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  • Writer's pictureMatt Crowe

Top 10 Ways To Fortify Your Immune System

Updated: May 6, 2023

There is little doubt in our post industrial busy lives full of stress & anxiety, limited time, toxins from food, water, air & environment, sleep deprivation and processed foods that staying healthy and free of illness is an increasingly difficult task. Below is a list of 10 ways that can help fight the cold, flus and diseases that you are susceptible to in the modern world.

1. Bone broth.

Bone broth contains many substances such glycosaminoglycans that influence B cell and T cell function which fight infection, proline which play significant roles in cellular detoxification and free radical scavenging and chondroitin sulphate which is both anti-inflammatory and modulates immune health.

So when your mum you use to make you ‘real chicken soup’ that had all parts of the chicken including bones thrown in there she knew what she was doing because these soupy bone broths might just be the best defence against getting sick you can eat!

2. Vitamin D

Known as 'the sunshine vitamin’ this vitamin which is actually a hormone is critical to the health and strength of your immune system. Get outside, get some fresh air, get a little bit of sunlight and your immune system will be fortified. The reason we get sick most in winter is because it is cold so we stay indoors more and you lack the immune fighting vitamin D3 which is produced in your skin from sunlight exposure.

Now with vitamin D supplementation there isn't just one vitamin D. Make sure you choose a supplement with cholecalciferol known as D3. This is far more effective and absorbable for the body.

3. Vitamin C.

Everyone knows Vitamin C as helping boost your immune system but there's a big misconception out there about vitamin C you should know. Research indicates that it actually has very little effectiveness once you're already sick.

So the key here is to be proactive with it. When you know stress is coming it's a good idea to take a little bit more vitamin C. There are also many good foods containing vitamin C such as capsicum, broccoli, strawberries, kiwi and of course your citrus fruits.

4. Optimal sleep.

Sleep deprivation is going to decrease the production of your cytokines, leaving you more likely to get an infection, and also the recovery once you get an infection.

Very importantly, during sleep your glymphatic system, this cleaning system for your brain cells, is about ten times more active than when you're awake. Research indicating that issues linked to things like Alzheimer's are tied to an inability of the brain to detoxify itself. So this cleaning system or protection for the brain is taking place during sleep.

Your immune system itself has this circadian timing. It expects us to sleep longer in winter and research has shown that's one of the most beneficial things we can do for our health. Sun exposure during the day also helps your circadian rhythm which helps you sleep better at night.

5. Exercise.

Our lymphatic system that's carrying a lot of these immune cells around your body relies heavily on the pumping action of movement. So exercise and physical activity really is beneficial for staying healthy.

Some of the most effective exercises for supporting your lymphatic system are walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, yoga. A recent study found that cardio based exercise had an immune fortifying response for weight training & power athletes.

6. Stay hydrated.

Your blood is over 90% water, and it's the system used to transfer oxygen and nutrients throughout your body. Here are just some of the things that water is responsible for in your body.

Maintenance of your DNA, facilitating processes in your mitochondria (the energy power plants in your cells), building blood cells and immune cells, building the lymphatic fluid, making digestive secretions, regulating your body temperature, maintaining cerebral spinal fluid plus water in our bodies is responsible for these information super highways that are moving hormones and neurotransmitters throughout your body helping your cells all communicate with each other.

Water continues to be one of the lifelines for optimal human health. 2-3 litres of water per day is one of the simplest and best ways to stay healthy.

7. Condition yourself to the cold.

Contrary to popular belief getting exposure to the cold can help your immune system to function better. So, mums’ advice to always rug up when it was cold may not have been so helpful in this instance because daily cold stress has been shown to build your resistance to cold and fortify your immune system.

A Harvard medical study concluded that there is no need to worry about moderate cold exposure. ‘It has no detrimental effect on the human immune system.'

A study in the 'North American Journal of Medical Sciences' found that daily brief cold stress can actually increase both the numbers and activity of cytotoxic T cells and natural killer cells. So getting cold exposure helps your T cells and natural killer cells to work better.

Another study published by the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam with 3000 participants found taking a hot shower followed by 90sec in a cold shower every day slashed absences from work due to sickness by almost 30%. Scientists believe moving from hot to cold water boosts the number of disease fighting immune cells such as monocytes.

On a side note, cold exposure like cold showers can also increase things like adiponectin, and this is something that improves your insulin sensitivity and increases fat loss.

8. Chaga & Rishi mushroom

Chaga are medicinal mushrooms which are rare in that they are immunomodulators. So they're able to actually shift your immune system up or down depending on what's actually needed at the time. There are very, very few things in nature, and especially in the pharmaceutical world that can do something like this. Chaga is also one of the highest antioxidant substances on earth.

Rishi mushroom also has many benefits for your health but most notably this medicinal mushroom was found to significantly decrease sleep latency, meaning it helps you fall asleep faster. It was also found to increase overall sleep time, REM sleep and deep sleep for folks who have trouble sleeping and staying asleep.

9. Incorporate more seasonal foods.

Over 70% of our immune cells are found in our gut or microbiome. Stanford University researchers have discovered that gut microbes can actually change dramatically with each season. The researchers concluded that the gut microbes in digestion is cyclical throughout the year, and in sync with the precise biorhythm of nature in a natural human setting.

The problem is all food is readily available year round so we tend not to eat seasonally to help support the natural changes in our microbiome and hence help support our immune system.

Bottom line is change your diet each season to consciously eat foods that naturally grow in those seasons.

10. Laugh, connect & have fun.

When we're stressed, the immune system and its ability to fight off infections is significantly reduced. This is why we're more susceptible to infections when we're under heavy stress, tension or anxiety. A study conducted at Indiana State University School of Nursing found that laughter is able to reduce stress and improve natural killer cell activity.

Study after study shows that one of the greatest things we can do for our physical, mental and emotional health is connect with people, socialize and just be happy.

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