How to improve immune system function.
Every second of our life an army of hostile bacteria, viruses and fungi swarm all over our skin and invade our inner passageways in an attempt to consummate an unfriendly takeover. They seek our body’s resources for themselves and want to turn it into a hatching ground for future generations of viruses. Therefor they sit patiently waiting to get a lift into our body’s cavities by hanging around on kitchen counters, ATM buttons, our cats fur and on to the pen that we just swirled around in our mouth.
Why are we still alive you ask? Well, we have an internal defense department. Our immune system and its powerful army of cells fight for our survival with counter attacks. “Cold virus alert in section 176. I repeat cold virus alert. This is not a drill.” Click here for a comic from the School of Life Sciences that illustrates the power of the immune system.
However in winter our immune system seems to have trouble fighting off these critters and we get sick more often. Let’s be clear. In winter there are not more viruses around but our immune system is weaker. So here are
22 tips on how to improve immune system function:
#1 Watch your sugar and flour products intake
Sugar (and flour turns into sugar) is the immune systems worst enemy. Sugar slows immune cell activity down. If you had too much comfort foods such as baked goods, pasta and chocolate bars then counterbalance them with fresh fruit and vegetables like an apple with almond butter, a plum or cucumber with hummus. Read her my post about healthy sugar substitutes.
#2 Make nutrient dense food a priority
Eat salads and vegetables every day. Some of the most nutrient dense foods are: spinach, kale, collard greens, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and sea vegetables like dulse and kelp. Blueberries. Flax and chia seeds. Brewers yeast. Blackstrap molasses. Bee pollen. Eggs, liver and bone broth.
#3 Gobble down these oats
Oats are loaded with beneficial fiber. Fiber is needed for a happy and healthy digestive system. 75-80% of the immune system is housed in the digestive tract. Furthermore one form of fiber in oats has shown to have antimicrobial properties.
#4 Enjoy natural fermented foods
Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kim-chi, yogurt, miso, tempeh kefir and kombucha are loaded with beneficial probiotics. Probiotics are an essential component of the immune system and the digestive tract. You don’t like these foods? Then buy a probiotic supplement in the form of a pill at your health food store.
#5 Eat your mushrooms
Shiitake, maitake and reishi increase the production and the activity of the white blood cells. They are also a source of zinc, which plays a key role in immune function.The most powerful mushroom on earth is probably chaga. It is an out of space source for antioxidants and sought to be antibacterial, anti-malarial, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antifungal, antimicrobial and anti-Candida. Chaga also enhances the body’s ability to produce natural killer cells to battle infections. Never heard of chaga? Do you have a Chinese herbal store around the corner? If not, buy it online as chunks, powder, syrup or tea.
#6 Appreciate garlic
It has so many health benefits. One of the main one’s is it protects your immune system by deactivating toxins and fighting infections and bacteria.
#7 Enjoy ginger root
A staple of traditional Chinese medicine: ginger root may have the potential to kill certain bacteria and viruses. That’s why it’s served with sushi, to kill potential bacteria on raw fish. Enjoy it in your soup, marinade or tea.
#8 Green algae spirulina
First it is super nutrient dense, which is awesome. Second it may inhibit the growth of certain viruses. This is double awesomeness for the immune system.
#9 Elderberry syrup
has been a long known remedy to improve immune system. The bioflavonoids and other proteins in the juice destroy the ability of the cold and flu virus to infect a cell. Powerful stuff.
#10 Chinese medicine remedies
Talk to your Chinese herbalist about these strangers: Astragalus, echinacea and Siberian ginseng have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries to stimulate the immune system.
#11 Manuka honey
Studies show evidence that Manuka honey (from the flowers of the manuka bush native to New Zealand) supports the stimulation of the immune system. The liquid treat is quite pricy but makes your warm beverage so much more delicious. Mix it in your
#12 Green tea
The magic ingredient in green tea is called EGCG, which apparently can damage influenza viruses according to a German study.
#13 Stay hydrated
I’m not talking pumpkin spice latte, beer or liquor shots I’m talking fresh spring water, maybe in the form of a hot herbal tea or even a nourishing chicken bone broth. Water helps to clean our cells and flushes out toxins and infections. Never drink water that smells like chlorine, never! Chlorine kills the good bacteria in your gut. Water: The best nutritional support we can give ourself.
#14 Drink alcohol in moderation
This is the season for social gatherings and with it free alcoholic beverages. If you like to take advantage of the open bar then at least alternate one alcoholic beverage with one glass of expensive San Pellegrino spring water. Again never settle for chlorinated tap water.
#15 Get adequate sleep
of at least seven or eight hours. This will give your body the energy needed to help fight infections as well as the time to heal and repair damaged tissue. Lack of sleep is one of the most common causes of a weakened immune system.
#16 Exercise or move regularly
Regular exercise and activity improve immune system. A lack of activity impairs the lymphatic drainage and decreases immune cell function. The lymphatic system is the Autobahn of your immune system. It transports white blood cells and other immune cells around the body. Going for a 30 minutes walk during lunch break is a great way to start.
#17 Laugh often
Laugher boosts natural killer cells activity. It increases oxygen uptake and stimulates blood circulation. Laugher also motivates the production of happy hormones in the brain. Funny cat video anyone?
#18 Reduce stress
Physical, mental or psychological stress releases the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol suppresses the immune system. If you can’t get rid of stress then learn how to slow down, let off steam while exercising, float in an Epsom salt bath, have a good talk over a beer with a friend or
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin at Madison found that people who meditated on a regular basis took fewer sick days. Meditation helps alleviate stress. And less stress means a stronger immune system.
#20 Don’t ever take antibiotics for viral infections
Antibiotics won’t work for virus infections. But antibiotics will kill for sure your healthy gut bacteria, which are crucial for your immune system. Antibiotics do not improve immune system function. How to develop antibiotic resistant bacteria.
#21 Catch natural sunlight rays as often as you can
Adequate levels of vitamin D3 are needed for the proper function of the immune system. Vitamin D3 is produced by the body in response to sun. Unfortunately when flu season strikes during winter in the northern hemisphere, levels of vitamin D are lowest as a result of less exposure to natural sunlight.You can obtain small amounts of vitamin D from your diet from foods such as fish, egg yolks or raw milk. You could supplement vitamin D or catch natural sunlight whenever you have a chance. After all, hanging out indoors, crowded together in dry furnace air contributes to passing along germs. So get out.
#22 Consciously control your immune system with the “Wim Hof Method”
This is only for bad ass’s. Not sure if you are ready for this. It involves ice cold water but improves immune system function. The Wim Hof Method becomes increasingly popular with triathletes and spiritual seekers. I’ve been thinking about the online course since I wrote this article (haha, 2 years ago). I guess I’m a role model in regards to postponing. A review from hardboildbody.com
A healthy immune system fights off a cold or flu. But it does so much more. A healthy immune system is needed to prevent any chronic disease or cancerous cells. So do yourself a favor and make a healthy immune system a priority, not only in flu season.
Read here: The secret to why we get sick in winter.22 things you can do to boost your immune system by Tanja Knapp