-forming and fatty foods when you’re unwell like meat, eggs and dairy products as they can congest your lymphatic system. (Lymphatic fluid is the main transport for immune cells).

4. Avoid all alcohol, tobacco, black tea and coffee and increase your consumption of water and herbal teas. Some examples of immune system boosting herbs include Cat’s Claw Tea, Echinacea and elderberry extract.

5. Rest and take it easy! Easier said than done, right? But there's a reason we're told to rest when we ge sick, and those around you will be thankful if you take the time to stay home and rest rather than spreading the sickness to them. Try to do everything a bit more slowly when you're unwell so your body can put more energy towards your immune system and fighting off the infection.

Some information from the following sources were used in this article:
Patrick Holford (n.d.). Boost your immunity. Retrieved March 15, 2012 from

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