Boosting Your Immune System is Your Best Defense to Prevent Illness and Disease
The novel COVID-19 virus rang the alarm bell of how important it is to have a healthy immune system. We need our body’s defenses to be in tip-top shape. My dear friend Mary learned this firsthand when she was diagnosed with COVID.
I knew COVID-19 was real the day Mary and her husband, age 62, tested positive in the summer of 2020. Before there was a vaccine. Their symptoms included a dry cough, followed by aches and pains and severe headaches.
Mary, along with her husband, own a small farm in Texas. They raise farm animals and produce a line of organic sauerkraut and homemade kombucha. They also help out babysitting their 12 grandchildren.
This busy couple could not afford to be bed-ridden too long with any illness.
Because Mary and her husband were considered at-risk for COVID (over 60 years old), they started taking supplements that support their immune system in March of 2020. Among those supplements were quercetin, zinc, NAC, vitamin B-complex, and vitamin C. They did not need to take prescription drugs.
It took them a full four weeks to recover and feel like their normal selves. Mary credits their healthy lifestyle habits for their recovery which includes good nutrition, regular exercise, and staying active in their church and community.
Of course, it shouldn’t take a novel virus to teach us a lesson on how important it is to take care of our health.
You’re Only as Young and Strong as Your Immune System
For most adults, good health ensures independence, security, and productivity as they age. Yet millions struggle every day with health challenges such as chronic disease, aches and pains, and emotional wellbeing.
But data shows that the older we get, the more unhealthy we seem to become. The 2008 National Health Interview Survey revealed that women aged 55 and over are more likely than men to have one or more chronic health conditions.
Consider these alarming statistics about chronic health conditions for women aged 55-64 years:
- 71% have at least one chronic health condition.
- 41.5% have two chronic health conditions.
- 17.4% have three or more health conditions.
And with these chronic health conditions, comes the associated costs of medical care that is not paid by private insurance or Medicare. Below is a table that outlines the estimated lifetime medical costs.
FACT: Multiple chronic diseases account for two-thirds of all health care costs and 93% of Medicare spending. Yet less than 1% of U.S. health care dollars is spent on prevention to improve overall health.
Boosting Your Immune System Now
It’s important to invest in your health now so you can create a lifetime of good health, energy, and vitality.
Boosting your immune system starts with educating yourself about the various diet and lifestyle changes needed to counteract the possibility of damaging your immune health.
This Ultimate Guide to Boosting Your Immune System is your go-to guide to optimize, support, and achieve good immune health.
In this guide you will learn:
- How Your Immune System Works
- Common Immune System Diseases
- 8 Ways to Boost Your Immune system
How Your Immune System Works
The purpose of your immune system is to protect you from foreign invasions that can harm you. These foreign invaders are called “antigens.” An antigen could be a parasite, bacteria, fungi, or virus (such as the coronavirus).
Whenever these antigens are discovered in your body they will trigger your immune system. Once kicked into action, your immune system will do everything possible to destroy these antigens using a variety of methods.
It really is an amazing system that you need to take care of all of your life.
There are two main parts of the immune system:
- The innate immune system, which you are born with.
- The adaptive immune system, which you develop when your body is exposed to viruses and diseases.
These two immune systems work together.
Your Innate Immune System
Think of your innate immune system as the “first responder” to any antigens that find their way into your body. Your innate immune system is made up of your skin, the cells within your immune system, and certain chemicals in your blood.
The skin is a very important barrier to pathogens. It is the body’s largest organ and the most important defense against disease. It forms a physical barrier between the body and the outside environment.
The outer layer of the skin, called the epidermis, consists of dead cells filled with the protein keratin. These cells form a tough, waterproof covering on the body. It is very difficult for pathogens to get through the epidermis.
If you are wondering why there is so much emphasis on washing your hands with the coronavirus pandemic, it is a way to destroy antigens before they can enter your body.
The Cells of Your Immune System
Your immune system contains vital immune cells. Some of these cells are more selective than others when it comes to defending against certain antigens.
There are 3 main types of immune system cells:
- T Cells
- B Cells
The purpose of T cells is to regulate your immune cells. It can activate the cells or eliminate them. If there are abnormal cells in your body or some that are infected with antigens, then T cells will kill them. They are “killer cells”.
