Last updated on February 17th, 2021
As the risk of getting the infection in this pandemic situation intensifies, you might be trying to boost the immune system to stay healthy. And might be swallowing supplements pills to protect yourself from getting sick?
But it’d be wise to keep your immune health strong. Because it can increase your body’s ability to fight infection, sickness disease or unwanted allergies.
Here are 15 expert-backed tips that can help you boost/strengthen the immune system naturally without leaving home. These 15 tips to boost your immunity power are based on two important factors: food and lifestyle changes.
Boost your immune system with food
This is the most mundane but the proven way to boost your immune system. Medical experts say you should not rush to purchase vitamins and supplements that guarantee to strengthen up the immune system. Instead, stick to the easiest way; try to eat the immunity boosting foods as much as possible. Plus reduce the intake of those foods that weaken the immune system. Source: www.wsj.com.
1. Food which boosts immunity
To increase your immunity power, take a balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, zinc, vitamin D and probiotic foods. Yoghurt is the best immunity boosting food filled with probiotics that increase immunity against cold, cough and viruses (1). If you wish to strengthen the immune system fast, the best food for increasing immunity power is yoghurt.
Children with their developing immunity system are more prone to catching virus and infection. These foods listed below (vitamin C, turmeric, nuts, yoghurt) will also help your kids boost their immunity power. Source: food.ndtv.com.
Here is the list of the best immune-boosting foods that help to bring your immune system up.
I) Colourful fruits & vegetables
Almost all types of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients including vitamin B, zinc, copper and iron are found in colourful fruits and vegetables. They not only help develop your interest in adding more variety to your food but also come packed with antioxidants (2).
The antioxidants are a certain type of nutrients that flush out the harmful free radicals, molecules and all other toxins from the body. If these harmful toxins remain there for a longer time, can harm your body cells and thus end up weakening your immune system (3).
Therefore, try to eat a rainbow! To get a wide range, go for oranges, broccoli, green peppers, spinach, strawberries, carrots, grapes, watermelon, papaya, apple, leafy greens, kiwi, and cantaloupe.
ii) Vitamin C foods to boost your immune system
In various studies, Vitamin C has been shown to support the immune system in different ways. Most importantly, it helps to stimulate production and function of different types of white blood cells in the body. As white blood cells are of different types and all of them function differently to fight harmful viruses and bacteria. So, vitamin C helps the body decide what kind of protection it needs and how it should differentiate the white blood cells (4) (5).
Apart from it, Vitamin C also helps to spike the blood levels of antibodies (certain types of proteins) (6). In short, Vitamin C is an essential nutrient for a healthy immune system.
You can take Vitamin C from the foods such as citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruit), kiwi, papaya, strawberries, Brussels sprouts, spinach, red and green peppers, cooked cabbage and cauliflower.
iii) Foods enriched with beta carotene
Beta carotene is a chemical compound found in plants and vegetables. It in itself is not an essential nutrient, but vitamin A is. Beta carotene when enters into the human body is converted into Vitamin A which is essential for a strong immune system (7) (8).
Good food sources of beta carotene include onion, sweet potatoes, peppers, carrots, pumpkin, mangoes, apricots, peas, spinach, grapefruit, kale, broccoli, squash, plums and cantaloupe.
iv) Protein to boost your immune system
Protein is also an essential nutrient for strengthening and supporting our immune system through various mechanisms (9).
The good news is it’s available in both animal and plant-based sources. If you are a vegetarian, take it from milk, nuts, seeds, lentils, beans, cheese and yoghurt. Non-vegetarians can go for fish, poultry, and eggs.
Protein-rich breakfast is also good for your health. Protein-rich snacks such as roasted chickpeas to your diet regime increase both energy and immunity.
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V) Vitamin D
When your body lacks in vitamin D, this deficiency can weaken the immune system which further can increase the risk of developing viral infections and respiratory tract infections (10).
Also research paper suggests that vitamin D supplements may cut the risk of against acute respiratory tract infections and fight against them.
When you are stuck at home, you can take Vitamin D from food. There are good food sources of vitamin D. They include fatty fish like salmon and sardines; eggs. These are for non-vegetarians. During the time, when you want to remain vegetarian, the safe options are fortified milk and plant milk products; cheese, fortified juice, tofu and mushrooms.
vii) Green tea to boost your immune system
viii) Garlic, ginger & turmeric
Various civilizations around the world including Ayurveda and modern research papers recognized the value of garlic in fighting infections. Garlic has sulfur-rich compounds like allicin which have immune-boosting properties (12).
Ginger is beneficial for fighting different kinds of flu and infections. It helps fight bacteria and strengthen the immune system.
Turmeric has been used to treat cuts, wounds and infections since the ages in Ayurveda. Modern science also says it has remedial properties to fight infections and flu and boost the immunity power.
Cinnamon also has impressive benefits on your immune system.
Seeds like sunflower seeds are enriched in various nutrients such as phosphorous, magnesium, and vitamins. They’re very high in vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that functions to boost immunity (13).
They are full of vitamin E and healthy fats responsible for strengthening the immune system. Coming in various forms, almonds also help to protect the body from cold and touches of flu (14).
2. Fasting and eating less can boost the immune system
Fasting makes your body regenerates new white blood cells and thus boosts your immune system. White blood cells are a key component of the immune system. Their increased number gives your body more energy to fight toxins and bacteria inside and outside.
But you don’t need to do it to the extreme level. Give your gut a break and eat less by taking longer gaps (15).
