If you’re like most people, once the chunky sweaters are out and all the pumpkin spice tinged excitement of fall wears off, thoughts of how to boost immune system set in. It seems like suddenly the sound of sniffles start to erupt all around us – which serve as a reminder of last year’s brutal colds.
It all makes sense, really: as the days get colder and darker, we get less sunlight. We just MAY partake in a few sugary treats here and there, along with some processed comfort foods. We’re typically less active. And all of this leaves us primed to catch the bugs that are going around.
This is usually when everyone starts reaching for their favorite health elixir: vitamin c, oil of oregano, crystals – whatever it takes to avoid getting sick. But more important than any of these things is actually having a healthy immune system. One that’s capable of fighting off the bugs.
So how to boost your immune system? It all sounds relatively easy, like a little switch somewhere that we just need to locate and turn on, though it’s a tad more complicated than that.
Show Your Immune System Some Love
Boosting your immunity isn’t linked to one single process. You can think of it as more of a combined effect of a number of moving parts. And what impacts our immunity more than any other factor is our lifestyle. The good news is that means that there are things you can do right now to help your hard-working bod navigate the ups and downs of the season – (because obviously you’re going to need all of that extra energy to live your best holiday life ever).
Where to start? This may be surprising to some, but our body’s most effective immune response actually begins in the gut.
Go with Your Gut
Gut health is a big buzzword these days. The gut has been called the second brain, and for good reason. Anyone who struggles with digestive issues knows just how important gut health is to our overall wellbeing, not to mention how quickly fatigue and brain fog can set in when our gut is struggling.
And exciting evidence is being uncovered all the time that links our gut health to our immune system.
It works like this: a healthy gut has a healthy lining. This lining acts as a first barrier of defense to potential threats – like germs, viruses and bacteria.
With issues like leaky gut, the lining of the gut is actually damaged, meaning that the barrier no longer works, and items starts to ‘leak’ through the barrier – straight into our system. Hence the term ‘leaky gut’. What are the items exactly? Undigested food particles, bacteria AND viruses.
When this happens, our immune system responds to the intruders by creating state of inflammation (which is its clever way of making it hard for these things to survive in our system).
So what’s the problem then? A constant state of inflammation taxes our system, and diverts precious resources AWAY from defending our system from other infection and viruses we may come into contact with. Not to mention the fact that chronic inflammation has been identified as the culprit in a number of diseases.
The reality is, taking care of our gut health goes a long way to boosting our overall immunity.
How to boost immune system right now
When you consider a healthy immune system as less as a linear scale and more of a constellation of moving parts, you’ll quickly see that the best way to ensure your immune system is working at optimal levels is to make healthy lifestyle choices. Across the board.
Here are some key things you can do to support your immune system.
1. Make Sleep a Priority
Do you think of sleep as a luxury reserved for when you have your entire to do list all checked off? Then it’s time to adjust your thinking. Getting a solid sleep every night is one of the best ways to help bolster our body against the onslaught of cold and flu season.
When we sleep, a major restoration project is underway. Our body uses this downtime to give our system a rest, and detoxify, restore and rejuvenate by morning. So don’t adhere to the ‘sleep in for the weak’ mentality, as lack of sleep is one of the fastest ways to deplete our precious bod – and a depleted system is more apt to catch the latest bug floating around.
2. Minimize Stress
Besides being difficult to deal with in the moment, studies have shown that stress can have a detrimental effect on our immune system. When our body gets stressed, the internal processes that take place can suppress our entire system in order to deal with the situation at hand. Among them? A release of cortisol (aka the stress hormone). Cortisol serves a purpose, but long-term stress can also can have a serious downer effect in terms of our immune system.
3. Eat a Rainbow of Fruits and Vegetables
Our bodies work their magic for us on the daily, but they require a wide array of nutrients and vitamins to sustain it. Modern diets that are high in processed foods (and stress) can lead to a nutrient deficiency. Deficiencies aren’t always easy to identify, as they can mask themselves as simple fatigue, low mood and even being easily overwhelmed.
The remedy? Eat foods to boost immune system. Nourish yourself with a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables every day. Instead of trying to meet a strict type or amount, get creative and have fun with it. Smoothies are a great way to pack in all the nutrient. Averse to green things? Try our seriously green collagen smoothie – bet you can’t taste the greens!
4. Exercise on the Regular
Movement is key to our overall health. It boosts our mood and keeps us nimble. And even 30 minutes of fast paced walking every day can help to keep us at a healthy weight. It’s also been shown that regular exercise can reduce the time spent suffering with upper respiratory infections. If you’re the type to think that you have to be going all out with a trainer and multiple gym trips per week, realize that any effort your making should be rewarded as a positive. And don’t wait until ‘you have the time’ – the time is now and regular exercise helps to keep our immune system in tip top shape.
5. Ditch the Baddies
Smoke? Drink a bit more than you should? Sugar binge to keep your energy levels up? All of these things have a negative impact on our immune system. Try cutting down, and eventually cut out things that we know are not contributing to our overall health. Smoking, drinking to excess and eating a lot of sugar all immediately suppresses our immune system, leaving us open to catching a bug.
6. Wash Your Hands
While it may not actually boost your immune system, routine, proper handwashing goes a long way to reducing your exposure to germs and viruses. A great way to remember is to include it as part of your routine: every time you come home, make it a habit to head straight to the sink and suds up. Regular handwashing has been shown to reduce respiratory illness by 21%.
7. Make Gut Health a Priority
Besides taking care of the all-important work of digestion, studies are showing that our gut is responsible for a great deal more. Everything, from the amount of stress we experience, to the amount of sleep we get to the foods we eat affect our gut health, and therefore, our immune system.
So while it may not be 100% possible to avoid every little bug that’s floating around this season, we can learn how to boost immune system during a ‘high traffic’ season. And at the very least, you can remove some of the things that divert its precious energy.
Which means it may be less about avoiding all the bugs than building a ‘high achiever’ immune system, one that’s capable of fighting off anything that you might encounter. There are certain supplements, like collagen, that have also been shown to support gut health. Want to learn more? Check out Sproos Up Your Gut, which is a purposeful blend of 6 active ingredients (grass-fed bovine collagen, organic inulin, L-glutamine, organic ginger, quercetin and organic aloe vera gel) designed to work from within to help defend, soothe and heal the gut.
Your immune system will thank you!