We often treat it like it is .. but immunity isn’t seasonal.
It doesn’t matter what time of year it is, you need to be proactive, not reactive, and build a strong foundation for your immune system so that it’s always ready to fight.
Having a well functioning immune system is one of the best things you can do for not only your overall health but also for getting and staying in shape. Finding exactly how to improve the function of your Immune System can be hard and confusing. We also stumbled across a couple of things that may help with immunity that are probably methods you’ve NEVER thought about.
Let’s dive in!
5 Simple Ways To Improve The Functioning Of Your Immune System
1: CREATE A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
First, let’s cover the basics. You have to create an overall healthy lifestyle.
There are general healthy-living strategies that have been studied and are documented to be the best way to give your immune system an upper hand.
They may sound basic and maybe even like common sense, but nonetheless, they are often overlooked.
- Don’t Smoke — Numerous studies have shown that tobacco smoking has a negative immunosuppressive effect. If you want a better functioning immune system .. kicking the habit should be top priority.
- You should also try to avoid other unhealthy habits such as drinking too much alcohol. Studies document over and over that excess alcohol consumption makes it harder for the immune system to do its job. Even more interesting, researchers found that alcohol can destroy healthy gut bacteria, which is a BIG contributor when it comes to immunity.
We are going to touch on gut bacteria a little more in-depth here in a second because immune health and gut health pretty much go hand in hand since 70-80% of our immune cells call the gut home.
But let’s continue on with a few of the basic staples to build a well functioning immune system..
- Focus on getting quality sleep — The link between immunity and sleep has been studied for decades. The first studies date all the way back to 1909, and researchers are still pioneering new research today.
Over and over, scientists have discovered a wide variety of ways that sleep is a critical component of immunity. Adults should aim for 7-9 hours every single night for better overall health and well-being.Attempt to minimize stress – Stress is interesting because some stress can actually be beneficial to the immune system. The kind of stress that is not good for you is ongoing or chronic stress. This could be mental or physical stress, such as overtraining and not focusing on recovery.
Scientists are investigating the many different ways stress takes a toll on the immune system, but we do know long-term stress can wear you down really fast. This will leave you exhausted, moody, unable to concentrate, more tempted to overeat, and unmotivated to hit the gym.
Not to mention, chronic stress produces the stress hormone cortisol. Clinicians say high cortisol can further suppress the effectiveness of the immune system.
But the good news is that researchers have also concluded that ALL stress isn’t bad. Short-term stress, such as that hour you spend at the gym a few days a week, can actually enhance immunity.This leads us to the next healthy lifestyle tip that is crucial for immunity …
- Exercise regularly – Getting in at least a few sweat sessions every week is a no-brainer for overall health. But researchers believe regular exercise is important for immunity because it can promote circulation.
Better blood flow increases the activity of helpful immune cells, freeing them up to roam the body at a higher rate. This can further help your immune system be prepared to fight.
But there is the catch. Clinicians say you must exercise regularly to enhance immunity because the increase in immune cell activity that occurs with exercise is temporary. It will go away unless you keep exercising.
- Get your nutrition in check – How many times have you been told to eat numerous servings of fruits and veggies daily? Probably your entire life.It is preached over and over because a diet that includes a wide variety of vitamins and minerals is one of the best things you can do for immune support.
Vitamins, especially A, C and D, and certain minerals, like zinc, seem to have a vital role in the functioning of our immune system. Ensuring you are getting the recommended daily dose of each of these would be a great start.
Because the immune response appears to be especially compromised in those that are overweight, those last two healthy lifestyle tips (exercise and proper nutrition) are the most scientifically backed approaches you can take to have a strong immune response.
We are going to go over the easiest way to get in plenty of micronutrient diversity here in just a second.
First, let’s discuss a few more tips to help your immune system that you may have never heard about before.
2: PRACTICE GOOD ORAL HYGIENE
We already know about the importance of good hygiene when it comes to things like hand washing, but you may have never thought about oral hygiene and its role in immune health. Your mouth has its own microbiome. If you allow certain bacteria to overpopulate in your mouth, it can potentially create issues that push that bacteria into your bloodstream and make its way into your gut microbiome. You don’t want this to happen, because as we touched on earlier, your gut is home to a large part of your immune system.