3. Hydration: consume water & water-rich foods more
Staying hydrated is important to keep your immune system function properly regularly, especially when it’s cold and flu season. Keep your immunity up by avoiding physical stress caused by mild hydration which can get you prone to the infection.
Therefore, drink plenty of water, consume water-rich foods, and soups. It helps your body naturally fish out toxins and bacteria (16). Water-rich foods include watery fruits, soup, vegetables, salad and juice.
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4. Limit foods that can weaken the immune system
Consuming certain foods and beverages like soda, sugar, processed foods, refined carbs, and tobacco products in excess can hurt your immune system and make you get infections more likely (17).
Avoiding these foods is the best thing you can do now to protect yourself from all types of flues. It may not directly help you but indirectly it would play a major role in increasing your resistance to bacteria, viruses, and parasites.
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5. Cut back on alcohol
Too much alcohol is not good for your immune system. In recent WHO guidelines, it can weaken your defences and cause you to get an infection.
6. Give up on your smoking habits
According to recent guidelines provided by WHO, smoking can increase your chances of getting COVID-19. Therefore, do your immune system a favour and give up smoking.
If you are failing to do so and your stress is making you smoke over and again, give a couple of tries before you quit for good. At least limit its intake. This is the least favourite thing you’d do for yourself.
Boost your immune system with lifestyle changes
Here are 9 things you can do to increase your immunity power by changing your lifestyle. These lifestyle changes are only to lower your stress levels and calm your mind. Reducing the stress levels can help you boost your immunity (19).
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7. Get the sun to boost your immune system
This is the easiest and the most natural way to boost your immunity. Sunlight energizes the T-cells that play a central role in strengthening immunity (20).
8. Wash your hands
Now, it is the most necessary thing to do during corona outbreak. Many guidelines from WHO and government are already out there regarding this. But during ordinary days also, most germs and bacteria transmit to your body through your hands.
Get rid of those germs and send them down the waste pipe before your body ever has to fight them off. Clean your hands by using soap and clean, running water. Keep washing for at least 20 seconds. You can use sanitizer also.
9. Sleep to boost your immune system
No matter what you do to increase your immunity, without quality sleep, it’s not going to sustain. You will lose the strength to fight off illness. As an adult, You need about 7 to 9 hours of sleep daily (21).
There is something, you can do to optimize your sleep like not drinking coffee during late hours, keeping distance with your phone and optimize your bedroom.
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10. Exercise, Yoga & meditation
Many people complain that they can not meditate. They get bored doing meditation and don’t take time out of their schedule to do meditation. It’s the best time to give meditation a try. Start slowly.
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11. Laughter & immunity
If you are in no mood to do anything or just being lazy, try Laughter! When nothing works, a comedy movie saves us. Not only will it lift your mood, but it will also increase the productivity of those white blood cells that fight infection.
Researchers say that even planning or imagining a funny event can lower your stress hormones (22).
12. Creativity & your immune system
Try doing a DIY and other creative stuff which you always wanted to do. Even if you have never tried a particular thing, now is the time to try your hands. It can be cooking, handicrafts, painting, or home decor. There are several YouTube channels which can help you with this.
The main purpose is to lower your stress levels down and thus strengthen your immune system.
13. Connect with your old friends
In our busy hectic life, we unintentionally make distance with our friends. As time flies, our hectic schedules make us leave our old and good friends. At the times, when you are stuck at home, it’s a great chance to connect with them and build your social network even during social distancing.
Science also says that strong social ties can also have a big impact on your emotional and physical health. People with healthy relationships are likely to live and enjoy more than those with poor social ties (23).
To broaden your circle, you can volunteer, call old friends and teachers, relatives or you can do chatting with your neighbours sitting at your window. This way, you can nurture the bonds you already have.
14. Learn something new
When you are stuck at home during the lockdown, be productive and keep busy instead of complaining. You can join an online business course.
It doesn’t just make you more productive, it boosts your immunity, too. One study found there is a connection between a healthy immune system and how often you feel peaceful throughout the day (24).
When you engage yourself in learning a new skill, you become excited. It makes you more satisfied and staves off stress. People with calm mind have higher levels of a cold-fighting substance in their bodies
However, some stress can be good. It prepares your mind and body to get ready for a challenge. But if it lasts too long, it becomes chronic, and that’s bad news.
15. Look for a silver lining
When you think positive, your body’s defence mechanisms work better. Try to reduce your stress. Practice gratitude, yoga, meditation and exercise. Try stress buster activities. Look for a silver lining, even in challenging times.
Releasing painful emotions also releases toxins from our bodies and helps to strengthen your immune systems.
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Talking about boosting immunity with food, variety is the key to getting proper nutrition. You need to focus on the recommended daily intake and not eating just one of these above-listed foods because it won’t be sufficient to fight off the virus. You have to take a balanced diet so that you don’t consume too much of a single type of nutrient and too little of others.
And now coming to other things you can do to protect yourself from the virus, flu, cold, cough and other illnesses. Start with these flu prevention lifestyle changes mentioned in the article. Decide which one is right for you. Most importantly, seek medical help if you see any sickness and symptom of flu.
Please take extra care of your health, maintain hygiene, and inhale only healthy air free from impurities. Consider having a good air purifier at home:
DISCLAIMER: All suggested tips and suggestions are based on expert advice, research and my personal experience. The content in this article is meant for spreading awareness and not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment. It’s always better to seek the advice of your physician, fitness trainer or another qualified health care provider with any question you may have regarding health.
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