The immune system is the body’s ultimate disease-fighting defense system, which protects your body against harmful invaders such as bacteria, parasites, fungi, and viruses. Without an immune system, even brushing your teeth could introduce enough bacteria into the bloodstream to kill you! The immune system is, therefore, absolutely key to our survival and keeps us strong and healthy as we float through a sea of pathogens.
The vast network of cells, tissues, and organs that make up the immune system work together to protect the body by keeping an eye out for infecting invaders. When an enemy is spotted, the immune response works to destroy the invading pathogens by calling on its soldiers, the phagocytes (eating-cells), which literally engulf and digest foreign substances. The ability to distinguish what is ‘foreign’ and what is ‘self’ is crucial to the functioning of the immune system. If the immune system fails to recognize this distinction it will begin to destroy its own healthy tissue, which can be fatal.
1. Get out in the sunshine
Sun exposure helps the body to produce vitamin D, which not only plays an important role in bone growth and helping the body to absorb calcium but it can also help modulate adaptive immune responses. Deficiency in vitamin D is usually associated with autoimmune diseases and increases the likelihood of infection. Sunlight helps to boost the activity of T lymphocytes (T cells), which are the ‘helpers’ of the immune system and arguably the most important because of their ability to activate and adapt immune responses so that the right cells are killed.
2. Get adequate sleep
During sleep, your body produces cytokines, which are infection-fighting proteins that protect your body against harmful intruders. Without adequate sleep, your body’s ability to produce cytokines decreases and causes an increased susceptibility to illness. Check out our article, ‘Why your body loves sleep’ to see what other ways your body benefits from a good night’s sleep.
3. Quit smoking
There’s no greater immune killer than smoking. Dr. Mehmet Oz says, ‘if your immune system is Superman, smoking is Kryptonite’. Smoking dramatically weakens the immune system. The reason for this is because the chemicals in cigarette smoke cause significant damage to the cells throughout the body and your immune system is continually working to fight off the damage. The immune system will eventually lose the ability to cope with fighting off infected cells making you prone to a whole array of infections and in most cases, the beginnings of lung cancer.
4. Cut down alcohol consumption
Ok, we know we said ‘easy’ but we’re only suggesting you limit the amount you consume, not give up completely! Excess alcohol blunts the monocytes defenses. Monocytes are a type of white blood cell that play a central role in the coordination of adaptive immune responses by activating the T lymphocytes so they can launch an attack on foreign invaders. Impaired function of these cells leads to reduced adaptive immune responses, which therefore increase susceptibility to infections, especially as excess alcohol consumption increases exposure to pathogens.
5. Nutrition and diet
It’s no surprise when we say how a healthy, well-balanced diet and good nutrition can boost your immunity significantly. Like all other parts of your body, your immune system needs vital nutrients to help it work efficiently and protect you from illness. The subject of nutrition in regards to immunity is such a biggie, we decided to put together a list of immune-boosting foods for you to incorporate into your diet. Check out our article ‘8 excellent Immune-Boosting Foods‘.
6. Practice good hygiene
It seems like common sense but a surprising number of people like to skimp on simple hygiene habits out of laziness or time shortage (we’ve all done it!). Really, we should be washing our hands on a regular basis; when we get home from work, after traveling on public transport and of course the obvious one, after you’ve been to the bathroom. Good personal hygiene including daily showers, brushing and flossing your teeth and washing your hands are all essential for keeping bacteria, viruses, and illnesses at bay. And don’t forget good hygiene also includes wiping kitchen surfaces, washing clothes and bedsheets regularly and washing the dishes…properly! It’s very easy for germs to enter our body and spread infections onto others, but hey, we’re not wanting you to be obsessively clean; some bacteria is actually good for you and your immune system, we’re only suggesting you be mindful when remembering your simple day to day hygiene habits.
There’s a bit of a crossover when it comes to supplements and nutrition as both involve putting good nutrients back into your body and actually, if your diet and lifestyle are clean and healthy you’ll be getting all the vitamins you need for a healthy functioning immune system. Supplements are, however, used to accompany a healthy lifestyle and shouldn’t be used instead of eating and living healthily. That said, we’d like to recommend our top 5 supplements that we believe are the best for strengthening your immune system. Check out our article, Top 5 Immune-Boosting supplements.
Exercise literally flushes bacteria and toxins from your body and lungs and helps to keep your immune system in tip-top shape. Exercise enhances antibody production and pumps energy into essential immune cells so that they can fight off viruses and bacteria more efficiently. Exercise also significantly slows down the release of stress hormones, which not only decreases the likelihood of illness but also helps you feel a greater sense of well-being. We recommend 20 minutes a day walking, stretching or light jogging.
9. Manage stress
Have you ever come down with a bad bout of cold or flu during a time of stress? This is because your brain and immune system are in constant communication with each other so any psychological issues you may be having can easily manifest into physical issues. When stressed, your body releases stress hormones that can create chronic inflammation and reduce the effect of infection-fighting immune cells. We recommend keeping stress levels down by meditating, expressing how you’re feeling with close people around you and taking long walks in nature. Take a look at our article, 7-day mind and body detox for tips on how to de-stress.
10. Positive mindset
We would have to say that if you were going to do one thing, this would be the most important! People definitely underestimate the power of positive thinking and the effect it has on our bodily health. There is growing evidence to suggest that people with a condition or illness who believe they will get better usually do, and at a much faster rate, compared to those with a condition and who do not have a positive mindset. Our beliefs shape our reality and like all parts of the body, the immune system is affected by negative emotional states. Our article, 7-day mind and body detox
How to boost your immune system with tooth powder!
Ok, we miscounted, there are actually 11 easy ways to boost your immune system, but this is our favorite so we’re putting it in a separate section!
Good-Gums powder is an all-natural herbal mixture that puts essential vitamins and minerals back into your body, through your gums! Packed with nutrient-rich ingredients that are antioxidant, antimicrobial, antifungal and antiviral, Good-Gums absorbs easily into your gums so your whole body can reap the benefits of all the goodness.
Good-Gums is so rich in vitamin C, that every time you brush your teeth, it’s equivalent to eating a whole orange! Think how much your immune system will love that! We believe your mouth is a window to the rest of your bodily health, so if you can heal your mouth you can heal your body.