Prevention is better than cure; this old adage holds firm, especially during this COVID era. The fear of COVID infection has motivated many of us to boost our immunity by washing our hands regularly and social distancing. Given the emphasis on building our immune system, it is wise to take this even further via natural ways.
Are there ways to naturally improve your immune health?
Yes, there are ways to take care of your immune system so it can perform at its highest capacity. Everything from what you eat to how you live matters when it comes to bolstering your immune system. Because the immune system is a complicated setup that comprises cells, proteins, organs, and tissues it works in a sequential pattern to protect the body from infection. And it does a remarkable job of defending against invading viruses and bacteria. This is why it is crucial to nourish it with the right foods to do its job!
So, what can you do? A lot! Here are a few ways you can power-up your immune system.
Hydrate: Drinking clean water and staying hydrated is an effective way to help your immune system function well. Water helps your body clear out debris and toxins. Staying hydrated promotes improved blood circulation, which is crucial for the transport of nutrients and removing waste. It also helps flush out bacteria and is vital for increasing lymphatic draining, your body's built-in detox mechanisms. Well-functioning lymph glands ensure foreign invaders are cleared out of the system. A dehydrated body may increase the lymphatic system's load and can jeopardize your body's immune mechanism.
Plants and herbs: If you want to take your immune health up a notch, these are your best bet. Herbs like Holy basil and fruits like Elderberry have been used for many centuries in Ayurveda to bolster immune function. For instance, elderberries are high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that offer vital immune support. Lab studies have shown the anti-bacterial and antiviral properties of elderberries. It also works well in combination with other herbs. A clinical trial found that a combination of elderberry with echinacea can be as effective as the conventional antiviral drug, oseltamivir, for the early treatment of influenza 2.
Probiotics: Nearly 70% of your immune system resides in the gut 3, so it proves wise to work toward a healthier gut. If your body is a host for good bacteria, it means you already have a stellar functioning immune system. Research shows a delicate interplay between the gut microbes and your body's immune function 4. Your gut bacteria benefit you in many ways, including digestion, detoxification, producing nutrients, and protecting against invading bacteria and viruses 5. Examples of probiotic foods include yogurt and all fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut. Keep up with your probiotic intake from foods and high-quality supplements to promote healthy gut flora.
Anything else you should know?
Stress sabotages your immune function, so practice stress-reducing remedies such as breathing exercises, meditation, walking, yoga, or Taichi. Get out in the sun at least 10 minutes a day. If you work indoors or do not get enough sun exposure start a vitamin D supplement to meet your daily requirement. Vitamin D is known to offer immune support to the body, besides keeping your bones healthy.
If you are thinking about improving your eating and lifestyle habits, there is no better time to get started than now!