Ways to Stengthen Your Immune System
Holistic Living

11 Simple Ways to Strengthen Your Immune System


8 June 2015


Having a healthy immune system is of utmost importance. Although some people take it for granted that the body will do its job in battling whatever ailment comes its way, the immune system of some may be more effective than others.

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Your diet and lifestyle will have significant impact on your immune system, and someone with a less-than-healthy diet and lifestyle will have a weaker immune system than someone who takes care of himself.

But don’t worry, there are ways for you to help your immune system along and ensure that it works to the best of its abilities.

1.    Omega-3 Essential fatty acids
These are the good fats that our bodies need and are unable to make, hence we have to get them through our diet. They play important roles in normal body functions and have great immune-modulating effects. The beneficial Omega-3 fatty acid is Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA), that converts into eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in the body.

Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids that our bodies need to manufacture and repair the cell membranes so that cells are able to obtain optimum nutrition and expel harmful waste products. Omega-3 fatty acids play a role in the immune system by regulating inflammation and encouraging the body to fight infection.

Tufts University researchers did a study where they measured the immune response in elderly subjects and saw clear effects of enhanced immunity from supplementation with Alpha Linoleic Acid (ALA).

Increase your intake of Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs). Consume fish oils, krill oils, flaxseed oils, nuts (except for peanuts), seeds, legumes such as kidney beans and soy beans, wholegrains and fatty fish such as fresh salmon,, tuna, mackerel, sardine or herring.

2.    Minimise exposure to toxins
Chemicals in household products, pesticides and food additives are all toxic for our body. To minimise exposure to chemicals, try wearing gloves when cleaning to avoid skin exposure and wear a mask to avoid inhaling toxic fumes from things like bleach and oven cleaners. Make sure dishes and glassware are thoroughly rinsed of any residues from dishwashing liquids.

Even though they are more expensive, consider buying non-toxic cleaning products that won’t harm your body. Also take steps to ensure that your soaps, shower gels, shampoos and creams are made from the most natural ingredients possible as anything applied on your body gets absorbed through the skin.

These measures will help to minimise your exposure to toxins and reduce the depletion of minerals from your body caused by these toxins.

3.    Eliminate refined sugars
Sugar depresses the immune system. Sugar deprives our bodies of vitamin C, which is an immune booster,  as it competes with vitamin C. They both use the hormone insulin for membrane transport into many tissues. So if glucose has already occupied the insulin, vitamin C has no means of transport to get into the body’s cell and tissues.

It’s wise to eliminate the consumption of simple sugars to avoid weakening your immune status. You will see noticeable results in your energy levels, weight distribution, immunity and ability to think clearly when you break the cravings and stop eating refined sugars.

4.    Probiotics
Probiotics is live bacteria that is beneficial for us. Probiotics enhance immunity by modulating the immune system. It replenishes the good bacteria and restores microbial balance in the gut which may have been imbalanced by overuse of antibiotics, chronic diarrhoea or constipation.

80% of your immune system resides in your gut which is why your gut health is important for a strong immune system. The ideal balance is 85% good and 15% other bacteria. The ratio between good bacteria and other bacteria is one of the critical factors in determining the strength of your immunity.

Take probiotics  as supplements, eat plain yoghurt that contain live cultures (read the label), eat home-made fermented vegetables or drink fermented drinks like kefir.


5.    Antioxidants
Antioxidants protect the thymus gland, one of the organs of the immune system.The thymus gland’s function is to produce mature T-cells (a type of white blood cell). Some of these T-cells direct and regulate immune responses, while others directly attack infected or cancerous cells.

The thymus gland is extremely susceptible to free radical and oxidative damage caused by stress, radiation, infection and chronic illness. Antioxidants protect the thymus gland from damage by these free radicals.

The vitamins and minerals that have antioxidant properties and are most important for protecting the thymus gland are carotenes (carrots, papaya, broccoli), vitamin C (citrus fruits, tomatoes, berries, green vegetables), vitamin E (avocado, prunes, brown rice, wheatgerm) zinc (seafood, eggs, pumpkin seeds) and selenium (brazil nuts, wholegrains, fish).

You can also take these antioxidants in the form of supplements to get a higher dose into your body.

6.    Eat a nutritious diet
Nutrient deficiency is the most common cause of a depressed immune system. Even a single nutrient deficiency can impair your immunity profoundly.

Eating a nutritious diet that is rich in whole, natural foods such as fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, beans, nuts and seeds, that is also low in trans-fats and refined sugars and contains adequate but not excessive amount of protein will help to give you the nurtients you need to function well. Having variety in your diet will ensure you have a good intake of many different nutrients.

7.    Reduce stress
More than 150 clinical studies have clearly demonstrated that stress suppresses the immune system and contributes to the development of disease and poor health. Stress causes an increase in the hormone cortisol which leads to suppressed immunity.

The effects of stress can be overcome with positive mood, humour, laughter, guided imagery and some stress reduction activities like prayer, deep breathing exercises, meditation and yoga. So take time out to relax.


8.    Get a full night’s sleep
Adequate sleep is critical to a healthy immune system. During deep sleep, our body releases potent immune-enhancing substances that strengthen your immune system function. A healthy deep sleep allows our bodies to release a significant amount of growth hormones that boost the  immune system and aids in the repair and growth of the body. You need your 7 hours of sleep to get the benefits.

9.    Exercise
Regular, moderate exercise will strengthen your immune system but intense or extreme exercise may suppress it.

Regular physical activity can contribute to getting rid of the types of airborne bacteria and viruses in the lungs that are linked to common upper respiratory tract infections, while also cleansing the body of certain cancer-causing cells and waste products through increased output of urine and sweat.

An increase in blood flow associated with moderate exercise helps to circulate white bloods cells necessary to fight infection more quickly. As a result, this provides our body with an early warning system to ward off damaging germs. Also, the increase in body temperature from exercise may help to inhibit the growth of bacteria, thus allowing the body to fight infection more effectively.

Moderate exercise has been shown to reduce the secretion of stress-related hormones and also gives a temporary boost in the production of macrophages, the white blood cells that attack bacteria.

10.    Detox
Body cleansing is important because our bodies and tissues must be free of toxins for the immune system to function optimally and receive the essential nutrients that it needs.


11.    Release your negative emotions
Your body responds to the way you think, feel and act. This is often called the mind-body connection. For example, if you are constantly stressed or anxious, your body may try to tell you that something is not right through a stomach ulcer or high blood pressure.

Poor emotional health can weaken your immune system as your body responds to your emotions. When you are happy, you are far less likely to get sick. Indulge in activities that you enjoy and make you forget your worries.


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