How to Boost your Immune System by Changing 4 Simple Things

(Last Updated On: February 6, 2018)

Exercise, eat, relax, and sleep while boosting the immune system


 

T

he immune system is complex and multi layered. But unfortunately, traditional health care pays little attention to it and that’s a waste. Prevention, exercise, and nutrition are seldom truly implemented. Doctors are good about prescribing drugs after you become sick, but little is done to determine why you became sick in the first place. The immune system is our best disease prevention strategy. All we need is some maintenance and a little TLC.

Your immune system is a by product of millions of years of evolution and survival skills. Your immune system is the reason you’re alive today. The healthier you are, the better you’re immune system runs. And the better your immune system runs, the healthier you are.

All you need to do is to provide the right conditions for the immune system to do its work. Taking supplements do help but there are other more important things you can do. Taking too many supplements might actually work against you.

For example, If you have too much of one type of vitamin, it might cause imbalance as some vitamins in excess hinder the action of other beneficial substances.

The 4 pillars of your immune system and why they are so important

  • Stress

    • Stress can cause the greatest negative impact to the immune system
  • Sleep

    • Lack of proper sleep which is also related to stress comes next causing further damage
  • Nutrition

    • Lack of proper nutrition which can be a secondary effect of stress depletes the immune system of the energy it needs to do the job
  • Exercise

    • improves sleep, circulation, food absorption, reduces stress, makes you happy. The lack of exercise therefore does exactly the opposite

     

#1 Stress


 

strategies-to-boost-your-immune-system.jpgStress is the biggest insult to your immune system for many reason. Stress activates the adrenal glands secreting cortisol and lowering immune response. Stress might be just an unpleasant feeling on the surface but our biologic body reacts with “fight or flight” response. Adrenal glands secrete adrenaline hormone, heart rate goes up, your blood pressure goes up you become more alert and hyperactive and ready for action as a response to a perceived danger. All of this action comes at a cost. Other hormones released during stress are corticosteroids which suppresses the immune system by reducing the number of lymphocytes. There are two types of lymphocytes 1) B cells responsible for creating antibodies which fight invading virus and bacteria. 2) T cells that protect internal cell invasion. The main types of immune cells are white cells they also divide in two groups: lymphocytes and phagocytes.

If stress is brief there is no harm, and the body returns to its normal balance. Brief episodes of stress can even be stimulating. The problem begins with chronic stress. Chronic stress have a direct and also indirect negative impact in the body.

Indirect stress

When we are stressed we tend to engage in unhealthy practices such as drinking, smoking, and eating excessive starchy or sugary foods. This produces a compounded negative effect. It can trigger a negative feedback loop causing more stress therefore causing more negative behavior. Stress is associated with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, asthma and ulcers. Stress also interferes with our digestive system.

Direct stress

When we are under stress our digestion is greatly inhibited. Digestion is controlled by the enteric nervous system comprised of millions of nerves connected to the central nervous system. When under stress our nervous system go into panic mode and shut down normal blood flow aiding digestion. Contraction of our digestive muscles are affected and there is also a decrease in digestive secretions.

Stress can also increase the release of acids in the stomach causing indigestion and acid damage. When your digestive system is not functioning properly there is less food absorption or less nutrient absorption leaving your body depleted of rich nutrients and making your immune system weak and your whole body weak. No matter how many supplements or anti-stress foods you eat – if you can’t absorb them, it will simply just pass through your digestive system.

Stress creates a three prong insult to your immune system


 

  • Increase heart rate and blood pressure

    • risk of coronary heart disease
    • increase in cholesterol by adrenaline release of fatty acids
    • lesions in arterial walls
  • Hormonal impact

    • corticosteroid suppression of the immune system
  • Disturbances of the digestive system

    • less nutrient absorption
    • damage to digestive tract

Rather then using diet or supplements to boost our immune system, we first need to address the causes of stress. Stress reduction may well be the most important strategy to boost immune system.

 

#2 Nutrition


 

Nutrition play a important role in promoting immunity or supporting the immune system functions. There are two types of nutrition deficiency: (1) one is insufficient absorption of nutrients or not having enough nutrition; and two (2) is the lack of quality nutrients we eat. Not ingesting beneficial nutrients can impair cellular function. Without an adequate nutrition regimen, the immune system cannot perform the effective immune responses needed to protect you from a host of infections such as bacteria, fungi and viruses. Human malnutrition is usually a complex syndrome including multiple nutritional deficiencies; however a few vitamins and minerals and trace elements have been found to be crucial for the maintenance of the immune system:

  • Vitamin A
  • Beta-carotene
  • Folic acid
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Riboflavin
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Selenium
  • Antioxidants (preserve cells and keep them functional)

Is too much of a good thing a good thing?

