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4 Ways Boosting Your Immunity Extends Your Life

4 Ways Boosting Your Immunity Extends Your Life

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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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Published on July 18, 2019

11 Best Core Strengthening Exercises to Do At Home

11 Best Core Strengthening Exercises to Do At Home

No matter where you are in your fitness journey, chances are you wouldn’t mind a little more definition in your midsection.

Whether you have a six pack or a beer belly, those abs could probably be a little bit sharper. Not to mention developing better core strength is hugely important when it comes to improving your overall strength and athleticism, as well as protecting you from injuries.[1]

The good news? Your abs and core muscles can handle a lot of training.

While most of your muscle groups do best with just two training sessions per week,[2] you can hit your abs every other day to great effect. You don’t even have to leave the house!

Here’s my guide to the 11 best core strengthening exercises you can do at home with no equipment.

1. Planks

Let’s start with the mother of all core-strengtheners, the plank.

Planks not only work your abs and obliques, they challenge those core muscles deep inside your body that help promote stability and power. They can also reduce back pain and improve your balance and posture.

Get down into pushup position, feet behind you, hands under your shoulders. Lock out your arms and legs, squeeze your core muscles, and hold your body stiff (like a plank!) for as long as you can.

For a more challenging variation, try a forearm plank with your arms out in front you. Lay your forearms on the ground for support, with your elbows under your face rather than aligned with your shoulders.

2. Side Planks

To hit your obliques even harder, try this challenging variation: the side plank.

From plank position, rotate onto one side. Prop yourself up on your elbow and one foot with your body straight and stiff.

Don’t forget to squeeze your core as you hold this position for as long as you can.

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Switch sides and repeat to avoid creating muscle imbalances.

3. Reverse Crunches

The regular stomach crunch is a fine exercise, but when it comes to abs and core strength, you’ll want to opt for moves that are a lot more challenging.

When you can crank out 50 crunches without a problem, it’s probably time for something new.

The reverse crunch packs a wallop for your lower abs and can be done anywhere, anytime, just like the standard crunch.

Lay on your back with knees bent in crunch position. Place your hands flat on the ground by your side and lift your pelvis, bringing your knees up toward your face, then back down again.

Engage your lower ab muscles to do the work, not your back. Repeat for a few sets of 12-20 reps.

4. Flutter Kicks

The lower abs are a problem area for a lot of people, so we’ll want to work them hard.

If that sounds like you, flutter kicks are just what the doctor ordered.

Lay flat on your back in leg raise position, hands at your sides or pressed into the floor. Raise your legs together about 6 inches off the floor, then alternate lowering one and raising one a few inches in rapid succession.

It should look like you’re kicking the air, and it should give you quite a burn in your abdominal area.

5. Arms High Sit-Ups

Imagine a crunch, but way harder!

Lay down on the ground in sit-up position, knees bent, feet flat on the floor in front of you.

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Raise your arms up to the sky and keep them elevated as you perform a few sets of sit-ups.

Engaging your arms in this way makes the move extraordinarily difficult and taxing. You’ll get a lot more mileage out of this move versus traditional crunches.

6. L-Sits

The L-Sit is outrageously difficult to perform well, but if you can build your strength here, the benefits are phenomenal.

To perform an L-Sit, you’ll need a stable surface to press off of. You can do them on the floor, but it’s a little easier if you can elevate yourself on a pair of dumbbells, two sturdy chairs, or a similar apparatus.

Sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you. Lock your arms in place at your sides, palms on the ground or surface, and press. Bring your legs into the air, perpendicular to your upper body, using the tension from your locked arms.

Hold this position as long as possible for an intense strength building workout.

7. Stomach Vacuums

And now for something different!

It’s easy to work your front-facing abdominal muscles, but there is another muscle group in your core that’s frequently overlooked: The transverse abdominis.

This muscle isn’t visible through your skin, but it’s incredibly important in stabilizing your body, creating good posture, and holding your belly in tight to your spine.

To strengthen this muscle and get a flatter stomach, try stomach vacuums.[3]

Standing straight and tall. Exhale all of the air out of your body and simultaneously pull your belly in tight. Imagine sucking your belly button back into your spine.

You’ll feel the transverse abdominis engage. Hold as long as possible, rest and then repeat.

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8. Star Planks

Planks are too effective to not utilize multiple variations of them in your routine.

The star plank engaged similar muscles to the traditional plank, but is a lot harder to hold for time.

From the push-up or standard plank position, walk your feet out wide and your hands, as well.

Your body should form an X position. Elevate your core off the ground, squeeze tight, and hold for as long as possible.

9. Boat Pose

Yogis know all about core strength, so if you want a tighter tummy, you should take a page out of their playbook.

Boat pose is an extremely difficult isometric hold that builds exceptional balance and core power.

Star in sit-up position. Crunch yourself up toward your knees, then lift your feet off the floor until they’re about level with your face. Balance on your butt, squeeze your core, and hold this position as long as you can.

Your body should form a V with the only point of contact being your butt on the ground. Holding boat pose should be extraordinarily challenging!

10. Mountain Climbers

Ab work alone won’t shred stomach fat. But when you combine abs and cardio, that’s when you’re onto something magical.

Mountain climbers fit the bill if you’re looking to blast your core and also work up a good sweat.

Get down into plank position. With your arms locked and your body tight, drive one knee at a time off the floor, up toward your chest, and then back to its original position. Repeat in quick succession.

It should look like you’re climbing a hill, and it should exhaust you in a matter of seconds!

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11. Russian Twists

Finally, let’s give the obliques a little more love.

Get down into sit-up position and perform a crunch toward your knees. From here, lean back so your torso is at a 45 degree angle to the floor, clasp your hands in front of you, and twist side to side in rapid succession.

You’ll feel your obliques engage after just a few reps.

For a more difficult variation, lift your feet off the floor similar to boat pose while perform the move, or perform the twist using a heavy medicine ball for added resistance.

The Bottom Line

The biggest piece of the puzzle when it comes to six-pack abs is a low body fat percentage. That’s best accomplished by sticking to a smart diet and building your fully body strength.

However, if you want to improve your athleticism, overall strength, or even your longevity, you can afford to work your abs a bit more frequently — 3-4 times per week is perfect.

If you hit them hard enough, you’ll probably see some great improvement in definition as well!

Cranking out endless crunches is one way to go about core training, but there are so many better and more challenging moves you can try without ever having to leave your living room.

Give them a shot!

Featured photo credit: Luis Quintero via unsplash.com

Reference

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