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10 Healthy Habits to Boost Your Immune System Naturally Even at Home

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Time of Changes

This is a tough beginning of 2020 – the year to be remembered as very difficult times. We would never have chosen this to happen, still, we can take advantage of it. CoVID-19 outbreak might be that nudge to give the required motivation to finally add some healthy habits to your life routine.

It is no secret that as of yet there is no approved cure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. While we cannot cure this disease, yet, we can boost our natural defense against it. These 10 practices will help to improve your immune system and could be easily done at home. Have in mind if you don’t want to help yourself, nothing will help.

This article was written in the shadow of CoVID-19 outbreak but taking care of your immunity system is useful, nevertheless. Believe it or not, there are way more dangerous diseases lurking out there than the CoVID-19.

Contents

Happy beluga in L’Oceanogràfic, Valencia. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

1. Avoid Stress

I know it might sound ridiculous given the current situation. Have in mind that as a sole individual there is little you can do to change things on a global scale but at least you can stress less about it. Many forms of stress are linked with weakened immunity system.¹

During these chaotic times, every stable and calm person is a huge victory. A smile will help you and your family way more than an extra pack of toilet paper. Focus on what you have, not on something you cannot have right now.

I was born for this. Schönbrunn Zoo. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

So this a good time to stop throwing toys out of the pram – grow up and stop participating in coronavirus panic outbreak. Don‘t be a part of the chaos, be the adult in the room.

 

2. Exercise Regularly

The usual suspect. Everybody heard about the countless benefits of exercising. While it is suggested to exercise regularly, it is even more important now. Numerous studies have linked regular exercising with a boost of the immune system, vaccine enchantment, increased resistance to infection, longer age of leukocytes and anti-Inflammatory effects. In return – an improved immune system slows the aging process. ² ³ ⁴

What? I used my legs to get here. Penon d’ifach, Spain. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

Numerous people think that to achieve various benefits of exercising you need to do hard and extensive workouts. It is important to destroy this myth. For many benefits, 10-20 minutes of exercise might be just enough. ⁴ ⁵ ⁶

Exercise also reduces stress.

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3. Practice Meditation

“What’s amazing that we don’t mind spending 15 years learning how to read, and write, and play chess, and music, and all that. And how come we expect our mind to be optimal just because we want it to be so.”

– former Ph.D. molecular genetics, Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard

To some meditation might seem to come from the same bookshelf as elements of alchemy or astrology. The scientific studies show otherwise. Mind and body therapies show some evidence of reducing inflammation and improvement to virus-based vaccinations.⁸ ⁹ Another study shows that meditation might be a helpful factor in immune system dynamics.

Careful, I’m very mindful of your presence. Aquarium of Genoa. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

Also, there are studies showing that some meditation techniques such as mindfulness could help to reduce stress.¹⁰

 

4. Try Wim Hof Method

For the adventurous ones, I recommend checking out Wim Hof Method. It is based on intensive breathing meditation techniques and supposedly among many other benefits – improve immune system.¹¹

Before you start to woo-woo this article, please check all the scientific observations on Wim Hof and many of his students. As crazy as it sounds, the research shows that it is possible to improve your autoimmunity system at will.¹²

Cold? Not me. Aquarium of Genoa. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

It is natural to approach this subject with skepticism – and it is applauded – though this one might be worth your attention. You might wonder – if it is science-approved, why you never heard about this before? Well, probably because the cute cat videos were more important?

5. Restrict your Calorie Intake

The most popular term falling into this category is “intermediate fasting” but currently it is hard to tell what is what. Most people use intermediate fasting to refer to time-restricted feeding. The most respected world expert on calorie restriction, Dr. Valter Longo, offers more precise descriptions:

– Mom, what’s for dinner today? – As always, darling! nothing. Wadi Rum desert, Jordan. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

The Benefits

I’m talking about the benefits of any form of calory restriction including the most popular of them – time-restricted feeding. In fact, it doesn’t matter which technique you chose. The whole point of it – to give your body a break from digesting the food and let it do something else.

Many think that the main point of fasting is weight-loss although it is incorrect. What we actually want to do is to let body focus on renewing old cells, including immunity cells.¹³ ¹⁴ The body can’t do all the things at the same time, if you keep eating, it will keep digesting. It is like asking doctors to paint the hospital white and at the same time expect them to cure the coronavirus disease.

Important: This won’t help if you are already sick. It only works as prevention – if you caught a disease, eat healthy and whenever you want!

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6. Consume Vitamin C

Everybody knows that Vitamin C boosts the immune system. It is linked with factors that could contribute to overall health:

Vitamin C could work best in combination with fasting or fast-mimicking diets.

This doesn‘t mean that you have to buy the supplements – eating some vegetables and fruits like citrus, cole crops or various berries will provide your body enough of vitamin C. If you are not sure if you are getting enough of it, you can add the supplements to your diet but be careful. As soon as you get rashes, you should reduce the intake of Vitamin C. Overdosing might lead to nausea or diarrhea.

