Want to know how to not get sick again? Read this article for 9 ways to boost your immune system.
Why Do People Get Sick
There are many reasons why people get sick, starting from catching a virus and ending with too much stress.
You can’t protect yourself against all germs and diseases.
The immune system is amazing at fighting off sickness but sometimes it fails. So, the underlying issue is still a compromised immune system.
Your body is a holistic entity with all the functions being connected with each other.
- Inflammation in the gut directly influences the brain and the rest of the body.
- Oxidative stress decreases mitochondrial density and reduces your energy
- High levels of cortisol and insulin can lead to burnout, thus jeopardizing the immune system as well
So here are some additional strategies you can use to bolster your immune system and make it stronger.
#1 Intermittent Fasting
Fasting causes mild oxidative stress because of producing a surge in free radicals. This further stimulates a gene called SIRT3[i] to increase the production of sirtuins, which are protective proteins of longevity and increased lifespan.
- This phenomenon is called Hormesis. If the body is intermittently exposed to low levels of oxidative stress or a toxin, it can build a better response and cope with it better.
- Fasting also triggers a vital pathway for cellular maintenance called autophagy. If you’re staying in a fed state all the time, then your body won’t ever get a chance to take out the trash.
Not only will fasting help you to lose weight, but it also lowers cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, which results in a more healthier less sick version you.
You can do intermittent fasting daily by simply time-restricting your eating window. The best golden balance for this is 14-16 hours fasted and 8 hours fed.
#2 Cold Exposure
Exposure to cold also triggers hormesis to a large degree – you’re physically adapting to lower temperatures, thus increasing your immune system’s tolerance for the cold and other harmful stimuli.
- It triggers an anti-inflammatory norepinephrine release that reduces short-term pain from injuries[ii]
- Bolsters the immune system that kills viruses and fights off tumor factors [iii][iv]
- Increases the antioxidant glutathione and superoxide dismutase, which support the liver functioning, optimize cellular processes and protect against oxidative stress [v]
- Improves your tolerance to stress through the body’s mechanism for hardening[vi]. This makes your body more capable of handling oxidative stress and exposure to harmful stimuli, such as temperature, disease, toxins etc.
To really prepare yourself for the coming winter (winter is coming, I know…) you would have to go swimming. From the fall all the way through winter until its spring.
#3 Stimulate the Lymph System
Cold exposure also stimulates the lymphatic system.
The lymphatic system is responsible for transporting fluids in the body and it’s a vital part of the immune system because the lymph system helps you flush out a lot of the infections and pathogens.
However, it doesn’t have a central pump for doing so – you need muscle contraction to get the lymph moving. The cold will make the lymph vessels contract and then relax once you get warm again.
Other ways of stimulating the lymph system include.
- Intense sweating through exercise, hot yoga or heat saunas
- Contrast showers with swapping between hot and cold are also great
- Getting a massage, using a foam roller and acupuncture therapy are another option for promoting lymph flow
#4 Get Enough Micronutrients
Eating a healthy whole foods based diet should be the foundation but you can still develop some micronutrient deficiencies.
That’s why it’s essential to try and maximize the nutrients you get from food that are needed for a strong immune system, such as zinc, vitamin D, magnesium, omega-3s, selenium, B vitamins, and iron.
- Eat enough fibrous vegetables and other seasonal foods
- Get some healthy fats into your diet that would promote the construction of healthy cell membrane
Vitamin D3 deficiencies cause seasonal affective disorder (SAD) that can lead to exhaustion, depression, and sickness. People in the northern hemisphere are particularly prone to this.
That’s why you should try and get a lot of exposure to natural sunlight and supplement the micronutrient deficiencies you might have.
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#5 Wash Your Hands
Proper hygiene is crucial for avoiding infections and viruses. Our body is full of billions of bacteria but not all of them are good for us.
- Wash your hands before you eat
- Avoid public restrooms as much as you can
- Don’t touch doorknobs
- Avoid people who are sick and coughing their stuff on you
- Don’t touch metals and other dirty materials
On the flip side, you want to expose yourself to the good bacteria found in fermented foods, sauerkraut, apple cider vinegar, and kombucha.
You shouldn’t be afraid of getting your hands dirty with some real natural dirt either. This will greatly bolster your immune system’s ability to deal with different bacteria.
Obsessively cleaning everything and killing off all microbes with soaps and antibiotics will not only cause OCD but will make you more susceptible to getting sick.
#6 Reduce Cortisol
Although hormesis can be seen as a positive adaptation to stress too much stress is still bad for you. Hormesis follows a very dose specific pattern and you never want to go too far because it will lead to under-adaptation.
Cortisol stimulates the sympathetic nervous system that shuts down digestion, increases adrenaline and makes you alert. We need cortisol to get energy in the morning and to perform physically but eventually, you’ll get too stressed out.
Glucocorticoids are stress hormones that over the long-term wreak havoc to the immune system and block other cells from doing their job.
Vitamin C, in particular, can help you to cope with stress a lot better. Athletes who are exercising hard need to consume more vitamin C for recovery. If you’re not that active but still want to lower your stress levels then you can consume more lemons, vegetables, and citrus.
#7 Think Positive
Just thinking about how stressed out you are will make you more stressed out. And worrying about getting sick will make you get sick more often.
You have to adopt the right mindset that would prevent you from getting sick.
In one study, participants who had heightened activity in a region of the brain associated with a positive attitude produced greater amounts of flu antibodies.
This makes sense because your subconscious mind can only interpret the images and stories we tell ourselves. And it also transitions over to your physiology — the happier you are, the less stressed you are. The less stressed you are, the better you feel, the better you sleep and the better decisions you make in regards to your health.
What I like to do is include some anti-positive thinking. It’s a stoic exercise that’s going to prepare you for the unpredictable challenges of life. You think about the worst case scenario, which in this case is getting sick, and you come up with ways of how you’re going to solve it. It’s going to give you reference experience and an action plan for dealing with the issues that are inevitably going to happen.
#8 Avoid Toxins
Things like alcohol, tobacco, and drugs are obviously bad for your health and damage your immune system. You might feel invincible when you’re drunk but the comedown is equally as hard-hitting.
They may not have immediately visible negative effects but they inevitably lead to disease, more stress, weight gain and ultimately death.
Cigarettes and alcohol are toxins that are slowly poison-dripping your body. Smoking is inherently bad for you. You can have a drink every now and then but it’s best you cut it out because there aren’t many benefits to these substances.
#9 Anti-Inflammatory Compounds
To flush out the toxins we get exposed to on a daily basis and to reduce inflammation levels, you can consume these compounds.
- Ginger is used as ancient medicine and is known for its anti-inflammatory compounds. It also cleanses the lymphatic system and boosts the immune system.
- Turmeric or curcumin has similar properties. Ginseng as well.
- Garlic is a great anti- and pre-biotic that kills off viruses and enhances immunity
- Coconut oil contains a compound called lauric acid, which improves thyroid and heart health. It’s also anti-fungal and anti-bacterial.
- Glutathione is the most powerful „anti-oxidant“ in the body that can reduce free radicals and help the detoxification process. Foods high in glutathione are broccoli, cabbage, beets, spinach, garlic, asparagus, avocados, and citrus.
- Colloidal silver is another substance that has massive anti-virus effects. Silver can wipe off many pathogens. In the 1980s, Larry C. Ford, MD, documented over 650 different disease-causing pathogens that were destroyed in minutes when exposed to small amounts of silver[vii]. It’s an antibiotic that has other health benefits like improved longevity.
How to Boost Your Immune System for the Winter
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