The immune system is the body’s natural defense against foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria. As cold and flu season approaches, it is imperative to strengthen your immune system!
Here are some quick tips.
1) Stop smoking.
As if you needed another reason to quit: smoking damages the immune system.
2) Exercise regularly.
Most of us understand that regular exercise is the key to good health. One great way to promote health is by supporting our immune system and keeping it healthy.
Regular physical activity decreases the mortality and incidence rates of influenza and pneumonia. It is essential to keep everything (including exercise) in moderation.
High-intensity training, competition and the associated physiological, metabolic and psychological stress are linked with temporary decreases in immune function and, therefore, increased illness risk. Acute exercise (moderate-to-vigorous intensity for less than 60 minutes) may help support through enhanced circulation, allowing the immune system's cells and components to move freely through the body and perform their duties efficiently.
Research continually shows that the more moderate exercise one partakes in, the lower their incidence of upper respiratory tract infections. Walking, running, and swimming are great ways to enhance your health if done consistently.
If you have not been active regularly, start slowly. Try 5 minutes a day to start. Each week increase it by 5 minutes. You will eventually reach an hour a day before you know it.
3) Get adequate sleep.
You may notice that you become ill after a bout of sleep deprivation. This is because sleep is when a lot of the “fight” against foreign invaders happens. If you are constantly having troubles sleeping, speak to your medical doctor. You may also want to try avoiding caffeine after 2 pm, yoga and meditation.
4) Minimize stress.
Stress increases cortisol levels, and a high amount of cortisol can actually compromise immune function. We know that minimizing stress is easier said than done, so at the very least, remember to take some time for yourself to do something that you enjoy to relax and refresh your mind and body.
5) Eat your fruits and veggies!
Your mom was right! Leafy greens and citrus fruits are rich in vitamins and minerals that help your immune system thrive.
6) Consider a full-spectrum turmeric supplement.
Turmeric is a powerful natural anti-inflammatory, but it also has strong antiviral, antimicrobial and even antifungal properties! Of course, it’s always a good idea to add ground turmeric to your soups and other dishes, but since the body is not good at absorbing turmeric on its own, it’s important to take the right turmeric supplement (full-spectrum turmeric) to help enhance that absorption.
Turmeric is very well known for “curcumin.” Curcumin is one of the most important nutrients found in turmeric as it contains the greatest amount of medicinal properties. Curcumin has been shown to improve antibody responses in the body. An antibody is a special protein that binds to any intruder which signals the immune system to respond. It is important to note that curcumin (although very important, yes) only comprises 3 percent of the entire turmeric root! There are over 200 other disease-fighting compounds of the root (which is why it is important to take a full spectrum turmeric supplement). Other turmeric root nutrients such as α-turmerone, ar-turmerone and polar extracts have also been shown to contribute to immune response. (You can learn more about full spectrum turmeric supplementation on our blog entitled Dr. D’s Ultra Bio Turmeric: Whole Root Nutrition).
Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants are substances that protect our cells from something called free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that are produced when you are exposed to harmful agents such as tobacco smoke, radiation, pollution, etc., and are therefore associated with many diseases. Free radicals are dealt with by our immune system, but not always perfectly. Furthermore, studies have shown that curcumin is effective in the treatment of toxicity and oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is a contributor to the development of neurodegenerative diseases, and therefore recent studies are looking into how to reduce oxidation therapeutically with curcumin…and even to prevent the disease in the first place! The fact that curcumin is an antioxidant inherently makes it an immune system supporter because it helps to decrease the body’s exposure to harmful agents to begin with.
Turmeric is also an immunomodulator in the sense that it modifies or enhances the appropriate response of the immune system. Studies have shown that curcumin and the other turmeric root nutrients control the growth and cellular response of different immune cells such as dendritic cells, natural killer cells, macrophages, and lymphocytes. These are all key players of our immune system so we need them to grow and respond efficiently in order for our immune system to be effective. Moreover, α-turmerone has anti-proliferative effects, meaning that it actually decreases growth of (harmful) cells.
Another way in which turmeric is an immune booster is through the modulation of both the proliferation and activation of T cells and B cells. There are many types of these special cells, but what is important to know is that they are extremely important cells of our adaptive immune system (this is the subset of our immune system which gives our defences “memory” in order to respond more quickly to a subsequent attack from a bacteria or virus.).
You know we got you covered with this tip. If you’d like to learn more about our turmeric and how it helps the immune system, click here https://doctords.com/blogs/news/turmeric-the-undercover-immune-booster
7) Don’t skip your Vitamin D!
Did you know that Vitamin D has been used to treat infections before antibiotics existed? For example, Tuberculosis patients were sent to sanatoriums where treatment included exposure to sunlight (a source of vitamin D)! Over the years, there has been a lot of research suggesting that the lower the level of vitamin D in test subjects, the more at-risk for infection they were. One high-quality double-blind placebo study published in 2010 using a nasopharyngeal swab culture demonstrated that a therapeutic dose of vitamin D resulted in a statistically significant (42%) decrease in the rate of influenza infection. It is thought that vitamin D plays a powerful role in the protective effect of innate immunity. You know we have this tip covered for you as well!
8)Take steps to avoid infection in the first place.
We are all pretty much experts of this at this point, but reminders are helpful. This includes ensuring proper handling and cooking of raw meats, frequent sanitization of commonly-touched surfaces, hand washing, and avoiding touching your face.
9) Always touch base with your medical doctor in terms of what else you can do, such as keeping up with your recommended vaccines.
Unsurprisingly, tips for strengthening your immune system are the same as tips for building a healthy lifestyle. Have fun with it and stay healthy!
Aranow C. (2011). Vitamin D and the immune system. Journal of investigative medicine : the official publication of the American Federation for Clinical Research, 59(6), 881–886. https://doi.org/10.2310/JIM.0b013e31821b8755
Aurea labs. India. Effects of curcumin on immune cells. 2020.
The power of turmeric: a healing and preventative guide, dr. Fabio di stefano, publisher production solutions, 2018
Harvard Health Publishing. Harvard Medical Schools. Feb 15, 2021. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-boost-your-immune-system
Urashima M, et al. Randomized trial of vitamin D supplementation to prevent seasonal influenza A in schoolchildren. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010;91(5):1255–60. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
*THE CONTENT IN THESE BLOGS IS STRICTLY EDUCATIONAL AND NOT INTENDED TO BE A SUBSTITUTE FOR PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE, DIAGNOSIS, OR TREATMENT. ALWAYS SEEK THE ADVICE OF YOUR PHYSICIAN OR OTHER QUALIFIED HEALTHCARE PROVIDER WITH ANY QUESTIONS YOU MAY HAVE REGARDING A MEDICAL CONDITION OR YOUR GENERAL HEALTH. ALWAYS THOROUGHLY READ AND FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS ON THE LABELS OF YOUR SUPPLEMENTS AND/OR MEDICATIONS. NOTE THAT THE CONTENT IN THESE BLOGS MAY BECOME OUTDATED AS NEWER RESEARCH IS PUBLISHED