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There are ads on TV that show herbal supplements and companies offering exotic fruit extracts that supposedly boost the immune system and you can wonder to yourself if there is any truth to those claims?
To “boost” something means to strengthen or increase something. Researchers say that we cannot “increase” or add to our immune system the way we can increase the number of soldiers in an army. We can however, ensure that our immune system is performing at its optimal efficiency.
Consider that your immune system is not one organ, but an interconnected system of organs so when you refer to the “immune system” you may actually be referring to your immune response.
The immune response is a protective process where the body’s defense forces actively recognize invading bacteria, viruses and fungi; release armies of antibodies that tag the invaders so that the macrophages and phagocytes can surround the invaders and “eat” them.
When you want your immune system boosted, you want your immune response to be efficient in recognizing antigens, repelling and eliminating disease and infection.
10 Natural Ways To Improve Immunity
1. Eat healthily. Eat a lot of vegetables and fruits. Stay away from processed foods because these tend to have been stripped of naturally-occurring nutrients. Vitamins and minerals are usually not stored in the body so you really need to eat foods that are rich in nutrients and trace minerals consistently. Antioxidants are key nutrients in increasing the body’s immunity, and especially vitamin C and the full range of B vitamins.
2. Drink alcohol moderately and responsibly. Alcohol weakens your liver and your kidney. When organs are weak, they cannot aid in the fight against infection.
3. Stay away from mass amounts of caffeine and nicotine. These are stimulants and too much of these can disrupt your sleep patterns.
4. Get adequate rest and sleep. Most adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep every night.
5. Get adequate amounts of sunlight in order to get Vitamin D.
6. Get adequate exercise. Exercise improves blood circulation and it is the blood that brings the body’s defense forces to the site of the infection.
7. Avoid sweets. Sugar encourages the growth and proliferation of bacteria.
8. Garlic has antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties. Eating fresh garlic can help you fight disease.
9. Ensure that your digestive system has a healthy amount of good bacteria. Good bacteria help you digest your food and squeeze more nutrients from your food. Good bacteria also meet and fight the bad bacteria that you ingest.
10. Maintain good hygiene. Wash your hands, brush your teeth and bathe regularly. Doing this eliminates bacteria, viruses and fungi you pick up with your hands and on your skin.
The best thing you can do to enhance your immune response to microbes and pathogens is to stay away from as much stress as you can. Stress taxes your whole body as well as your mind.
When you are chronically under stress, you can imagine your body’s soldiers working hard to keep your body running at top speed – your heart beating fast, your skin producing sweat to cool you down, and blood racing to deliver oxygen.
If your body’s soldiers have to this all the time to meet emergencies and possible threats, they will be unable to do their job of recognizing, tagging and fighting pathogens. Thus, stress distracts your body’s soldiers and sends them off to do a job other than protecting your body from disease.
All in all, no food supplement alone can boost your immune system. You have to take care of your whole body as well as your mind in order keep your immune response efficient.