If you feel like you can’t maintain healthy levels of Vitamin C without supplements I recommend, at least, consuming high-quality stuff. Many of the supplements doesn’t do what it says so it is very important to know what you consume. I haven’t tried them all but from my experience Viva Naturalis produces top-notch NON GMO and veggie-friendly Vitamin C supplements. Only for $29.95 you get 250 servings, which could last up to 8 months! You can get it here: Viva Naturalis Vitaminc C Supplements on Amazon

The most important thing to take is that Vitamin C alone will not protect you from diseases! A healthy diet is a better way to improve your immunity.

7. Pick a Healthy Diet

This one must be an obvious one. Any food is required to function but to function well – we must eat well. Following a diet might be the easiest way to do so. The main problem is the number of diets out there – each claiming to be the best one. So how do you choose?

I got to stack that fish oil so I have enough. Lunga Island. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

The answer is – any diet would do. By any, of course, I don’t mean literally ANY but any of the popular ones including Mediterranean, vegetarian, ketogenic, paleo, and even vegan. The key here, that these diets help your body to function better than an average “I-eat-whatever”. That is why anyone who switched to any diet instantly thinks that this is the way to go.

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Processed Foods

My personal diet is pretty simple, I try to avoid food products and eat actual food. Food processing reduces the number of nutrients in your food. I won’t even mention the various things, which are added on the top of it to make it tastier or to last longer.¹⁶

Just don’t be mistaken, I do not want to make a villain out of the processed foods. It is way more accessible to a wide population than the fresh foods, thus saved many of us from starvation. What I’m saying is if you have a choice – pick fresh food and you won’t as likely need to use supplements.

Sometimes it is best to eat what you are supposed to eat. Schönbrunn Zoo. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

But enough of beating around the bush. To sum up – the quality of food correlates with the quality of your life. That includes your immune system.

8. Maintain Healthy Gut Microbiome

Believe it or not but the good-being of little friends in our gut is essential for our well being and our immune system. It shouldn‘t be surprising, after all, most infectious agents attempting to get to our body tries to do so through the digestive tract. The good thing is that we have prepared a good defense against that. Most of the immune cells in our bodies are found within gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT).¹⁷

This tissue protects our bodies from the outside pathogens inside the gut. It might sound strange but what goes from our mouth to our butthole is technically „outside“ our bodies.

Studies have shown that healthy bio-fauna helps GALT to fight invasive agents and reduce inflammation.¹⁷ In contrast – unhealthy gut microbiota can cause immune dysregulation, leading to autoimmune disorders.¹⁸ Eating probiotics like pickles, yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha etc and prebiotics like onion, garlic, leeks, asparagus, bananas, Jerusalem artichokes etc helps to enhance your gut microbiota.

9. Sleep Reasonably

Even if we don’t know exactly why we dream or sleep, there are plenty of theories out there and we definitely know the positive and negative effects of it. Sleep has been linked with the production of some of the cells linked with immunity. Research also shows an improvement to the formation of immunological memory, which basically means improvement of vaccination effect.¹⁹

Wake mu up once it’s over. L’Oceanogràfic in Valencia. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

Just have in mind that sleeping more hours than recommended will not improve the benefits. So it is no excuse to stay in bed for half the day. Going to bed late is also not a solution – don’t burn the midnight oil. Stay consistent – it is very important for your immune system to have your circadian clock going correctly.²⁰

10. Reduce Smoking

I know you are thinking: “first exercise, then diet, now this! What‘s next? Quit drinking? I‘m out of here…“ Nah, maybe not the latter but believe me, smoking less would help. Especially, when it comes to CoVID-19, which basically attacks lungs and breathing channels.

What you looking at? I’m not smoking. Aquarium of Genoa. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

As somebody who smoked for a decade, I can tell that after I quit smoking, the duration of simple cold dropped from weeks to days. It is very hard to heal sore throat when smoking. At least pause it once if you start feeling the first symptoms of a cold.

Now is a good time for that New Year resolution list you never had time to attend to, isn’t it? L’Oceanogràfic in Valencia. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

Conclusions

You don‘t need to apply all of those habits. I‘m certainly not doing all of it but making some improvements in any of the given areas could boost your immune system.

For example, if smoking for you is the only way to reduce the stress – you could still keep doing it but consider trying regular cardio-exercises combined with a diet rich in sulforaphane to reduce some of the negative effects of cigarettes.

That could do wonders. Any effort would do.

Now is your time.

Tell me, which topic you would like to know more about?

Reference:

¹ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1361287/

² https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27750511

³ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22465452

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27023222

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0889159116305645

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007165.htm

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1361287/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24988414

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4940234/

¹⁰ https://nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation/overview.htm#hed1

¹¹ https://www.healthline.com/health/wim-hof-method#research

¹² https://www.pnas.org/content/111/20/7379

¹³ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5226962/

¹⁴ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14730366

¹⁵ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29099763

¹⁶ https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/processed-foods/

¹⁷ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6723551/

¹⁸ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3337124/

¹⁹ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3256323/

²⁰ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31837013

 

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