The B cells in your immune system will activate the necessary antibodies. These antibodies are proteins that have the sole purpose of destroying antigens in your bloodstream.
Phagocytes are larger white cells that basically eat antigens. You will find phagocytes in tissue and blood. If you notice some inflammation in your body this is very likely to be phagocytes at work. When your immune system needs to send phagocytes to a part of your body it can cause inflammation to increase the flow of blood.
Your Adaptive Immune System
Your adaptive immune system has a very important role as it remembers any past antigen attacks you have encountered. It uses this information to attack these same antigens in a more effective way.
The reason that vaccines work is that they trigger your adaptive immune system so that whenever one of the antigens in the vaccine is encountered again it will know how to deal with it in the most effective way.
Your adaptive immune system will remember specific antigens and then dispatch the appropriate immune cells to destroy them. This is a fast and effective process that prevents a buildup of the antigens in your body.
Common Diseases of the Immune System
Sometimes a person may have an immune response even though there is no real threat. This can lead to problems such as allergies, asthma, and autoimmune diseases. If you have an autoimmune disease, your immune system attacks healthy cells in your body by mistake.
Other immune system problems happen when your immune system does not work correctly. These problems include immunodeficiency diseases. If you have an immunodeficiency disease, you get sick more often. Your infections may last longer and can be more serious and harder to treat.
Having a poor immune system is going to lead to numerous health complications, including fatigue, bloating, abdominal discomfort, and more.
Common diseases of a weak immune system include:
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBS)
It’s important to note that autoimmune diseases can be tricky to diagnose. So the best prevention of getting an autoimmune disease is boosting your immune system.
How to Boost Your Immune System
So how do you optimize your immune system?
It’s actually no surprise what you must do. Good old-fashioned consistent healthy habits are beneficial for all your body’s systems.
Continue to make healthy choices–eat healthy foods, choose to exercise, and decrease stress. And one of the best choices you can make is to cut out any habits that don’t honor your commitment to health.
8 Ways to Boost Your Immune System
1. No Smoking and Limit Alcohol
Don’t smoke. Anything. Tobacco, marijuana, crack cocaine, or any of the so-called healthier plant alternatives. The lungs aren’t meant to have smoke or chemical vapors in them. And if you already have that habit deeply ingrained, seek out methods to stop your habit.
Limit your consumption of alcohol. Many studies show the harmful immunological effects of excessive alcohol consumption. The immune system is affected in a negative way by both binge and chronic drinking. This results in more respiratory infections, pneumonia, and sepsis. Excess alcohol consumption also slows wound healing and increases the incidence of cancer.
Your immune system cannot be optimized when you continue smoking and drinking excess alcohol.
2. Boosting Your Immune System by Eat Healthy Foods
Eating healthy foods is like putting premium gas in your automobile. It just runs better! When you choose to eat sweets and junk food, you won’t get very far in your quest for an optimal immune system.
Your diet needs to provide you with vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, and selenium. You are very unlikely to find these in processed foods unless they have been enriched with them. It is far better for you and your immune system to go for whole foods that are fresh.
You need a variety of fruits and vegetables in all colors. Berries, citrus fruits, mushrooms, garlic, and ginger also help your immune system function best.
Cut out the sugary, refined, and processed foods to enable your immune system to do its best. Plants are full of vitamins and minerals needed to fuel good function in your immune system. Load up your plate with fruits and vegetables at every meal.
One of the best things you can do for your health is to exercise regularly. Exercise is good for all body systems including your immune system.
When you live a mostly sedentary lifestyle and don’t get enough exercise this increases the level of the stress hormone in your blood and leads to feelings of chronic stress. Chronic stress is one of the main ways to damage your immune system long-term and cause incurable side effects such as inflammation.
The easiest way to battle these high levels of cortisol in the blood is by exercising 20 minutes per day, 6 times a week.
The benefits of aerobic exercise and its ability to boost your overall immune system function go even deeper. In a study carried out by Science Direct in 2019, it was discovered that exercise had several positive effects on the immune system. Exercise increases the production of white blood cells and antibodies present, while also lowering the levels of the stress hormone found in the blood.
So instead of spending your time on the couch, engage in aerobic exercise which can include everything from a walk around the block, biking, or even a dance session in the living room to your favorite music.
