While it is generally recommended that you get your flu shot every year to avoid catching the flu, there are other germs and viruses that you should also defend yourself against.
The best way to do this is to make certain that you have a strong immune system. In this article, we will discuss some natural ways that you can boost your immune system. Read on to learn more.
5 Good Habits To Help You Build A Strong Immune System
Keeping your immune system strong is, for the most part, a matter of exercising common sense. Here are some of the top habits you can develop to be sure of your ability to deflect viruses, allergens and other challenges to your health.
1. Don’t smoke! Smoking takes a terrible toll on your immune system, and being around side-draft smoke is also quite dangerous to your health.
If you smoke, you are posing a threat to your own health and that of the people around you.
Children who are exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to experience middle ear infections, bronchitis and even pneumonia than those who are not.
2. Limit alcohol consumption. While a small amount of alcohol is acceptable (and some say even beneficial) excessive alcohol consumption is damaging to your immune system and increases your chances of contracting lung infections.
3. Rest! Sleep gives your body a chance to rejuvenate. Be sure of getting seven or eight hours of sleep every night on a regular, ongoing basis.
When you go without sleep, your body produces more cortisol (the stress hormone). In the long term, this can lead to suppression of your immune system.
4. Relax! Stress also wreaks havoc on your immune system. Naturally, when you are under a great deal of stress, your body will produce more cortisol.
For this reason, it is very important that you understand good stress management techniques and practice them on a regular and ongoing basis.
5. Get a little sunshine every day! Over the past couple of decades we have been under the mistaken impression that any sunshine at all is bad for you. This is absolutely untrue.
Your body needs a measured amount of sunshine every day in order to produce vitamin D. For this reason, you should spend 10 or 15 minutes a day soaking up the sun without sunscreen.
This will help boost your immune system and reduce your risk of a wide variety of health problems, most notably colon cancer.
In addition to spending time in the sun, you should also supplement with vitamin D. This is especially true if you live in the far northern states of the US or in Canada where the sunshine is not as bright.
You Really Are What You Eat!
Developing healthy eating habits will go a long way toward helping to keep your immune system strong and functioning well. Taking these four smart tips to heart will get you on your way to a healthier immune system!
1. Eat well! When you eat an abundant, healthy, whole foods diet consisting mostly of fruits and vegetables and including nuts and seeds, you provide your body with the nutrients it needs to build a strong immune system.
Making sure that your diet consists of a large percentage of fruits and vegetables helps improve antibody response in your system.
A study conducted by the American Society For Nutrition in 2012 found that when seniors eat more fruits and veggies, they are better able to produce antibodies against Streptococcus pneumonia.
2. Garlic adds flavor and health! Garlic boosts your immune system naturally because it is a broad-spectrum antimicrobial agent.
Be sure to add it raw to foods as a spice just before serving rather than cooking it into your food. When you heat garlic, you reduce or eliminate its active ingredients.
3. Take care of your gut health. A great deal of your immune system is seated in your gut, and a healthy gut equals a healthy body. Probiotics help your body defend itself.
When you eat fermented foods such as homemade yogurt, sauerkraut and other fermented veggies you support good gut health.
According to a study published by the National Institute of Health in 2013, people who regularly supplement with probiotics and eat fermented foods experience a lower incidence of both gastrointestinal and respiratory infections.
4. Medicinal mushrooms work wonders! According to a study published by the National Institute of Health in 2013, maitake mushrooms and shiitake mushrooms consumed in a concentrated extract can help enhance the immune function of women who are recovering from breast cancer.
It only stands to reason that adding these tasty and healthful mushrooms to your daily diet would be helpful to you in boosting your immune system.
Stay Well Hydrated!
Your body is mostly water, and it needs lots of water to keep everything functioning at optimal levels. Here are some great ways you can enjoy an abundant supply of water.
1. Drinking plenty of pure, filtered water throughout each and every day is a great way to help flush toxins from your body and boost your immune system.
Filtering your own tap water is the most affordable and best way to ensure that the water you drink is fresh and clean. Perk up your water drinking by adding a dash of lemon or lime juice or enjoying delicious, healthful herbal teas.
2. Herbs have healing power. Adding herbs to your everyday diet is a smart and delightful thing to do.
Specific herbs such as American ginseng, Asian ginseng, astragalus and eleauthero are especially renowned as ineffective immune support. All of these and more are available as teas at your local health food store or online.
3. Be sure to enjoy Echinacea, which is an excellent immune booster. Echinacea flowers are easy to grow perennials that are beautiful in your garden. Prepared as a tincture or a tea, Echinacea provides excellent immune support.
For regular, ongoing immune system boosting, drink a cup of echinacea tea once a week. If you feel that you are becoming ill, drink 2 to 3 cups daily to speed up your healing.
BONUS TIP: Although a tincture does not have hydrating properties, you may also prepare an Echinacea tincture that can serve to support the work of the tea. To do so, you will need:
- One cup of fresh echinacea root, ground
- A clean, one pint glass jar
- 12 ounces of vodka
Combine the ground echinacea root and the vodka in the glass jar. Close the lid, and let the mixture steep for a month.
Remember to shake the jar every day. When the month is up, strain the mixture with a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth into a clean bottle.
When you feel a cold coming on, take a half teaspoon of the tincture every two hours while you are awake.
You can make this more pleasant by stirring the tincture into a cup of herbal tea or a cup of warm water. Do this for two days, and then reduce your dose to half a teaspoon three times daily until you are well.
Taking Good Care Of Yourself Pays Off!
In the final analysis, a strong healthy immune system is the result of good self-care. Be sure to treat yourself kindly and give yourself plenty of healthy food, clean water, good rest and relaxation and sunshine.
Explore the delicious and interesting world of herbs and spices, and give yourself a little TLC whenever you start to feel under the weather. Developing these pleasant lifestyle habits will help ensure that you have a strong, healthy immune system.