It is possible to boost your immune system? It depends on whom you speak to. There seems to be a debate between the medical community and those more holistically inclined as to whether it is possible to naturally boost your immune system through lifestyle or not. Fortunately, some of these opposing viewpoints are not that different.
According to publications from Harvard Medical School, we cannot boost the immune system – and not only can we not boost it, but it may be dangerous to do so! With tidbits such as “no scientifically proven direct links” to “researchers are still trying to understand how the immune system works,” there is a lot of dancing around the semantics of the subject. Yet, another medical authority, WebMD, claims that lifestyle can help you boost your immune system, and one article on their website even goes on to claim specific examples to boost immunity such as get enough sleep, reduce stress and even lay off the sugar.
On the opposing side, we have holistic practitioners as well as other “natural health” authorities claim you can boost your immune system. And, they take it a step further claiming not only can you ward off or shorten cold and flu symptoms, but you can build immunity to the point of avoiding life-threatening disease such as cancer, diabetes and even various forms of viral infections. Besides the lifestyle tips of healthy diet and sleeping more, superfoods and supplements are touted that can help you fight these seemingly death defying diseases.
With these varying viewpoints, it is easy to understand why there is a bit of confusion surrounding the immunity question. Luckily, common sense and reasoning can guide us.
The most realistic path for many of us would be somewhere in between all of these points of views. We do know common sense approaches like eating healthy and getting enough sleep are generally healthy practices that can keep us in good health. Focusing on diet along with some other little known practices can greatly impact our health for the better yet be manageable enough to include in our daily lifestyle. Here are some tips to help you effectively boost your immune system.
-Practice eating healthy every day, because it is what you do most of the time as opposed to once in a while, that will impact your health the most. A mainly healthy diet can boost your mood and help your body manufacture the nutrients it needs to ward off disease without the interference of immune destroyers such as too much sugar, high fructose corn syrup (known to contribute to diabetes as well as increase “bad” cholesterol) and sodium nitrite or nitrates which are known to be highly carcinogenic while wreaking havoc on the pancreas and liver.
What is a healthy diet? Using more nutritionally holistic standards, we end up with a diet with a focus on fruits and vegetables. This can be as easy as adding a salad to your lunch and dinner, drink fresh vegetable juice three to four times a week and have a daily breakfast smoothie loaded with superfoods, such as kale and berries, to start your day. The rest can be easy such as avoiding junk food and high sugar foods, limit meat consumption, and avoid pre-made and processed foods. Include plenty of water, whole, organic grains, beans, legumes, seeds, nuts and sprouts.
-Sleep 8-9 hours a day. Lack of sleep can raise stress hormones, which can create internal inflammation. In case you didn't know, internal inflammation is linked to various health issues such as allergies, diabetes, heart disease and even some cancers.
-Exercise daily because it is proven to help you sleep better and even causes a change in antibodies including white blood cells that fight disease. In addition, physical activity increases blood flow and oxygen exchange, which can help clear our bodies of bacteria and other pathogens that may lead to sickness. And lastly, the rise in body temperature is known to help fight infection.
-Supplement with foods and compounds that are not only traditionally used for immune boosting, but even have shown effectiveness in research. One such example is garlic, which can be added to your meals or taken as a supplement.
Other examples include goldenseal and echinacea, both of which have a long history of healing cold, fu and general infections throughout various cultures in history while modern research, published in the scientific journal Immunology, suggests that both may enhance immune function by increasing antibody production. (1)
-Chicken soup, it's not just for the soul but good for your body. Check out the benefits of Chicken Stock and then get creative and add your favorite vegetables from carrots to spinach. The versatility and health benefits make this one a true super food.
-Meditate because some studies show that those who did so daily for 8 weeks produced more antibodies than those who didn't. (2) In addition, meditation increases brain function in the areas of our brains that also stimulates immune response. And it is no secret that meditation helps reduce stress, which can lead to better health all around.
-Laugh because it's good for you. Studies show that laughing actually helps reduce the level of stress hormones while at the same time causes your body to increase white blood cell production to fight infection. (3) So the next time you go out, opt for a healthy night at a local comedy club or plug in a funny movie.
As you can see, boosting your immune system is possible and can even be pleasurable. It turns out that eating right, getting enough sleep and laughing is more beneficial than previously thought; and the best part? No harmful side effects!