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Easy Ways to Boost Your Immune System During Cold & Flu Season

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If you want to boost your immune health, you may wonder how to help your body fight off illnesses. While bolstering your immunity is easier said than done, several dietary and lifestyle changes may strengthen your body’s natural defenses and help you fight harmful pathogens, or disease-causing organisms. Here are some ways to boost your immune system naturally.

Have a giggle

Ways to Boost Your Immune System- Have a giggle
Ways to Boost Your Immune System- Have a giggle

Laughter is one trick for how to boost your immune system, along with your mood. It raises levels of antibodies in the blood and those of the white blood cells that attack and kill bacteria and viruses. It also increases the number of antibodies in the mucus made in the nose and respiratory passages, the entry points for many germs.

Eat more plant-based foods

Increasing your intake of vegetables and fruits helps boost your immune system the natural way. Fruits and vegetables can benefit your immune system in several ways other than just giving your body vitamins and minerals. These whole foods contain phytonutrients, antioxidants, fiber, healthy oils, and acids that give them their vibrant flavors, colors, and immune-regulating properties.

Eat more plant-based foods
Eat more plant-based foods

Your body uses the bioactive compounds found in fruits and vegetables to fight inflammation and harmful bacteria and support the function of your immune cells through a variety of processes.
As you may have heard before, it is important to “eat the rainbow” for optimal health. Many red berries are known for their antioxidant properties and their ability to increase immune cells and antibodies.

Orange citrus fruits contain vitamin C, which is integral to a healthy immune system. However, citrus also contains over 8,000 flavonoids, including quercetin, tangeretin, hesperidin, and apigenin, which have all been proven to target specific malfunctions of the immune system, such as inflammation and cancer development.

Blueberries contain potent antioxidants (called anthocyanin) that help increase anti-inflammatory compounds and immune cells that help fight infections. Purple grapes also contain these antioxidants, and drinking 100% grape juice on a regular basis can increase the circulation levels of gamma delta T-cells, which are important immune cells for your intestines and lungs.

Exercise

Incorporating physical activity into your daily and weekly regimen is extremely important to strengthen your immune system.

A 2018 human study published in Aging Cell revealed that high levels of physical activity and exercise improve the immunosenescence (gradual deterioration of the immune system) in older adults aged 55 through 79, compared to those in the same age group who were physically inactive.

The study also highlights that physical activity doesn’t protect against all of the immunosenescence that occurs. However, the decrease in a person’s immune system function and activity can be influenced by decreased physical activity in addition to age.

Reduce Stress

Ways to Boost Your Immune System- Reduce Stress
Ways to Boost Your Immune System- Reduce Stress

Studies prove that chronic stress can suppress protective immune responses and exacerbate pathological immune responses.

In order to promote health and healing, you need to minimize your stress levels. This can be difficult today, especially when people are concerned about becoming ill, but it’s important.

Improve Sleep

When you aren’t getting enough sleep, your immune system won’t be able to function properly. In fact, research analyzing the vulnerability of sleep-deprived adults found that those who slept less than six hours a night were more than four times likely to get a cold than adults who slept more than seven hours.

To reduce your chances of catching colds and the flu, make sure you’re getting at least seven hours of sleep every night.

When It Comes to Alcohol, Practice Moderation

Drinking high amounts of alcohol is associated with a range of negative health effects, including lowered immune function. When you drink high amounts of alcohol, your body is too busy trying to detoxify your system to bother with normal immune system function, Kaplan explains.

Ways to Boost Your Immune System- When It Comes to Alcohol, Practice Moderation
Ways to Boost Your Immune System- When It Comes to Alcohol, Practice Moderation

According to a review published in the journal Alcohol Research in 2015, high levels of alcohol consumption can weaken your body’s ability to fight infection and slow down your recovery time. As a result, people who drink high amounts of alcohol face a greater likelihood of pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, alcoholic liver disease, and certain cancers, according to the same review.

If you don’t already drink, don’t start. If you drink occasionally, limit your alcohol consumption to one drink (equivalent to a 4-ounce glass of wine) per day if you’re a woman, and two drinks per day if you’re a man, as recommended by the NIH.

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