How to Boost your Immune System Naturally

Written by Kajsa IngelssonNovember 10, 2020

Health isn’t something that accidently happens to some people and not to others. If you are sick often, it’s probably not just bad luck working against you. There are several lifestyle factors that can make or break your health. Let’s explore them so that you shift your focus and build new, better habits for a lifetime of health!

Get some good sleep.

The lack of sleep causes loss of white blood cells, which is a clear indication of a suppressed immune system. This doesn’t only influence weather you are going to get sick or not, but also how fast you will bounce back from any state of imbalance and disease in the body.

Make sure you get the necessary 7 to 10 hours of sleep each night, and make sure to get to bed within a reasonable time and cut your screentime 2h before you get under the sheets.

Get physical.

You know me, I LOVE working out. I’m pleased to know that this habit doesn’t only bring me joy but also keeps my bones strong and decreases the risk of developing heart disease.

There are also a few theories that link exercise and immunity by claiming that physical activity flushes bacteria out of the lungs and airways, speeds up the flow of white blood cells and slows down the release of stress hormones.

Get out in nature.

Nature is really an incredible place. Weather to practice earthing or just having a mindful stroll in your favorite park, being outside is so soothing for your soul and alas you whole being.

You are also receiving some of that good vitamin D (which is actually a hormone) from the sun, which is essential to maintain a healthy immune system. Oh, if you are currently in the dark winter times, consider supplementing with vit D since you are not getting enough.

Get some immune-supporting herb supplements.

Many ancient herbs and herbal remedies have the ability to support your immune system, meaning that your body has more strength to battle against any type of invader.

Try pills or tinctures of oregano, astragalus, ginseng, elderberry, olive leaf, goldenseal, cats claw, calendula, echinacea, St. John’s Wort or licorice root to boost your system naturally.

Get some good, healthy food in you.

This is the most important step in boosting your body’s defense. We eat 3-5 times a day, everyday. Of course this greatly impacts all our systems and bodily functions. If healthy eating is new to you and seems kinda daunting, don’t be scared! I have made this following guides to simplify your journey:

❣️ 10 Tips for Healthy Eating Habits

This post will set you up for longtime success instead of clinging to the old-school diet mindset.

❣️ The Perfect Pantry Detox

Easy switches to make to remove unhealthy, processed food for the real and nurturing deal.

❣️ Vegan Pantry Staples

What I always keep in my pantry for easy, fast and delicious food.

❣️ Farmers Market Insider Tips

How to get in season produce for the best price like a pro!

❣️ Your Guide to Green Grocery Shopping

Work your grocery shop like a nutritionist with ease.

Ok, now that we got some basic ground covered, let’s get into the juicy stuff: Foods that are especially good for boosting your immune system!

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Citrus fruits

Various citrus fruits, including oranges, clementines, grapefruits, lemons, and limes, contain high amounts of vitamin C. This antioxidant is great to banish free racials. 

How to use: Tahini + Orange Roasted Carrots, Kale and Delicata Salad with Citrus Dressing or a daily routine or morning lemon water.

Papaya

Papaya is another good source of vitamin C, with about 88.3 mg per cup.

It also contains a digestive enzyme called papain, which helps break down proteins in the GI tract. This component helps manage bloat and constipation to support overall gut health.

How to use: Make a fruit salad or a smoothie!

Kiwi

Kiwis activate all five health defense systems in the body: angiogenesis, regeneration, the microbiome, DNA protection, and immunity. They also contain fiber, potassium, antioxidants, and about 75 mg of vitamin C.

How to use: Eat on its own, or use to top coco yogurt.

Acai

Acai is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, polyphenols, and flavonoids. All of which have been shown to protect against oxidative stress, and certain conditions, like cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and age-related neurodegenerative disorders. 

How to use: A smoothie bowl.

berries and acai powder

Watermelon

Watermelon is high in antioxidants, vitamins, and lycopene, which is protective of heart health.

Plus, watermelon contains about 92% water, and adequate hydration is important for overall health, especially in hot summer months.

How to use: Enjoy as it is or make some juice with mint!

Red Peppers

Red bell peppers contain antioxidants like beta-carotene and lycopene. It contains anti-inflammatory properties that have benefited chemotherapy patients and people with cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases.

Red peppers also contain plenty of vitamin C. One medium bell pepper contains 152 mg, compared to only 69.7 mg in one medium orange.

How to use: Coconut Vegetable Rice, Kelp Noodle Cacio e Pepe, Gluten-Free Pad Thai.

Broccoli

Broccoli is loaded with immune-boosting benefits. Not only is it rich in critical nutrients like vitamin C and zinc, but it also contains a natural chemical called sulforaphane that has been shown to boost the activity of key immune cells called T-cells and reduce inflammation in the body.

