We’re not quite out of the winter yet, and after a long, cold one, your immune system might be a little shaky. Why? You’re tired, the weather is beginning to change, and your body is realigning itself with the longer summer hours and changes in temperature.
Which might all make you feel a little…fluey. These tiny changes – even though you might think they’re no big deal, your body feels the opposite. And as your mind and body race to keep up with one another, you end up feeling under the weather.
Well never fear. I’ve got just the thing for you – how to boost your immune system – in 15 ways.
(and by the way, this is all from my own experience – I haven’t taken a sick day in 3 years).
How to Boost Your Immune System – The Sweet Clean Living Guide
Ok people – I’ve divided these into two sections – the obvious ways to naturally boost your immune system, and the less obvious ways which I have read about and discovered over my Sweet Clean Living journey.
Good luck! Remember, you’ve got nothing to lose by trying!
How to boost your immune system in the obvious ways:
1. Don’t drink (excessively)
You know that feeling after you’ve had a few too many drinks? Or even after just one or two? Yes. Alcohol dehydrates your system, and when you’re dehydrated, your immune system isn’t as strong as it could be. The best thing to do is either to not drink alcohol or if you still want to, to alternate every alcoholic drink with a glass of water. It will help you out in the long run, not just boost your immune system.
2. Don’t smoke
This one is fairly obvious – but, in a nutshell – your body needs clean air to keep it pumping nicely, and clean lungs in order to do that. Smoking – even one cigarette – impacts both your air quality (second-hand smoke is just as poisonous as first hand smoke) and slowly destroys those beautiful, pink lungs of yours. So, if you’re already looking for ways to boost your immune system, slowly destroying it is not the right way to go.
3. Drink enough water
Regular readers of Sweet Clean Living (hey, you should join us!) know how important it is to drink water. So, until you become a regular round these parts, here’s why: it keeps you hydrated, and a hydrated body is a happy and healthy body. And, if you’re looking how to boost your immune system – water flushes your system of toxins and bacteria. So keep drinking!
4. Sleep properly
I’ve already covered the importance of getting enough sleep in depth, but a whole long post short – sleep gives your body some much needed resting time, during which it repairs and heals itself. Not that you would know any of this – you’re (hopefully) away with the Sandman. However – if you don’t get the right amount of sleep, you feel bad, right? And that’s when your immune system is the most at risk – a tired and unrested person is an undefended person. So there you go.
5. Wash your hands frequently
It’s obvious, right? Of course – but do you know many of us actually wash our hands enough? According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, if more of us washed our hands as much as we should do, over a million deaths a year could be prevented.
Why? Because you have no idea the kinds of disgusting stuff you are touching every day – I feel sick even thinking about it, and have just been inspired to write another post on ‘the importance of washing your hands’.
Long story short – the easiest thing to do to boost your immune system – is not infect it in the first place, by washing (and drying!) your hands thoroughly. #BacteriaFree4Life
6. Avoid germ carriers
…And while we’re on the subject of how to avoid infecting yourself, avoid ‘carriers’. Did you know that 8% of people who carry the cold virus don’t even have any symptoms at all? Yep – they walk among us, unknown. The best thing to do is to make sure you are washing your hands thoroughly and – if someone starts sneezing near you – move away as far as is politely possible (or not).
7. Don’t bite your nails
While we’re discussing ‘hidden things which can infect us’ – have you ever thought about how much bacteria and gross stuff gets trapped underneath your nails? It’s probably not something you should look into – but a very easy way to boost your immune system is to avoid biting your nails (as by doing that, you are directly welcoming millions of gross bacteria into your body – like some disgusting free party. Yuck).
8. Treat Infected Stuff
This one is incredibly simple – and very effective. Make sure that everything infected – bedsheets, towels, used tissues – are either put into the laundry – or thrown in the bin. Germs typically stick around for quite a while – and can infect you and others around you if not killed or disposed of properly.
Obvious stuff, right? Well, how about you try these on for size:
The Non Obvious: How to Boost your Immune System
9. Eat raw garlic
Yes, it might smell bad, but – the medicinal powers of raw garlic are totally worth a bit of bad breath (which, by the way, you can get rid of with some parsley. You’re welcome).
Garlic contains allicin, which is known in the medical world as a natural way to fight viruses. It’s available to buy at any pharmacy or big supermarket, such as Walmart, Walgreens or CVS as a supplement, but it’s way cheaper to buy as raw garlic – eating just two raw cloves a day will give you enough allicin to fight those nasty cold and flu viruses.
10. Breathe and Meditate
I’ve posted before about how practicing mindfulness changed my whole life around. But – there are actual medical benefits to mindfulness and meditation. Stress is a total wild card when it comes to your immune system, and it affects people differently – but one thing is for sure – it lowers your immune system’s ability to defend itself. With mindfulness and meditation, you learn to channel that stress into something calming and relaxing – which in turn de-stresses you and boosts your immune system. In a 2012 University of Wisconsin study over one winter, the testers saw a 40-50% reduction in colds and flu in the group which had been using mindfulness meditation techniques.
11. Exercise more
Fitter people never seem to get sick, do they? There’s a good reason for it – exercise boosts blood flow, strengthening the immune cells and helping them do their thing – protecting your body. Cells which don’t move are less likely to be as protective. If you want to get started on your fitness journey, I have just the thing for you here.
12. Look after your toothbrush
Think about where your toothbrush lives. If it’s in a cup, or near other people’s, those brushes are constantly swapping bacteria and viruses, my friend. Toothbrushes are the easiest, most passive ways to transfer those nasties between you and other people – the way to prevent it is simple too: keep your toothbrushes a good distance from each other (at any time, not only flu season), and make sure they dry thoroughly before use. A damp toothbrush is a breeding ground for…everything.
13. Lose weight and eat properly
There’s an even bigger benefit to clean eating – it keeps you nice and trim. If you are packing a few extra pounds, your immune system has to work that bit harder to protect you. Plus – you’ll feel the effects of the virus or bacteria more, as your antibodies (what your body produces to fight the bug/virus) work slower, and don’t live as long as they would in a fitter body. But – fear not – try out this clean eating meal plan (which helped me shed the pounds) and make sure you are washing your hands thoroughly throughout the day.
14. Eat more fruit and Vitamin C
Vitamin C has always been the stuff of legend when it comes to cold and flu season – but, did you know that another substance found in fruit is also very effective in boosting your immune system naturally? This wonder nutrient is called polyphenols, and they are a natural anti-virus for your body. So make sure you’re getting at least three portions of (well-washed) fruit a day, during those long winter months.
15. Drink green tea
Because I was raised British, you’re always going to get a recommendation to drink tea from me – however – the antioxidants in green tea really can flush your system, therefore helping your immune system rid itself of the bad stuff. Plus, by drinking green tea, you’re also rehydrating yourself. Go you!
So there you have it – my own personal tips and tricks on how to boost your immune system – at any time of year. It’s best practiced all year round as you never know what life may bring, and who wants to spend their precious time sick in bed?
All the best, and a healthy immune system to you,
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Also published on Medium.