The immune system serves as the body’s defense against all manner of microscopic invaders that seek to invade, infect, and compromise our bodies’ ability to stay healthy. During colder months, we’re more likely to suffer from colds, viruses, and upper respiratory infections, which invariably leads many of us to consider how to boost or hack the immune system.
Truth be told, the human body is so complex and advanced that it cannot be “hacked” despite what the “gurus” and blowhards on social media promote. There are certain nutrients you can use and lifestyle habits you can practice that will fortify and enhance your body’s ability to resist/overcome infection, but it certainly isn’t a “hack.”
With that in mind, here are a few research-backed methods for supporting immune function.
Wash Your Hands
One of the simplest and most effective methods for avoiding infection is to regularly wash your hands. We use our hands for countless tasks every day, including holding onto handrails, opening doors, scratching our noses, and rubbing our eyes. In case you weren’t aware, the eyes, nose, and mouth are the most common sites of infection. By regularly washing your hands (and limiting touching your face with your hands), you’ll be able to reduce the induction of microbial ne’er-do-wells into your body, and decrease the potential for infection/illness.
Stress is the body’s natural response to any form of perceived threat whether intentional (e.g. resistance training) or unintentional (e.g. being cut off in traffic). Certain forms of stress can be beneficial and necessary to the body. In fact, playing outside in nature exposes our bodies to all manner of bacteria, which can serve to bolster our immune system.
However, prolonged stress can impair immune system function and increase the body’s susceptibility to infection. With that in mind, be aware of your daily stress levels (including all sources -- exercise, lifestyle, sleep deprivation, social media, etc.). In addition to making lifestyle modifications, certain supplements can help to alleviate feelings of stress and promote a greater sense of well-being. 1UP Relax includes a premium blend of transparently-dosed ingredients to encourage feelings of well-being, reduce stress, and promote a healthy mindset and immune system.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is absolutely essential to a healthy-functioning immune system. Inadequate sleep can compromise immune function and increase the risk and duration of infection. Numerous factors impact our inability to achieve deep, restorative sleep, including stress, poor diet, blue light exposure, and lifestyle habits.
To encourage a faster onset of sleep as well as deeper sleep, consider these following “sleep hacks”:
- Establish/maintain a consistent bedtime (even on the weekends, if possible)
- Follow a nighttime routine
- Limit blue light exposure (computers, tablets, smartphones, LEDs, etc.) at least two hours before bed
- Eliminate/greatly reduce caffeine and alcohol intake at least two hours before bed
- Listen to calming music
- Take a warm bath or shower
Consume a Nutritious Diet
Food provides the body with the essential nutrients it needs (essential amino acids, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, etc.) that nourish and support energy production, muscle recovery, weight loss, and immune function. Subsisting on a diet laden with processed foods deprives the body of key immune-supporting nutrients (e.g. vitamin C, vitamin D, polyphenols, etc.) while simultaneously increasing the likelihood for GI upset and illness.
Don’t take this to mean that you can’t enjoy some “junk food” (e.g. processed foods, fast food, take-out, adult libations, etc.). You can still enjoy those in moderation, and still have a robust immune system. Just keep in mind that the majority of the time your diet should be composed of lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, nuts, seeds, legumes, etc.
Believe it or not, exercise (while being an acute stressor to the body) can actually improve the body’s resistance to infection as well as resist the onset of various lifestyle-induced conditions.
Physical activity increases the release of endorphins, which improve feelings of well-being, reduce stress, and enhance host-defense. Plus, when you exercise outdoors (such as going for a walk after a meal), you support Vitamin D synthesis -- vitamin D is a critical nutrient identified in helping the body resist infection as well as improve recovery times.[2,3]
In addition to the aforementioned lifestyle factors (diet, exercise, sleep, stress management, etc.), certain supplements have been shown in scientific research to support the immune system, including whey protein, vitamin C, NAC, melatonin, probiotics and many more. With that in mind, here are a few of our favorite products to support immunity:
- 1UP Whey Protein
- Multi-Go Men
- Multi-Go Women
- Beauty Dream PM
- Recharge PM
- Greens & Reds Superfoods
- Gut Health Plus
- Nieman DC, Wentz LM. The compelling link between physical activity and the body's defense system. J Sport Health Sci. 2019 May;8(3):201-217. doi: 10.1016/j.jshs.2018.09.009. Epub 2018 Nov 16. PMID: 31193280; PMCID: PMC6523821.
- Miller S.C., Pandi-Perumal S.R., Esquifino A.I., Cardinali D.P., Maestroni G.J.M. The role of melatonin in immuno-enhancement: potential application in cancer. Int. J. Exp. Pathol. 2006;87:81–87. doi: 10.1111/j.0959-9673.2006.00474.x.
- Reiter RJ, Sharma R, Ma Q, Dominquez-Rodriguez A, Marik PE, Abreu-Gonzalez P. Melatonin Inhibits COVID-19-induced Cytokine Storm by Reversing Aerobic Glycolysis in Immune Cells: A Mechanistic Analysis. Med Drug Discov. 2020;6:100044. doi:10.1016/j.medidd.2020.100044