4. Get Enough Sleep
This may come as a surprise to you, but one of the easiest ways to boost your immune system health is simply by ensuring you get sufficient sleep every night. According to the Mayo Clinic, while you sleep your body produces proteins that help fight infections as well as lower your cortisol or inflammation levels.
This means if you skimp out on sleep, your body won’t make enough of these proteins to keep you healthy. Create a nighttime winddown routine. Go to sleep at the same time every night and make sure to shut down electronics one hour before bedtime.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research has found that for best immune system functionality, an adult between the ages of 18 and 60 should get at least seven full hours of sleep a night.
5. Reduce Stress
As you may know, ever-present stress is not good for your body. Stress prevents the optimization of your immune system.
The inflammatory response, the body’s early immune response, is delayed when stress is present. Increased stress hormones cause a decrease in the numbers of infection-fighting white cells.
The result of all this is a sluggish immune system.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, when you experience stress, a small amount of cortisol is released into your blood system which actually helps boost immune function at that moment in time. However, when the body gets used to having this cortisol all the time it can cause chronic and difficult to treat inflammation.
One of the best ways to lower stress hormones is by exercise. Even 20-30 minutes of moderate level exercise, 6 days per week, can be enough to lower stress hormones.
Daily meditation is a great way to lower your stress and increase your body’s immunity. There are many apps online that help teach meditation techniques.
6. Boosting Your Immune System with Supplements
You now know that your immune system is a complex mixture of cells, chemicals, and processes that work together to provide you with protection against antigens. Some research studies support the use of specific vitamins and minerals that help boost your immune system.
Here are the best immune-boosting supplements to take based on sound research.
- Vitamin C- Due to its function as an antioxidant and its role in immune function, vitamin C has been promoted as a means to help prevent and/or treat numerous health conditions such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts, and the common cold.
- Zinc – more than 2 billion people across the world have a zinc deficiency and this is especially prevalent in older people. There have been many studies showing that taking zinc supplements can protect against respiratory infections.
- Vitamin D3 – sunshine is always a great way to boost mood and immunity. In fact, exposure to sunshine boosts vitamin D production in the skin which may, in turn, support the immune system.
- Turmeric – celebrated for its anti-inflammatory effects, turmeric may also bolster the immune system.
It’s important to note that these evidence-based supplements may optimize and bolster your immunity. However, it’s always a good idea to check with your physician before adding any supplement to your routine. Ask your health care provider about the supplement and dosage that is right for you.
7. Detoxify Your Body
Your immune system is at its most effective when your body is clean of toxins. The reason for this is that it works a lot less hard when there are no toxins to contend with. The result of this is a stronger fight taking place against antigens that can cause disease.
Detoxifying your body is the practice of cleaning out anything that your cells do not require. This can be a substance that causes harm or something that could prevent your cells from functioning in the correct way.
Some methods to detoxify your body are:
- Drink purified water-at least 64 oz. per day
- Have a glass of warm lemon water upon awakening
- Regular meditation
- Seasonal cleanses
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8. Use Essential Oils
Did you know that essential oils have been used for hundreds of years for healing? Well, they have. And the reason is that essential oils are an aromatic chemically active compound derived from plants.
There has been a great deal of research into essential oils and the conclusion to date is that they have immune-boosting characteristics. A lot of people use them in winter when the cold and flu season is at its height and swear that this helps.
There are a lot of essential oils that boost your immune system’s response to eliminating the antigens and bacteria that cause diseases such as frankincense, eucalyptus, clove, lavender, and tea tree.
Immune-boosting properties of essential oils are: antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiseptic, and antifungal
Boosting Your Immune System is Possible
Your immune system is very important to sustaining a healthy life and can be impacted by several things. Controlling what is taken into the body is a vital step to protect you against bacterial, viral, and poisonous attacks.
Living a healthy life will go a long way toward helping the body remain strong enough to defend itself and understanding what can hurt the body is also very important.
Boosting your immune system may seem like a complicated process, but really if you just start sleeping more, eating better, and exercising—you might find you’re much less likely to get sick than you were before.
And if you do get a virus, like COVID-19, then you may be like my friend Mary. You may be down, but not for long.
Are you ready to boost your immune system but don’t know where to start? Then schedule a FREE 45-minute consultation with me to learn how I can help you.Schedule Consultation