10 Tips to Boost Immune System4/8/20
The immune system is the body’s defense mechanism against germs, infections, viruses, and other pathogens.
Given the present circumstances, individuals are looking for ways to reinforce their immune system and batten down the hatches against all manner of microscopic ne’er-do-wells.
Here, we discuss 10 ways to boost your immune system to help reduce the chances of illness, infection, and disease.
10 Tips to Boost Immune System
Eat a Healthy Diet
The #1 tip on our list should come as no surprise to you.
The best thing you can do to boost your immune system is to eat a healthy diet rich in fruit and vegetables.
These foods are chock full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants which bolster the immune system and help combat oxidative stress caused by reactive oxygen species.
Consuming too much refined sugar and processed foods (chips, cookies, crackers, fried food, etc.) also decreases how many whole foods you’re eating, thereby increasing the number (and magnitude) of your nutritional gaps.
Stress is an inherent (and sometimes necessary) part of life.
At times, stress can be very beneficial, such as heavy resistance training. These acute exposures to stress allow the body to become stronger, more resilient.
When stress turns bad is when it becomes the status quo and not just an occasional happening.
Chronic stress leads to sustained elevations in cortisol, which have numerous unwanted side effects including hormone disruption, fat storage, muscle wasting, and impaired immune function.
Constantly worrying (i.e. staring at nothing but social media news feeds) day in and day out is a one-way ticket to chronic stress, and a surefire way to compromise your immune system.
While you cannot entirely eradicate stress from your life (after all some stress is beneficial), you can significantly reduce how much stress you expose yourself to each day as well as how you handle that stress.
Given the present circumstances, limit your time spent watching newsfeeds and social media to one hour per day.
Spend more time reading, relaxing, exercising (at home), meditating, and/or going for walks in your neighborhood.
Supplements exist to help us fill in a gap in our diet and enhance our performance and recovery from training.
Now, it’s important to realize that supplements in no way can make up for a crappy diet or training program, but they can help to shore up any weaknesses that may develop.
With the knowledge that consuming sufficient quantities of vitamins and minerals is key to proper immune function (and the fact that most people don’t consume enough fruit and veg each day), 1UP Nutrition has developed a pair of micronutrient powerhouse supplements in our 1UP Greens and Reds Superfoods and Multi Go Men’s and Women’s multivitamin/multimineral supplements.
The supplements complement a healthy diet (tip #1) and help fill in the gaps during those times when we might not be able to meet our daily needs of essential vitamins and minerals.
Get Enough Sleep
We’ve said it before, and we’ll keep saying it -- you need to get enough sleep each and every night.
Getting sufficient sleep is critical to seeing results during your transformation challenge, and so too is it for supporting immune function.
Research finds that chronic sleep deprivation is not only associated with an increase in inflammatory markers but also with immunodeficiency.
The immune response to vaccination is also weakened during periods of sleep deprivation, and individuals are more susceptible to the common cold when not getting adequate sleep.
A 2012 review on the interactions between sleep and immune function concluded:
“In summary, chronic sleep deprivation can be seen as an unspecific state of chronic stress, which per se impacts immune functions and general health.”
The bottom line here is that if you want to support a healthy immune system, you need to get enough sleep every night of the week.
Earlier we mentioned that acute stressors can make the body stronger and more resilient.
Exercise is one such stressor that helps make our bodies better prepared to deal with all manner of stressors, including mental, physical, and biological.
Research notes an inverse relationship between moderate exercise training and illness.
In other words, individuals who engage in regular bouts of physical activity get sick less often compared to those who do not maintain consistent exercise habits.
The reason for this is that exercise has a long-term anti-inflammatory effect on the body via multiple pathways (even though it causes short term inflammation locally in the muscles worked).
Researchers have also noted that exercise improves immune defense activity and metabolic health, and it may also delay the onset of age-related immune dysfunction.
Wash Your Hands
This tip should really be common sense, but still it bears mentioning.
