5 Ways to Nourish a Healthy Immune System

Last updated: July 16, 2019


Contributed by:
Richard Honaker M.D.
Primary Care Physician
View Full Profile

A healthy immune system can help you avoid sick days and fight off viruses faster. Check out 5 ways to nourish your immune system. 

 

We all want a strong immune system. The ability to ward off viruses and bacteria would not only help to avoid the inconvenience of sick days, but allow you to feel healthy. 

The reality is that your immune system is just that-a system. It is comprised of white blood cells, antibodies, lymph nodes and other components. 

No one change can affect the system as a whole. Researchers are still learning the many intricacies involved in the immune system. 

Autoimmune disorders can be mild to severe.  They may be present at birth or the result of environmental factors such as: 

 

  • Malnutrition
  • AIDS/HIV
  • Some types of cancer
  • Certain Medical Treatment
  • Viral Hepatitis

 

Boosting a weak immune system with healthy habits has not yet been proven to be effective. Choosing healthy lifestyle habits can help to maintain your overall health. These healthy changes in turn will also benefit your immune system. 

Check out The 5 Germiest Things you Touch Everyday (and how to avoid them!) 

Stop Smoking 

Source: Canva

 

There are many health benefits to quitting smoking. In fact, it only takes 24 smoke-free hours to reduce your risk of heart attack. 

Quitting smoking reduces your risk of certain cancers.  It can also help your body to become better equipped at warding off coughs and colds. 

This is because one of the first parts of your body to heal is the cilia in your lungs. The job of cilia is the keep the airway clear of dirt and mucus. 

Many smokers notice they are coughing more often after quitting smoking. This is because the cilia is growing and starting to function normally again. Normal functioning cilia make it easier for your body to fight off colds and infections. 

 

Eat Lots of Fruit and Vegetables 

Source: Canva

 

There are many health benefits to eating a diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables, especially for the immune system. 

Citrus fruits are high in vitamin C which is required by some immune system cells in order to function properly. A lack of vitamin C in the diet can cause a reduced immune system function. So while we think that vitamin C boosts the immune system, in truth it is needed for normal function. 

Check out our downloadable shopping list of immunity boosting foods

 

Don’t Drink to Excess

Source: Canva

 

Most people are aware that drinking large amounts of alcohol is not good for the body, but less is known about its exact impact on the immune system. The University of Massachusetts Medical School performed a study where they examined how the white blood cells that defend the body against infection- monocytes – reacted to chemicals that mimic bacteria and viruses after being exposed to alcohol. 

Half of the cells were exposed to levels of alcohol similar to a person who consumes four or five alcoholic drinks daily for a week. 

Exposed cells only produced a quarter of their virus-fighting molecule type-1 interferon. In addition, when exposed to the bacteria-like chemical, the white blood cells also overproduced an  inflammatory chemical which could lead to tissue damage. 

 

Relax

Source: Canva

 

Although it may seem easier said than done, reducing the stress is your life can have many benefits to your physical and mental health. Excess stress can be linked to anxiety, depression, a lower libido and an inability to climax. 

Stress can also affect the function of the immune system. When the body is stressed, its ability to fight off antigens is reduced. In addition, when the stress hormone cortisol is released it can also suppress immune system function. 

Many people may also turn to unhealthy habits such as smoking and drinking while stressed which also inhibit the healthy function of the immune system. 

 

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Source: Canva

 

Many people struggling with their weight focus on the importance of looking good on the outside. Yet in reality the health benefits of maintaining a healthy weight are far more important. 

Maintaining a healthy weight can not only help prevent your body from getting many diseases but can also help control these conditions. 

According to The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, if you are overweight or obese you are at a higher risk of developing serious health conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, breathing problems and certain cancers. 

 

Avoid the Waiting Room

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Connecting with Your Doctors Online means that you get to skip the germy waiting room and give your body what it really needs. Skip the waiting room and consult a doctor in your pocket 24 hours a day

Disclaimer: This article provides general information and is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or medical condition. If you require specific advice, please consult one of our medical professionals through the app. However, in case of an emergency, please call 911.

About Richard Honaker M.D.

Dr. Richard Honaker has over 40 years of experience as a primary care physician specializing in several different areas of medicine. He is able to provide expert case review and analysis for insurance and workers compensation cases as well as providing online medical consultations as the Chief Medical Advisor for Your Doctors Online.


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