10 Natural Ways to Boost Your Immune System!
10 Natural Ways to Boost Your Immune System
Scientists have discovered that the long-term effects of smoking has a detrimental impact on our overall health. Research shows a direct correlation between illness and cigarettes due to the many carcinogenic chemicals used to make them. When these toxic ingredients get inhaled into your body, they break down your cells’ ability to replenish, fight, and protect you from infections and illnesses.
If your cells aren’t able to send out signals to fight unwanted bacteria or viruses, your immune system becomes compromised. And if you smoke regularly, your body is inundated with these chemicals, which weakens your immune system and leaves you more susceptible to sickness.
Catch Some Rays
Vitamin D is important for your overall health for several reasons. A primary one being its function in regulating the absorption of essential minerals, particularly phosphorus and calcium. Phosphorus assists in maintaining and growing your cells, which keeps your immune fighting function operating at its highest level. Calcium helps blood vessels deliver immune responses via the bloodstream when needed.
TIP: The best way to get vitamin D is to spend time outside in the sun. If it’s winter where you live or sunlight is limited during the day, an alternative is to take a vitamin D supplement.
Controlling your breath is one of the best things you can do for your immunity. Our breathing is not only associated with our respiratory system but also something called our parasympathetic system. This system is responsible for relaxation, so when you activate it, it turns off the sympathetic nervous system. That’s our fight or flight system, which is responsible for the elevation of our stress hormone, cortisol.
Within the parasympathetic system, there is a nerve you must activate called the Vagus Nerve. This nerve controls how messages are delivered to different parts of our body. When we are stressed and not engaging our Vagus Nerve, our body can feel out of balance. (A specific Chiropractic adjustment in the neck or cervical spine helps decrease stress on the vagus nerve and helps minimize stress).
TIP: To activate it, take slow, deep, and controlled breaths. You can incorporate these breathing techniques into your daily meditation ritual or can practice them separately. Try a technique called “Heart Assisted Therapy”. Put one hand over the other crossed over your heart. Close your eyes and take a slow, deep breath in. Let it out slowly and repeat a total of three times. Then switch your hands and repeat. Do this a total of three times and then after switching your hands that third time, stay breathing for as long as you need to to calm down. This exercise actually calms your heart rhythms and reduces stress in your body. It’s also a great technique for kids.
Say, “Om.” Seriously though, meditation is a fantastic form of mental exercise and relaxation. It helps ground you and puts purpose into your thoughts and intentions. But how does it affect your immune system?
What you think dictates quite a bit. Practicing mindfulness increases your body’s ability to process your emotions, letting go of the stressors and calming your brain and body by reducing cortisol. When cortisol levels are elevated, they can block your immune system from operating correctly – think of stress as a big wall blocking everything in its path.
TIP: If you can, practice a meditation session first thing in the morning. It can help you set your intentions for the day and leave you feeling uplifted. And, remember, it doesn’t have to take an hour. Five to ten minutes of meditation still counts!
Lace-up your running shoes, pump some iron, or roll out your yoga mat! Regular exercise is excellent for your cardiovascular health. It gets your blood flowing, increases your happiness hormones, fires up your metabolism, and aids in digestion.
Exercise makes your body feel good (even if you don’t like it in the moment) because it lowers your cortisol levels. When cortisol levels are high, it can reduce the essential antibody IgA. We need that to protect our mucous membranes, like the ones find in our respiratory tract and digestive system.
TIP: If you’re feeling really under the weather, it may be best not to overdo it. Going too hard when your body is trying to fight something off may only stress your body out further.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Balance is key here and having your body be at its ideal weight and health is ideal. Being underweight or overweight can put a strain on your body’s system, such as your cardiovascular system. It can also increase your risk for diseases and cancer and can affect immune function. Once healthy the body will default to an ideal weight.
TIP: One of the best ways to maintain a healthy weight is to eat a balanced diet and follow a regular exercise regime.
Eat a Balanced Diet
Get in your fresh organic balanced nutrition! Eating a diet rich in fresh produce, healthy fats, and complete proteins can help you get needed vitamins and minerals for good health. Some vitamins and minerals that boost immunity are vitamin A, C, zinc, selenium, and folate, to name a few.
Vitamin A (Beta Carotene)
This vitamin assists with the health of your intestines and respiratory system. Vitamin A-rich foods include carrots, sweet potato, spinach, broccoli and red bell peppers.
Vitamin C helps stimulate the formation of antibodies. Citrus fruits, strawberries, red bell pepper and kiwi are all rich in vitamin C.
This nutrient promotes the neutralization of free radicals by working as an antioxidant. Foods full of vitamin E include vegetable oils, nuts, seeds and avocado.
There are many zinc-dependent enzymes in our body and deficiency has been linked with immune dysfunction. Zinc-rich foods include beans, seeds, nuts, meat, poultry and seafood.
Specific amino acids found in protein are essential for T-cell function, which are cells that protect the body against pathogens. Meats, poultry, seafood, eggs, beans, nuts and seeds all have lots of protein.
These nutrients have been shown to help your immune system work most efficiently and effectively, but too much of a good thing can be harmful. Eat these nutrients in moderation and don’t go overboard. If you eat too many carrots, you may just turn orange! As always with preventing the spread of illness, wash your hands frequently.
Alcohol is a stressor for the body. Excessive alcohol consumption can wreak havoc on your body’s ability to function normally. It can significantly impact the functionality of your liver and kidneys, which are responsible for ridding your body of toxins.
When the body is overloaded with toxins, cortisol levels rise, and your liver and kidneys become strained and damaged. If these organs are consistently presented with toxins, it can suppress their ability to protect your body against bacteria and viruses. Ultimately this leads to reduced immune response and function.
Get Enough Z’s
Getting high-quality sleep is incredibly important for both your mental and physical wellbeing. While we sleep, our body is hard at work replenishing our cells for the next day. When we don’t get enough sleep, our mood and our brain’s ability to function can be impacted, which can compromise our immune system.
During our sleep cycle, the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) state is where the magic happens. Our bodies go into recovery mode and produce cytokines, a protein that bolsters and protects our immune function. And, when we are fighting off an illness, we need an increase of cytokines to help us beat the infection. When we are sleep deprived, the body cannot produce enough cytokines leaving our immune system weaker and more susceptible to illness.
Being stressed doesn’t feel good emotionally or physically. When you are stressed, your body produces cortisol. While producing cortisol is necessary, having consistently elevated levels of cortisol can reduce your body’s ability to fight infections. Why? Because it decreases your T-cells’ ability to identify and produce alert signals for immune defense. Excess stress can lead to some not-so-nice things like anxiety and depression.
While stress can be situational, it also can be your body’s response to stress that needs some work. This is where specific Chiropractic care, massage, acupuncture come into play by minimizing stress and tension throughout the body.
TIP: Some great ways to de-stress is to practice yoga, meditation, grounding by standing outside barefoot on the ground, using an infrared sauna, or a PEMF (pulsed electromagnetic field mat)!
Give Them A Try!
There you have it, ten ways you can begin boosting your immune system naturally. You don’t have to do them all at once. Give one or two a try and see if you feel an improvement. Then gradually try others until you find the best ones for you and your body.
*The office will be open on Saturday Halloween 10/31 normal hours.
Remember to make consistent health deposits daily following the 5 pillars of health.
Sleep, Nutrition, Exercise, Posture Awareness, and stress management with Specific Chiropractic Care.
Your health is wealth, so invest daily!