If these vitamins and minerals enhance immune response, should I just load up on them? Not really. Excess of some nutrients might bring more harm then good. Too much of one substance may affect the action of other nutrients which benefit the immune system.

For example: vitamin E and zinc in excess may impair the immune system. There are also interaction between polyunsaturated fatty acids which contribute to stress in the immune system and vitamin E which protects it. It is very difficult to know exactly what you need because every human being absorb nutrients differently. The best is to have a balanced diet with plenty of plenty of healthy fats, and reduced carbohydrates and moderate protein.

Role of healthy fats

Protein is perhaps on of the most significant nutrition you can add to your diet in order to boost immune system. Diets rich in proteins and fats are responsible for lymphocyte proliferation, cytokine synthesis, natural killer (NK) cell activity, phagocytosis (eating bacteria action) and so on. Proteins and fats also have anti-inflammatory action and protection against auto immune diseases. Proteins help to fight infection by creating a cascade reaction which end up puncturing bacteria cell walls. As bacteria begins to die other proteins recruit cells that consumes dead bacteria thus cleaning the system.

Black seed oil

One powerful immune system booster is black seed oil. I’ve been using this natural oil for many years and have improved my immunity 10 fold. Getting sick with colds and other common infections is a thing of past. All you have to do is to take 2 tablespoons of this oil a day. It works by regulating the immune system, promoting a powerful anti-inflammatory response and boosting killer cells, and white blood cells.




 

 

#3 Exercise


 

strategies-to-boost-your-immune-system.jpgRegular exercise is the pillar of health and of course will greatly benefit your immune system and benefit all other aspects of your health. Exercise raises your endorphin (the feels good neurotransmitter) levels. Exercise improve your sleep quality, lowers your blood pressure, help control weight, and greatly improve circulation which might be one of the greatest assets to the your immune system. Better circulation helps by making vital substances available, aiding cells in disease fighting.

 Diet and moderation

Exercise in excess may have the opposite effect we want to achieve in boosting the immune system. Studies have shown that after extreme training sessions athletes have presented lower immunity. This can be compound by a diet rich in carbohydrates and poor in oils and fats. It is important eat sufficient amounts of nutritional foods even if you exercise in moderation. The body is always trying to compensate and equalize. Complex carbohydrates could be consumed before your workout, but you can also exercise while fasting in order to promote ketosis. After finishing your workout eat fats and oils. This is specially true if your are performing strength exercise and muscle building.

 

#4 Sleep


 

strategies-to-boost-your-immune-system.jpgFor scientists who study biology, sleep is the greatest enigma of all. There are many hypothesis but the true function of sleep remains a mystery. One known fact is that: all animals sleep, even though they risk being dinner to other animals. The relationship between sleep and the immune system have been known for a long time but only recently these variables have been investigated.

Sleep alters immune function therefore, more sleep more immunity. Based on this premise it is thought that sleep is a component of acute phase of response to infection. In one study of 26 mammalians the ones with the largest sleep hours had the highest number of white blood cells which is fundamental for fighting infection. Also it was demonstrated that animals sleeping longer have more resistance to parasites. So your mother was right when she said “go sleep early if you want to get rid of this cold”. Sleep is also linked to exercise, stress and nutrition. If you exercise, eat well and relax you’ll sleep better; it all works in conjunction.

 

Drinking water

Some people think that if they don’t drink half a gallon of water everyday they will be dehydrated. Your body does not get dehydrated that easy; it keeps everything in balance whether you want it or not. However the more hydrated you are the better. Your body will perform toxic cleaning functions better because it has more water available. Your lymphatic system plays a huge role in your immune system. It filters impurities and bacteria along with other proteins that should not be in your body.

Hydration is important because if you have less water blood circulation will get priority over every other system and the lymphatic system action will be somewhat diminished. Your body has a priority system when it comes to water usage. Blood circulation and volume has priority. Organ oxygenation is the most important. When there is lack of water the kidney cannot do its job properly. Less water means less urine and less chances to “take the garbage out”. That’s why when you feel sick you should flush yourself with water and drink generous glasses – you’ll flush your system and flush bacteria and virus which tries to attach to your body. Don’t go crazy, your body has everything under control, it just need a little help.


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References

Image credits: flickr.com, flickr.com, flickr.com, flickr.com

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In Category: 2.HEALTH

Marcos Taquechel

Marcos is an RN. Thanks for stopping by and reading my posts. I hope you are able to get something useful out of this blog. Take good care of yourself and don't worry about anything until you have something to worry about.

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