Wear a mask. Socially distance. Stay Inside. Close the doors to your business. Don’t visit friends or family. Do this for two weeks. Actually, do this for a year plus. One thing they WON’T force you to do: Boost Your Immune System
The Human Immune System
In order to know how to boost your immune system, you need to have a brief understanding of what exactly it is. We have 3 subsystems within our immune system; the Innate system, the Interferon system & the Adaptive system. All three work together to attack invaders such as viruses & other types of infections, with the Innate system being the 1st defense & the Adaptive system revving up last.
Aside from that, we have what is called the Microbiome. The Microbiome is in our gut. The bacteria ratio in our gut determines levels of overall health for us. The brain is directly connected with our gut so any disruptions in the Microbiome can also affect the brain & cause different diseases as a result. Furthermore, the Microbiome communicates with the 3 subsystems of our immune systems which also communicate with the brain. Problems with our immune system can quickly become problems in other areas of our body.
The cool part about our immune system is that it basically has its own version of photographic memory. It literally remembers every single germ it has come across. This is super important and valuable because the immune system can easily recognize threats it has already defeated before, making it easier to diagnose & defeat the infection the next time around.
In simpler terms, our Immune System is our body’s soldiers. It fights back against any unwanted invaders. There’s a reason America always wants to have the strongest military; You should too. The immune system is elite, it’s on us to not screw it up.
Boost Your Immune System
Your Diet Matters
Diet is super important when it comes to maintaining good health. With a poor diet, your immune system gets weaker & weaker. Thankfully, we know what our diets need to consist of in order to remain optimally healthy. Here are a few important factors, but there’s a ton more that readers should also research.
A super important vitamin which reduces the risks of a cold or the flu. People with Vitamin D deficiencies are at a greater risk for being negatively effected by an upper respiratory tract infection (Ring a Bell?). Vitamin D naturally boosts our immune system. It’s also believed that Vitamin D may help prevent an exaggerated inflammatory response, which has led to severe illnesses in people when battling Covid-19.
The absolute best source for Vitamin D is the Sun. Stay inside?! No, get out & get some Vitamin D in your system! Your army will appreciate it. Other than the Sun, some popular food sources are red meats, some fish such as salmon & sardines, egg yolks, etc.
Extra Credit: Vitamin D is the only “vitamin” our body actually makes itself.
Helps boost your immune system because it increases the production of white blood cells which help prevent & fight bacterial & viral infections. Our bodies don’t produce or store Vitamin C, so it’s important for us to implement it into our diet. Red Bell Peppers are a great source for Vitamin C. Citrus Fruits are also generally high in Vitamin C so figure out a way to include at least one of them in your diet. Citrus Fruit examples: orange/clementine, grapefruit, lemon & more.
Extra Credit: Vitamin C also helps you maintain healthy skin.
An antioxidant that helps our bodies fight off infections. This vitamin is very important due to how powerful it is. Aside from fighting off infections, Vitamin E also prevents blood clots from forming in heart arteries. Examples: nuts, seeds, mango, avocado & more.
Extra Credit: A Vitamin E deficiency will result in loss of control of body movements, impaired vision, damage to peripheral nerves & more.
Works with biochemical reactions in our immune systems. It’s found in common foods such as chicken, potatoes, bananas, rice, salmon & more. Due to it being very common in our typical diets, most people don’t have a B6 deficiency. However, it’s still important to know about it & understand it is vital to a healthy immune system.
Extra Credit: Vitamin B6 can improve your mood, reduce symptoms of depression & even help treat nausea during pregnancy.
Zinc will help reduce the length of a common cold when taken within 24 hours. Selenium strengthens our body’s defenses against bacteria, viruses & cancer cells. You can find Selenium in seafoods, cereals & dairy products, amongst others. Garlic & Raw Honey can be very helpful to your immune system as well, along with probiotics.
There’s obviously other antioxidants & vitamins that are important & can help the immune system. Just be sure to take good care of your diet & it’ll result in a better immune system & a healthier life. If you’re having trouble with that, be sure to read one of my previous articles; 5 Tips For Maintaining A Healthy Diet.
