2020 has been such a challenging year! Full of a global health crisis due to the covid19. It’s certainly been a wake-up call for many of us to strengthen our immune system and help our bodies fight diseases and infections of all kinds.
Though there is no proof that healthy lifestyle habits help fortify our immune function, researchers are studying their effects on our body’s defensive response.
It surely can’t be bad for us to try and give our natural resistance an upper hand, right?
Here are 10 ways to strengthen your immune system naturally that I try to incorporate into my daily routine.
I get a good night’s sleep
This healthy habit is not a difficult one for me simply because I love to sleep…
Sleep should be a priority. Our body needs plenty of rest to regenerate for the next day. A good 8 hours of sleep is needed to recharge your batteries.
Sleep helps regulate the immune system. People that sleep less than 6 hours per night have a higher risk of catching a cold and get sick.
Whenever I fall short of energy during the day, I try to take a 20-minute power nap, preferably before 4 pm, so that my night-time routine is not disrupted. Of course, that can happen only when I am home.
Read more about the benefits of rest days here!
I Consider what I eat as medicine
That’s right! We need food to nourish ourselves and survive and what we eat has a great impact on our immunity and overall health.
I try to eat a balanced diet rich in antioxidants that are so beneficial to our immune system. A diet that is abundant in vegetables and fruit.
Food that is as natural as possible because processed foods are known to damage DNA and weaken the immune response.
Related article: “why are French people so thin?”
About 70% of our body’s defenses are housed in our gut. Gut health and our natural resistance are closely tied up. There are billions of good bacteria that live in our intestines and it is important to feed them well on a daily basis.
A balanced diet contains:
- Whole plant foods rich in vitamin C, antioxidants, and fiber.
- Healthy fats such as omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon (oily fish), flaxseed, and olive oil. These fats are naturally anti-inflammatory and help fight chronic inflammation that suppresses the immune system.
- Meat, eggs, and dairy for proteins.
- Probiotics like garlic and onions (anti-viral, anti-fungal, antibacterial properties).
- Anti-inflammatory foods like ginger.
- Fermented foods like sauerkraut and apple cider vinegar.
Read here about “the benefits drinking apple cider vinegar”!
I make sure I keep my sugar in check because it can suppress my immunity. Added sugars highly contribute to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart problems.
I take supplements WISELY
There is little scientific evidence claiming that herbs, vitamins, and supplements improve our immune system and certainly not to the point of treating colds and better protecting against infectious diseases.
However, some studies and reviews indicate that vitamin C, for instance, while it doesn’t prevent a common cold, taking 1000 to 2000 mg per day reduced the length of colds.
The following supplements may boost up our immune response and may help fight viral infections.
- Vitamin D: Taking vitamin D when you already have enough of it does not give extra benefits but deficiency may increase the risk of getting sick.
- Garlic: according to a study, taking garlic supplements reduces the chances to get sick with a common cold by 30%.
- Zinc: supplementing with zinc (more than 75mg/day) has proven to reduce the duration of a common cold by 33% in 575 people.
- Spirulina: this alga has strong antiviral properties that may increase our immune functions and “manage influenza outbreaks” at an early stage of infection.
- Coconut oil: its antiviral and antibacterial properties may support our immunity.
Read the related articles
The following herbs are among those that are used to shorten the duration of a cold or sickness and potentially reduce its severity. None of these though can prevent nor treat the infection.
- Elderberry: this antiviral herb may effectively reduce the symptoms of an upper respiratory infection.
- Echinacea: a study found that people who took echinacea recovered slightly more from a cold.
ATTENTION! Make sure you consult your doctor first whenever you are sick. Supplements do not have the ability to treat nor prevent infectious illnesses such as COVID-19. Self-treatments and remedies may have serious outcomes.
I move my body regularly and moderately
Our body acts funny at times. Let me explain: on one hand, long, intense, and vigorous physical activity weakens our immune functions but on the other hand, moderate regular exercise boosts it up!
In fact, low-intensity exercise like walking, swimming, and biking can reduce inflammation. It helps the body fight illnesses by mobilizing our immune system cells, optimizing our natural resistance, and even reducing the effects of aging.
The good news is that even a single session of gentle exercise helps support our immune response and steadily regenerate our immune cells.
Exercise has so many health benefits. Read here the related article “why is stretching so important?”
I keep my stress in check
Stress is very bad for our immune health that is why learning how to relax and breathe deeply when agitated is the solution to relieving anxiety.
Like exercising, a little stress levels up our immune system but persistent stress does the opposite! It has a real negative impact on our immune defense and makes us more vulnerable to illnesses. It promotes irregularities in immune cell function.
I manage my stress by practicing mindful activities such as stretching, reading, and deep breathing.
I keep my hands clean
Washing your hands often is one of the optimal ways to keep sickness away! I made it a habit to clean my hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before eating or cooking. Also let’s not forget after using the bathroom, sneezing, coughing, and touching any public surfaces. I carry a hand sanitizer.
I clean my nose
I use a saline solution to keep my nasal passages moist in order to avoid the forming of little cracks that enable viral microbes to enter the body.
I moisturize my skin
Also, cracked skin due to frequent hand-washing enables germs to penetrate the skin. I frequently moisturize and seal my skin with hand cream or 100% organic coconut oil.
I soak up some sunlight
Whenever the sun is shining, I try to expose myself directly to its light and rays for at least 20 minutes. I stand on my balcony, sip a coffee or tea or take a walk.
Exposure to sunlight boosts up immunity by stimulating vitamin D production and helping regulate the sleep and wake cycle. It is important to apply a solar cream even during winter!
Sunlight makes you happy!!
I stay well hydrated
While hydration doesn’t protect against viruses or germs, dehydration is really bad for overall health.
Drinking plenty of fluids like water, teas or infused waters helps our body to eliminate waste and process food better. It also helps body cells function efficiently.
Dehydration can limit our physical and cognitive performance. It can disrupt our digestion, focus, and mood. It causes headaches and obstructs heart function. All these complications weaken our natural defenses.
I drink regularly throughout the day even when I’m not thirsty. As we grow older, we lose the urge to drink because the body does not signal thirst properly. Water is the best fluid to drink because it is free of calories, sugar, and any additives. A good sign that I drink plenty of fluid is when my urine is pale yellow.
I drink more in the summer because of the heat and also when I am exercising.
Bottom line: treat your body right!
Nothing better than being generous with taking care of your body to keep your physical and mental health in check!
Self-care is crucial to boost-up your immune system. Even more during these challenging times! So don’t feel guilty to take the time to treat your body right.
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