When you feel the first signs of an immune system attack, what’s your first thought? If you’re like me, you probably think, “Oh no, I don’t have time for this right now!”
We live busy lives, and it can be difficult to make our health a priority.
When you take care of yourself first, you can continue to take care of your family and work on your biggest goals, without being derailed by immune challenges.
Today I’ll show you 10 ways to naturally boost your immune system.
By incorporating these simple lifestyle changes, you’ll take your health to the next level this winter.
Read on below...
1. Keep Your Hands Clean
Wash your hands frequently, and for at least 20 seconds each time.
Did you know a pathogen can spread to about 50% of surfaces in an office building (door knobs, phones, etc.) in just 4 hours (1)?
One sneeze can emit 40,000 droplets at 200mph, and those germs can live for days on steel or plastic.
The most common way germs are transferred is through your hands.
Usually, when you get sick, it's because you’ve touched something with germs on it and then put your hands in your mouth.
One way to ensure you’re killing bacteria when you wash your hands is to sing the Happy Birthday song in your head (which takes about 20 seconds).
2. Prioritize Sleep
Aim to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
White blood cells are your body's main protective agents against attacks on your immune system. Sleepless nights diminish the number of white blood cells released when you are exposed to a pathogen (2,3).
Your body repairs itself as you sleep each night, and without adequate sleep you are more susceptible to immune system attacks.
If you’re having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, you may consider taking asleep supplement to help your body relax into restorative sleep.
3. Stay Active
Aim to exercise for 20 minutes each day.
When you exercise, your body rids itself of toxins and germs through your sweat.
You also boost your mood and your immune system as you increase blood flow in your cardiovascular system.
You’ll receive these benefits from as little as 20 minutes of exercise.
You can can run on the treadmill, walk around your neighborhood, or follow along on a YouTube video with your favorite type of exercise.
What should you do if you’re feeling like you're coming down with something?
It may be beneficial to exercise at a low-to-moderate level that makes you feel energized when you finish. The goal isn't to exhaust your body, the goal is to get your body moving and active.
If you’re really not feeling well, skip the workout and let your body recover.
4. Use Herbal Allies
At the first sign of immune compromise, take herbs to support your immune system.
Here at Utzy, we’ve developedU-Mune which is packed with powerful herbs to naturally support your immune system.
The three primary active ingredients inU-Mune are elderberry, echinacea, and oregano.
•Elderberry (Sambucas nigra) has a long history of traditional use among herbalists and is native to Europe, Northern Africa, and Western and Central Asia. The bioactive components of elderberry include the flavonoid anthocyanin, which helps to support your immune defenses on a cellular level (4).
•Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) is a perennial herb that has been used for centuries in Native American medicine. Current research has supported echinacea’s clinical applications as this botanical has been the subject of more than 300 scientific studies. Echinacea activates multiple aspects of immune function, including helping to support healthy white blood cell counts (5).
•Oregano (Origanum vulgare) is rich in antioxidants as well as having the ability to prevent bacterial growth (6,7). It contains Carvacrol, which is known for inhibiting bacterial growth (8). Antioxidants fight off the free radicals in our cells and keep us healthy.
Getting these powerful, immune-boosting herbs in your system is as easy as takingU-Mune daily.
5. Manage Your Stress Levels
Even though winter can be a hectic time, do your best to keep your stress levels low.
While periodic, short-term stress isn’t something to be concerned about, you’ll want to make sure you’re not continually stressed.
When our bodies are chronically stressed, we produce more cortisol, which works to lower inflammation.
According to Dr. Leonard Calabrese, "your body can get used to having too much cortisol in your blood... this opens the door for more inflammation" (9).
Stress also works to decrease your body’s lymphocytes — white blood cells that help fight off immune attacks....
Exercising and spending time in daily prayer can help to reduce the stress hormones released in your body. Creating and sticking to a routine can also reduce stress, especially when you schedule self-care time into your day.
The holiday season can be stressful, but if you make a point to retain your sense of calm, your body will stay healthier this season.
6. Get Some Sunshine
Go outside every day and get some sunshine on your skin, this helps to align yourcircadian rhythmand provides Vitamin D.
