Given the current Covid-19 pandemic that we as a planet are facing, the importance of taking steps to increase your body’s natural immunity is more important that ever. The great news is, there are simple, easy-to-implement steps that you can incorporate into your daily activities that can help your body have its best chance at warding off bacteria, virus, and other disease-causing agents. Below, I have complied a list of what I personally think are the top 10 ways to naturally improve immune function. This is not an all-inclusive list, as there are certainly other healthy ways and steps to improve immunity in addition to these ten steps I have listed. As always, before changing your diet or exercise routines, check with your trusted healthcare provider to make certain it is beneficial for you.
That being said, let’s get to the good stuff! The steps below are in no particular order, but here are my top 10 favorites:
(1) Eat an Abundance of Fruits and Vegetables: When it comes to fruits and veggies, think COLOR! The colorful varieties are high in antioxidants, which help to repair the damage caused by free radicals we both ingest and encounter from our environment. Free radicals basically cause oxidation (think rust) inside of the body, which can damage or kill otherwise healthy cells in our bodies. The less healthy cells we have, the more opportunity there is for unhealthy and diseased cells to exist inside of us.
(2) Take an Elderberry Supplement: Elderberries have an insanely high antioxidant count, and have actual clinical trial findings to support their effectiveness in battling viral infection symptoms. A clinical trial conducted by Thom, Wadestein, Wollan, & Zakay-Rones in 2004 found that a control group of adults infected with the influenza virus that were given 15ml of elderberry syrup 4 times per day for 15 days, had their influenza symptoms relieved on average of 4 days earlier compared to the group given 15ml of placebo. While more research is needed to further evaluate elderberry’s positive effect on treating symptoms of the flu virus, these findings are extremely encouraging and worth consideration.
(3) Eat Garlic: Garlic has been used for medicinal reasons for centuries and for good reason! It is great for cardiovascular health, but also has a powerful positive effect on our digestive system. By helping to improve digestion, it helps support the healthy gut flora needed for proper immune function. Garlic also provides a nice natural supple of Vitamins C and B6, and the mineral manganese, copper, and calcium. Garlic has strong antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties.
(4) Get Enough Vitamin D: While sunlight does stimulate the production of Vitamin D in the body, for most of us it is difficult to get enough sunlight in order to have ample amounts of vitamin D needed for proper health. Therefore, looking into a quality vitamin D supplement can help ensure you have the amounts needed from optimal health. Vitamin D has natural antibacterial and disease-fighting properties. Because it is a fat-soluble vitamin, it’s important to ask your healthcare provider prior to supplementing this vitamin.
(5) Get Plenty of Sleep: In today’s hustle and bustle societies, getting 7-9 hours of sleep each night as an adult can be challenging. The thing is, with less that 7 hours of sleep per night, there is a marked decrease in the body’s immune system function. It could mean getting creative, but if you struggle to get this amount of sleep on a daily basis, find potential activities that you can omit from your life in order to carve out more time for sleep. And yes, naps do count toward this daily total!
(6) Decrease Your Levels of Stress: Stress increases the production and release of a hormone called Cortisol which has a negative effect on the body. Cortisol increases the level of systemic inflammation in the body and can also stimulate unwanted weight gain. Not maintaining a healthy body weight can lead to a whole separate list of health conditions, but in terms of immunity, Cortisol kills. Meditate, exercise, engage in healthy activities with others, and search for other ways to naturally reduce stress and your body will thank you!
(7) Consume Probiotics: Probiotics are healthy bacteria that can replenish the healthy flora found in the digestive tract. Not only do these healthy bacteria aid in digestion, but they also improve immune system function. You can easily find probiotic supplements at health food stores and pharmacies, but foods such as Greek yogurt, Kombucha tea, and other fermented foods often times contain large amounts of probiotics.
(8) Get Regular Chiropractic Adjustments: While Chiropractic adjustments can make no claim of curing any disease, what we do know is adjustments cause a spike in immune system competence. Up to a 200% increase in fact, as found in a study conducted by Dr. Ronald Pero, Ph.D., chief of cancer prevention research at New York’s Preventive Medicine Institute and professor of medicine at New York University. Again, while Chiropractic care can make no claim of curing any infection or disease, it can have a drastic impact on your body’s natural ability to fight off infection and to heal from the inside out. Get you, your kids, and loved ones regularly checked and adjusted by a licensed Doctor of Chiropractic.
(9) Get Enough Exercise: Getting an ample amount of exercise on a daily basis is one of the most important, yet under-utilized means of improving the immune system. The thing is, you can keep it simple when it comes to exercise and still reap the benefits. Simply walking at a brisk pace 20-30 minutes 4 to 5 days a week can provide drastic improvements to overall health. If walking is not an option, look into low impact ways to get the body moving.
(10) Take Vitamin C: We have heard if for years, Vitamin C helps to build the immune system. So why aren’t more people using vitamin C supplements to improve immunity? That’s the Million Dollar question! Vitamin C is essential for growth and repair of healthy tissue throughout the body and is a powerful antioxidant. 500mg a day has been shown to help boost the immune system.
So, there you have it, my top 10 list of natural immune system boosters! Hope this helps open the door for more investigation, conversations, and action steps towards improving your overall health. Have a discussion with your healthcare provider to see which steps are safe for you!
In Wellness and Love,
Dr. Christopher Weaver DC, PAK is a Doctor of Chiropractic and Professional Applied Kinesiologist. He's published two books on health and Wellness.