Stress has both direct & indirect effects on our immune system. It directly affects it because the stress hormone corticosteroid suppresses the effectiveness of the immune system. The hormone lowers the number of lymphocytes; a type of white blood cell which is essential for the performance of the immune system. Due to this, the immune system’s ability to defeat invaders is lessened, causing us to be way more susceptible to various types of infections. Stress can be linked to headaches, infections/viruses, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, etc.
Its indirect effect on our immune system is often overlooked. Stress can lead people to make bad decisions which end up hurting themselves or hurting people involved with them. The coping mechanisms one chooses is so important. Drinking alcohol, smoking, eating shitty foods, etc. all negatively effect your immune system. If this is how you cope with stress, it’d be wise to change that in order to boost your immune system.
Healthy Coping Mechanisms
It’s ironic because NOT drinking, smoking, or eating bad foods are all great ways to cope with stress. Yet, we do the opposite & even more ironically; we think it’s helping. When dealing with stress; eating well & keeping alcohol or other stimulants at a limit is the best thing you can do. There are simpler mechanisms as well, such as making some time for hobbies or hanging out with friends (in a healthy environment). Yoga is a great option as well if you’re into it, along with meditation which can be extremely helpful when combatting stress. The last two healthy coping methods I will mention are exercising & getting quality sleep. Both of these will generally reduce stress levels & are also the next two factors when it comes to boosting your immune system.
Exercising regularly also boosts your immune system. Notice when we are sick, we get a fever. When we exercise, we generally get hot from moving around. This rise in body temperature from exercising prevents bacteria from growing & the fever does the same. Physical activity slows down the release of stress hormones in our body, which would improve our immune system as I previously stated.
It also helps remove bacteria from the lungs & airways. Obviously, that can reduce your chance at getting sick & also speed up your recovery if you’re sick already. It’s possible that the increased flow of white blood cells that occurs when doing physical activities can also help prevent infections because they could detect illnesses quicker than before, potentially.
If you need some ideas on fun & easy ways to exercise, read one of my previous articles all about it.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is probably deserving of being the first topic discussed in this article. The reason for that is because it affects just about every system in our bodies, not just our immune systems. Dr. Walker put it best when he was on Joe Rogan’s podcast.
Sleep isn’t the 3rd pillar of good health alongside diet & exercise, it’s the foundation.Dr. Matthew Walker
It makes sense as the body needs to be rested in order to function at its best. That part of it is simple & we all know how we feel when getting through a day on an insufficient amount of sleep. If we’re feeling it, our systems are feeling it too & probably worse.
Short & long term sleep deprivation hurts the immune system. There are some processes the immune system takes care of while we’re sleeping because it has more energy to allocate to the task. Our bodies naturally produce Melatonin while we sleep, which helps resist the stress of inflammation during sleep. Lack of sleep hurts these processes & our immune system’s ability to execute it’s job.
According to Dr. Walker, a DNA study was done in which healthy adults could only sleep for 6 hours per night instead of 8, for one week. In just this one week, the study found that 711 genes were distorted. Half were increased & the other half were suppressed. The ones that were suppressed: Immune Response Genes.
I’ll write more about sleep next week, including ways to improve your quality of sleep. Subscribe to this website & follow Jianchor on Twitter so you don’t miss it.
Sleep is the foundation of boosting your immune system
When it comes to maintaining a healthy diet, quality sleep is essential. Our body has two chemicals called Leptin & Ghrelin. Leptin tells your brain you are full, Ghrelin stimulates your appetite. When you lack sleep, your body produces Ghrelin, causing you to eat more & eat worse. This is why we get hungry when we’re up late.
On average, people who sleep fewer than 8 hours per night reported higher stress levels than people who do. When we get in late or just lack sleep in general, the struggle to find the energy to exercise is real. We’ve all been there. Sleep is the foundation of boosting your immune system. There are other factors, but diet, stress, exercise & sleep are the most important in my humble opinion.