How to boost your immune system
When someone in your household comes home with a cold and you want their immune system to fight the infection quickly without their cough infecting the rest of the household, there are some quick tips you can take to boost both your immune function and theirs.
Of course, long-term measures will also go a long way towards preventing anyone in your household from coming home with a cold or flu infection in the first place.
In this blog, I'll look at both the short- and long-term steps that you can take to support your immune system. These are:
- Wash your hands
- Don't get worked up or stressed
- Let Echinacea boost your immune system
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Avoid smoking
Read on to find out how these tips can help support your immune system.
1. Wash your hands
Transferring germs from our hands to our mouth and nose is the quickest and easiest way for bugs to flourish. When this happens, your immune system is triggered into action and the fun symptoms of a cold or flu begin.
To prevent germs from even getting near your immune system, wash your hands regularly, and try to avoid shaking hands with bug-ridden companions. Increasingly, the 'elbow bump' is being used as a safer form of greeting!
2. Don’t get worked up or stressed
While this is easier said than done, stress takes its toll on your immune function and weakens its fighting spirit. So, remember to take time each day to relax - even 10 minutes can make a big difference.
When you have deadlines at work, household chores, and people coming round for dinner, remember to take a deep breath, take a step back, and don't collapse into full-blown panic.
3. Let Echinacea boost your immune system
Echinacea is a herb that is part of the daisy family. It has a traditional use in supporting the immune system. However, now it has been discovered that different parts of the Echinacea plant have different functions in medicine, and therefore using the whole plant provides the most effective results. This means that it can be taken as a quick short-term measure to boost your immune system, or as longer-term support to strengthen your immune function.
Echinacea is available as a tincture or tablets, and may also be combined with other herbs such as sage to act like a sore throat spray.
Of course, the other option is to wear a mask at all times and avoid anyone who is likely to give you a cold...
Now doesn't that sound like a good idea? Sleep deprivation and sleep problems are rife in today's society, leading to all sorts of problems, not least fatigue at school and work.
Establishing a healthy sleep routine and getting the optimum seven and a half to nine hours of sleep a night is important for keeping your immune system ticking at top speed.
5. Maintain a healthy weight
Having a little extra weight or being underweight can both lead to problems with immune function. Although reaching that perfect weight can be a bit tricky, following a healthy diet and exercise programme goes a long way towards solving many weight-related health conditions.
Check out our blog The best exercises for weight loss for more information!
Quick tips to boost the immune system
Get extra vitamin C in your diet
Make a smoothie with fresh berries, spinach or oranges
Drink plain water more often
Try Immune Support – it contains several helpful nutrients, including vitamin C, D and zinc to help you in a period of illness.
Although it can sometimes feel as if you are developing flu-like symptoms after exercise, especially after a particularly hard training session, exercise is important for strengthening your immune system.
Exercise encourages white blood cells (disease fighting cells) to flow through the body at a quicker rate so that your immune system is prepared to fight infection. However, if you are just beginning to exercise, break yourself in gently, as too much, too quickly, can sap all your energy and leave you feeling run down. Check out our blog 10 really easy ways to exercise for tips.
7. Avoid smoking, passive smoking or smoky environments
Get the picture? Your immune system doesn't like smoke. It suppresses the action of white blood cells, damaging organs and the all-important immune response. Just one cigarette can destroy 25 mg of Vitamin C, that's nearly half of your recommended daily allowance.
Long-term measures to boost the immune system
Drink alcohol in moderation
Avoid processed foods and aim for a varied diet with plenty of fresh foods to give your body plenty of nutrients
Swap coffee for some green tea
Strange as this may seem, laughter is great for your immune function. It boosts infection-fighting white blood cells and reduces the levels of stress hormones in the blood stream. Some even say that laughing regularly helps to lose pounds from your middle, which may come in handy too!
Originally published 20 August 2014 (updated 3 August 2020)