It is most definitely possible to boost your immune system naturally. When I was in grad school, I had zero colds and never got the flu. That was a full two years of zero illness! I haven’t always prevented simple infections (especially when I was teaching elementary school), but I always seem to get fewer illnesses since following the protocol below.
You might be wondering if this will help your defenses against the pandemic. I know we’re still dealing with COVID-19, but the best thing you can do is follow CDC guidelines: Wash your hands, social distance, wear a mask, and get the vaccine when it becomes available for you.
But I do thorough research and this is my own experience with increasing immunity naturally. These are all things that I have used to boost my immune system naturally and stop sickness in its tracks.
Lastly, these things below should be used in conjunction with each other. There is no one solution that will defend against illness. But together, they are powerful in making your immune system stronger and stopping sickness in its tracks!
These are the things that I personally have done to boost my immune system and have few to NO colds in any given year!
How to Boost Immune System Naturally – 11 Ways
1. Eat a Clean Diet
What is a clean diet, anyway? Clean eating describes focusing on whole, natural foods that come straight out of the earth or from the animal.
Basically, your body needs a wide variety of macronutrients, like carbs, proteins, and fats, as well as micronutrients like vitamins, minerals and other compounds to function efficiently. Clean eating provides your body with plentiful nutrients that truly nourish your body to function at its peak performance all the time!
Clean eating also means watching your intake of sugar, which can actually suppress the immune system’s function.
Eat a variety of veggies, fruits, nuts, free range meats, cage free eggs, wild fish, and whole grains to get all the nutrients your body needs, and make sure you cut out the rest!
READ MORE: The Best 12 Nutrition Books to Read in 2021
2. Stay Hydrated
I cannot stress the importance of staying hydrated. Not only can staying hydrated help boost your immune system by making your body’s function run smoothly, it can also help you lose weight.
Water can also help:
- keep your heart healthy
- keep your skin glowing
- keep your digestive system working efficiently (preventing constipation)
Most people need about half their body weight (in pounds) in ounces of water. I weigh 130 pounds, so I need a minimum of 65 ounces of water. Add more when you exercise, are out in hot weather, or live in a dry climate.
3. Reduce Stress
Stress can be a major suppressor of our body’s natural functions. Basically, when we have a stress response, our body produces things like adrenaline and cortisol. Blood gets set away from your organs to your muscles (as in fight or flight).
This was a great evolutionary development when we had to outrun bears, but if you get a stress response from your boss while sitting at a desk in your cubicle every day… that’s when we start to see a problem.
Stress purposefully suppresses our organs’ functions! But if you want a healthy immune system, you absolutely need your organs to be functioning at top performance.
Learn more about stress and how you can manage it.
Still Anxious about COVID? Read more about how to reduce stress and anxiety FAST!
READ MORE: Top 5 Benefits of Self-Love and Self-Care
4. Get enough sleep
Sleep and rest are not given enough priority in our constant-hustle lives.
Sleep gives us so many positive benefits, including:
- reduced heart disease risk
- stronger immune function
- better mood
- prevent weight gain
- improve your memory
They say that your body needs between 7-9 hours of sleep, typically. But follow your instincts. If you’re already sleep deprived, you may need some extra sleep to catch up.
5. Exercise Your Body
Exercise, along with eating healthy, is one of those things that everyone knows can lead to a healthier lifestyle. But did you know that exercise can actually boost your immune system naturally?
When you exercise, you’re not only actively fighting that cortisol response that stemmed from stress, you’re also helping to pump blood everywhere in the body.
Blood, of course, carries oxygen and nutrients to organs and muscles, enhancing all that hard work you did cleaning up your diet, staying hydrated, and reducing stress. Here are some more benefits to exercise.
Aim for moving frequently. You don’t have to run, even walking can have huge benefits. You should vary your exercise as well… dance, walk, run, lift weights, play tennis, rough-house with the kids, or do housework. It all helps!
6. Use Garlic
This means that it helps to kill off bad bacteria, viruses, or fungi in our systems.
You can eat it or even stick a bulb of garlic up your nose to help heal your cold faster! (Yes, really!)
But here’s the catch, you have to use it raw. Cooking actually burns up all those good compounds like allicin, which is the active compound present in garlic.
So if you feel a cold coming on, crush up a clove of garlic in honey (read more in #7) and take it a couple times a day to help your body heal faster!
7. Use Honey
Honey is another natural antibiotic that you can use to help boost your immune system naturally.
Whether you use it as a topical antibiotic to prevent wound infection, or you ingest it internally, honey seems to have the same healing effect.
Honey actually has a small amount of hydrogen peroxide. It also has a very low pH level, helping to balance the acidity in your body caused by junk food, stress, and poor sleep.
My preferred method is to combine honey with raw garlic and take a couple times a day. However, even stirring some honey into tea can be beneficial!
What a sweet, delicious way to boost your immune function!
8. Use Elderberry Syrup
Elderberry has become more popular in recent years for boosting your immune system. It’s a type of plant or tree that produces small berries, which are packed with essential (and non-essential) micronutrients like vitamins and minerals.
These berries can be used to treat all kinds of ailments, including:
- joint pain
- immune system
and many more.
Elderberry comes in juice or capsule supplements.
9. Use Probiotics
Probiotics are another substance that has gained in popularity over the last decade or so. Probiotics are basically good bacteria that reside inside our digestive systems and help us break down food.
When we consume the standard American diet of high simple carbs and sugars, and low real nutrients like vitamins and minerals, we’re actively killing off these good bacteria and promoting the growth of yeast inside our guts. Yeast feeds off sugar and can overpower these incredible bacteria that we need for our healthy digestive systems.
You can get probiotics in a couple ways. First, you can take a probiotic supplement in many different forms. But the best way is to eat foods that contain these natural probiotics! Things like yogurt (plain, not loaded with sugar), sauerkraut, pickles, kombucha, or kimchi, are great sources of probiotics!
One of my preferred supplements for probiotics is Arbonne’s Digestion plus, which has probiotics, prebiotics, and digestive enzymes.
10. Wash Your Hands As Instructed!!!
If you’re not living under a rock, you’ve probably heard the CDC’s instructions for washing your hands many times over the past 9 months since COVID-19 entered our lives.
Although this isn’t necessarily a way to boost your immune system, washing your hands properly can prevent suppression of your immune system.
You want to wash your hands with soap and water. When you overuse hand sanitizer, you’re preventing your body from being exposed to any bacteria, which could potentially weaken your immune system.
Is hand sanitizer okay in a pinch?
Absolutely! But you don’t need to slather on your hands every 20 minutes. It’s not helpful and could even potentially harm your immune system.
11. Get enough sunlight or supplement your Vitamin D
Last, you want to make sure you’re getting enough sunlight, and if you don’t live in a place where you can get good sunlight in the winter, then you might want to consider supplementing with Vitamin D.
Vitamin D has many benefits, such as helping control infections, reducing inflammation, and even helping stop cancer cell growth.
Vitamin D is essential to our immune function, and it’s available to us through sunlight and consuming foods or supplements.
I find best results when I supplement with 4,000 IU of Vitamin D, which is typically thought of as the upper limit. But you may find results with even 800 IU. 10-20 minutes in the sun every day can also help boost your Vitamin D levels,
When you decide to boost your immune system naturally, there are a lot of things that you need to consider, and a lot of pieces that work synergistically to really fortify your immune function.
But I encourage you to do your own research to determine if these natural immune boosters could be right for you!