How to boost your immune system naturally

This article is authored by Dr. Shweta U. Shah. A practicing homeopath, she follows a patient-centred perspective, emphasizing the benefits of natural remedies and herbs, homeopathy and whole food nutrition.

The immune system is a collected work of trillions of cells which journey through the bloodstream. They travel through cells, tissues and organs, shielding the body from bacteria, fungi, viruses, free radicals and lethal agents. The immune mechanism plays a remarkable role in defense against diseases, shores up against dangerous pathogens as well as helps prevent damage from non-infectious and toxic agents. The most ideal way to ensure optimal working of the immune system is for you to practice a good health routine!

A depressed immune system increases your susceptibility to diseases; from colds to inflammatory conditions to cancer. Support and reinforcement of the immune system is the only way to develop a strong resistance to diseases. When the immune response is depressed, a recurrent cycle tends to develop – a weak immune mechanism causes defenselessness to infections; the infection causes added damage to the immune system and this further deteriorates the immunity. Bolstering your immune system is the only way of breaking this vicious cycle.

How to increase immunity and fight off diseases

How to improve your immunity? By and large, our immune mechanism puts up a fantastic guard against disease-causing agents. However, occasionally, it can fail. The immune system may take a bashing and that’s when you fall sick. So, what can you do to boost the working of your immune system? Eat well, make certain lifestyle modifications and adhere to a consistent and health-promoting way of life – this will help produce an optimal immune response. A robust immunity depends largely upon a surge of anti-oxidants and vital nutrients, good sleep hygiene and a full-bodied dose of exercise!

How to boost immunity: 7 hacks

How to boost immunity

The cardinal rule is having a healthy lifestyle. When you diligently pursue good-health guidelines, it naturally helps keep your immune system strong, healthy and in top-notch form. The immune system functions better when reinforced by healthy-living stratagems such as these:

1. Eat a rainbow diet packed with loads of fruits and vegetables.

2. Maintain a healthy body weight.

3. Exercise a minimum of thrice a week.

4. Get adequate sleep.

5. Avoid alcohol; if you must, make sure you drink in moderation.

6. Do not smoke; also, stay away from second-hand smoke.

7. Try to manage your stress well.

5 Immunity boosting foods – supercharge your immune mechanism

Nutrient deficiency is the most common cause of a depressed immune response; and conversely, a wholesome, balanced, rainbow diet is very crucial and ought to be a part of your diet plan. Alongside, integrate certain specific foods that help fortify your immunity. Let’s explore them:

1. Turmeric: Immunity boosting foods Research shows that turmeric can greatly improve your immunity. Turmeric is chockfull of curcumin – a powerful anti-oxidant which proffers wonderful health benefits. It functions as a potent anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory agent and substantially bolsters the immune system. It also has the capacity to keep serious conditions such as – diabetes mellitus, high levels of cholesterol, cardiac disorders and cancer at bay. Fortunately, practically all Indian recipes incorporate generous amounts of turmeric!

2. Spinach: A nutrient dense food, spinach is loaded with antioxidants, vitamin C, vitamin K and beta-carotene, all of which tremendously help our immunity. The carotenes protect the thymus gland from damage which is the most important gland of the immune system. It is important to remember that these nutrients are best retained when the leafy green is eaten raw, so try adding raw spinach to your salad or kick-start your day with a spinach smoothie for maximum benefits!

3. Berries: Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, mulberries, gooseberries and blackberries have the highest levels of antioxidants that battle free radicals successfully. They have the potent ability to keep the immune system functioning optimally, combat colds, flus and respiratory infections; stave off cardiac disorders and even ward off cancer. Berries also decelerate the onslaught of ageing. They make for just-right evening nibbles or can be tossed into your morning smoothie as well!

4. Bell peppers: Bell peppers are brimming over with vitamin C – which has always been revered as the most powerful vitamin that can augment immunity. They are also jam packed with phytochemicals and carotenoids that proffer notable antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Peppers help clear out congested mucus membranes in the respiratory tract, get rid of toxins and sluice out disease-causing microbes. Be sure to slot in this veggie into your menu; they’re perfect for all Italian recipes!

5. Garlic: The compound allicin in garlic radically enhances the WBCs ability to combat bacteria and viruses. The herb also keeps cholesterol levels in check and promises to keep your heart functioning well. The garlic is a powerhouse for your immune system!

