6 Evidence-Based Ways to Boost Your Immune System

As we get older, it is particularly important that we nurture our immune systems. They help to fight bugs of all sorts, including the current COVID-19 infection.

There are
lots of suggestions about how to do this, but here are six that are based on
solid scientific evidence. Some of them may need to be adapted at this time to
take into account the movement restrictions.

Boosting Your Immune System with Soluble Fibre

A University
of Illinois study
shows the benefits of soluble fibre. Insoluble
fibre is found in wholemeal bread and similar foods and is important for the
regularity of our digestive system.

fibre is found in various common foods. The study shows that it reduces the
inflammation associated with obesity-related diseases and strengthens the
immune system.

One of the
researchers, Professor Gregory Freund, says: “Soluble fiber changes the
personality of immune cells –
they go from being pro-inflammatory, angry cells to anti-inflammatory, healing
cells that help us recover faster from infection.”

sounds like exactly what we all need right now. Diabetes
says that good sources of soluble fibre

  • Oats
  • Fruits and berries, particularly apples, strawberries, and blueberries
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Beans, pulses, and lentils
  • Vegetables

Choir Singing Boosts Immune System Activity

by Daisy Fancourt and colleagues shows that singing in a choir boosts immune
system activity. Their research was done on cancer patients and their carers.

They found
that singing in a choir for just one-hour boosts the levels of immune proteins
in people affected by cancer. It also reduces stress and improves mood, which
in turn could have a positive impact on overall health.

While this
research was done on cancer patients, I can imagine it would be true for the
rest of us as well. You probably won’t be able to sing in a physical choir
right now, but could you organise a virtual choir via Skype or Zoom?

Spending Time in Nature

spending time in nature has been shown by numerous research articles to provide
protection against a startling range of diseases, including depression,
diabetes, obesity, ADHD, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and many more.

of Illinois
environment and behavior researcher Ming Kuo
believes an important part of the reason for this is that spending time in
nature strengthens the immune system. She said:

“When we
feel completely safe, our body devotes resources to long-term investments that
lead to good health outcomes –
growing, reproducing, and building the immune system. When we are in nature in
that relaxed state, and our body knows that it’s safe, it invests resources
toward the immune system.”

It may
well be difficult to spend a lot of time in nature right now, as many countries
are experiencing extensive movement restrictions. Research has shown that even
looking at the sky through a window helps sick people get well. So, if you are
stuck in a small apartment, deliberately take time to look at the sky.

Check out
this simple way to reduce
your stress levels
even if you can’t have the healing
benefits of nature.

Get Enough Sleep

We all
know how we feel if we aren’t getting enough sleep. Researchers have shown that
it affects our immune system too. A study by
Luciana Besedovsky
and colleagues shed light on how the
immune system replenishes itself during sleep.

T cells are
a type of white blood cells and are the foundation of the human body’s immune
system. Large quantities of T cells are present in the bloodstream and are
ready to attack viruses and other pathogens that invade the body.

during a deep resting phase, the body is able to release T cells, growth
hormones, and epinephrine back into circulation to fight pathogens when needed.

Take a Beta Glucan Supplement

glucan is among the best supplements for fighting colds or priming your immune
system, and you have probably never heard of it. It’s found in nutritional
yeast, which adds a wonderfully cheesy flavour to sauces etc. You’ll find it in
your health store. Or take a supplement.

A study
from the University
of North Texas
looked at how beta glucan can help athletes
who undertake major endurance sports such as marathon running. The researchers
concluded that beta glucan may reduce upper respiratory tract infections and
improve mucosal immunity (salivary IgA) post-exercise.

It seems
like it works particularly well when you are under mental or physical stress.

Lead a Healthy Lifestyle

The bottom
line from all research is simple –
we need to embrace a healthy lifestyle for our immune system to be able to
function optimally.

The Harvard
Medical School website
says: “our first line of defense is
to choose a healthy lifestyle.” They see these as healthy living strategies:

  • No smoking
  • Eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables
  • Regular exercise
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Drinking alcohol only in moderation
  • Getting adequate sleep
  • Taking steps to avoid infection, such as washing your hands frequently and cooking meats thoroughly
  • Finding ways to minimize stress

Being fit,
healthy, and happy doesn’t have to be hard work, but it does need to be based
on solid factual
information about best practices

do you boost your immune system to fight various infections? What ways have you
found helpful to minimize stress? What do you include in your healthy lifestyle
habits? Please share with our community!