COVID-19 and Your Immune System: Easy Ways to Boost Your Immune System Naturally
Updated: Apr 13
Boosting Your Immune System With Diet
Removing sugar, alcohol, and processed foods can be good for your health. High consumption of these foods down regulate the immune system cells that attack bacteria. It’s like removing policemen from a crime scene and making it less likely to apprehend the criminals.
The focus is to eat food with no labels and that you can recognize. Vegetables and fruits are rich in vitamin A,C, zinc, and beta-carotene, all essential for a healthy immune system. Opt for a variety of colorful veggies and fruits like, spinach, kale, garlic, onions, sweet potatoes, kiwi, grapes, citrus fruits, and berries.
Other foods that help boost your immune system are bone broth and shiitake mushrooms.
Using Exercise to Boost Your Immune System
Daily exercise is good for your physical body, brain, and immune system. A daily 30 minute walk can do wonders for your mental health too. Exercise helps release the feel-good hormone, dopamine.
Those that don’t exercise regularly are more likely to get colds compared to those who do exercise. Exercise also impacts quality of sleep and many experience a deeper sleep when they exercise. It’s best to avoid exercise before bed as it may be more stimulating and keep you up at night.
How Sleep Impacts Your Immune System
Quality and quantity of sleep are important for brain health, weight loss, hormone balance, and your immune system. When you are not getting enough sleep, you are more likely to get sick catch a cold, the flu or other infection.
Lack of sleep impacts your immune system. When you are not getting adequate quality of sleep you trigger stress hormones which can also lead to more inflammation. This leads to a cascade of negative impacts on other systems in the body.
Although researchers are not exactly sure on the amount of sleep that is best for each individual, recommended hours are as follows for each age group: average sleep for adults is between 7-9 hours; newborns (0-3 months) between 14-17 hours; teenagers (14-17 years) between 8 -10 hours; young adults (18-25 years) between 7-9 hours; and the elderly (65+) between 7-8 hours as is stated by the Sleep Foundation.
Why Laughter is Good for Your Immune System
When was the last time you had a good belly laugh? I think we should all laugh more often; after all laughter is good for the body. Did you know that laughter can boost white blood cells? You know...the cells that fight off harmful bacteria and viruses?
Take some time to watch a funny movie, tell some jokes or hang out with your children. Who remembers the show Kids Say The Darnest Things? That's a great starting point!
Stress Can Suppress Your Immune System
“Stress kills!” And, I couldn’t agree more. Most doctor visits are stress related. It’s okay to experience moments of stress, but when we are in stress mode the majority of our waking hours, one becomes more susceptible to colds, what ever sickness is floating around (flu), and other serious diseases.
Chronic stress means the release of cortisol, which has a cascade of negative issues on your gut health (here is where 60-80 percent of your immune system resides); impacts thyroid health (which is the CEO of energy levels); and even brain health (stress puts us in a fear state).
Studies show that managing stress is good for your health. Some great ways to de-stress are:
When you stress less, you produce less stress hormones which also allows you to sleep better while having a positive impact on your immune system. One of the best wellness hacks you can do is meditation. Studies show that there is a reduction of cold and flu illness in those who practice meditation.
How Social Connections Impact Your Immune System
We are social creatures. We were created to travel in groups and help one another. Having a strong social group (church, gym buddies, book clubs, knitting friends) is good for you and your health. Studies also show that loneliness has been linked to a poor immune response.
Creating meaningful connections and relationships is good for your health. If you lack friends, be the type of friend you are looking for, e.g. if you want more kind and fun friends be kind and funny; you will attract others like you.
Did you also know that hugging can raise your oxytocin hormones? Oxytocin is associated with happiness and less stress! So when we hug, touch, or sit close to someone that we like or is happy, our oxytocin hormone levels rise. And while the current health crisis may limit or advise against physical contact with others outside your home, you can still enjoy the company of those within your home, giving them some extra hugs!