Viruses and bacteria are always adapting.
The good news is, so can you!
In this ultimate guide, you’ll discover how to boost immunity with the best of them.
By the time you’re done, you’ll have a brain full of the latest and greatest immune boosting tactics.
These germs don’t stand a chance!
Let’s get started…
What Can You Do to Boost Immunity Naturally?
Boosting immunity requires a harmony of lifestyle and nutrition choices.
In fact, 100% of the tips in this article do at least one of two main things:
Researchers are exploring the effects of psychological stress, diet, and exercise on immunity.
As you age, it’s important to take your immunity seriously, especially in these crazy times.
If you want to give your immune system the upper hand, follow these important guidelines:
Get plenty of quality sleep
Cut out caffeine
Stop eating sugar altogether
Reduce stress with meditation, massage, and chiropractic care
This last one is the most important, and that’s because nothing increases inflammation worse than smoking.
Next, we’ll take a look at how the immune system works to keep you healthy.
How the Immune System Works Behind the Scenes
The immune system is made up of white blood cells and organs that fight viruses, bacteria, and other microscopic creepy-crawlies.
When the body is under attack, the immune system releases white blood cells to defend your healthy cells.
In order for white blood cells to do their job properly, the body needs to have:
Plenty of water
Tons of vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients
These conditions boost immunity and help white blood cells fight the good fight.
Stress and the Immune System
Nothing beats down the immune system like stress.
In fact, studies show that chronic stress promotes inflammation and immune cell imbalances. (1)
Children and the elderly are especially at risk.
Fortunately, lowering stress through meditation, massage, yoga, and exercise may help your immune system stay strong.
According to a 2014 study, “Mindfulness training interventions can improve a broad range of mental and physical health outcomes.” (2)
Even chiropractic care may be able to lend a hand.
As long as it makes you relaxed and more at ease, it can lower the stress response.
However, keep in mind that it’s still unknown if chiropractic care has any direct effects on the immune system, but more on that later…
When it comes down to it, stress reduction is one of the most important pieces of the immunity puzzle.
Why Quality Sleep Is Your Immune System’s Best Friend
If you had to pick just ONE technique to boost immunity, better sleep would be it.
In other words, sleep and immunity are two peas in a pod.
Researchers have shown time and time again that a good night’s sleep supports the immune system.
Believe it or not, the effects of sleep deprivation on the brain can be just as bad as a night of binge drinking. (3)
Quality sleep, on the other hand, can enhance immune cells called “T cells.”
Recently, a study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine explored the relationship between sleep and fighting infections.
According to the study’s lead author, “Our findings show that sleep has the potential to enhance the efficiency of T cell responses.” (4)
In addition to sleep, hydration is another key to stronger immunity…
A Hydrated Immune System Is a Happy Immune System
Dehydration can put you at greater risk for viruses and illness.
It can also cause problems with digestion, kidney function, and physical performance. (5)
To prevent dehydration, drink plenty of fluids throughout the day.
However, not all fluids are created equal…
Try to avoid sugary soda, fruit juice, and sports drinks.
Instead, drink good old fashioned water, and bonus points if it’s alkaline and contains electrolytes.
As a matter of fact, electrolytes are your new secret weapon in immune support.
Electrolytes, like sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium, help regulate fluid levels in the body.
PRO TIP: Sprinkle a little Himalayan pink salt in your water. It contains all of the most important electrolytes. Ultimately, it turns your water into an all-natural, zero-sugar sports drink. And squeeze in some lemon juice for extra flavor.
Speaking of flavor, the food you eat is just as important…
Nutrition and Immunity
Why is nutrition so key to the immune system?
Eating good healthy fuels your immune cells
Avoiding bad food protects your gut and the rest of your body from inflammation
When it comes down to it, immunity starts with the gut.
The gut lining is only a single cell thick, so it depends on healthy gut bacteria for extra strength.
To make matters worse, micronutrient deficiencies like:
…and vitamins A, B6, C, and E can wreak havoc on the immune response.
Fortunately, healthy foods like bone broth, coconut oil, and leafy greens contain the nutrients your gut needs to heal and protect the body.
Bad foods, on the other hand, can destroy a healthy gut lining.
Sugar is one of the worst culprits, but so are hydrogenated oils, gluten, and other foods that cause inflammation.
Let’s take a closer look at the evilest one of all…
Don’t Touch Sugar with a 10-Foot Pole
Just say no to sugar!
