Ever wonder why you always get the sniffles at least once every winter, but your one friend doesn’t even sneeze? Is it really only your genes that decide how great your immunity is? Well, think again! Scientists have found there are natural things you can do to boost your immunity.
Strengthening your immune system doesn’t just mean you can ward off the flu better, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that boosting your immunity lengthens your life too! They found that your immune system protects your body from all kinds of stressors, which can cause your cells to age. Researchers noted that older people with strong immune systems live longer, and not just because they can fight off infections better. It turns out that your immune system helps neutralize harmful free radicals in your body, which have been shown to cause aging and chronic diseases.
Here are four ways you can boost your immunity naturally:
1. Drink Aloe Vera Juice
If you’re vegan or vegetarian, you might not be getting your daily vitamin B12 from your diet. Major sources of B12 include meat, fish, and cheese. Vegetables and nuts aren’t on the list. In fact, spinach has no B12 at all!
Why is this important? Researchers found that vitamin B12 is a critical player in maintaining a healthy immune system. Patients given B12 experienced a boost in the number of their immune cells. Their NK cell activity was significantly increased too. Why is that so good? Among other vital functions, NK cells are your immune system’s major cancer-killing cells.
Aloe vera is one of the few produces that has a significant amount of B12. It also has vitamins A, E, and C, which all support your immune system. These vitamins also act as antioxidants that help prevent free radicals from causing premature aging and damaging your body.
Does it work? According to SFGate, aloe vera supports your immune system directly by helping cleanse your body of toxins and bad microbes. They say it also regulates your immune system by helping prevent and alleviate hyperactive allergic reactions and autoimmune conditions, like arthritis.
How can you get your aloe vera? You can drink aloe vera juice or cut pieces of the raw plant’s inner stalk and mix it with your salad. Drinking aloe vera juice also helps keep your skin looking young, and when it passes your lips, can alleviate any soreness if your lips are sunburned or inflamed. Be careful not to eat or drink too much aloe vera because it has a strong laxative effect.
2. Exercise Regularly
Exercising everyday isn’t just good for your waistline and heart, it boosts your immunity too! Medline Plus says that moving your body may help alleviate and prevent colds by flushing out pathogens from your airways. Exercising boosts your circulation, which may also boost your immune cells’ activity since they’re moving around faster and can catch possible pathogens faster too.
But don’t exercise too much! Researchers found that moderate exercise (like walking a mile everyday or one minute of high intensity interval training) protects and supports your immune system. But they warn that repeated strenuous exercise weakens your immune system. So don’t overdo it or you’ll end up hurting your immunity, instead of strengthening it.
3. Stop Smoking or Taking Nicotine
You know smoking can cause cancer. In fact, it causes between 80 to 90 percent of lung cancer deaths – that means only 10 percent of people who die of lung cancer aren’t smokers.
But cancer isn’t the only way smoking can shorten your life. Researchers found that nicotine suppresses your immune system by interfering with the communication between your immune cells. It also lowers your T-cell count, which weakens your overall immunity. It also weakens your macrophage response, which is your first line of defense against tuberculosis. In fact, there are increased tuberculosis infections among people routinely exposed to nicotine. As if these weren’t enough, nicotine also slows your body’s ability to heal wounds.
Stop smoking or using nicotine products and you’ll stop weakening your immunity and live longer. Nicotine is very addictive, and it’s understandable that you can’t suddenly go cold turkey. In fact, the Mayo Clinic states that only 5 percent of smokers trying to quit succeed when they don’t get help. But you can boost your success by getting drug addiction help with qualified professionals.
Some smokers need the tactile sensations of inhaling and holding a cigarette. If this is your challenge, you can try electronic cigarettes. E-cigs are shaped like cigarettes and deliver vapor to your lungs when you puff on them. But unlike regular cigarettes, e-cigs only deliver pure nicotine without the thousands of carcinogens. The NIH found that e-cigs are a safe method smokers can use to quit smoking. The FDA is also making sure they’re safe to use by increasing e-cig regulations and even creating an online e-cig reporting tool to stop malfunctioning or low quality products in their tracks. But remember that nicotine still suppresses your immune system – even if e-cigs are a great step down from regular cigarettes, they’re still shortening your life. You should only use them as a temporary crutch to help you quit permanently.
4. Do Intermittent Fasting
Have you ever skipped meals? There’s a whole methodology behind it called intermittent fasting. You don’t have to skip a specific meal, you can also intermittently fast by eating during specific intervals, like choosing to eat only every eight hours. In fact, Marilyn Monroe practiced intermittent fasting too by routinely skipping lunch.
But is it good for you? Yes, researchers found intermittently starving yourself lowers your blood pressure and overall inflammation, which are both risk factors for cancer and cardiovascular disease. It also lowers the levels of harmful free radicals in your system, which means it helps extend your life!
It also boosts your immunity by fine-tuning your immune cells. Researchers found that when your body is in survival mode when you’re fasting, it starts recycling damaged and dead immune cells to use as energy and building blocks. Then the next time you eat, your body quickly makes new, super efficient immune cells. The result is a rebooted, supercharged immune system. If you practice intermittent fasting routinely, you sharpen your immune system because most of your immune cells will always be at their best to protect you from toxins and harmful microbes.
Your immune system isn’t just as strong as your genes dictate. You can ramp up your immunity by making healthy, cost-free lifestyle changes, like quitting smoking and exercising everyday. Boosting your immunity not only means you’ll get sick less, but it can add years to your life too!