Ideal body weight peps up immune levels

Immunity and weight

Obesity has been linked to considerable impairment of the immune system. A favourable body mass is associated with a better immunity. Clinical trials are demonstrative of the fact that obesity has a deleterious effect on the body, and has a huge bearing on illnesses - diabetes, cardiovascular disorders, high cholesterol, hypertension, cancer, and fatty liver. Studies show that obesity also affects the functioning of the immune system adversely. Being overweight triggers an impaired immune response and drastically increases your risk for various infections and ailments. Hence, you should reduce the intake of calories, stay away from simple carbs such as – cakes, cookies, and jams and completely shun trans fats. It’s a three-pronged agenda - it will facilitate weight loss, improve the working of the immune system and make you look good!

Exercise strengthens the immunity

Research states that exercise can help flush out pathogens from the airways and lungs. What’s more, exercise causes WBCs to flow rapidly, thereby, identifying infections quickly and battling them promptly. Exercise also slows down the release of stress hormones in the body. Stress increases your vulnerability to illness; and consequently, a lower level of stress hormones guards against illness. Furthermore, exercise releases endorphins – the ‘feel-good’ hormones and is an amazing way to manage stress effectively. Given that stress negatively influences our immune system, incorporating exercise into the daily routine dramatically improves your immune response.

Reboot your immune system with sleep

The body gets a chance to heal, recuperate and regenerate while you sleep; thus, making sufficient sleep (a minimum of 8 hours) very important for a healthy immune mechanism.

Sleep is a time when your body synthesizes and doles out vital immune cells – cytokines, T cells and interleukin 12, which strengthen the immune system. If you do not get adequate rest and sleep, your immune system fails to manufacture these immune cells, making you more vulnerable to harmful invaders and increasing your chances of falling ill.

Alcohol and immunity

Alcohol and immunity

Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol makes your immune response very weak and significantly increases your susceptibility to getting sick. Excessive drinking is defined as - 8 or more drinks in a week for women, and 15 or more drinks a week for men. Alcohol interferes with the working of the gut bacteria which perform numerous vital roles for your health; it reduces the ability of the ‘friendly microbes’ to support your immune system. Alcohol also damages the immune cells lining the intestines which act as the first line of defense against the invasion of infection causing bacteria and viruses. Once the lining has been damaged, it becomes fairly easy for the harmful pathogens to gain entry into the bloodstream.

Extreme alcohol consumption has adverse immune-related health effects – pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, alcoholic liver disease, a very slow and an incomplete recovery from infection, poor wound healing and cancers. All these have been attributed to a weaker immune mechanism.

Smoking brings down the immune system

Smoking can cause a huge decline in the working of your immune system. Smokers face a bigger chance of getting flu, bronchitis, pneumonia, and a host of other bacterial and viral infections. The toxic chemicals in cigarette smoke impair the cells throughout the body, and the immune system needs to constantly work hard to wrestle with this damage. Sooner or later, the immune mechanism can no longer keep up with the injury caused by the smoke and you fall prey to a host of illnesses and disorders.

Fight stress – perk up immunity!

The health of the immune system is deeply impacted by your emotional state and level of stress. Chronic constant stress makes you predisposed to diseases. This happens because your brain continuously sends defense messages to the endocrinal system to release a multitude of hormones which gear you up for emergency situations; and alongside, ruthlessly depresses the immune system, thereby dropping your defenses to various damaging agents. Since the effects of stress tend to snowball, even day-to-day activities do have an impact and this along with chronic anxiety and turmoil lead to serious health issues. Hence, you need to take cognizance of the daily stress in your life and effectively deal with it.

How to improve immunity in kids

How to improve immunity in kids

• Kids love colour, and so do their immune systems! Give your child a rainbow diet every day – a snack comprising of almonds, strawberries, oranges, blue berries, olives, and chia seeds works wonders! The more variety of colour in the diet, the bigger is the range of vital nutrients you get into their system to combat illnesses.

• Good gut health is super critical for kids; it maintains a healthy GI tract and keeps the immune system strong. Give your child a bowl of yogurt with some fruit or a glass of lassi every day. You could also confer with a health care professional and consider giving your child a pro-biotic as well. Pro-biotics increase proportions of lymphocytes as well as enhance their ability to engulf and annihilate invaders.

• When it comes to kids, ensure that they are washing their hands thoroughly and frequently; also, keep them well hydrated. Avoid introducing high-sugar sodas and packaged fruit juices to kids.

• You also need to make food enjoyable and interesting and slip in a healthy dose of antioxidants by giving them innovative smoothies and fun vegetable juices.

• Additionally, bear in mind that a child’s immunity thrives when he sleeps and rests adequately. Your child needs a lot of down-time to relax as well as lots of creative and imaginative play! All this ensures that the child’s immune response is good, on-point and helps stave off infections.

A fully-working immune system keeps you healthy. Your immune system does a fabulous job for you, and with a little bit of prudence on your part, it can stay in first-class form always! These guidelines and measures empower you with the right tools to boost your immunity, pep up defenses as well as speed up the process of healing.


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