Helpful ways to strengthen your immune system and fight off disease

How can you improve your immune system? On the whole, your immune system does a remarkable job of defending you against disease-causing microorganisms. But sometimes it fails: A germ invades successfully and makes you sick. Is it possible to intervene in this process and boost your immune system?

The immune system is precisely that — a system, not a single entity. To function well, it requires balance and harmony. There is still much that researchers don’t know about the intricacies and interconnectedness of the immune response. Researchers are exploring the effects of diet, exercise, age, psychological stress, and other factors on the immune response, both in animals and in humans. In the meantime, general healthy-living strategies are a good way to start giving your immune system the upper hand.

Can you improve immunity with herbs and supplements?

Proper nutrients are essential to immune function. Proteins high in zinc, such as beans, peas, nuts and legumes, help spur the formation of white blood cells and antibodies, which fight disease. Berries and bell peppers, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and collard greens, have lots of vitamin C. Vitamin D can be found in fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines.

Vitamin C is one of the biggest immune system boosters of all. In fact, a lack of vitamin C can even make you more prone to getting sick. Foods rich in vitamin C include oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, strawberries, bell peppers, spinach, kale and broccoli.

Vitamin B6 is vital to supporting biochemical reactions in the immune system. Vitamin B6-rich foods include chicken and cold-water fish such as salmon and tuna. Vitamin B6 also is found in green vegetables and in chickpeas, which is the main ingredient in hummus.

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps the body fight off infection. Foods rich in vitamin E include nuts, seeds and spinach.

You do not have to go out and spend a lot of money on vitamin supplements, many are available by eating a well-balanced and healthy diet! Eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables of various colors as part of a balanced diet and you will get all your needed vitamins.

Staying hydrated can boost your immune health too. Water helps your body produce lymph, which carries white blood cells and other immune system cells. Try to avoid overdoing beverages that can make you dehydrated, like coffee. Or try eating more hydrating foods, such as cucumbers, celery or watermelon.

Some supplements may have side effects, especially if taken before surgery or with other medicines. Supplements can also cause problems if you have certain health conditions. Be sure to check with your medical provider before starting any new supplements.

Other health boosting recommendations include:

  • Don’t smoke or use any tobacco products.
  • Don’t go out in public unless absolutely necessary until we have COVID-19 under control
  • Make sure you are consuming enough calories- not eating enough calories in protein may compromise your immune system .
  • Maintain a regular sleep schedule.
  • Try to get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week if it’s been deemed safe for you.

Regular exercise is one of the pillars of healthy living. It improves cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure, helps control body weight, and protects against a variety of diseases. But does it help to boost your immune system naturally and keep it healthy? Just like a healthy diet, exercise can contribute to general good health and therefore to a healthy immune system. It may contribute even more directly by promoting good circulation, which allows the cells and substances of the immune system to move through the body freely and do their job efficiently.

Wishing you a healthy new year in 2021!