The body’s immune system is a complex network made up of organs, tissues and cells that work together to protect us from harmful bacteria and viruses. As well as catching and killing pathogens that have entered the body, it also protects us from mutations and changes in our own cells that have become unhealthy.
We’ll oftentimes blame our immune systems when we catch the cold being passed around the office, or when we fall ill with a sickness bug. For some people with severe allergies and autoimmune or immune deficiency diseases, keeping a healthy immune system can be a matter of life or death. Purposefully leading a lifestyle with immune strength in mind helps to keep these serious conditions under control. Everyone can help prevent common colds, infections and bigger problems from developing by eating well and researching ways to maintain a healthy immune system.
We’ve compiled a list of 7 natural ways you can improve and strengthen your immune system, helping you keep as healthy as can be.
Probiotic foods and supplements consist of ‘good bacteria’ that your stomach needs to perform proper digestion and ensure that your body absorbs the nutrients you consume. This is necessary for maintaining a healthy colon. Hyperbiotics probiotics supplements, available from Amazon and health food stores, help top up your good bacteria and keep your digestive system happy. Supplements are an easy and convenient way to make sure you’re getting all the nutrients and minerals you need; but if you prefer to stock up on probiotic foods, go for live yogurt, sauerkraut, dark chocolate and miso soup.
Echinacea, or coneflower, is a herbaceous plant with a pretty flower that has many great immune-boosting properties. A 2012 study published in the Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine journal showed that it can be effectively used to prevent common colds, and that it has proven effect when used for recurrent infections. It has been found to have amazing benefits for immunostimulation, and especially for treatment of respiratory tract infections. Echinacea tablets are available from all good health stores or online.
- Vitamin D
Vitamin D deficiency is associated with a heightened susceptibility to infection. According to the Dr. Axe website, research has shown that vitamin D helps towards protective immunity. Low levels of vitamin D have been linked with increased instances of infection. You can ensure you’re getting enough of this essential vitamin by taking supplements (affordable from supermarkets and health stores) and eating fatty fish like salmon and tuna. You can also get it from cheese and eggs, and from exposure to sunlight – Web MD recommend that 10 minutes exposure to the midday sun is optimal.
Ginger’s warming effects when consumed have been thought to help detoxify our organs since time immemorial – it’s a big foundation for a lot of Ayurvedic medicine, an ancient healing system originating in India as far back as 5,000 years. Ginger is found to have positive effects on the lymphatic system, which plays an important role in immunity. It is antibacterial, warding off bad bacteria and soothing upset stomachs. Make into ginger tea, cook with ginger, or even chew small amounts if you feel a cold or stomach problem coming on.
People use oregano essential oil for its antibacterial and antifungal properties, providing vital immune support. Oregano oil capsules are a great way to get enough of this wonder-ingredient, found online or in health food stores. You can even break apart capsules and apply the oil topically – drop into steaming water and inhale to ease congestion; apply to nail or foot fungus; or drop under your tongue to help fight infection and kill parasites.
Garlic is an essential ingredient used in cooking worldwide for its strong, tangy flavor – but it also has amazing infection-fighting uses. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health claims that garlic can help to lower a high blood pressure, and even slow down hardening arteries, helping keep a healthy heart.