Headed to a family get-together or holiday party? Boost immunity with these practical tips and strategies from the nutrition and health experts at FLCCC.

How to boost your immunity

How do you boost the immune system? That’s the question we’ll answer today. Since early in the COVID era, our experts have come together to research and create immunity-boosting strategies designed to keep you healthy.

In this post, we’ll give you practical immune-boosting tips that you can start using right away. Here’s what’s on deck:

  1. Immune System 101
  2. Natural Supplements & Vitamins for Immunity
  3. Medications for Immunity
  4. Treatment Options (If You Get Sick)

Much of what you’ll read in this post comes from FLCCC’s I-PREVENT guide. This is comprehensive guidance on how to:

  • Avoid infection before exposure, and;
  • Prevent infection if you have been exposed.

If you want a quick and effective guide, start with I-PREVENT. Keep reading for more details on boosting immunity naturally with supplements and, if needed, medications.

1. Immune System 101

The immune system functions in an almost magical way. There’s a lot to learn, but understanding the basics of immunity can help connect the dots with ways to support it.

Here’s a super-condensed version of how the immune system works:

It is a complex network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to defend the body against harmful invaders like bacteria, viruses, and toxins. It operates through two main branches:

  • The innate immune system: provides immediate but general protection.
  • The adaptive immune system: develops specific responses to particular pathogens.

The innate immune system includes physical barriers like skin and mucous membranes. It also contains special immune cells like natural killer cells and phagocytes. Those immune cells quickly respond to and destroy invading pathogens.

The adaptive immune system involves lymphocytes, including T-cells and B-cells, which recognize and remember specific pathogens. B-cells produce antibodies that target and neutralize invaders, while T-cells destroy infected cells.

That’s how it works, but what can we do to strengthen the immune system? Before we get into the supplements and medicines you can take, let’s look at what you can do to improve immunity the natural way:

  • Nutrition and Immunity
  • Sleep and Immune Function
  • Stress Management
  • Avoiding Harmful Habits

Nutrition and Immunity

Nutrition and immunity are deeply intertwined. There are simple rules that we can follow to give our immune systems a general boost. For example, stay away from processed foods, avoid sugar, and eat whole foods that support your immune system, like:

It’s a concept many of us know: give the machine better fuel, and it will work better. But we can look at list after list of foods to avoid, and somehow we still end up eating those foods!

Rather than give you another list, we called on the advice of Dr. Kristina Carman, a Naturopathic Doctor, Nutritional Therapist, and Functional Medicine Practitioner. She joined us recently on our weekly webinar to talk about having a healthy holiday – body and mind:

Sleep and Immune Function

Sleep is key to a healthy immune system. Studies show that when you rest, you restore processes like cytokine production, crucial in infection and inflammation response. Deep sleep boosts T-cell production, enhancing defense against viruses. Insufficient sleep weakens these immune mechanisms.

A University of California-San Francisco study reveals a clear sleep-immunity link: individuals getting under six hours of sleep a night are four times more likely to catch a cold than those sleeping more than seven hours. So rest up!

Stress Management

Chronic stress affects our immune system in big ways. A study called “Effects of stress on immune function” shows that when we’re stressed for a long time, our bodies struggle to fight off germs. This means we can get sick more easily. Stress can mess with how our immune cells work, making it harder for them to protect us.

To keep our immune system strong, it’s important to attempt to manage stress. Easier said than done, true, but simple things can go a long way, like:

  • Deep breathing
  • Eating healthy
  • Staying physically active
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Drinking enough water
  • Mindfulness activities such as Yoga Nidra
  • Adding yoga, tai chi, pilates, or stretching to your fitness routine

These steps help by reducing stress and helping our bodies fight off illnesses better. By taking care of our stress, we’re also enhancing our immune system.

Avoiding Harmful Habits

Keeping your immune system strong means more than just eating right and exercising. It also means avoiding bad habits that can weaken your immunity.

Things like smoking, not getting enough sleep, overeating junk food, prolonged screen time on computers and mobile devices, and even stressing out too much can all make it harder for your body to fight off germs. These habits can make you more likely to get sick and can have a big impact on your overall health.

2. Natural Supplements & Vitamins for Immunity

If you’re already well-rested and stress-free, congratulations! Your immune system must be in great shape. Even so, that doesn’t mean you can’t crank it up a few notches.

First, let’s check out some immune-boosting vitamins:

  • Vitamin D: dosing varies; the optimal target is greater than 50 ng/ml.
  • Vitamin C: 500 mg twice daily.
  • Zinc: 20-50 mg/day.

Those are the “must-have” vitamins for immunity. Several supplements can help too:

  • Melatonin: 1-6 mg nightly (slow/extended). Causes drowsiness.
  • Elderberry: follow the manufacturer’s dosing recommendations (gummy, supplement, or syrup).
  • Resveratrol: 400-500 mg daily.
  • Pre and Probiotics: follow the manufacturer’s dosing recommendations.
  • Coffee: one to two cups daily.
  • Nigella Sativa: 400-500 mg twice daily.
  • Green Tea: 500-1000 mg daily (or Black Tea or Matcha).
Boost immunity with nigella sativa and honey