If we all agree on one thing, it’s probably that being sick pretty much sucks. It’s something we’re all avoiding at all costs, but how hard are we really fighting?
Of course, a healthy lifestyle with awesome stress management, good nutrition, regular exercise and perhaps some supplementation with our favorite natural immune boosters will keep you at bay for the most part, but the truth about sickness is that it hits us with no warning.
Flues, colds or anything worse – we can only take so many measures. When we have kids who are exposed to buckets of people each day – and not all of them are washing their hands! – our exposure is increased too.
This is one of many situations that we don’t always anticipate. Fortunately, there are a few surprising ways to boost your immunity from the inside out so you’re more resilient throughout the year.
Summer sniffles, stomach bugs and hacking up a lung are a thing of the past.
Sunshine to ward off sickness
Maybe, just maybe we’d quit prescribing the sunshine like a bunch of new-age hippies, but we’re believers in the stuff. Besides, it’s not doing any harm if you wear your sunscreen and limit your exposure.
Play it safe, kids! Anyways, it’s good for the body, mind and soul. Vitamin D is one of the most common deficiencies amongst people, so it’s no surprise that when we address the deficiency, we see benefits.
Besides, just think of yourself on a warm, sunny beach right now soaking it all in. It just feels good – right?
Turns out, people are a lot like plants. Plants need water and sunlight above all, so think of yourself as your favorite wildflower, or perhaps an old, wise tree.
We both need enough sunlight for optimal health, and finding your sweet spot will do you good. I’d like to think most humans are partial shade people with the exception of around an hour a day, but to see immune benefits, you may need even less.
It’s quality over quantity here. The human body does best when it is exposed to the full spectrum of sunlight. Both blue light and UB light increase T cell activity.
These are the white blood cells, and they’re thought to improve immune function and aid in fighting infection.
Let’s shed some light on the process. The Blue light will help T cells produce more hydrogen peroxide which will elicit a chemical cascade. This is basically the trickle down effect.
Subsequently, the activity of T cells is increased and as a result, we have immune cells with more efficient immune functioning! It’s important to note that blue light is also notoriously what the light we’re exposed to by staring at screens is called and it’s different.
It’s doing you much more harm than it is good, although not entirely relative to the immune system.
Finally, vitamin D is involved in the production of 200+ antimicrobial peptides which are vital in our infection-fighting abilities.
Get hot… and then get cold
You might think we’re crazy for prescribing a cold shower, because chances are, you’ve been there when the hot water runs out and you realise with a rude awakening just how long you’ve been there!
If you’re not a morning person, it probably does its job by perking you up, but it’s probably not something you’re going to do voluntarily. Turns out, there are some benefits.
In fact, it’s one of the best ways to start your morning if you’re trying to accelerate weight loss.
First, your body isn’t going to adjust right off the bat. It will actually put your body under some oxidative stress, but over time, your nervous system will adapt.
At that point, your body will have become skilled at producing the antioxidant response to fight that stress. It’s kind of like taking adaptogenic supplements; you are essentially training the body to withstand higher levels of stress with less overall impact.
Think of your cold shower as an exercise. It won’t take long to feel the chill anyways!
What’s that got to do with immunity? Well, in short, the metabolic rate speeds up under the temperature change which really helps to charge up the immune system.
The production of white blood cells is increased, much like they are under the positive effects of the sun. When we have more of these fighter cells, our immune response is stronger.
Think you can take the moment of uncomfortability for the benefits?
Fasting is yet another immune boosting technique that just so happens to be fantastic for weight loss and weight maintenance, so consider it a double whammy if you’re trying to ward off illness and shed a few pounds.
Intermittent fasting simply means to fast for designated periods of time; sometimes, this means 12-16 hours per day with a short eating window, and sometimes, this means fasting 1-2 days per week while eating more on your non-fasting days.
In any case, it makes sense that giving the body a rest is good for staying above the weather! It is the best cure – right?
To begin to put it all together, the major idea behind it is that our ancestors or sick animals, for example, probably focused a whole lot more on resting than they did on hunting and gathering, thus forgoing food until their fortitude was restored.
Furthermore, our immune systems have to use energy when we consume food in order to make it safe for the body and fight off any dangerous microorganisms, inherently making it weaker. If you can’t seem to stomach much with the flu, it truly might be for the best.
Finally, it promotes mitochondrial health, which can effectively be thought of as the root of all disease if we look at things on a cellular level.
That’s just part of the story. Intermittent fasting can help boost mitophagy, which happens in the mitochondria when cell membranes break down and the body reuses what’s healthy while reserving the rest for energy or making new parts. It can also help to keep inflammation under control.
Basically, intermittent fasting can help strengthen our cells and give them an increased ability to renew themselves – something that can positively impact immunity.
Best wishes on your mission to stay healthy! Remember – a strong immune system is the result of a strong lifestyle overall. It’s good to have some bonuses!
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