How To Improve Your Immune System – A Daily Checklist

You probably don’t even notice your immune system working around the clock to protect you.

It’s easy to take the immune system for granted because it keeps us safe from infection 24/7. A healthy immune system helps you go about your daily activities and protects you from infections as you come in contact with germs from pets, people, and your environment.

At ElevateMe, we have identified immunity to be one of 7 core performance areas that are foundations for optimum life.

However, you are here to learn what you can do to improve your immune system. So here’s an actionable checklist.

In this checklist, we divide actionable tasks across lifestyle, nutrition, and supplements. These three categories reflect how the ElevateMe health app categorises recommendations in your journey to strong immunity.

Lifestyle changes to improve your immune system

1. Try to sleep within a fixed window

Sleep and immunity share a very close relationship.

The time you go to sleep is very important to the quality of sleep. In fact, inadequate or poor quality of sleep is linked to an increased risk of illness1. Ensuring your sleep time falls within an hour each night can support your body’s biological clock and ensure optimal recovery through the night2.

If you are having problems with your sleep schedule, head over to this checklist to help you get your sleep schedule back on track.

2. Spend a few minutes daily practicing mindfulness

Mindfulness helps to remove distracting and stressful thoughts. It makes you calmer and more aware of your surroundings.

There are many positive effects of mindfulness on the body. Research has shown that meditation improves immunity by increasing the number of antibodies in response to sickness3.

Practising mindfulness has been shown to reduce anxiety, increase concentration, boost happiness, and reduce negative thinking4. Make it a goal to practice mindfulness daily.

3. Incorporate these simple yoga techniques into your workout routine

Yoga has been used for ages to keep the body fit and healthy on a holistic level. It can recharge your body, get rid of toxins, negative energy and keep your vital organs functioning well.

Certain yoga techniques can help support, balance and boost the immune system. It can also help fight oxidative stress, which poses a risk to healthy cells.

The following yoga techniques can help boost your immunity5:

  • Sukshma Vyayam
  • Sthula Vyayama
  • Pranayama
  • Dhyana

Nutritional changes to improve your immune system

1. Boost your diet with more Mediterranean foods

Lowering cholesterol levels enables the immune system to fight chronic inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and infections that are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease6.

You can reduce cholesterol levels by consuming healthy fats.

Healthy fats are a staple of the Mediterranean diet. They are an excellent replacement for the unhealthy fats found in dairy products, biscuits, confectionery, and fried foods, all of which contribute to heart disease7.

  • Olive oil is the principal source of added fat in the Mediterranean diet. Monounsaturated fats, such as those found in olive oil, help in lowering total cholesterol and LDL (or ‘bad’) cholesterol levels7.
  • Fatty fish such as mackerel, sardines, tuna, salmon, and trout are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids help in lowering the risk of stroke and heart failure by lowering triglycerides and blood clotting6. Lowering triglycerides helps the immune system fight against cardiovascular diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel syndrome8. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation as well9.

2. Eat foods rich in iron

Iron provides the body with nutrients for growth, healthy hormones and improved blood oxygenation and helps your immune system fight diseases.

Consuming iron-rich foods improves ferritin stores and levels. Ferritin is an intracellular protein that can store and release iron, acting as a buffer against iron deficiency and iron overload10.

Iron-rich foods include green leafy vegetables, cocoa powder, dark chocolate, oatmeal, cereals, lamb and beef, nuts and pumpkin seeds. Leafy green vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli contain up to 36% of your daily iron requirements10.

3. Enhance your diet with cruciferous vegetables and leafy greens

Cruciferous and leafy green vegetables are excellent sources of fibre, iron, calcium, vitamins C, K and B9 (folate). These cruciferous vegetables play an important role in regulating the immune system and helping the immune cells in the gut to function properly11.

Most importantly, vitamin B9 plays a vital role in energy production and metabolism. It allows for methylation, which is essentially the switchboard of the body activating processes and molecules12.

Include asparagus, leafy greens, legumes, eggs and citrus fruits in your diet. Optimal folate intake is crucial for liver and immune health.

Supplements to improve your immune system

1. Turmeric

Turmeric is a plant that has a very long history of medicinal use, dating back nearly 4000 years. It has anti-inflammatory, choleretic, antimicrobial, and carminative actions13.

Above all, turmeric suppresses the inflammatory molecules which are responsible for the damage caused by viruses. It reduces the symptoms of inflammation and provides relief13.

Turmeric contains antioxidants, helping to attack viral pathogens that can damage your immune system. Antioxidants are the molecules that boost your immune system. They do so by protecting the cells from dangerous molecules called free radicals14.

Turmeric is a great supplement to boost your immunity and help you fight against viruses and pathogens15.

2. Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is commonly known as the “Indian Winter Cherry” or “Indian Gensing”. It is highly effective at reducing stress levels in the body and supporting the immune system16.

By increasing cell-mediated immunity, Ashwagandha boosts the body’s resistance against disease. It also possesses potent antioxidant properties that help protect against cellular damage caused by free radicals16.

