7 Easy Ways To Boost Your Immune System

I think it is safe to say that most of the world is on a bit of an immunity boosting quest with the current pandemic. Flu season comes around every year, but this year COVID-19 has been quite an exception to say the least. Masks, social distancing, and venue closures have made many of us motivated to get our immune systems in tip-top shape as everything starts to slowly open up again! There is no magic pill for the perfect immune system but there are many daily habits that you can incorporate into your lifestyle to keep healthy. Here are 7 easy ways to boost your immunity.

First things first… What is your immune system and what does it do?

The immune system is the body’s defence methods in protecting us from infection. It is made up of a complex network of cells, tissues and organs in the body including our skin, bone marrow, white blood cells, and lymph nodes. [1

The lymphatic system carries these disease fighting cells through our tissues to detect any foreign substances. Once identified, antibodies are produced to destroy the “intruder” cells. The body then remembers the intruder so that the same antibodies can be reproduced quickly if the infection comes back. [2]

Now that we have the gist of how the immune system works, here are some ways to elevate your body's ability to battle infection. 

1. Starting with the basics… wash your hands

The easiest way to try to avoid infections is practising good sanitation and hygiene. Washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially before and after eating, is a crucial step to staying healthy. It is recommended to try to avoid touching your face and to remember to disinfect objects such as phones, keys, and wallets often. [3]

clean hands for a better immune system

2. Wholefood fuel

After your hands are nice and clean, what you eat plays a major role in the strength of your body’s defence. Food is the fuel to supercharge these disease fighting cells. It is essential our cellular warriors are getting consistent and proper nutrition to perform their best. Preventive measures for wellness include choosing whole, unprocessed foods. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes are rich in vitamins and nutritionally dense. Alternatively, extracts and supplements will also assist. [4

Vitamin C 
Vitamin C is especially well known for its immune boosting properties but is most readily usable for the body in wholefood sources such as oranges, kiwi fruit, sweet potatoes, and broccoli. It can also easily be supplemented and is available in all Savvy products. [5]
Antioxidants
Antioxidants, found in foods such as green tea, berries, herbs, coffee, dark leafy greens and almonds, eliminate free radicals in the body that can cause inflammation when built up to high levels in the body. [6]
Fibre
Whole plant foods also contain lots of fibre that feed the gut microbiome of healthy bacteria that protect against digestive pathogens. [7]
Wholefood

3. Fermented foods and Probiotics

Some bacteria are actually good to ingest for your health. These beneficial bacterias are called probiotics and are abundant in fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir, and kombucha. Having a flourishing bacterial microbiome can help strengthen gut lining to prevent any unwanted material from entering the digestive track and studies have proved that regular consumption of probiotics reduce risk of as well as help you recover faster from viruses. [8]

Fermented foods

4. Hydration

Drinking water does not directly boost our immune system but it is a major factor in overall health. Up to 60% of the human body is water making it an essential nutrient in every cell. [9] Water serves a vital purpose in many functions that keep us going day in and day out including, temperature regulation, flushing waste, metabolism of food to energy, and as the building blocks to all our tissues, organs, blood and well… everything! Dehydration can cause a lack of headaches, poor levels of performance, poor mood, slow digestion and light-headedness. Medical professionals recommend adults around 2-3 litres a day as a healthy guideline to adequate hydration. [10]

What water does for you

Courtesy of USGS.

5. Exercise regularly

Regular and moderate exercise can actually reduce inflammation and stimulate healthy turnover of immune cells. It promotes good circulation through our cardiovascular system which allows immune cells to move through the body efficiently. Some activities to try could be walking, biking, swimming and light jogging. Just make sure not to overdo it, with far too much exercise, because that could cause reverse and suppressing effects on your immune system. Interestingly, athletes are oft at risk of immunity issues because of the amount of constant physical exercise they do. [11]

Exercise regularly

6.Sleep

Sleep needs to be a priority. Sleep and immunity are closely tied. Yes, we all have those late nights working, essays to finish, deadlines to meet but it is so important to try to get our daily 6-9 hours recommended by the CDC. [12]

No function in our body can function optimally without proper rest, especially our immune system. Inadequate sleep is directly linked to higher susceptibility to sickness. In fact, inadequate or poor quality sleep is linked to a higher susceptibility to sickness.

In a study in 164 healthy adults, those who slept fewer than 6 hours each night were more likely to catch a cold than those who slept 6 hours or more each night.[13]

In other words, one of the most important actions you can take in fighting illness is simply to do nothing at all and go to bed!

Benefits of sleep on immunity

7. Minimise stress

Hardly a surprise that stress is on the list - we actually need stress in little amounts, but too much of it is so harmful! Keeping stress low is easier said than done but mental and emotional stress causes physical stress on the body. It causes inflammation in the body and imbalances in the function of immune cells. [14] Stress and anxiety cause an overproduction of the hormone called cortisol. Extended periods of time with elevated levels of cortisol lowers your ability to fight off infection. High cortisol can also negatively affect your quality of sleep leading to a downward spiral of the immune system. Some habits to try to incorporate in your daily routine to manage stress might include yoga, journaling or meditation. Medical studies have shown that even as little as 5 minutes of meditation a day can make a big difference. [15]

Minimal stress is great for immune health

Even with your supplements, oranges, journaling, Savvy, 3 litres of water, broccoli, meditation and proper slumber, you still might get sick! Many times, illnesses are out of our “well washed” hands, but what we can do is commit to some of these preventative practises as best we can to boost our immunity and make health a priority.

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