November 08, 2020 4 min read

Overview

The immune system is essential for our survival as it ensures the eradication of all foreign threats, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

Today, people are more concerned than ever about optimizing the function of their immune system due to COVID-19. However, we should be careful about the type of information we receive since many advertisers would tell you anything to make a profit.

In this article, we will cover some natural ways you can follow to optimize the function of your immune system.

How to boost your immune system naturally

1. Diet

Our diet plays a vital role in determining the efficiency of the immune system.

You see, food provides the cells with important compounds, such as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. These molecules are crucial for the production of immune cells and the preservation of their function.

In a study conducted by Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, scientists found that many foods carry immune-modulating properties, including broccoli, garlic, turmeric, and ginger

Vitamin D

In one large study published by Cambridge University, researchers analyzed the effects of several vitamins on the immune system to see their possible impact on cellular and humoral responses.

They found that vitamin D maintains the signaling pathways between regulatory and effector immune cells.

Furthermore, it boosts the action of T-cells and macrophages (immune cells). Consequently, your immune system becomes more effective at destroying foreign pathogens.

In a 2011 paper, scientists inspected the connection between vitamin D and immunity. At the end of the study, they came to the conclusion that low levels of vitamin D in the blood predisposes people to infections and immune-related ailments.

Generally speaking, vitamin D is produced intrinsically when you are exposed to sunlight. However, millions of people are still deficient in this vitamin, which negatively impacts the effectiveness of their immune system.

Zinc

Zinc is an essential mineral that mediates the production of several types of immune cells.

Similar to other substances on our list, we can only obtain zinc through dietary intake, which may be a problem as most people don’t get sufficient amounts of zinc through their meals.

If you want to overcome this issue, opt for zinc-rich foods or dietary supplements.

B vitamins

B vitamins (e.g., B1, B2, B6) are primordial for the optimal functioning of your immune system. These compounds interfere with making new immune cells and maintaining their activity.

While some people get sufficient amounts of B vitamins through their diet, studies showed that many others are borderline deficient. To fix this problem, experts recommend taking dietary supplements.

Vitamin C

For decades, people used vitamin C to treat all respiratory tract infections (e.g., flu, common cold) during the winter season.

Unfortunately, researchers found no evidence that supports the effectiveness of vitamin C in curing or preventing upper respiratory tract infections. However, studies found that it can ramp up the production of white blood cells.

Additionally, vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that neutralizes oxidative stress, which is a primary trigger of immune dysfunction.

Oxidative stress describes an imbalance between the number of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and antioxidants.

When the number of ROS is higher than antioxidants, the risk of DNA mutations becomes substantially higher.

For decades, researchers attempted to pinpoint a connection between oxidative stress and different disease processes; they found that a significant number of chronic illnesses result from the direct or indirect effects of oxidative stress. Some of these ailments include coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes, and immune disorders.

Fortunately, vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that carries neutralizing properties against free radicals, making it the optimal compound to prevent all sorts of ailments.

In a 2015 study, scientists concluded that the regular intake of vitamin C can reduce oxidative stress by a whopping 30%.

Echinacea

Studies confirmed that taking echinacea supplements augments the number of white blood cells, which reduces the risk of bacterial infections.

Elderberries are rich in antioxidants and vitamins that help regulate and optimize the immune system function to efficiently eradicate all pathogens.

2.      Physical activity

Over the past few decades, hundreds of studies confirmed the positive effects of physical activity in the regulation of immune function.

In a 2018 study, researchers concluded that “a single bout of exercise is known to stimulate immune cells during efforts and during recovery.”

While the underlying mechanisms that produce these results are still unclear, scientists believe that exercise enhances the intercellular signaling of immune cells by promoting the production of certain hormones and neurotransmitters.

3.      Sleep quality

Poor sleep quality (e.g., insomnia) negatively impacts numerous physiological functions, including metabolism, cognitive abilities, and immune function.

For this reason, experts recommend sleeping around 7–8 hours a night to balance the activity of certain pro-inflammatory metabolic pathways that make the immune system go haywire.

4.      Just relax!

Chronic stress is one of the most common causes of relative immunosuppression.

When you become emotionally stressed, the adrenal glands ramp up the production of stress hormones, such as cortisol.

This hormone exerts anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive actions that disrupt the normal function of the immune system.

Fortunately, the regular practice of stress-relieving activities (e.g., yoga, meditation, listening to music) interrupts the production of cortisol.

5.      Improve hygiene

While this tip may not directly interfere with the action of your immune system, it will definitely lower your risk of catching infectious pathogens.

During this pandemic, we learned once again about the importance of frequent handwashing, avoiding contact with sick individuals, and seeking medical help when feeling sick.

However, you should know that there is a fine line between being careful and being paranoid.

You see, researchers don’t recommend taking extreme measures against microbes, as it may precipitate autoimmune diseases, according to the hygiene hypothesis.

Takeaway message

Boosting the function of your immune system naturally has become more important than ever.

As researchers conduct more studies and laboratory experiments, they keep unveiling new evidence that supports the effectiveness of certain habits/foods.

We hope that this article introduced this topic in a simple, entertaining manner; however, if you still have any questions, feel free to ask in the comment section below.


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