If you are looking for a sure way to boost your immune system, consider taking an ashwagandha supplement.

3. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can help to boost your body’s natural defences. It contributes to immune defence by supporting various cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune system17

A vitamin C supplement should be on your list if you are looking to improve your immunity.

How can you improve your immune system with the ElevateMe Health App?

The ElevateMe health app is personalised for you.

Our at-home blood test kits check has an immunity test component too. This means that we identify all the blood biomarkers that have an impact on your immune system.

Our health algorithm combines your blood test results with your lifestyle survey and provides an overall score of your body’s immunity. Additionally, after analysing your scores, it provides you with the best action plan to help you improve your immune health.

Sign up for an ElevateMe health plan today to track and improve your immunity and 6 other performance areas.

Did you know?

Personalised preventative healthcare, where patients get a proactive rather than reactive approach towards preventing health scares, has been found to significantly reduce hospitalisations.

Take an ElevateMe blood test today to capture 21 blood test insights and track your sleep, fitness, energy, metabolism, cognition, mood, and immunity.

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References
  1. Prather, A., Janicki-Deverts, D., Hall, M. and Cohen, S., 2015. Behaviorally Assessed Sleep and Susceptibility to the Common Cold. Sleep, 38(9), pp.1353-1359.
  2. Weitzman, E. Zimmerman, J. Czeisler, C. and Ronda, J., 1983. Cortisol Secretion Is Inhibited during Sleep in Normal Man*. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 56(2), pp.352-358.
  3. Black, D. and Slavich, G., 2016. Mindfulness meditation and the immune system: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1373(1), pp.13-24.
  4. Chen, K., Berger, C., Manheimer, E., Forde, D., Magidson, J., Dachman, L. and Lejuez, C., 2012. MEDITATIVE THERAPIES FOR REDUCING ANXIETY: A SYSTEMATIC REVIEW AND META-ANALYSIS OF RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED TRIALS. Depression and Anxiety, 29(7), pp.545-562.
  5. Arora, S., Bhattacharjee, J., Gopal, A., Mondal, S. and Gandhi, A., 2011. Effect of integrated yoga practices on immune responses in examination stress – A preliminary study. International Journal of Yoga, 4(1), p.26.
  6. Feingold, K. and Grunfeld, C., 2021. The Effect of Inflammation and Infection on Lipids and Lipoproteins. [online] [Accessed 28 July 2021].
  7. Mayo Clinic. 2021. Mediterranean diet for heart health. [online] [Accessed 28 July 2021].
  8. Science Daily. 2021. Immune System And High Plasma Lipid Levels Linked. [online] [Accessed 2 August 2021].
  9. Kiecolt-Glaser, J., Epel, E., Belury, M., Andridge, R., Lin, J., Glaser, R., Malarkey, W., Hwang, B. and Blackburn, E., 2013. Omega-3 fatty acids, oxidative stress, and leukocyte telomere length: A randomized controlled trial. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 28, pp.16-24.
  10. Li, J., Wang, R., Luo, D., Li, S. and Xiao, C., 2013. Association between Serum Ferritin Levels and Risk of the Metabolic Syndrome in Chinese Adults: A Population Study. PLoS ONE, 8(9), p.e74168.
  11. Li, Y., Innocentin, S., Withers, D., Roberts, N., Gallagher, A., Grigorieva, E., Wilhelm, C. and Veldhoen, M., 2011. Exogenous Stimuli Maintain Intraepithelial Lymphocytes via Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor Activation. Cell, 147(3), pp.629-640.
  12. Thaler, C., 2014. Folate Metabolism and Human Reproduction. Geburtshilfe und Frauenheilkunde, 74(09), pp.845-851.
  13. Prasad, S. and Aggarwal, B., 2021. Turmeric, the Golden Spice. [online] [Accessed 28 July 2021].
  14. Alessio, H., Goldfarb, A. and Cao, G., 1997. Exercise-Induced Oxidative Stress before and after Vitamin C Supplementation. International Journal of Sport Nutrition, 7(1), pp.1-9.
  15. Samarghandian, S., Azimi-Nezhad, M., Farkhondeh, T. and Samini, F., 2017. Anti-oxidative effects of curcumin on immobilization-induced oxidative stress in rat brain, liver and kidney. Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, 87, pp.223-229.
  16. Singh, N., Bhalla, M., De Jager, P. and Gilca, M., 2011. An Overview on Ashwagandha: A Rasayana (Rejuvenator) of Ayurveda. African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines, 8(5S).
  17. Carr, A. and Maggini, S., 2017. Vitamin C and Immune Function. Nutrients, 9(11), p.1211
Improve Your Immune System

Written by Abhishek Majumdar

I'm an English Language and Linguistics student at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge. Learning from my time as a writer for my University's Journal I've decided to swim in the deep end put my passion for writing, my knowledge, and my keen interest in wellbeing, performance, and health to good use.

27/08/2021

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