To combat this, it may sound like common sense, but make sure you are brushing, flossing, and swishing around some antibacterial or antiseptic mouthwash.
There are other oral hygiene practices that most of us forget about. According to researchers, there can be as many as 1.2 million bacteria on your toothbrush.
Oral health doctors say most of this bacteria can be eliminated by not keeping your toothbrush anywhere near the toilet, rinsing it off after every use, and letting it air dry before storing it away.
They also suggest replacing your toothbrush every 3 months and anytime you or a family member has been sick.
3: TAKE A COLD SHOWER
After you brush your teeth and go to hop in the shower to start your day, you may want to not let the water warm up and take a cold shower instead.
There are a few theories as to how taking a cold shower (or cold therapy) could be beneficial to the immune system.
One is that cold water stimulates circulation and shivering mimicking the contractions of exercise, which, as we already mentioned, are both well documented to be good for the immune system.
Another theory is that cold has an indirect activation of the sympathetic nervous system, which seems to be important since the brain and body are constantly interacting with each other.
A study in England found another unique connection. They discovered that people who took daily cold showers had more white blood cells compared to people who took hot showers.
The theory behind this being beneficial to immunity is that when your body tries to warm up following a cold shower, your metabolism speeds up and activates the immune system, which leads to the release of more white blood cells into the body to help fight off potential complications.
While there isn’t a ton of compelling research on cold therapy and the immune system, it certainly can’t hurt to try! Especially since many people claim cold baths or showers boost energy, help speed up recovery after training, and some studies have found that cold temperatures activate thermogenic brown fat in the body. This is the good fat that could help heat up your body so that you naturally burn more fat.
4: DON’T BE A NIGHT OWL
If you prefer being a night owl over an early riser .. you may want to reconsider your sleep schedule.
Researchers have recently discovered quite a bit of evidence that shows an increased risk of poor health in those that like to stay up late.
But the reason is more of a correlation between the two .. not so much causation.
The reason researchers suspect the immune systems of night owls is weaker is because they found that people who stay up late often have unhealthy habits. They eat a poor diet and consume more caffeine and alcohol, compared to early risers, all of which can negatively impact immune health.
Everyone has their own internal clock. This is known as your chronotype or circadian rhythm. It explains why some people can jump out of bed at 5am and hit the gym with no problem, while others find themselves most productive at midnight.
There are plenty of people that argue we shouldn’t “fight” our chronotype and work with it instead.
So if you love being a night owl, just try to be more conscious of unhealthy patterns that may weaken your immunity, such as eating junk, drinking a ton of caffeine, and skipping out on sleep.
5: QUALITY MICRONUTRIENTS
Speaking of making better food choices .. our last tip is probably the most important.
We briefly touched on this already, but giving your body enough quality micronutrients is the base of strengthening your immune system. Those vitamins and minerals are vital to your wellbeing.
Researchers have found that nutrition and immunity are closely connected. They believe specific vitamins and nutritionally essential minerals are required for proper immune function.
Look at micronutrients like the foundation of a house. You have to have a strong base to be able to withstand outside invaders.
Without adequate nutrition, our foundation, which is our immune system, will be deprived of the components it needs to generate an effective immune response.
The issue is that it is pretty much guaranteed that you aren’t getting these nutrients from diet alone, no matter how “clean” you think you eat.
According to data from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, roughly 93% of the US adult population does not meet the estimated average requirement for key nutrients.
If you aren’t eating a wide variety of different fruits and vegetables 5-7 times a day .. taking a Greens supplement may be your best route.
In fact, it is probably your only option if you don’t like veggies or tend to only eat one or two of your favorites.
When you take a complete Greens supplement, you aren’t only “filling the gaps” left behind in even the “cleanest” diets, you can consume a much wider variety of micronutrients from a bunch of different sources.
We hope you found this article useful! The thing to remember is that even when you aren’t aware, even if you feel amazing .. your immune system is ALWAYS working.
If you want to maintain your immunity and stay in good health, skip the crazy methods and scare tactics some companies are using, and get back to the basics!
Exercise, get enough sleep, try to stress less, practice good hygiene, and make sure you are getting in your micronutrients.