One of the simplest things you can do to boost your immune system and avoid illness is by washing your hands thoroughly.
Many people don’t realize that a substantial number of infectious diseases are spread by contaminated hands.
Once on the hands, people then touch their eyes, nose, or mouth, unleashing the microscopic baddies in the body. It can also be transferred to other people by shaking their hands.
To safeguard your health and the health of others, make sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
Limit Alcohol Consumption
Chances are if you are serious about your health and fitness you already limit your consumption of alcohol, as it’s both a source of “empty” calories and can stunt protein synthesis, which hinders recovery and muscle growth.
Well, you might also be interested to find out that consuming too much alcohol also hampers your immune function.
More specifically, alcohol changes the numbers and relative abundances of gut bacteria, which directly impact the development and function of the immune system.
Furthermore, alcohol disrupts communication between gut bacteria and the intestinal immune system.
Excessive alcohol intake also damages T cells, neutrophils, and epithelial cells in the GI system, disrupting gut barrier function and facilitating leakage of microbes into the bloodstream.
Basically, consuming too much alcohol decreases immune reactivity, hindering the body’s ability to fight infection.
Current recommendations according to the 2015-20 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, state that women who choose to drink should have no more than one a day. Men should restrict their intake to no more than two drinks a day.
Speaking of gut health…
Support Gut Health
As we just mentioned, the microbiome plays a critical role in the health and function of an individual’s immune system. As such, you should be doing things that support gut health each and every day.
Limiting alcohol intake is one giant step you can take on the road to promoting gut health. Another one is to limit stress (which we discussed above).
Perhaps the biggest thing you can do to support gut health is to make sure you’re eating the right foods.
Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are loaded with fiber, which serve as the “food” for the bacteria lining your gut.
Additionally, you can also eat foods naturally rich in probiotics, such as yogurt, kefir, pickles, sauerkraut, kombucha, and other fermented foods.
Eating a combination of prebiotics (fiber-containing foods) and probiotics supports gut health, which in turn bolsters the immune system.
Spend Time Outdoors
Vitamin D is an essential fat-soluble vitamin most well known for its role in promoting calcium absorption and bone health. As an essential vitamin, we must obtain it sufficient quantities in order to survive.
Now, vitamin D can be obtained from the diet, or it can be synthesized in the skin when exposed to sufficient amounts of sunlight.
Why is this important?
Well, in addition to bone health, vitamin D also modulates the innate and adaptive immune responses.
Deficiencies in vitamin D can impair immune function, making you more susceptible to illness and infection.
The easiest way for you to get vitamin D is by spending more time outdoors; however, since we tend to spend most of our time indoors these days, most people do not get enough vitamin D, which makes supplementation very important.
Due to the importance vitamin D plays in supporting a healthy immune system, 1UP Nutrition includes quality doses of it in our men’s and women’s Multi-Go multivitamin formulas.
A controversial topic in some sectors of the population, but the fact remains that immunizations help boost immunity.
In addition to making sure children get their recommended vaccinations (per their respective pediatrician), adults are encouraged to get an annual flu shot as well.
If you have questions concerning a particular vaccine, it’s important to contact your health provider and not rely on internet search engines to separate fact from fiction.
- Besedovsky L, Lange T, Born J. Sleep and immune function. Pflugers Arch. 2012;463(1):121–137. doi:10.1007/s00424-011-1044-0
- Nieman, D. C., & Wentz, L. M. (2019). The compelling link between physical activity and the body’s defense system. Journal of Sport and Health Science, 8(3), 201–217. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jshs.2018.09.009
- Americans, F. O. R. (2020). DIETARY GUIDELINES.
- Sarkar D, Jung MK, Wang HJ. Alcohol and the Immune System. Alcohol Res. 2015;37(2):153–155.
- Aranow C. Vitamin D and the immune system. J Investig Med. 2011;59(6):881–886. doi:10.2310/JIM.0b013e31821b8755