How to use: Cocoloco Lentil Curry, Roasted Broccoli and Fennel Soup. Whatever you try, consider eating it cooked, as this increases the sulforaphane content.

Spinach

Spinach is a good source of antioxidants, like beta-carotene, vitamins A and K, and lutein. Many of these antioxidants have been studied for their ability to modulate the immune response.

How to use: Blend into a smoothie, try this Fig and Spinach Salad, use as the base of a salad, or sauté into a pasta or chickpea dish (just don’t cook too long, as it retains most of its nutrients when fresh).

Mushrooms

Mushrooms are nutrient-dense veggies that work well in place of meat-based dishes. They have been studied for their medicinal properties, both when eaten or taken in tincture or supplement form. Mushrooms harbor antibacterial and antiviral properties naturally because they need them to survive in the wild.

How to use: Replace meat in plant-based dishes, like this Mushroom Bolognese, make this thai mushroom soup, try them crispy or with garlic.

Sweet Potato 

Sweet potatoes are a great source of vitamin A, which can enhance the organism’s immune function and provide an enhanced defense against multiple infectious diseases. Sweet potatoes are also high in fiber, which helps feed the microbes in the gut, supporting healthy digestion.

How to use: Try these Anti-inflammatory Sweet Potatoes, this hearty Black Bean, Sweet Potato and Quinoa Chilli, or simply roast them.

Nuts

Most nuts are good for your health because they’re rich in nutrients like protein, healthy fats, and fiber.

How to use: Snack on them with this Kitten Protein Crunch, toast them to give a salad some crunch or make some vegan cheese.

Seeds

Seed are a great source of healthy polyunsaturated fats and antioxidants like vitamins A and E. They’re also rich in magnesium, zinc, selenium and copper, which is directly linked to a strong immune-system.

How to use: Top smoothies, salads, or simply snack on them. Try this Hummus Bread or Multi Seed Crackers.

Fermented Foods

60 to 80% of our immune system is in our gut and is known as the gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT). In other words, more than half of the immune system lives in the gut, so nurturing the microbiome is important. 

Fermented foods, like coconut yogurt, miso and saurcraut are some of the best foods to eat for overall health.

How to use: try this Miso Sauce, Miso Glazed Eggplant, throw in fermented veggies in salads.

Pomegranate Juice

Pomegranates have been used medicinally for centuries, mainly for their antibacterial properties.

How to use: Drink on its own or freeze into an ice pop.

Green Tea

Green tea is a proven anti-inflammatory, which has been shown to enhance the quality of life for people living with inflammatory conditions. People who drink tea habitually (at least three times a week) tend to live longer, according to one study.

The polyphenols in green tea help protect the brain, while the antibacterial properties protect against oral disease or bacteria. Additionally, the EGCG in green tea has been found to be 100 times more potent than the antioxidant power of vitamin C and 25 times more than vitamin E.

How to use it: Sip it like tea (hot or iced) or try this Antioxidant Breakfast Bowl.

Glass teapot with green tea on wooden table

Water

The amount of water to drink in a day varies by person, but across the board, adequate hydration is essential. Good hydration is critical for immune system function.

How to use: Drink plenty!

Turmeric

Turmeric contains an active compound called curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties. One animal study also suggested inhibitory effects of curcumin on viruses, like Zika, dengue virus, and hepatitis B.

It’s also been used to treat inflammatory bowel conditions like colitis and irritable bowel syndrome, making it great for the gut.

How to use: Pair with black pepper to increase absorption, make this Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower, add it to your coffee, make these Roasted Chickpeas (that’s like the perfect snack).

Garlic

Garlic can add flavor to almost any dish, and bonus: It has protective health benefits, too. This superfood has very strong antimicrobial and antiviral properties. The potent sulfur compound allicin in garlic is known to treat serious GI infections such as SIBO (small-intestinal bacterial overgrowth) and kill parasites and yeast infections.

How to use: At the sign of an infection, do this Garlic Cure. For everyday use, add to anything or everything when you are cooking!

Ginger

Ginger contains diverse bioactive compounds, such as gingerols, shogaols, and paradols. These compounds have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial effects. Ginger has also been shown to manage headache, nausea, and cold symptoms.

How to use: Make this Beet and Ginger Soup, try these Pumpkin Pancakes or enjoy My Danish Grandma’s Apple Cake.

The takeaway:

Supporting the immune system is an important part of staying strong and healthy throughout your life. Exercise, sleep, stress management, and, of course, proper hand hygiene all play a role. However, food is the number one tool for better health. Make sure your lifestyle and diet is setting your up for success and joy for a long time to come.

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