4 ways to improve your immune health
Updated: Dec 29, 2021
We are constantly being bombarded with bacteria and viruses that can make us sick.
We have an elaborate defense system that is designed to protect us. This is our immune system. We have physical and natural barriers - our skin and mucous membranes. We also have specialized immune cells, and antibodies that specifically target the bodies invaders.
There are several ways to optimize your immune system
I am going to review five ways that will get you started - along with some tips and tools to help you get started.
1. Get enough sleep
For adults - Aim to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
When you don't get enough sleep, or have poor quality sleep, your body produces more of the hormone cortisol, which suppresses your immune system.
A study in the journal Sleep in 2015, found for people who got at least seven hours of sleep were four times less likely to come down with a cold than for people who slept less than six hours a night.
Steps to better sleep
Make a routine for right before you go to bed - read, meditate, or journal in your gratitude journal
Turn off your TV and electronic devices one hour before bedtime
Watch your intake of caffeine and alcohol - both can disrupt sleep
Do regular exercise - but not right before bedtime
2. Stay active
Exercise has a couple of benefits relating to your immune health. First it lowers stress hormones, which reduce the chance you might become sick. It also causes your body's antibodies and white blood cells to circulate more rapidly, which may help them target and zero in on viruses and invaders quicker.
Studies also have shown for people who exercise at least five days a week have almost half the risk of getting a cold; and if they did get one, they reported less severe symptoms.
Ways to be more active
Check out videos on Youtube - These are examples. There are way more.
line dancing - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vuB0zWyMxfg
3. Lower your stress/manage your stress
What happens when a person is experiencing increased stress levels?
Ongoing psychological stress is connected to increased inflammation levels in the body.
It is this chronic inflammation that increases a person's risk for to a greater risk of depression, heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, upper respiratory infections (URIs), and poorer wound healing. (1) Cohen, S., Janicki-Deverts, D., & Miller, G. E. (2007). Psychological stress and disease. Jama, 298(14), 1685-1687.
It is impossible to avoid stress and stressors. You can adopt strategies to manage stress. A 2012 study found that people who did either mindfulness meditation or did a daily exercise routine were less likely to get sick with a respiratory infection. If they did get sick, they missed fewer days of work.
Ideas to manage stress and stressors
Increase your activity/exercise
Listen to relaxing music
Write in a gratitude journal
Connect with your friends and family
4. Be wise about supplements
There isn't a magic vitamin or supplement that you can take to automatically prevent a cold, the flu, or Covid-19.
Here is some encouraging news for people who what to do something to provide some degree of protection. A 2017 review of 25 studies published in the British Medical Journal found a moderate dose of Vitamin D may offer some protection if you are low in the sunshine vitamin. The individuals who had the most benefit from vitamin D supplementation were very Vitamin D deficient and the people not receiving bolus doses.
A more recent analysis was to determine if there was any association between mean (average) levels of vitamin D in various countries and cases - mortality caused by Covid-19. Significant relationships were found between vitamin D levels and number Covid-19 cases and especially mortality caused by the infection. The countries, Spain, Italy, Switzerland - had a high population with low vitamin D levels and also high numbers of individuals with Covid-19 and mortality from the infection.
You may be low in Vitamin D if you are:
An older individual
Are an African American
Have an autoimmune disease
The way to know if you are low or deficient in Vitamin D is to get your blood levels tested.
Vitamin D role in our immune system
Helps to boost immune function when needed
protects against unnecessary inflammatory responses
Ideally a person would get their needed amount of Vitamin D from sun exposure. Most people don't get the 15 to 30 minutes of sun exposure that is necessary to keep Vitamin D levels at an optimal level.
It also is very difficult to obtain enough vitamin D from food sources.
It may be necessary to take supplements to obtain the needed amount of Vitamin D.
A blood level between 50 to 70 ng/ml is optimal.
Steps to take:
Get your Vitamin D level checked
What if you could alleviate the pain or discomfort in your body – and get your life back – by using food as your medicine?
It sounds so simple when put like that.
What exactly is the pain you’re feeling?
More importantly, what’s actually causing it?
And even more importantly, how can you stop it?
You’ve got all the questions, but no one seems to have the answers.
If this is you:
Your body aches all the time even though you haven’t done strenuous exercise (or any exercise at all)
Your skin is angry with eczema or acne and you’re so over being prescribed steroid cream after steroid cream
You can’t make the daily headaches go away, no matter how much water you drink or how many pills you take
The common thread for all of the above symptoms is they are inflammatory. If you have a digestive issue, or autoimmune disease, or have no idea at all what the hell is wrong with you, the right nutrition can help.
Right now, I don’t know exactly what you’re suffering from. I just know you’re suffering. You’re struggling. You’re hurting. And you wish it would stop.