Top 10 Ways to Boost Your Immune System for Optimum Health

If you want to be operating at optimum health, it makes sense to boost your immune system in every way you can. Here are some ideas we’ve gathered so you can read about the Top 10 Ways to Boost Your Immune System for Optimum Health!

  1. Get a minimum of 7 hours sleep on a regular basis: Your body needs at least 7 hours sleep each night for optimum health so it has enough time to get to the deeper levels of sleep. Once at these deeper levels, a process of detoxification starts called autophagy which is essential if your body is to recover and repair from the day. It’s best if you go to bed by 10pm each night because experts have found the hours of sleep before midnight are worth as much as three times as the hours after midnight for repairing the cells of your brain and body. You should avoid bright lights as well such as TV, computer and mobile phone light for 90 minutes before you go to bed and this will greatly increase the quality of your sleep. Going to bed earlier also helps your circadian rhythm. If that’s not enough to inspire you, having enough sleep will even help you lose weight. Lack of sleep causes your levels of ghrelin (the ‘hunger hormone’) to rise and at the same time, it decreases your levels of leptin (the ‘stop eating hormone’). So lack of sleep can lead to over-eating and weight gain before you know it.
  2. Drink less alcohol: Excessive consumption of alcohol impairs the immune system and increases vulnerability to many types of infections particularly pulmonary infections.
  3. Eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds: This type of diet will provide your body with the nutrients your immune system needs for optimum health. A US study found when older adults were given a diet higher in fruit and vegetables, this improved their antibody response to a vaccine – which really showed they showed an improved immune function compared to the group who didn’t change their diet.
  4. Take time out to de-stress your life: Put some time into managing your stress levels because if you plan your life more, you can regulate the pace. You could add in a weekly massage because this will reduce your stress levels. Or take up meditation, mindfulness, cognitive behavioural therapy or yoga. All of these will boost your immune system because stress increases your cortisol levels and higher and more prolonged levels of this hormone in your bloodstream have been shown to produce impaired cognitive performance, suppressed thyroid function and blood sugar imbalances such as hyperglycaemia.
  5. Take probiotics: It’s been shown that simply by taking a probiotic each day, you can boost your immune system and lead to optimum health. A US study found taking probiotics reduced the duration and incidence of infections in elite rugby union players. In the study, infections included upper respiratory tract illness or gastrointestinal illness.
  6. Get out in the sunlight for some time each day: Especially here in Australia, we’ve become a bit too wary of sunlight and by continually sitting indoors, in the shade, wearing clothes and putting on sunscreen, we’re not allowing our skin to be exposed to enough sunlight to boost our immune system. When we’re exposed to sunlight, our skin produces more vitamin D. Of course, when the UV is high, you should keep your exposure to sunlight to 10 to 15 minutes a day but when the UV is low, try for at least 30 minutes a day. You can use the Sunsmart App to check the UV levels during the day. When you simply can’t get out in the sun, take some vitamin D supplements instead. A 2010 study in kids showed that taking 1200 IU a day of supplemental vitamin D reduced their risk of influenza. Other studies have shown taking a vitamin D supplement could reduce your risk for common colds and infections by 10%.
  7. Ensure you consume enough vitamin C, vitamin B group, magnesium and zinc: These vitamins and minerals have been shown to be important for your immune system function. You can take these as supplements – try liposomal versions which are absorbed even better. You can also get these vitamins and minerals from your food if you eat a healthy and varied diet. The exception to this is the minerals which are sometimes not found in high levels in food so continue to take supplements of these.
  8. Try herbs and spices to support your immune system: Consider taking immune-supportive herbs such as American ginseng, astragalus or echninacea tinctures. You can also add garlic to your food because it’s a broad-spectrum antimicrobial agent and an overall immune booster. Because heat deactivates the allicin and pyruvate in your garlic and these are two of the key active ingredients, it’s better to add garlic to your food just before serving or use garlic oil in your salad dressing.
  9. Eat mushrooms to boost your health: Mushrooms have always been linked with improving health – especially the Shittake and Maitake varieties. A recent study showed that a concentrated extract of shiitake enhanced immune function in women with breast cancer. Shittake mushrooms are a rich source of B vitamins, vitamin D and antioxidants. They have natural antiviral and immunity-boosting properties and help to lower cholesterol and support cardiovascular health. Shittake mushrooms are not commonly grown here in Australia but you can buy them at sites like the Mushroom Emporium.
  10. Avoid tobacco smoke and other pollutants including mould: Tobacco smoke undermines your basic immune defences and raises your risk of bronchitis and pneumonia. So if you’re a smoker, give up now and if you live with someone who smokes, ask them to smoke outside your home at all times. By the same token, limit your exposure to other environmental toxins including air pollution, water contamination and mould. If you live in a city close to major roads, use an air filter in your home. Likewise, filter your water or buy cleaner sources of water. If you find your home has any mould growing on walls, ceilings or cupboards (not including the bathroom) then you’ll need to clean this out completely. Studies have found mould in your home affects your immune system negatively and can give you respiratory problems including infections, allergies and asthma.

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