Want to know how to strengthen your immune system? Whether you're sick or just want to support your immune system so you can stay as healthy as possible, there are plenty of ways to increase your immunity power.
This post is sponsored by Ridgecrest Herbals. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make it possible for Root + Revel to provide free content and healthy living inspiration.
Do you get sick a lot? Maybe you have some kind of existing health condition that puts you at greater risk, or if not, I'm sure you want to keep it that way and continue to nourish your body and support your immune system. Fortunately, there are tons of ways you can keep your immune system strong!
What is the immune system?
Before we get into that, though, let's start at the beginning. What is the immune system? Put simply, the immune system is a network of cells, tissues, and organs (primarly microbes) that work together to defend the body against attacks by “foreign” invaders, like bacteria, parasites, and fungi that can cause infections. (source)
But for as much as we know about how the immune system works, there is still much that researchers don't know about the intricacies of the immune response. It's extremely complicated and often controversial as the immune system isn't just one organ, it's (as its name implies) an entire interconnected system.
But here's what we do know: every part of your body, including your immune system, functions better when we lead a healthy lifestyle, particularly as we age. It's important that we not only protect ourselves from all of the toxins we're hit with every day, but also that we nourish our bodies with the right foods, supplements, and lifestyle choices, like sleep, exercise, and stress management.
So let's get started–here are five ways to strengthen your immune system!
5 Ways to Strengthen Your Immune System
1) Take Supplements
There are a handful of supplements on the market that can be a great support to your immune system.
For example, RidgeCrest Herbals' award-winning formula, ClearLungs® Immune, adds crucial vitamins and herbs to support a healthy immune system, made up of things like elderberry, olive leaf extract, and Chinese asparagus root, to name a few.
The ingredients in ClearLungs® Immune have been shown to help support natural defenses, encourage healthy immune function, and maintain wellness.
Ridgecrest Herbals’ botanical formulas are rooted in what’s worked for centuries (if not millennia!) in traditional holistic modalities, yet they’ve added some innovative upgrades.
For example, Ridgecrest uses Portfolio™ formulation, a way of using small doses of many ingredients to increase the safety and efficacy of herbal formulations.
Other supplements that can help strengthen your immune system:
- Vitamin D (my favorite is Truvani's Bottled Sunshine Organic Vitamin D Tablets)
- Vitamin C (my favorite is Truvani's Immuno-C Organic Vitamin C Tablets)
- colloidal silver
- Truvani's Immune Support
- probiotics: I’ve taken countless different probiotics over the years, but my favorite is Seed’s Daily Synbiotic that’s actually backed by science (a synbiotic is a combination of probiotics and prebiotics–prebiotics are a special form of dietary fiber that act as a fertilizer for the good bacteria in your gut). Psst… go here to use the code ROOTANDREVEL to get 15% off the first month of Seed’s Daily Synbiotic probiotic + prebiotic subscription!
2) Get Better Quality Sleep
Among sleep's many health benefits, studies have shown that lack of it increases your risk of getting sick–not only getting an infectious disease including the common cold virus, but also reactivation of a past disease, like chicken pox or shingles. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick.
It's true–sleep and the circadian system exert a strong regulatory influence on immune functions. (source) A lot of it comes down to a complicated process involving cytokines that I won't bore you with, but here's what you need to know: your body needs sleep to fight infectious diseases, most people need between 7-10 hours of sleep every night to bolster your immune system and help keep it primed for attack.
But here's what's really important: good sleep is LESS about the number of hours you sleep and MORE about turning your sleep into an extremely restful and rejuvenating time.
Definitely read our post on 9 Ways to Get Better Sleep, Naturally.
3) Regular Exercise Improves Immunity
As you've likely started to catch on here, immunity has a lot to do with how healthy your overall lifestyle is. And by now, we all know that regular exercise is one of the pillars of healthy living, according to Harvard:
exercise improves cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure, helps control body weight, and protects against a variety of diseases. And just like a healthy diet, exercise can contribute to general good health and therefore to a healthy immune system. [In fact, exercise] may contribute even more directly by promoting good circulation, which allows the cells and substances of the immune system to move through the body freely and do their job efficiently.
Not only that, but it's been proven that people who live more sedentary lifestyles are far more likely to get colds or other infectious diseases. So get moving! Even just taking a walk every day is super supportive for your body.
4) Reduce Stress
So many of us are under chronic stress, whether emotionally or physically. And by now, we know that stress can cause almost every disease known to man, not mention making us sad, depressed, anxious and downright panicky. Turns out, the stress response also suppresses the immune system, increasing our susceptibility to colds and other illnesses. (source)
So controlling our stress responses and reducing the stress in our lives is so important, not just for immunity, but for our overall wellbeing. In the past, I shared some of the ways that I de-stress, including yoga, meditation, acupuncture, massage, being in nature, and spending time doing things I love with people I love.
You can see our 50 Self-Care Ideas here.
5) Eat Nourishing Foods + Drinks
What foods should you eat to strengthen your immune system?
- Let's start with bone broth, because we all know that there's nothing better than chicken soup when you're sick. Bone broth is a nutritional powerhouse–it’s incredibly rich in minerals, amino acids (protein), and gelatin (collagen), meaning it reduces inflammation, heals the gut, boosts immunity (read: like chicken soup on steroids that helps you fight colds and the flu) and is proven to aid in the treatment of autoimmune diseases, infections and even improves mental and emotional health.
- You can also drink lots of tea–I recommend caffeine-free herbal tea varieties that contain echinacea (which has been proven to show maximal effects on recurrent infections and preventive effects for the common cold) (source) and elderberry for its proven ability to fight colds, the flu, allergies and inflammation. In fact, a study published in the Journal of International Medical Research found that when elderberry was used within the first 48 hours of onset of symptoms, the extract reduced the duration of the flu, with symptoms being relieved on an average of four days earlier.
- Ginger and garlic are also incredibly supportive of your immune system. Ginger (and ginger essential oil) can help break down the accumulation of toxins in our organs, cleanse the lymphatic system, and with its antimicrobial properties, it helps in treating infectious diseases (source) and inflammatory disorders caused by viruses, bacteria and parasites. Meanwhile, garlic can boost the number of virus-fighting T-cells (source) in your bloodstream, reducing the severity of cold and flu symptoms. And garlic's high sulfur content helps your body absorb zinc, which is another immunity booster found in whole grains.
- Fermented foods, like kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, and kefir, are full of immune-boosting probiotics.
- And we can't forget Vitamin C. Yes, the old wive's tale is true–and in fact, a lack of vitamin C can even make you more prone to getting sick. Foods rich in vitamin C include citrus (oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, lemons, limes), strawberries, bell peppers, spinach, kale and broccoli. Just be sure you get Vitamin C in its purest form (that's food and supplements). A great way load up your body with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to support your immune system is with nutrient-dense smoothies. We've got dozens of recipes you can try here!
What are your favorite ways to boost your immune system? Let us know in the comments below!