The immune system is the body’s defense mechanism to handle invaders. It is our body’s second line of defense, after physical barriers like the skin and the mucous membranes.
The immune system is located throughout the body and includes the thymus gland, the spleen, bone marrow and a vast network of lymph nodes. It comprises many cells, proteins, tissues and organs.
The main function of the immune system is to prevent and fight infections, germs and cancer. It works 24/7 to keep our body healthy and ward off problems.
A good immune system is essential for proper functioning of the body. When the immune system becomes impaired, it can cause symptoms like frequent sickness, allergies, fatigue, digestive issues, delayed growth and slow development.
Several factors contribute to a low immune function. Some common factors are emotional stress, sleep deprivation, vitamin deficiencies, lack of physical exercise, over exposure to harmful ultraviolet (UV) sunrays, excessive use of antibiotics, exposure to environmental toxins, poor dietary habits and inadequate hygiene.
Boosting the immune system is very beneficial and relatively easy through lifestyle changes and some simple home remedies.
Here are the top 10 home remedies to boost immunity.
Garlic is a natural immune booster. A 2009 study published in Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis found that garlic enhances immune functions and has antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral activities.
Its active ingredient allicin helps fight infection and bacteria. In addition, garlic has vitamins C and B6 along with the minerals selenium and manganese that help boost the immune system.
- Eat 2 to 3 raw cloves of garlic on an empty stomach daily.
- Also, add crushed garlic to your dishes. Avoid cooking garlic too much as it can destroy its active compounds.
- You can also take garlic supplements, but only under a doctor’s supervision.
Turmeric has antioxidants that are important for your health as well as immune system. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals and help your immune system function properly.
Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, helps improve the ‘orderliness’ of cell membranes, which makes the cells more resistant to infection.
- Drink a glass of turmeric milk daily. To make the milk, boil 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder in 1 cup of milk. Add a little honey and drink it.
- Also, include turmeric in your cooking.
- You can also take turmeric supplements, after consulting a doctor.
3. Probiotic Yogurt
Eating probiotic yogurt every day is one of the best home remedies for low immunity. Probiotic yogurt contains billions of friendly gut organisms (probiotics) that help strengthen your immune system.
It aids the development of white blood cells and antibodies, which in turn reduces the incidence and duration of infections.
- Eat 2 cups of probiotic yogurt with live cultures daily.
- You can also drink a smoothie made with yogurt and immune-boosting fruits like apples bananas, blueberries, and strawberries.
Lemon contains vitamin C, which plays an important role in boosting your immunity. Vitamin C helps the white blood cells function properly so that they can respond quickly to infections. Lemon also aids in removing toxins from the body as well as helping maintaining your body weight.
- Squeeze the juice from ½ lemon into a glass of purified, lukewarm water.
- Add a little honey.
- Drink it on an empty stomach each morning.
- Wait 30 minutes, then enjoy your breakfast.
5. Green Tea
Regularly drinking green tea is another simple home remedy to boost immunity. According to a 2011 study by Oregon State University, several beneficial compounds in green tea help increase “regulatory T cells” in the body that play a key role in immune function and suppression of autoimmune disease.
The antioxidants in green tea protect the body from free-radical damage, which is essential to keep the immune system running normally.
- Steep a green tea bag in a cup of hot water for 5 minutes.
- Remove the tea bag, add honey and drink it.
- Drink 2 to 3 cups of green tea daily.
According to Ayurveda, ginger is a good remedy to boost immunity. The warming effect of ginger on the body helps break down toxins accumulated in the body.
This reduces the risk of infection. Ginger also improves blood circulation.
- Drink ginger tea twice daily to boost immunity. To make the tea, boil 1 tablespoon of chopped ginger in 2 cups of water for 10 minutes. Strain, add honey and lemon juice and drink it.
- You can also include dry or fresh ginger in your cooking, or take ginger tablets after consulting your doctor.
Astragalus is a traditional Chinese herbal medicine that helps boost immunity. The immune-building and adaptogenic effects of astragalus help heighten the efficiency of virtually every component of the immune system.
- Add a handful of dried astragalus root slices to 1 quart of water. Boil it for 30 minutes, then strain it. Drink the tea daily.
- You can also take this herb in supplement form. Always consult your doctor before starting a supplement regimen.
Note: If you have an immune disorder, talk to your doctor before taking this herb.
8. Indian Ginseng (Ashwagandha)
According to Ayurveda, ashwagandha helps in the modulation of immune system reactivity and increases the red blood cell, white blood cell and platelet counts.
It has antioxidants that help in scavenging and neutralizing free radicals. This in turn helps boost immunity. Ashwagandha is available in powdered, dried or fresh root form in the market.
- Add 1 teaspoon of ashwagandha powder to a cup of water and boil it for 5 minutes. Strain, add honey and drink this tea once daily.
- Alternatively, you can take 1 tablespoon of ashwagandha root powder, along with a glass of hot milk, before going to sleep.
Note: Pregnant women should not consume ashwagandha. Plus, this herb may interfere with medicines used to treat high blood pressure because it decreases blood pressure. People with autoimmune diseases should consult their doctor before taking this herb as it may cause the immune system to become more active.
9. Vitamin D
According to a 2011 study published in the Journal of Investigative Medicine, vitamin D plays a key role in modulating the innate and adaptive immune responses.
A deficiency of vitamin D is associated with increased autoimmunity as well as increased susceptibility to infection. Hence, to boost your immunity, try to maintain the adequate amount of vitamin D in your body.
- As sunlight triggers the production of vitamin D in the body, expose your body to early morning sunlight for 10 to 15 minutes daily.
- Also, include foods high in vitamin D, such as fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, organ meats, cheese, egg yolks, some mushrooms and foods fortified with vitamin D.
You can also take vitamin D supplements after consulting a doctor.
Regular exercise – 30 minutes at least 5 days a week – can help boost your immunity. Exercise helps increase white blood cells, improve blood circulation, fight obesity and flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways. All these factors reduce your chance of getting sick frequently. Any form of exercise is better than a sedentary lifestyle.
- Walk, run or jog for 20 to 30 minutes daily.
- Enjoy bicycling and swimming a few times a week.
- Go to the gym every other day.
- Play golf, badminton, football or basketball regularly.
Note: Although exercise is good for you, be careful not to overdo it. In addition, when you are sick, avoid high-intensity workouts that can delay recovery.
- You can ensure a better immunity by including plenty of servings of colorful fruits and vegetables on your plate.
- Follow a well-balanced diet with an adequate amount of vitamins A and C, zinc, selenium and iron.
- Keep a positive outlook toward life.
- Drink 8 to 10 glasses of water a day.
- Get enough sleep to help your body recover.
- Avoid stress as stress overload suppresses immune function.
- Quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke.
- Drink less alcohol as it impairs the immune system and increases vulnerability to diseases.
- Wash your hands after using the toilet and before eating to stop the spread of infection.
- Follow proper oral hygiene.
- Stay away from people with colds or other infections and avoid crowds.
- Avoid harmful toxins as they can impair immune function and trigger the formation of cell-damaging free radicals.
- Ask your doctor about vaccinations.
This article was compiled for Dr. David Jensen
Tags: Immune System