What makes sugar so darn horrible?
For starters, sugar increases the risk of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
These conditions have a long track record of weakening the immune system.
Obesity alone is enough to make you more likely to catch a virus.
For example, a study of around 1,000 people found that obesity makes you twice as likely to catch the flu. (6)
Reducing sugar, on the other hand, can decrease inflammation and promote weight loss.
Either way, you slice it, sugar is off the health menu.
However, these next foods are still on…
10 Foods that Boost Immunity
You are what you eat, and that includes your immune system.
Eat these foods to give your immune system a boost:
Garlic manages to sneak its way into all sorts of dishes.
This is great news for your immune system because garlic has a major reputation for fighting infections.
Throughout history, early civilizations used garlic to stay healthy.
Today, research shows us why.
Scientists think it’s due to garlic’s high levels of sulfur compounds, like allicin.
In fact, a 2015 review published in the Journal of Immunology Research found that compounds in garlic enhance all sorts of immune cells, including: (7)
Natural killer (NK) cells
To top it all off, garlic also regulates cytokines, a marker for inflammation.
Garlic’s greatest accomplishment, however, is that it adds some extra zest to your food.
Mmmm, mmmm, good!
Ginger is another food/spice that does wonders for your immune system.
For starters, it’s a powerful anti-inflammatory.
As a result, it can treat nausea, sore throat, chronic pain, and of course, boost immunity.
For example, a 2019 animal study found that ginger extract may enhance immune function, increase antioxidant activity, and fight inflammation. (8)
Is there anything that ginger can’t do?
Turmeric is in the same family as ginger, and it shares a lot of the same benefits.
It’s known mostly for containing the anti-inflammatory compound curcumin.
This mighty nutrient is great for reducing inflammation throughout the body, especially in the gut and joints.
Animal studies also show that curcumin may help fight bacteria and viruses.
For example, a recent review found that curcumin can reduce the bacteria Helicobacter pylori and help fight inflammation in the intestines. (9)
Papaya is a tropical fruit that’s loaded in vitamin C, but that’s just the beginning.
In addition to having twice the daily dose of vitamin C, papaya contains a digestive enzyme called papain.
As a matter of fact, it’s the only source of papain in the world!
This powerful enzyme helps digest meat, soothes the gut, and helps protect the body from inflammation.
At the same time, papaya contains immune-friendly vitamins and minerals like folate, potassium and magnesium.
Equally important, papaya is low in sugar, so you can enjoy it without the guilt.
5. Lemons and Limes
Citrus fruits contain tons of vitamin C: a master antioxidant that’s key to immune health.
Vitamin C protects the cells from oxidation and increases white blood cell production.
With that said, most citrus fruits, like oranges and tangerines, are too high in sugar.
Lemons and limes, however, are jam-packed with vitamins and minerals, without the extra glucose.
Not only that, but they also contain a soluble fiber called pectin.
Soluble fiber can improve gut health and slow the digestion of sugar. (10)
As a result, this can lower blood sugar levels, and reduce the risk of obesity, a major risk factor for poor immunity.
Spinach…it’s not just for Popeye.
In fact, it’s for anyone who wants to boost immunity with loads of vitamin C and tons of other antioxidants, like beta carotene.
Beta carotene, as it turns out, can help the immune system fight infections.
Just make sure to cook your spinach before you eat it.
That’s because the heat removes the antinutrients in spinach and makes the healthy nutrients easier to absorb.
Broccoli is another supercharged veggie that should always be lightly cooked.
It’s packed with vitamins A, C, and E, all of which are disease-fighting antioxidants.
Plus, broccoli is full of fiber and is a great fuel source for healthy bacteria in the gut.
Your friendly belly bugs will love it, and so will your immune system!
When it comes to kicking colds to the curb, vitamin E is a game-changer.
And it just so happens that almonds are loaded with it.
This powerful antioxidant is essential to a strong immune system.
Almonds also contain healthy fats, and since vitamin E is fat-soluble, this makes it easier to absorb.
In other words, almonds are the perfect vehicle for loading up on vitamin E.
9. Bone Broth
Bone broth is one of the single-most important health foods for immunity and gut health.
It’s made by simmering the ligaments, tendons, and bones of animals.
The end result is a broth that’s overflowing with healing amino acids and collagen: a type of protein that repairs the gut lining. (11)
Plus, bone broth is rich in all sorts of minerals and vitamins that your immune system loves.
