10 Ways to Boost Your Immune System, the Natural Way

By Lisa Franchi on October 15, 2012

Even viruses use coats during winter. And it’s the kind of coat that makes them stronger. Just as some people hate this time of the year, viruses love winter because they tend to live longer in cold and dry conditions, finding it easy to spread in thin air.

Whether you’re afraid of injections or do not want to expose yourself to the health risks associated with vaccines, you can protect yourself from acquiring flu and colds the natural way.

Here are 10 safe and natural ways to boost your immune system:

1.  Get your five-a-day servings of fruits and vegetables. The best way to boost your immune system is to eat foods that are high in essential nutrients and enzymes. Although any kind is a good one, if you are specifically looking to protect yourself from cold and flu, fill your plate with fruits and vegetables that are high in vitamin A, C, and E as they have a direct impact on your body’s immune system. Broccoli, carrots, spinach, and citrus fruits are great options.

2.  Exercise. Lack of physical exercise could increase your chance of catching a cold, a study by Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle reveals. They found that those who exercised five times a week for 45 minutes per session had fewer cases of flu and colds in a year than those who exercised less.

3.  Wash your hands regularly and appropriately. Hand-washing is a very simple, most basic step to prevent infection. In a 2008 study published in the British Medical Journal, it was found that hand-washing is much more effective than taking anti-viral drugs. Experts recommend washing the hands for 20 seconds using soap and warm water. Avoid using gel-based hand sanitizers and antibacterial soaps as they help bacteria to build resistance.

4.  Cut back on alcohol. While it is true that a shot of wine a day keeps the doctor away, too much of it can put a toll on your immune system. Researchers from Brown University found that excessive alcohol intake damages the dendritic cells which play a huge role in destroying microbes.

5.  Have some yoghurt. What could be a healthier snacking option than yoghurt? This healthy, creamy treat contains billions of probiotics that promote better immune system. To reap the benefits, experts recommend consuming 10 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) of active probiotics a day. Most yoghurt products have around 90 billion to 500 CFUs per serving.

6.  Chill out. When you are under stress, your body tends to overproduce cortisol – a hormone that is linked to a wide range of diseases. Attend a yoga class, go out with friends, watch a movie, or play with your dog. Relaxation is a crucial aspect of a healthy lifestyle.

7.  Get some trace of trace minerals. You want to feed your body with enough amounts of trace minerals, especially zinc which has a significant role in keeping viral infections at bay. Foods that are rich in zinc include crabs, oysters, roasted quash and pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate or cocoa powder, and peanuts.

8.  Get enough of sunlight. A study from Finland found that people who lack vitamin D are one-and-a-half times more likely to acquire a respiratory disease. Although the main source of vitamin D is the sun, it can also be obtained from some food including cod liver oil, fortified cereals and dairy products, and fish oil. You can also take vitamin D in supplement forms.

9.  Add more spices on your dish. Ginger, turmeric, nutmeg, cilantro and many other spices do not just enhance the taste of your meal, but also strengthen your body’s resistance to diseases!

10. Think positively. It’s not just what you take but also what you think that affects your immune system. A researcher from the Carnegie Mellon University found that happier people are less likely to develop colds when exposed to viruses. They are also three times less likely to get sick.

 

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