Get 30 minutes to 1 hour of sunlight daily.
Going outside in the morning, in particular, will help your circadian rhythm be aligned with your body’s natural sleep cycle.
Researchers recently found that sunlight increase the movement of T cells. These T cells are associated with white blood cells and allow them to react faster, further boosting your immune system (10).
Being in the sun helps us to get moreVitamin D, which can be hard to come by in the winter. Vitamin D tells immune cells where to go and helps to support the immune defenses in your body (11).
Make it a point to go outside at least once per day to maximize your sun exposure.
An easy way to do this is to walk your dog in the morning or eat lunch outside in the afternoon.
If you live in a cold climate where getting daily sunlight in the winter isn't an option, you should take aVitamin D3 supplement. Taking a daily Vitamin D supplement is an inexpensive way to support your immune system and ensure adequate Vitamin D levels.
At Utzy we offer aVitamin D3 formula, if you live in a cold weather climate, you'll want to grab a bottle.
7. Give Your Body The Nutrients That It Needs
Eat poultry and drink bone broth weekly.
There’s a good reason why your mom would serve chicken soup when you were sick as a child!
The high vitamin B-6 content in poultry forms red blood cells which fight against invading germs.
Bone broth contains gelatin and other nutrients that are beneficial to your gut lining, which is where most of our immune system is found.
The 19 different essential amino acids found in bone broth helps your body to fight against pathogens and bacteria on a cellular level. The lipids released in bone marrow also help in producing white blood cells.
Put chicken or turkey on your weekly meal plan along with a broth-based soup. You can roast a chicken whole and freeze the bones.
When you have enough bones, use your slow cooker or pressure cooker to make broth (here's arecipe), which you can add to soups or drink on its own.
8. Add Garlic to Your Foods
Add 1 to 3 garlic cloves to your daily diet. Allicin is a compound found in garlic that activates white blood cells which fight some strains of sickness (12).
Allicin is activated when garlic is sliced or crushed and can lose some of its disease-fighting properties when cooked.
Keep this powerful ingredient preserved for longer by crushing it and leaving it alone for 10 minutes before cooking.
Add garlic to your stir fries, soups, chilis and and roasted vegetables. To receive the health benefits of allicin, consume at least one clove in each meal you prepare.
Add 2 to 3 cloves per day to your meals if you feel something coming on to reap the immune system-boosting benefits of garlic.
9. Eat Plenty of Citrus Fruits and Berries
Eat 1 to 2 servings of citrus and berries daily.
These fruits are good sources of Vitamin C, which activates our white blood cells’ function in promoting immune function.
Vitamin C also makes antibodies, and its antioxidants protect our bodies from the harmful compounds that our white blood cells may produce as they fight illness.
Add berries to your smoothie or oatmeal for a nutrient-packed breakfast. Add the juice of a lemon or lime to your water or tea daily, and you’ll be well on your way to meeting your daily Vitamin C requirements.
10. Reduce Your Sugar Intake
Limit refined sugar to a few times per week.
When you consume sugar, whether it’s in a healthy fruit drink or a rich pastry, your white blood cell count goes down for several hours after eating.
The more sugar you eat, the more you crave it, and some researchers suggest that sugar is more addictive than cocaine (13).
Immune challenges always happen during the holidays when sugary treats are plentiful. If you’re already not feeling well, you may want to avoid sweets entirely.
Be intentional about what you put in your body and know if it’s worth the lowered immune response.
Chances are, you’d probably rather eat your mom’s pie at Thanksgiving dinner than prepackaged cake at a work party. If you want to indulge, make sure the treat will be worth it.
Choose wisely and your immune system will thank you.
So many of these strategies work together to make our bodies healthier.
When you go outside for a walk first thing in the morning, your body’s circadian rhythm is reset, and you clear out toxins while you prepare your body to get adequate sleep later on at night.
When you consume foods and herbs that help support your body on a cellular level and you keep germs off your hands, your body will feel better overall.
Implement these immunity-boosting tips and boost your health this winter!
Amy Henning is a nutrition nerd and fitness junkie who loves researching all things related to health and fitness. She loves running, listening to podcasts, eating delicious food, traveling to interesting places and reading literature.