Updated: May 30
By Dr. Leila Doolittle
Holistic health focuses on the root cause of all symptoms and dysfunction. Once of the biggest causes of frequent illness is a weakened immune system. While there are many worldly, environmental, and nutritional factors that contribute to immune dysfunction, there are even more ways to combat it. Most of these include lifestyle changes that make a major difference in the way your body and immune system reacts to influencing health factors.
Our immune system is the body's defense mechanism against infections and diseases. It is responsible for identifying and eliminating harmful pathogens that enter our body, such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi. A strong immune system is crucial for maintaining good health and preventing illnesses. However, various factors can weaken our immune system, such as stress, poor diet, lack of sleep, and exposure to toxins. Therefore, it's essential to support and boost our immune system to stay healthy and prevent diseases. In this blog post, we will discuss some effective ways to support and boost the immune system. These methods are the most natural and holistic as possible.
Maintain a healthy diet
The food we eat has a significant impact on our immune system. A healthy and balanced diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants can help strengthen our immune system. Include foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats in your diet. These foods are rich in nutrients that can help fight off infections and diseases. The more color your plate has on it, the healthier the food will be for your body.
At my clinic, Resonance Wellness, I teach about the importance of phytonutrients--a compound produced by plants that helps resist fungi, bacteria, plant viral infections and other potentially harmful toxins. Phytonutrients are also known as phytochemicals, or antioxidants, because they help prevent sickness in plants. Vegetables contain this important compound as well. Indulging in fresh veggies will provide one's system with nutrients that can help the body fight off infections, bacteria and viruses. Therefore; a healthy diet equals a healthy immune system. My favorite phrase is "build a vibrant plate for a vibrant life" because I encourage my patients to strive for vibrance everyday.
Drinking enough water is crucial for maintaining good health and supporting the immune system. Water helps flush out toxins and waste from the body, which can weaken the immune system. Aim to drink at least eight glasses of water per day, and avoid sugary drinks, which can harm your immune system. Drinking at least half your body weight in ounces of water daily is the best way to calculate if you are drinking enough water. We all know that our bodies are made up of 70% water; our brains are essentially sponges which need to soak in water to remain plump and healthy. This is why brain fog and fatigue are such big symptoms of dehydration--the brain cannot function if it is dried out, meaning the body cannot function either.
As a Functional Medicine doctor, my job is to teach you the healthiest sources of all nutritional, environmental and medicinal options. This includes sources for hydration. The most pure water is that which has been run through a Reverse Osmosis system.
Reverse osmosis is a water purification system that utilizes a semi-permeable membrane to remove impurities and contaminants from H20. The process of reverse osmosis works by applying pressure to the water, forcing it through the membrane, which allows pure water molecules to pass through while blocking impurities and contaminants such as salts, minerals, chemicals, and other particles. The purified water is then collected in a separate container, while the remaining impurities are flushed away. Reverse osmosis is an effective method for creating pure water molecules because it removes up to 99% of impurities and contaminants.
Most commonly found in water, especially in the city, is tiny lead particles from the lead piping, and a chemical called chlorine, which is used to "clean" the water, but is instead poisoning its consumers. Both of these are very harmful for the body, which is why drinking tap water is highly unadvised by almost all healthcare professionals. By limiting our toxic intake, we can support our immune systems and fight off viruses and infections before they can affect us.
Regular exercise is not only good for your physical health but also your immune system. Exercise can help improve circulation, reduce stress, and boost the production of immune cells that help fight off infections. Aim to exercise for at least 30 minutes per day, five days a week.
A major component in health is exercising regularly, but what is the science behind its magic? Not only does it increase blood circulation and ease the parasympathetic system, but it also opens drainage pathways within our body's lymphatic system. These lymphatic pathways are valves and channels which carry waste and toxins through the body and excrete them through urination, defecation, and glandular sweat. This is also why bowel movements are so important; they rid the body of excess minerals, waste, chemicals, and other toxins. Exercise opens the lymphatic valves so that the toxins can drain out of the body. Sweating during exercise means the body is doing its job at flushing these so that the rest of the organ systems can function properly.
Exercise also activates the digestive tract. The motion and activity helps
stimulate the bowels and colon to digest and excrete fully so there is no stagnancy within the system.
