10 Ways to Boost Immunity Naturally

Whether facing the flu season, coronavirus, a common cold or any ailment, our immune system is our line of defense that helps us keep these at bay or defeat them if encountered. There are simple steps we can take to help our body to help us. And, the good news is these steps will make you feel better now—be more vibrant and energetic, be healthier and live longer.

Man standing on mountain arms open with vibrant health

1. Eat Green & Colorful

Our immune system relies on the foods we eat to operate optimally. The foods we eat will either add to the health and functioning of our body or inhibit and add to the dis-ease of it. We rely on nutrients, minerals, and proteins from our foods to perform the countless functions for every cell to function properly.


However, when we add sugars and processed foods, for example, it takes extra steps to process these (more stress on body) and these have been shown to suppress our immune system and add to all sorts of disease in the body.


The steps: Look for whole, single ingredient, nutrient dense foods as much as possible. Make 2/3 of your plate colorful with greens and a rainbow of veggies (plus your protein source). And, cut the sugar and processed foods.


RELATED: How to Eat Healthy & Stop Dieting, What Not to Eat for a Healthy Lifestyle

 

Grab my free Healthy Pantry Checklist for exactly what I stock for healthy eating.

 

2. Get Moving

Mild exercise, even simple walking, boosts the immune system. Moving your body gets your heart beating and your blood flowing. And, blood carries oxygen and nutrients to cells throughout the body—to the brain and the muscles. Movement helps create more of the good stuff and eliminate the waste.


Heavy exercise or overexertion, however, can add stress to the body and lower immune defenses so be mindful of this if you are feeling run down or tired. Know your limits.


Make sure to move around through the day, getting up from the desk every hour and keeping active if you find yourself at home (move around at least 2 minutes every hour). Get out for a walk, do some stretches or yoga, dance a little jig—get creative and get moving.


RELATED: Why Movement not Exercise is Best for Optimal Health

3. Lower Stress

Chronic stress has been shown to weaken the immune system—making us more susceptible to viruses and disease. Make sure to add some type of stress reduction to your everyday routines—make it a habit. Take up meditation, yoga, and/or deep breathing.


RELATED: Yoga: 18 Health Benefits + How, What, & Why, The Science: Why Meditate and How to Start?

4. Sleep Better

We all know sleep is important. Without the right amount and quality of sleep, it is next to impossible to keep your immune system at its best. Sleep is the time when your body rebuilds and repairs its systems—immune, skeletal, and muscular. This is crucial time your body needs to regenerate and keep you healthy and youthful. Aim for 7-9 hours of good, quality sleep each night. Keep to a regular schedule. Don’t skimp or overdo.

RELATED: A Bedtime Routine to Naturally Sleep Better at Night

5. Quit Smoking & Vaping

If you haven’t already, quit now. Smoking not only causes cancer, but in the mean time it weakens your immune system. It makes you more susceptible to disease, viruses, and infections. It also has been shown to increase the risk for auto-immune diseases where the body’s defense systems turn in on themselves, such as with rheumatoid arthritis. And, vaping has been shown to have similar effects to smoking. (1,2)



6. Get Fresh

Being outside and breathing fresh air feels good! It also boosts your immune system. And science backs that up. Exposure to forests and trees, nature in general has been shown to boost the immune system, improve mood, reduce stress, increase energy levels and improve sleep (all things we need for a healthy immune system). (3,4)


How does time in nature actually boosts your immune system? While we breathe in the fresh air we also breath in phytoncides, airborne chemicals that plants give off to protect themselves from insects. When people breathe these in, our bodies increase the number of white blood cells called natural killer cells or NK. These cells kill tumor and virus infected cells in our bodies. Pretty interesting, right!? So, head outdoors, breathe in the fresh air and reap the benefits. (5)


Did you know? During the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, doctors found that patients treated in the outdoors with flowing air and sunshine dramatically improved over their indoor restricted counterparts. The benefits were later confirmed in a study known as the "Open Air Factor” where fresh air was shown to help to kill off bacteria and the influenza virus compared to indoor air, both during the day and during the night. (6,7)

7. Let if Flow

The lymphatic system is integral in immunity. It is the body’s way of transporting damaged cells, toxins and waste from the body and to provide protection against the spread of infection and cancer. Its primary role is to transport lymph, which carries white blood cells (read: immune boosting, cancer and infection fighting) throughout the body.


