There’s a lot of talk going around now about boosting your immune system. You need to have your immune system fully functioning especially at a time like this you want your body’s defense mechanisms ready to jump into action whenever you’re exposed to harmful germs.
That being said, instead of boosting your immune system, you want to optimize it. Boosting the immune system is an invitation to an over-reactive immune system. You don’t want your bodyguard to have an itchy trigger finger and shoot first and ask questions later! However you do want your immune system to work at its optimal capacity.
How do you optimize your immune system?
It’s actually no surprise what you need to do. Good old-fashioned consistent healthy habits are beneficial for all your body’s systems. That includes your immune system. Continue to make healthy choices–eat healthy foods, choose to exercise, and decrease stress. And one of the best choices you can make is to cut out any habits that don’t honor your commitment to health.
Let’s break these choices down.
Unhealthy habits you need to give up immediately
Don’t smoke. Anything. Tobacco, marijuana, crack cocaine, or any of the so-called healthier plant alternatives. The lungs aren’t meant to have smoke or chemical vapors in them. Don’t do it. And if you already have that habit deeply ingrained, seek out methods to stop your habit. It’s not impossible.
Don’t drink excessive alcohol. Many studies show the harmful immunological effects of excessive alcohol consumption. The immune system is affected in a negative way by both binge and chronic drinking. This results in more respiratory infections, pneumonia, and sepsis. Excess alcohol consumption also slows wound healing and increases the incidence of cancer.
Your immune system cannot optimize when you continue smoking and drinking excess alcohol.
Eat healthy foods
Eating healthy foods is like putting premium gas in your automobile. It just runs better! When you choose to eat sweets and junk food, you won’t get very far in your quest for an optimal immune system.
You need a variety of fruits and vegetables in all colors. It’s true that dark green leafy vegetables are great for your immune system, but berries, citrus fruits, mushrooms, garlic, and ginger also help your immune system function at it’s best.
Cut out the sugary, refined and processed foods to enable your immune system to do its best. Plants are full of the ingredients known to fuel good function in your immune system. Rely on them and load up your plate, at least half of it, with fruits and vegetables at every meal.
Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, helps support the immune system and fight infections. It’s important to get enough vitamin D in your diet, especially when the sun takes a holiday.
Too much of a good thing is not desirable, though. Vitamin D must be balanced between enough and too much. Too much vitamin D may trigger an over-active immune system and auto-immune state. Ideally, get your vitamin D through food sources rather than via supplements. Of course, if your doctor prescribes a supplement, follow your doctor’s advice.
Foods that are high in vitamin D include fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and herring. Canned tuna is another good fish source, although be sure the can is BPA-free. The same kind of tuna can be found in glass jars or pouches to avoid the chemical BPA if the cans are not BPA-free.
Vitamin D is also found in egg yolks. Mushrooms are one plant source for vitamin D. You can also find added vitamin D in fortified milk, orange juice, yogurt and cereals.
One of the best things you can do for your health is to exercise regularly. Exercise is good for all body systems including your immune system.
A workout gets the blood circulating. This carries the infection-fighting white blood cells and antibodies throughout your body. Exercise also flushes bacteria from your lungs and respiratory tract, and that removes them before they get a chance to set up housekeeping and create infection.
Being active also slows down the release of stress hormones. Stress increases the likelihood of becoming ill with an infection. Any activity that lowers stress, also helps the immune system function more efficiently.
Keep calm and carry on.
As you may know, ever-present stress is not good for your body. Stress prevents the optimization of your immune system.
The inflammatory response, the body’s early immune response, is delayed when stress is present. Increased stress hormones cause a decrease in the numbers of infection-fighting white cells. The result of all this is a sluggish immune system.
One of the best ways to lower stress hormones is by exercise. Even 20-30 minutes of moderate level exercise can be enough to lower stress hormones.
Another effective way to lower stress levels is to meditate. There are many apps online that help teach meditation techniques. Daily meditation is a great way to lower your stress and increase your body’s immunity.
Have you heard about the health benefits of spending time in nature, now known as ‘ecotherapy’? When you spend time in green environments, you also help your immune system.
Plants and trees secrete particles called phytoncides that act as defense mechanisms for the plant. These phytoncides protect the plants from insects and germs. Japanese researchers have shown that these phytoncides are inhaled while walking through forests. They not only help the plants, they help your immune system, too.
Walking in the woods or in green areas of nature also lowers your stress levels and stress hormones. This makes ecotherapy a double positive for optimizing your immune system.
Grounding or Earthing
Another way to help to optimize your immunity is grounding. The thoughts behind grounding is that our bodies are full of electrical energy. Positive electrons, known as free radicals build up in our bodies. But if we go barefoot outside in the grass, or work with our hands in a garden those electrons are dispersed into the ground. You can read more about it in an article I wrote for Fit Life TV, here.
The bottom line
Optimize your immune system, don’t boost it! Make healthy choices daily to make sure your immune system has the best fuel. Eat healthy food, exercise, keep calm and reduce your stress.
Avoid any habits that destroy your immune system’s ability to do its job. You know what they are—smoking and drinking to excess.
Begin new beneficial habits like meditation to help your immune system work at its best. And try to spend time in nature as often as possible.
Walk barefoot in the grass, dirt or sand.
How will you optimize your immune system now? Choose one thing to work on and post in the comments below.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20074458 Effect of phytoncide from trees on human natural killer cell function