All of this detoxification is vital; If there are no toxins for the body to focus on getting rid of, the immune system can focus on decreasing the viral load and minimizing bacteria to prevent illness or infection.
Stay active so the immune system can stay active.
Get enough sleep
A healthy sleep routine is essential for maintaining a robust and effective immune system. During sleep, the body repairs and regenerates itself, which helps to strengthen the immune system's ability to fight off infections and diseases. When we are sleep-deprived, our body produces fewer cytokines, which are proteins that help fight infections and inflammation. Lack of sleep also increases the production of stress hormones, such as cortisol, which can suppress the immune system's response. In contrast, getting enough sleep can boost the production of antibodies, which are proteins that target and neutralize harmful pathogens. Aim to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep per night. Infants and toddlers need much more sleep since their brains and bodies are developing so rapidly.
Establishing a healthy sleep routine, such as going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bedtime, and creating a relaxing environment, can go a long way in supporting and boosting the immune system. An important factor in undisrupted sleep is limiting EMF exposure. EMF stands for electro-magnetic frequency. These frequencies are emitted from all technology that puts off radiation and is connected to a Wi-Fi network, cellular or mobile data, Bluetooth, or any other online connection. The radiation from electronic devices, especially in a close vicinity, is harmful to our bodily systems as well as disrupts sleep and brain function. Limit the exposure of EMFs to yourself and loved ones at all times, especially when sleeping. Maintain a comfortable, safe environment that is quiet and free from distractions. Drink plenty of water the day before so your brain has the hydration it needs to help repair bodily function, therefore strengthening the immune system.
Stress is one of the biggest factors that has a negative impact on the immune system by increasing the production of stress hormones that suppress the immune response. Therefore, it's essential to find ways to manage stress, such as meditation, yoga, activity, or deep breathing exercises. When the body is taken out of parasympathetic mode by stress, it has much less energy to put toward healing and fighting viruses and infection because it has been signaled to put more energy toward the extremities to run away from the external stressors that could be endangering one's life--but the body cannot tell the difference between stressing about finances and worrying about getting eaten by a lion. When the body is stressed, it releases stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones help the body to react quickly in a perceived threat situation, commonly referred to as the "fight or flight" response.
However, chronic stress can lead to a prolonged release of stress hormones, which can suppress the immune system's ability to fight off infections and diseases. This is because stress hormones interfere with the functioning of white blood cells, which are responsible for protecting the body against harmful pathogens.
Chronic stress can also lead to inflammation, which can further weaken the immune system. Inflammation occurs when the body's immune response becomes overactive and starts attacking healthy tissues, leading to chronic diseases such as arthritis and heart disease.
Stress can also impact the body's ability to produce new immune cells, such as T cells and B cells. These cells are responsible for recognizing and attacking foreign invaders in the body, and a weakened immune system can lead to an increased susceptibility to infections.
Therefore, it is essential to manage stress levels to maintain a healthy immune system. Activities such as exercise, meditation, and yoga can help reduce stress levels and strengthen the immune system. Regularly check in with your body and send it calming, reaffirming, loving signals so it doesn't have a reason to activate stress signals.
Supplements such as vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, and probiotics can help support the immune system.
In conclusion, supporting and boosting the immune system is crucial for maintaining good health and preventing diseases. Eating a healthy diet, staying hydrated, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, reducing stress, avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, and taking supplements can all help support the immune system. By following these tips, you can help keep your immune system strong and healthy.
The immune system works best when the body's basic needs are met. This is why I suggest following these steps in order to meet those needs and boost your immune system to prevent illness, disease, and dysfunction.
Immunity is strong when the body is strong. Our system is constantly working to keep us alive and healthy, so long as our bodies are not in survival mode. Maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly, sleeping plenty, and other healthy habits that don't put stress on our system is exactly how the immune system can be supported.
At our clinic, Resonance Wellness, we offer Functional Medicine and Neurology, along with many other therapies that support the immune system, digestion, and overall health and wellbeing. Book an appointment to learn more about how to support your immune system specifically and get other foundational lifestyle/nutritional guidance and recommendations. Click here to get started on your healing journey!
By Dr. Leila Doolittle
Resonance Wellness Clinic