What can we do to help it? The lymphatic system does not have its own pump per se, like the heart. It depends on movement and fluids to work as its pump. That walking we discussed in #2 will help. So will jumping on a rebounder—a mini trampoline. The up and down motion plus the g-forces on the down movement serve as a pump of sorts to keep the system moving. Plus, the rebounder takes the pressure from the joints. Dry brushing, alternating hot and cold in the shower, staying hydrated and essentially just moving all help to keep the lymph flowing. (8,9)

8. Water 2 Ways

Staying hydrated with proper fluid levels is crucial for numerous functions in the body including a strong immune system. Aim for 8 glasses of pure water per day. Take it up a notch by also sipping warm or hot water through the day with other boosting ingredients (like teas, or lemon or ginger).


A second way to utilize your water is in alternating the cold / hot in the shower. Start by finishing your shower with 30 seconds of cold. Scientific studies show a cold shower increases the amount of white bloods cells in your body which helps your immune response. See more on cold water therapy here. (10)

9. Listen to Your Body

It may seem simple, but listen to your body. If you are feeling tired or sluggish, take the nap or go to bed a little early. Ask yourself first, is it a nap I need or movement? Sometimes it is actually movement our body needs. If you feel thirsty, drink more water. If you feel stressed, take a few minutes to meditate or go for a walk. Your body will tell you what it needs, you just have to listen—and then respond.

10. Wash, Cover and Stay

Wash your hands for 20 seconds. Cover your sneeze or cough. Stay 6 feet from anyone exhibiting signs of a cold.


In this time of the coronavirus, it has been recommended to not only stay 6 feet away whether signs are seen or not, but to also avoid groups of people all together…self quarantine with your family.

BONUSES:


11. Vitamin D +

Studies show that vitamin D is, undoubtedly, part of the complex factors which affect the immune response. Vitamin D is responsible for regulating hundreds of pathways in the body. And it is needed by every single cell to function properly. Our body produces Vitamin D with sun exposure, however up to 80% of Americans are deficient in this critical vitamin.


Deficiencies are associated with comprised immunity, increased susceptibility to infection and autoimmune diseases. Studies have shown that people with vitamin D deficiency are 11 times more likely to get a cold or flu, while supplementing with vitamin D can reduce colds and flu by 42%. Supplementing with Vitamin D3 is generally advised, especially during the winter months when little to no sun is reaching the skin. (11,12,13)


Look also to adding a good, high quality, multi vitamin to support your healthy eating plan.


(Always seek the advice of your physician before adding or changing any supplements or exercise regimes, especially if you are currently taking any medications.)


RELATED: Supplements Everyone Should Take and Why We Need Them

12. Good Bacteria

More and more studies are showing the link between our gut and our overall health. Our gut alone contains 100 trillion bacteria and its health is directly linked to myriad health concerns including our overall immune function. Look for probiotic foods and consider a Probiotic Supplement.

13. Start a Garden

Grow your own herb and veggie garden. There are many hearty and easy-to-grow herbs and veggies, even in small spaces. Start with an organic potting soil and produce your own organic medicinal goodies (read: food) right at home. Plan for herbs such as rosemary, oregano, thyme, cilantro and don’t forget lettuces and sweet peppers to get you started.



The Simple List to Boost Immunity Naturally:


1. Eat Green & Colorful

2. Get Moving

3. Lower Stress

4. Sleep Better

5. Quit Smoking & Vaping

6. Get Fresh

7. Let if Flow

8. Water 2 Ways

9. Listen to Your Body

10. Wash, Cover and Stay

11. Vitamin D +

12. Good Bacteria

13. Start a Garden