20 Ways to Naturally Build and Boost Your Immune System

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We’re still in the middle of the dreaded cold and flu season, but you don’t have to succumb to sickness. There are plenty of entirely natural things you can do to lower your chances of getting sick this year before spring warms things up again.

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  1. Stay Positive – Stress and anxiety take a toll on your whole body, including your immune system. Smiles and laughter actually bolster your immunity. Don’t let the colder weather get you down—your health depends on it.
  2. Sleep – Sleep is when our bodies and our brains clean out the trash and make repairs. You cannot expect to make it through winter or even summer unscathed if you do not get enough sleep. Study after study backs this up. You are more likely to get sick if you aren’t sleeping well.
  3. Exercise – Your body also relies on movement to detoxify tissues, remove cellular waste, and even transport immune cells where they are needed. That’s right, the lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump like the heart to do it all, so our activity levels matter more than you know. Exercise also improves heart health and blood circulation to keep cells nourished, healthy, and resistant to infections.
  4. Water – Hydration is important in every aspect of health, from digestion to immunity. Drink plenty of filtered water every day. If you are sick, drink more. Inadequate water intake has been linked to worsened symptoms for asthma, allergies, headaches, and much more.
  5. Cut Back on Alcohol – Alcohol is a depressant that affects the body and the brain in some interesting and sometimes fun ways. Unfortunately, it also dulls the immune system. You are more likely to get sick after some heavy drinking, so take it easy out there.
  6. Cut Back on Sugar – Refined carbohydrates hit our system hard, increase inflammation, and can damage cells throughout the body. Sugar also suppresses the immune system. This isn’t the case with fruits and vegetables which balance sugar with fiber, water, vitamins, and minerals. Eat more of those and avoid the processed stuff.
  7. massage_relieves_stress_and_boosts_the_immune_system_picMassage – Chronic stress weakens the immune system and massage is a great way to relieve stress. It also improves circulation of both blood and lymphatic fluid to keep you healthier. Fall, winter, and early spring are great times to indulge yourself in more massages to help keep your immune system in top shape.
  8. Probiotics – Your digestive system is one of the body’s first lines of defense. This may sound gross, but if your intestines are full of beneficial bacteria, there’s far less room for the bad ones. The friendly flora and fauna down there work hard to keep invaders from getting a foothold, so feel free to give them a hand every once in a while with reinforcements and supplies as they fight so many battles to keep you safe.
  9. Garlic – Garlic contains powerful sulfur compounds with antibiotic, antifungal, and antiviral properties. Spice up your meals and your immune system at the same time. You can add it to your recipes more often this time of year or you can mince it up, mix it in warm water, and drink it like tea for a huge boost.
  10. Coconut OilCoconut oil contains lauric acid which likes to dissolve the lipid barriers of harmful viruses and bacteria. This makes it great for internal and external use during cold and flu season. Use it as lotion to create a barrier on your skin, include it in your cooking, and even take a spoonful once in a while. There are so many more ways to use coconut oil too. Use it as a facial cleanser, add some to your tea, or dab a bit in each nostril to keep from getting bloody noses and give your mucus a bit more germ blocking power.
  11. drink_tea_to_prevent_colds_picHot Teas – Warm drinks soften mucus and help your body remove captured invaders. The antioxidants in teas help rejuvenate cells and prepare them to resist illness. Many of the herbs that go into teas also have their own immune boosting benefits.
  12. Zinc – Pumpkin seeds are a staple during fall and it turns out that may help prevent and cut short the duration of many colds. Don’t overdo it though. Too much zinc begins to impair immune function. The sweet spot is less than 30mg a day. Spinach, nuts, beans, mushrooms, and dark chocolate are good sources of zinc too.
  13. Vitamin D – One reason many people begin getting sick in the fall and winter is due to the huge shift we have away from sunlight. The weather gets cooler, so we put on more clothes, stop hitting the beach, and shun the great outdoors. The sun is also lower in the sky and we get less of its light. Vitamin D is part of creating cathelicidin, a protein that kills viruses, and it may be how many immune cells communicate with one another. On the warmer days, head outside and soak up twenty minutes of sunshine and maybe look into a supplement. Vitamin D3, the more bioavailable form, is even now offered for vegans and vegetarians, coming from lichen.
  14. Natural Vitamin C – There is little evidence that supplemental vitamin C actually helps with colds or flu, but that may not hold true for the natural forms found in foods. Synthetic vitamin C found in supplements is just a part of a complex of compounds. Natural vitamin C from whole foods is a vital antioxidant that is used throughout the body. Citrus and red bell peppers are two of your best places to find it.
  15. vitamin_c_and_cinnamon_boost_th_immune_system_picCinnamon – Cinnamon is a spice we start using more often as it gets colder. It warms the body and has antibiotic and antiviral properties that make it a great addition to your defenses. Cinnamon tea is an excellent way to keep your immune system warmed up and ready each morning.
  16. Omega 3s – These omega fatty acids are good fats that decrease inflammation and increase the activity of phagocytes, cells that literally eat the bad guys. Flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and purslane are good vegan options. Wild salmon is one of the best sources for any of our non-vegan readers.
  17. Adaptogens – There are many herbs that help the body deal with stress and adapt to changes. Astragalus and ginseng are two that are especially good at boosting immune function, by increasing white blood cells and interleukins.
  18. Essential Oils – Clove, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus, rosemary, lavender, and so many more essential oils help kill bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Dilute them in coconut oil and rub them on your hands as a safe sanitizer. Mist them in your room to soothe and calm sore throats and sinus issues. Or put a few drop in a bowl of hot water to inhale and steam away illness.
  19. Immune Shield – Silver ions are another powerful antibiotic, antiviral, and antifungal. Immune Shield combines ionic silver with fulvic acid and nourishing minerals to make it even more effective.
  20. Raw Vitamins – Sunwarrior’s Raw Vitamins for Him and Her are full of many of the superfoods listed above, including adaptogens, vitamin D3 from lichen, probiotics, whole-food vitamin C, zinc, and powerful herbs.

