Natural Ways to Boost Your Immune Health
Your immune system is one of the most important parts of your body. It’s in charge of helping you fight off harmful pathogens and recover from infection and illness. Your immune system is hard-working and needs to be taken care of to function at its best. Thankfully, there are plenty of natural ways to support your immune system. Here are 6 simple things you can do for your immune health.
This might seem obvious, but one of the best ways you might boost your immunity1 is just getting enough sleep every night. Adults need an average of 7-8 hours of sleep every night. Unfortunately, Americans (and many other people in Western countries) regularly forgo sleep in favor of other activities or work.
There’s tons of evidence to suggest that your immune system and overall bodily health dramatically drops whenever you get fewer than six hours of sleep for multiple nights in a row. In the short term, sleep deprivation can affect your memory, mental acuity, and mood. Suffice it to say that sleep is a big deal and you should always try to get at least 7 hours a night.
If you’re having trouble falling asleep, it helps to try to lay down at the same time every night and avoid screens (like the ones on your phone or computer) for at least an hour before bed. This prevents high energy blue light from triggering hormonal releases in your brain that can make it more difficult for your body to enter its natural sleep cycle. You can also try a natural sleep supplement, such as our Melatonin Gummies or our herbal Sleep Formula.
While meditation itself can’t magically fight off infection, it can help relieve stress, which can contribute to poor immune system health2. Stress in the long-term can suppress your immune function and exhaust your body's energy resources, making you more vulnerable to everyday immune threats.
Meditation is one of the best ways to help you manage your stress. It helps activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which takes your body out of fight-or-flight survival mode and helps your body relax and recover. There are many different types of meditation, from simple breathing exercises to mental techniques that use sound or imagery to guide you into a deeper, more restful state. Try a few until you find one that works for you.
It’s common knowledge that regular, moderate exercise helps you maintain a healthy body and a stable mood. But moderate exercise may also boost your immune system to great effect. In fact, some studies show3 that even just one session of moderate exercise can improve the efficiency of various vaccines if you have a compromised immune system. This makes exercise even more important if you want to shore up your body’s defenses.
What counts as moderate exercise? You don’t have to work up a terrible sweat at the gym. Many regular activities can “count” as your exercise for the day, including biking, jogging, swimming, or even brisk walking. You can also hike or do a light aerobic workout from the comfort of your own home. All told, you should shoot for around the 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week to positively impact your immune system.
4. Stay Hydrated
While drinking enough water won’t protect you from various viruses or harmful bacteria, it does prevent your body from entering a dehydrated state. When you’re dehydrated, your body is at a lower energy level and your immune system is not as effective. Dehydration can trigger headaches and other negative side effects. For instance, your heart and kidney functions can suffer if you’re dehydrated4.
When you’re trying to rehydrate, water is your best bet, but tea or juices that are low in sugar can also be effective. You can also try adding some sliced fruit or mint leaves to your water for a hint of flavor. An easy way to know if you are properly hydrated? Your urine should be a pale yellow in color.
5. Eat Healthy Foods
Eating healthier foods is a great way to both improve your health and boost your immune system. Whole foods contain an abundance of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that your body needs to repair damage and maintain a strong immune system over the long-term. The fiber found in many vegetables, beans, and grains can also help feed the gut microbiome,5 which is a contributing factor to your immune system.
Try to incorporate a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes into your diet to provide your body with a wide range of nutrients. Vitamin C is espcially helpful for the immune system and can be found in many colorful fruits and veggies, like bell peppers, oranges, leafy greens, and berries.
6. Vitamins and Probiotics
Adults looking to boost their immune system should make sure they are getting enough vitamin C, D, and E. These three vitamins6 are particularly necessary for good immune system function. For instance, vitamin D can help modulate inflammation and contraction in various tissues. Vitamin C may help reduce the duration of the common cold and provides a “boost” to your immune system. Vitamin E can lower mast cell activation and provide ancillary immune system benefits.
Probiotics and immunity supplements and vitamins are also great ancillary supplements to help maintain a strong immune system. Probiotics boost the healthy bacteria in your gut that can support your immune function and digestive efficiency. Your gut bacteria is responsible for getting rid of unhealthy microbes and potentially harmful pathogens you might ingest. Taking probiotics along with vitamins can help support your immune system and keep you natural defenses healthy.
1. Behaviorally Assessed Sleep and Susceptibility to the Common Cold, 2015 Sep 1;38(9):1353-9. doi: 10.5665/sleep.4968
2. Effects of Stress on Immune Function: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful, 2014 May;58(2-3):193-210. doi: 10.1007/s12026-014-8517-0
3. Exercise and the Regulation of Immune Functions, 015;135:355-80. doi: 10.1016/bs.pmbts.2015.08.001. Epub 2015 Sep 5
4. Water, Hydration and Health, 2011 Aug 1
5. Dietary Fiber and Prebiotics and the Gastrointestinal Microbiota, 2017 Mar 4;8(2):172-184. doi: 10.1080/19490976.2017.1290756. Epub 2017 Feb 6
6. Role of Vitamins D, E and C in Immunity and Inflammation, Apr-Jun 2013;27(2):291-5.