Top 8 Ways to Boost Your Immune System
By: Dr. Lauren A. Millman
“Surely, if it is important to find remedies which help against one disease or another, it would be even more important to learn something about the mechanism of being sick and the means of treating this “general syndrome of sickness,” which is apparently superimposed upon all individual diseases!” – Hans Selye
Here’s my Top 8 List of ways to keep you and your family’s immune system’s up to par:
Let’s keep this simple: the easiest way to address immune health is to increase the good and reduce/eliminate the bad. In other words, we need to increase more of what allows your body to heal and reduce the stressors, or what adds additional strain to your body.
Think of your immune system like a bank account. The good, healthy actions are like deposits into your bank account and unhealthy actions are withdrawals. The “withdrawals” deplete your immune system and put a strain on your body. The more under strain your immune system, the greater the chance of you getting sick. Your goal is to maintain that “positive balance” in your health bank account, in fact, we want to have significantly more than we need. We want reserves!
What actions act like immune system “withdrawals”?
- Poor nutrition
- Lack of physical activity
- Lack of rest and recovery
- Negative mindset
- Poor nervous system function
If the above list are the “withdrawals” to your health bank account, then what do you suppose are the “deposits”?
Keep your immune system strong and resilient by creating balance with the following:
Proper Nervous System Function
The nervous system and the immune system have such a multitude of connections that they could correctly be referred to as a single system. Therefore, any time you correct the spine and
nervous system, you will directly affect the immune system competency as well.
Disturbances in the nervous system (i.e. misalignment in the spine) have been shown to alter the immune response and the function of immune cells, specifically lymphocytes. We also understand that misalignments in the spine, resulting in altered biomechanics of the body (i.e. inability to move properly), alter proper feedback to and from the brain, which depletes the immune response.
Conversely, it has been shown that those who receive regular chiropractic care have a much higher immune competency than those who do not. In other words, those who receive regular chiropractic care get sick less frequent than those who are not under chiropractic care, their time spent sick is also significantly shortened. A strong, resilient nervous system leads to a healthy, strong body. Every time you get your spine corrected is a large deposit into your health bank account.
Stress plays a major role in many illnesses and can cause alterations in the immune response. One of the reasons that stress has such a harmful effect on health is that certain types of immune cells responsible for attacking microbes (bacteria, viruses, fungi, etc.) are sensitive to certain brain chemicals such as stress hormones (cortisol, adrenaline, etc.), and will become inactive when under chronic exposure to these chemicals. When stress hormones are released, they can slow the immune response, which would explain why the immune system suffers in people under chronic stress. Chronic emotional stress results in the nervous system perceives itself as being in a threat and ultimately that significantly diminishes the function of the immune system.
Any healthy routine incorporates stress reduction and a calm headspace. A conscious awareness of your stress level breeds further success with other healthy actions.
Create a Non-Toxic Environment
A foundational premise for maintaining your health is to eliminate toxins whenever possible. We are bombarded with chemicals and toxicity in the products we use each and every day.
Toxicity accumulates in your body and if your body cannot detoxify chemicals and toxins faster than you consume them, this is a recipe for overwhelm and disaster. The immune system often times takes the brunt of this toxic overload. You may think it’s not a big deal to use a commercial shampoo and conditioner, I mean after all, what harm will that do? Multiply that times the dozens of products you use on a daily basis times how long you use them.
The challenge we face when it comes to exposure to toxic chemicals is that 1) it’s all around us, and we are truly inundated with them, and 2) it can be overwhelming when deciding how and what to change. There is plenty of things that you can change right now. You can make better decisions in your cleaning products, makeup, beauty products, and household cleaning products. One of the best things you can do for your health is to make better choices when at all possible (which is easier than you think).
This is why we encourage and promote toxic-free living. The small changes you can make will make a massive impact in your health. Symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, skin rashes, headaches, and more may “mysteriously” disappear once you stop using toxic cleaning chemicals.
Considering many of the hazardous chemicals in conventional products are often carcinogens, neurotoxins, mutagens, teratogens, or endocrine disrupters, it is definitely worth ditching them in favor of natural green cleaning products. When you can use a natural, plant-based product in replace of a chemical pharmaceutical, you refrain from adding further stress to the body.
Simply put, you cannot live a healthy lifestyle without addressing the chemicals around you.
Remember: there’s only so many withdrawals you can make from your health bank account.
We all understand the importance of eating a well-balanced diet, however many of us don’t make this a priority until such time we are on a weight loss routine. I would encourage you view your nutritional choices as what you need to fuel for body, not just what you need to accomplish a weight goal.
Since many of our nutritional options don’t fully provide us all the nutrients we need for a well-balanced diet, it’s important to supplement with quality vitamins and minerals. After all, that’s the whole purpose of supplements. If we cannot obtain what we need from our food, we must get it from other sources. Poor nutrition leads to an acidic environment in your body, which all disease thrives in. In addition, the more nutritionally depleted you are, the more taxed your immune system is.
Hydration is crucial to maintain blood volume and adequate lymphatic drainage, which is critical when the immune system is working overtime. Drinking clean, quality water and maintaining your hydration is one of the simplest (and often most overlooked) things we can do to boost immune response.
Adequate, Consistent Physical Activity
Proper physical activity has a landslide positive effect with many systems in the body, and in particular, the immune system. Physical activity, whether mild to moderate intensity, is one of the most all-encompassing ways to reduce stress hormones, increase blood circulation, increase oxygen, increase lymphatic circulation, promote restful sleep, and encourage a healthy and positive mindset. Any one of these benefits leads to other benefits, creating a positive momentum shift in your health.
Adequate Rest and Recovery
It is imperative your body receives an adequate amount of quality rest each night. Your body is designed to recharge and heal itself when you sleep. In fact, that’s when your immune system is working its hardest. If you’re unable to receive restful, quality sleep, this often means your nervous system is in a state of overwhelm and hyperdrive, which depletes the immune system.
Similar to how the body reacts to emotional stress, the brain, and ultimately mood, appears to have a direct effect on the production of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol, which have significant depleting effects on the nervous and immune systems.