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Claims on this site have not been evaluated by the FDA. Information on this site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Sunwarrior’s awesome expert writers do not replace doctors and don’t always cite studies, so do your research, as is wise. Seek the advice of a medical professional before making any changes to your lifestyle or diet.

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COMMENTS / REPLIES 18

Want to add your voice?

  • What best home remedies are best to treat eczema. I have had eczema for the past two years and it does not get better by the time.

    • In reply to Busi's comment

      Hi Busi...

      Re eczema...I find raw, organic coconut oil brilliant as an emolient to protect my skin after a shower, it's antibacterial, antifungal, moisturising, etc. What you eat is important...wheat and cow's dairy products are known to aggravate it as are nightshade fruits/veg...tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and aubergines (eggplant). Apples are brilliant as they contain quercetin, as does redbush tea, omega oils and a good probiotic help me. I avoid harsh chemicals in washing powders or anything heavily perfumed. Lots of water...it can be complex, but building the immune system with plenty of organic, if poss, fruit and veg, minimising stress and triggers (for me it's dust, harsh chemicals, printing ink, etc) the coconut oil has been the biggest help for myself...look after yourself, Jackie

  • Hey Charlie, I really loved the list you made. #s 7 massage, 15 cinnamon, and 18 essential oils were my favorite. It's perfect with my squalene supplement to boost my immune system and keep my skin nourished inside out.

  • along with all your wonderful suggestions, here is an old great grandma suggestion; gargle with a mixture of one cup of water and 1 tsp salt several times throughout the day, when you feel an itchy throat coming on, it works!

  • Hi Laura, I would ask your doctor to check your immunoglobulin levels to see if you have any IG deficiencies (not producing certain antibodies). For example, some people lack IGA and can be more prone to respiratory and gut infections (especially bacterial).

  • Great tidbits of info for boosting immune function this fall. I am an expert Orthomolecular nutritionist and write my own monthly blogs. You may call on me if you are looking for a quote for a future article you are writing. Have an awesome day!

  • You forgot sex. Helps against colds too.

  • I have had Asthma, and pneumonia for almost 2 weeks now, but it is a common problem I have , every few years, when it hits me it really does a number on me, lung infection, last time I had this problem the pneumonia lasted for 14 months, I am really frightened it will last this long again, I was born with ASTHMA, I expect it and have been good at handling it, but when pneumonia hits me it affects me so bad, I get so very sick, do you have any advice for me? Please respond soon as I am not feeling that great right now, I will look forward to your reply. Thank You.

    • Hi Laura,

      Please go see your doctor and have them check the possibly of a lung parasite. They should ask for a few tests and either look into your lungs with a scope or check for the parasite another way. Lung parasites can cause server lung complications and are usually not found until its too late or by accident.

      They are not common but people never look into parasites being a cause unless the doctor has Tropical Disease specialization. Please at least talk with your doctor about it and document any symptoms, so they can treat you easier. Make sure they look into it, pneumonia whatever the cause is a very serious illness.

      Just stopped by out of concern, wishing you all the best....God bless!

    • Moderator

      In reply to Lioness's comment

      Thank you, Lioness!

    • Laura,
      You can also look into the products in your home- cleaning, laundry, dish soap,etc. Many products used in your home can have a bad effect if you have asthma. Let me know if you would like to know what I use in my home and why.

    • Moderator

      In reply to Bekah's comment

      Thank you, Bekah. Very good points.

    • Moderator

      So sorry to hear that, Laura. You should probably consult with a health care professional. I'm not a doctor, just someone who loves nutrition and natural foods, so anything I say should be taken with a grain of salt and not as a cure-all for any disease. Having said that, I suggest you read this article on lung health http://www.sunwarrior.com/news/foods-for-lung-health/ and combine it with some of the things above. Hot teas with honey, lots of garlic in my food, hot baths with baking soda and sea salt, and some essential oils in a bowl of steaming water for inhalation is what I'd be doing in your shoes. I hope you start feeling better soon.