Ways To Naturally Boost Your Immune System
The strength of your immune system determines – to a large degree – whether or not your body will fight off or succumb to an infection. It also determines the severity and duration of the infection if you do happen to fall ill. In the midst of the global Coronavirus outbreak, your immune system is your strongest line of defense. Yet, our modern lifestyles often leave our bodies and our immune systems drained and depleted. There are plenty of supplements out there claiming to boost your immune system. The problem is, they rarely have any scientific foundation to their claims.
While certain foods (mentioned later in the post) do have a positive effect, your immune system– as the name implies – is a system of multiple complex functions that work together in a delicate balance. No single “fix” can magically restore the whole system into balance. There are, however, steps you can take to strengthen and protect the system that does so much to protect you. Here are our steps to naturally strengthen your immune system to fight on your behalf through this unfortunate outbreak.
Get Plenty of Sleep:
The most important factor in improving your immune system function isn’t a supplement at all – it’s sleep. As any doctor will tell you, sleep is the single most effective way of promoting your immunity to fight against viruses and disease. Modern science is still uncovering the intricate way in which sleep and our immune systems are interconnected. Yet, we live in a chronically sleep-deprived society. And despite our best intentions, many of us find quality sleep to be elusive.
If you’re among a large chunk of the population who suffers from poor sleep and occasional insomnia, don’t stress. Try taking some time before your usual bedtime to carve out a routine. This can involve many things, but should exclude screen time of any kind, including phones and computers as well as television. Instead, try winding down with gentle stretching, bedtime yoga, or meditation. Some people also find that gentle music or reading helps ease them into sleep. You can use aromatherapy oils with calming properties, such as lavender, either in a calming bath or applied to the skin or your bedding. Chamomile tea also has wonderful calming properties, or you can try a variety of “bedtime” tea blends if you prefer the flavor.
Check Your Diet:
There is evidence that certain micronutrient deficiencies can affect your immune system. These nutrients include: zinc, selenium, iron, copper, folic acid, and vitamins A, B6, C, and E, and are usually naturally present in a healthy diet. If you suspect that you might not be getting enough of these nutrients through a varied diet – for instance, if you don’t consume vegetables and fruits in your daily life, you may benefit from a multivitamin supplement. It might be tempting to take giant doses of each of these vitamins, but more isn’t always better and there’s zero evidence that megadoses will actually help your immune system.
The most effective way to get the proper nutrients is through your diet. Here are a list of foods that naturally contain some of above-mentioned vitamins and nutrients:
Foods Rich in Zinc:
- Baked beans
- Raisin bran
Foods Rich in Vitamin C:
- Red and green peppers
- Citrus fruits and juices (such as orange and grapefruit)
- Kiwi fruit
Foods Rich in Vitamin E:
- Wheat germ oil
- Sunflower seeds
- Peanut butter
Foods Rich in Omega-3:
- Oily fish, such as mackerel, tuna, salmon, sardines, herring, and trout
Other Immuno-boosting Foods:
- Fresh garlic: Garlic is an ancient cold remedy because of its potent antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties. There are not any side effects with garlic – besides intense flavor and breath.
- Ginger: Ginger is another strong antioxidant that has been shown to naturally boost the immune system. It contains vitamins such as magnesium, iron, zinc, and calcium. Gingerhelps kill cold viruses and has been said to combat chills and fever.
- Black elderberry extract: Black elderberry extract has been shown to reduce the length of flu symptoms. The extract can be taken straight, as a syrup or as a tea.
- Echinacea: Studies show that Echinacea extract increases the number of white blood cells – which fights infection – and can shorten the duration of a cold.
- Water: This may come as no surprise, but staying adequately hydrated has a beneficial effect on your immune system as well as the rest of your organ functions.
- Fasting: There is evidence that certain types of fasting may offer benefits for your immune system. Always consult with your physician before beginning any type of fasting regime, as it may have adverse effects on some people.
- Probiotics: Since much of the immune system resides within the gut, giving your body "good" bacteria actually helps strengthen your immune system and fight against attacks from harmful bacteria and other viruses. Foods such as miso, pickles, soy sauce or kombucha are all natural sources of probiotics - not to mention delicious.
Practice Proper Hygiene:
Just as important as boosting your immune system is helping it by ridding your body of external germs and viruses. Take the following steps to decrease your chances of picking up or spreading germs:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If washing your hands is not an option, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick, and keep children home from school when they are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then promptly throw it away into trash.
- Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces in your home using a regular household cleaning spray or wipes.
For more information about preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S., visit What CDC Recommends. For more information on NIH research on coronaviruses, visit the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.