Healthy immune system tips for the entire family
What is our immune system?
Essentially, our immune system is designed to prevent unwanted invaders like viruses, bacteria, or other harmful substances from causing detriment to our bodies. Our bodies have two different types of immune systems: innate and acquired immunity. Innate immunity represents the immunity with which we are all born, and acquired immunity is the immunity our bodies can develop once we encounter or come in contact with an antigen (like a virus).
It is important that we keep our immune system in a position to fight off unwanted invaders rather than welcoming them through the front door. If our immune system is weak, it cannot ward off all unwanted invaders from the body. The secret to keeping our immune system strong is staying healthy. By eating healthy fruits and vegetables, creating a balanced diet, and decreasing our intake of ”cheat foods” or other tasty treats, we will help to improve our immune health.
I know this might seem strange, but one of the best ways we can keep our immune system strong is through laughter. I remember reading the following verse of Scripture years ago and thought, “Wow, I definitely need to laugh more!”:
“A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22)
What are some things that we can do to help support our immune system? Below are several tips to help you and your family.
- Practice good hygiene – wash your hands. Hand washing is crucial to maintaining good hygiene, especially after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.
- Cough into the inner portion of your elbow.
- Keep your mouth closed while sneezing.
- Use a natural-based hand sanitizer that does not contain artificial ingredients, plastics, or other chemicals.
- Supplement your diet with vitamins C and D, zinc, probiotics, and melatonin.
- Vitamin C*: Vitamin C is a required antioxidant for the body’s enzymatic processes, and it is considered a nutrient that is involved with stress. As our physical and mental stress levels increase, the amount of vitamin C produced in our bodies increases. You should take vitamin C in a buffered or stomach-friendly form. Vitamin C in the chewable form (not gummies) can be a good option for children to get their daily dose!
- Vitamin D: With exposure to ultraviolet light, our skin synthesizes vitamin D. In terms of immune health, vitamin D has been shown to protect against colon cancer and may also be effective in treating breast cancer. Vitamin D is also a necessary component in bone health.
- Zinc: Zinc is crucial for taste perception and may be used to improve our sense of smell. The mineral zinc is important in thyroid and immune health.
- Probiotics:* Seventy percent of the immune system is found within our gastro-intestinal system. The number of healthy bacteria found in probiotics helps to ward off the overgrowth of bad bacteria. Sources of probiotics include plain yogurt (non-dairy-based yogurt alternatives are made from cashew, almond, and coconut milk).
- Melatonin: Melatonin is a hormone that is released from the pineal gland to help support circadian rhythms. Furthermore, melatonin has been studied to improve natural killer cell ability in patients diagnosed with cancer.
*Vitamin C and probiotics formulated for children may be an option for supporting their immune system. As a reminder, check with your pediatrician or health care provider before starting any new supplements.
- Get seven to nine hours of sleep (adults). Adults should plan to get at least seven hours of sleep nightly; teenagers and children may require additional sleep.
- Eat power-packed foods such as organic greens, broccoli, onions, raspberries, blueberries, apples, and oranges. Eat foods that are dense in nutrients. Nutrient-dense foods include:
- Vegetables from the Brassica family (broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, etc.)
- Berries, which are loaded with vitamin C (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, etc.)
- Foods that are high in quercetin (such as apples and onions)
- Decrease your sugar intake. Sugar has a direct negative effect on our immune system.
- Drink natural spring water, and decrease your intake of sugary drinks, juice, and soda. Increase your daily water intake to improve the fluidity of cellular membranes and ensure regular bowel movements. Natural spring water can be incredibly beneficial to cleanse your tissues and encourage all bodily systems to operate optimally.
- Stretch, walk, lift weights, or dance. Do something you enjoy that causes you to move. A brisk walk or jog, daily, can encourage healthy movement and help to improve immune function.
- Journaling is suggested for those who tend to over- think situations or have difficulty expressing their true feelings. Spending reflective time journaling, in meditation, or in prayer can be a helpful asset in supporting our immune health.
Marz RB. Medical Nutrition From Marz 2nd edition. Omni-Press, Portland, OR. 1997 & 1999.
The Holy Bible: New King James Version. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers; 1982. Proverbs 17:22NKJV