You see them on TV all the time……….ads offering the latest “big discovery” in herbal supplements and companies offering exotic fruit extracts that supposedly boost your immune system. And you wonder to yourself, “Is there any truth in all these wild claims?” More than often, bottom line profits are more important than the product they are peddling, so beware.
To “boost” something means to strengthen or increase something. Researchers say we cannot “increase” or add to our immune system the way we can increase say the number of soldiers on a battlefield.
But, we can ensure our immune system is performing at its optimal efficiency to protect your well-being.
Consider that your immune system is not one organ but an interconnected system of organs so when you refer to the “immune system” you may actually be referring to your immune response.
The immune response is a protective process where the body’s defense forces actively recognize invading bacteria, viruses and fungi; they release armies of antibodies that tag the invaders so that the macrophages and phagocytes can surround the invaders and “eat” them.
When you want your immune system boosted, you want your immune response to be efficient in recognizing antigens, repelling and eliminating disease and infection.
10 Totally Natural Ways To Improve Your Immunity
1. Eat clean. Eat a whole food diet. Get your vital nutrients by eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables (remember to have plenty of leafy greens). Stay away from processed foods because these tend to have been stripped of their naturally occurring plant nutrients. Vitamins and minerals are usually not stored in the body so you really need to regularly eat foods rich in essential nutrients and trace minerals. Antioxidants are key nutrients in increasing the body’s immunity, and especially vitamin C and the full range of B vitamins.
2. Alcohol – drink moderately and responsibly. Alcohol weakens your liver and your kidney. When organs are weak, they cannot aid in the fight against infection.
3. Limit your caffeine intake and don’t drink coffee after 3 in the afternoon. Don’t smoke. Coffee and cigarettes are stimulants and will disrupt your sleep patterns.
4. Adequate sleep is a must. Most adults need between 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night.
5. Get adequate amounts of sunlight for your much needed stores of Vitamin D. Apart from helping the immune system protect you against things like the common cold you need it to absorb calcium and promote bone growth…….especially as you age.
6. Get plenty of exercise. Exercise improves blood circulation and it is the blood that brings the body’s defense forces to the site of the infection.
7. Avoid sweets, biscuits, cake, ice cream and soft drinks…….they are full of sugar. Sugar encourages the growth and proliferation of bacteria.
8. Garlic has antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties that’s why it is often called natures penicillin. Eating fresh garlic is a great way to flavour your food and help you fight disease.
9. Ensure your digestive system has a healthy amount of good bacteria. Gut bacteria helps you digest your food and squeeze more vital nutrients from your food. Good bacteria also meet and fight the bad bacteria you ingest.
10. Maintain good hygiene. Wash your hands, brush your teeth and bathe regularly. Doing this eliminates bacteria, viruses and fungi you pick up with your hands and on your skin.
The best thing you can do to enhance your immune response to microbes and pathogens is to stay away from as much stress as you can. Stress taxes your whole body as well as your mind.
When you are chronically stressed, you can imagine your body’s soldiers working hard to keep your body running at top speed – your heart beating fast, your skin producing sweat to cool you down, and blood racing to deliver oxygen.
If your body’s good soldiers have this to deal with all the time plus meet with emergencies and other possible threats, they will be unable to do their job of recognizing, tagging and fighting pathogens. Thus, stress distracts your body’s soldiers and sends them off to do a job other than protecting your body from disease.
All in all, no food supplement alone can boost your immune system. It is all about an overall effort. You have to take care of your whole body as well as your mind to keep your immune response at peak efficiency.
Cheers John – your Active Ageing Mentor and Coach.
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