10. Healthy Fats
Last but not least, healthy fats can boost your body’s immune response by decreasing inflammation.
Some of the best sources of healthy fats are:
Wild-caught salmon, sardines, and other fish
Olive oil, for example, is highly anti-inflammatory.
Plus, it may help the body fight disease-causing bacteria and viruses, as well as reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes. (12)
Just make sure to buy extra-virgin olive and coconut oil because it’s less processed.
Support Immunity with Supplements
Life is hectic, and you may not always have time to eat a ton of immune-boosting whole foods.
Luckily, there are plenty of supplements to help you fight viruses on-the-go.
Studies show that the following supplements may strengthen the immune response:
Zinc: One of the most important minerals for immune function. Take zinc to reduce your chances of getting sick during the cold and flu season. One study found zinc reduced the risk of catching a cold by 33 percent. (14)
Vitamin D: Vitamin D deficiency can increase your chance of getting sick. (15)
Vitamin C: Also called ascorbic acid, vitamin C is a master antioxidant. Your immune system can’t live without it.
Echinacea: In a study of 700 people, echinacea helped people recover from colds faster than a placebo. (16)
Elderberry: Used for centuries by Native American tribes to treat upper respiratory infections.
You can also find garlic extract supplements, which have been shown to reduce the risk of the common cold by about 30 percent. (17)
Exercise and Immunity
Studies show that regular exercise can boost immunity.
In fact, just a single session of moderate exercise can increase the effectiveness of vaccines.
For example, a 2015 study found that “Exercise is a powerful behavioral intervention that has the potential to improve immune and health outcomes in the elderly, the obese, and patients living with cancer and chronic viral infections such as HIV.” (18)
How does working out work its magic?
Once again, the secret has to do with fighting inflammation.
Studies show that regular, moderate exercise may reduce inflammation and help the immune cells regenerate. (19)
Moderate exercise includes activities like:
Try to get at least three hours of moderate exercise a week.
Chiropractic Care and the Immune System
Although chiropractic care may not directly boost immunity, studies show that it may have some general effects on the immune system.
For example, one study found that spinal manipulation can affect immune cells in the blood just 15 minutes after a session. (20)
Chiropractic care can also reduce the stress response, which impacts immune health.
Scientists first noticed a connection between chiropractic and immunity in 1917.
At the time, a flu epidemic was sweeping America.
Ultimately, researchers found that white blood cell counts increased just 20 minutes after a chiropractic adjustment. (21)
Researchers think that chiropractic care may support immunity by improving nerve firing, but more studies are needed.
Massage Therapy and the Immune System
Massage therapy is another alternative therapy that may impact the immune system.
A 2011 pilot study suggests that repeated massage may influence the neurological, endocrine, and immune systems. (22)
Ultimately, researchers found that weekly massage increased white blood cells and reduced inflammation production.
Patients massaged twice a week had the best results.
Massage therapy may boost immunity by reducing stress and anxiety.
Studies show that massage can reduce stress hormones and increase feel-good neurotransmitters like GABA.
For example, a recent study found that a 15-minute scalp massage can reduce stress hormone levels. (23)
Even better, a 2006 review found that back massage may promote sleep in patients with insomnia. (24)
In the end, better sleep leads to stronger immunity, and this is especially important as you age…
What Happens to the Immune System as You Age?
As you age, it gets easier to catch viruses and develop diseases.
While some people age healthily, others may not.
Ultimately, this means a higher risk for respiratory infections like influenza, pneumonia, and COVID-19.
Scientists aren’t exactly sure why this is, but they have noticed one important link: older people tend to have fewer white blood cells.
This could be due to the breakdown of the thymus gland: an important organ for white blood cell production.
Other experts think it may be connected to issues with bone marrow that produce stem cells.
There also seems to be a strong link between nutrition and immunity in the elderly.
The problem is that older people often lose their appetite.
Ultimately, this means that they take in fewer immune-boosting nutrients.
One way to correct this is with supplements, and the other is to eat more veggies.
Bone broth is another easy fix because it’s nutrient-dense and easy to drink.
But regardless of the cause, the fact is that the older you get, the more your immune system needs help.
If you have any more questions about how to boost immunity naturally, feel free to contact us at Complete Care Health Centers.
We’re happy to answer any questions you may have.