- What Is Immunity?
- Roles of the Immune System
- 6 Tips to Boost Immunity
Most of us can agree that when the world throws challenges at us, we like to be prepared: physically, emotionally, mentally. What about internally? In today’s environment, our immune systems are constantly challenged by toxins, bacteria, and viruses. So how can we be better prepared? Here is a great primer on your amazing immune system and a few tips on how to boost your immunity.
What Is Immunity?
Every day, we are exposed to millions of pathogens that enter our body through numerous pathways. (1) Immunity is our defenses against these pathogens and it is provided by our multifaceted immune system. The ultimate goal of the immune system is to minimize, or all-together prevent, infection by targeting toxins and pathogens (also called antigens). (2)
Parts of the immune system (3) include:
- Skin to prevent germs from entering the body
- Mucus membranes to trap and fight germs
- White blood cells to fight germs
- Organs and tissues of the lymph system to produce and store white blood cells
Roles of the Immune SystemThe immune system has three major roles:
- To defend the body from harmful invaders and pathogens
- To oversee the repair of damaged tissue
- To coordinate communication within the body
When the immune system cannot fight off invaders (despite the need to do so), infections can occur, and the immune system mounts a protective response attacking these invaders. Additionally, when undernourished and over-challenged, the immune system can become “hyperactive” without the presence of a pathological threat. This dysfunctional immune response is associated with allergic reactions and autoimmune diseases. In this case, the goal would be to nourish and support the immune system back to normal functioning. (4)
6 Tips to Boost Immunity
Here are a few ways to help prepare our immune system for battle:
1. Get adequate rest
One major function of the immune system is to repair damage in the body. Fortunately for us, the body repairs itself through deep, restful sleep. Sleeping for 7 to 8 hours is really essential. If you have trouble sleeping, check out our Restorative Sleep Bundle.
2. Nourish your immune cells
Keep your immune cells at the ready with the Alkaline Diet. High intakes of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds balance your tissue pH thus reducing inflammation and decreasing the need for repair. This can ultimately lessen the burden on your immune system.
3. Supplement with key antioxidants
Much of the damage to the body that the immune system needs to repair is caused by free radicals. Antioxidants can combat these unwelcome free radicals, further reducing damage within the body and giving our immune systems a much needed break. We suggest the following antioxidants to boost immunity:
4. Exercise outside
Not only does being out in nature enhance immunity, but moving your body does, too. Try doing your favorite sport or exercise routine outdoors in nature!
5. Stimulate the lymphatic system
One part of the immune system that we can optimize is the lymphatic system, known as our body's internal vacuum cleaner due to its role in removing waste. (5) This waste is created after blood plasma containing nutrients moves out of our capillaries and extra fluid containing waste is left behind and moves into our tissues.
The lymphatic system picks up this excess fluid (called lymph when it enters lymphatic vessels), brings it through our lymph nodes, which then cleanse the fluid using white blood cells, returning the clean lymph to the circulatory system. (6)
You can stimulate the lymphatic system through exercise and deep breathing. To stimulate lymph:
- Move your muscles: immune boosting yoga (video)
- Practice deep breathing to relax and get lymph to move through the body
- Practice Bhastrika, the fast diaphragm movement of inhaling deeply then exhaling in a short burst, which stimulates the lymph
- Drink ginger with honey, an ancient remedy from Ayurveda that makes lymph flow better
- Get an oil massage or any kind of massage to move the lymph along. You can use a skin brush in the massage. Massage up the body in the direction of the heart.
6. Check your attitude
“Nothing holds more power than thoughts held in the mind”
What we think, we become, so it’s important to make sure we are checking our thought patterns regularly. Do you see yourself as growing healthier every day? Are you focusing on ways to be happier and healthier? If not, it’s time to start because what we think becomes our reality.
A Healthier You
Our immune system is a powerful line of defense that keeps us happy and healthy. In order to keep our immunity going strong, it’s important to prepare it for the challenges it will face by getting good sleep, eating an alkalizing diet, making sure to get key antioxidants, getting outdoor exercise, stimulating the lymphatic system, and maintaining positive thoughts. Stay safe and stay healthy!
- Alberts, B., et al. 2002. Molecular Biology of the Cell, 4th Garland Science, New York.
- S. National Library of Medicine. 2021. Medical Encyclopedia: Immune Response. Medline Plus website.
- S. National Library of Medicine. 2021. Health Topics: Immune System and Disorders. Medline Plus website.
- National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). 2013. Overview of the immune system. NIH (National Institutes of Health) website.
- Cleveland Clinic. 2020. Health Library: Lymphatic System. Cleveland Clinic website.
- Alila Medical Media. 2018. The Lymphatic System Overview, Animation.