Since the spread of coronavirus, we’ve been hearing a lot about the immune system and the role it plays in fighting off infections. Many people have become interested in finding ways to boost their immunity. In this article we’re going to investigate immunity, what it is and how it works, and look at evidence-based ways to boost and fortify your immune system, so as to protect you against infections, now and in the future.
What is the Immune System?
Your immune system is your body’s inherent protective mechanism against outside invaders. It’s what creates, stores and distributes your army of white blood cells to fight against any viruses, bacteria and toxins that enter your body. Although it sounds simple, it’s actually a very complex system composed of cells, proteins and organs that all work together in synergy. Given it’s protective army inside our body, it’s very important we take care of it.
Can You Boost Your Immune System?
There’s still a lot we don’t know about how the immune system works because it’s complexity makes it very difficult to study. Although there is evidence to suggest it’s possible to boost immune system function, at this point in time, scientists are still not able to point conclusively to many things that help. In this blog we’re going to dive deep into what really does and doesn’t matter when it comes to boosting the immune system.
Healthy Living is the First Place to Start.
The best place to start with boosting your immunity very simply to follow guidelines for living a healthy life. Our immune system functions well when the rest of the body it is intricately linked inside is also functioning optimally. Makes sense, right? This is where the basics of healthy living come in, including:
- Eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables.
- Exercising regularly.
- Drinking alcohol only in moderation.
- Quitting smoking cigarettes.
- Getting adequate sleep.
- Minimizing stress.
If you want more information on how to implement a healthier lifestyle, check our blog post on health hacks.
The Role of a Positive Outlook
One thing many people don’t know is that, when it comes to immune system function, our mental outlook has an impact. A study of law students found a positive relationship between optimistic expectations and immunity, noting that changes in optimism correlated directly with changes in immunity.
Scientists are still not sure exactly how it works, but it seems that keeping a positive outlook is good for our immunity. So put your mind to work and maintain an optimistic outlook—it’s not only going to make you happier, it will also boost your immunity.
What About Products?
There are some products, like probiotics, that can help boost immune system function directly, though there’s not a lot of conclusive evidence on this just yet. There are however, a lot of products that can help boost immune system function indirectly as a result of helping mitigate some of the other things we know impact immunity like stress and sleep. Here’s a list of the top products we suggest:
Probiotics: Probiotics are the good yeasts and bacteria that live inside your body. They are understood to positively impact immunity. In one study, ”probiotics showed therapeutic potential for diseases, including several immune response-related diseases, such as allergy, eczema, viral infection, and potentiating vaccination responses.” The best probiotic supplements are those with lactobacillus and bifidobacterium.
Herbal supplements: There is inconclusive and sometimes conflicting data to suggest that compounds in herbs like garlic, green tea, ginseng and licorice can supplement immunity. For example, garlic has both pro- or anti-inflammatory responses depending on the particular experimental set-ups and the garlic preparation used. Therefore we encourage you to talk to your doctor and check the research on each of them out on PubMED before taking them.
Multivitamins: We know that vitamins A, C, D, E, zinc, selenium, and magnesium are critical for your immune system to function properly. If you aren’t getting enough of these in your diet, then it might be worth supplementing with multivitamins to ensure you’re getting your daily minimum requirement. There is some evidence that various micronutrient deficiencies — for example, deficiencies of zinc, selenium, iron, copper, folic acid, and vitamins A, B6, C, and E — alter immune responses in animals, as measured in the test tube.
CBD: CBD works on the body through the Endocannabinoid system. The complexity of this system makes it hard to study, but so far it has been linked to the regulation of eating, pain management, stress and sleep and we know there is probably a lot more. Although we can’t make claims, there is evidence to suggest that CBD can help with sleep and stress management—two things we know impact the immune system directly.
If you’re looking to boost your immune system to help fight off viruses this cold and flu season, one of the best things you can do is live a healthy lifestyle—eat lots of fruit and vegetables, get enough sleep, exercise regularly, drink in moderation, and don’t smoke cigarettes. There are products and supplements that can help you do that, including probiotics, multivitamins, CBD and some herbal products.
The statements made regarding these products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The efficacy of these products has not been confirmed by FDA-approved research. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All information presented here is not meant as a substitute for or alternative to information from healthcare practitioners. Please consult your healthcare professional about potential interactions or other possible complications before using any product.