Boost your defenses!

7 ways to enhance immune health

Within your body is an amazing protection mechanism called the immune system. It defends you against millions of bacteria, microbes, viruses, toxins and parasites that would love to invade your body. Environmental factors like diet and nutrition, stress, sleep deprivation, pollution, obesity, smoking and alcohol can all overwhelm your physical system and lead to low immunity. Frequent illnesses can lead to more serious imbalances and diseases over time. Look after your body and it will look after you. Your greatest wealth is your health!

Here’s 7 simple ways to boost your immunity:

1. Stay hydrated

Drink 10 to 12 cups of water a day to help flush out toxins. If you’re not getting enough water, toxins accumulate in the body, diminishing the health of your immune system and depleting your energy. Begin each glass with a glass of room-temperature or warm water and fresh lemon.

2. Eat fresh foods

Stay away from chemical-laden and processed foods as they depress the immune system and overburden your liver. Avoid refined sugars, which rob the body of vitamins and minerals. Artificial sweeteners are absolute no-nos, too; these neurotoxins are damaging to the body and your overall health. Eat foods that are high in omega 3 fatty acids, as these are paramount for cell health, reduce inflammation, and prevent DNA damage. Omega 3 rich foods include nuts and seeds, especially walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, seaweeds, hemp seeds and powders, spirulina and chlorella. And we all know that foods high in vitamin support healthy immunity. Most of us turn to citrus as our go-to source for vitamin C, but other great options include strawberries, cherries, papaya, kiwi, bell peppers, guava, and pomegranate. Incorporate fresh garlic and onion in your dishes (garlic is nature’s most powerful antibiotic), and drink ginger tea to help relieve congestion.

3. Take high-quality supplements

Supplements ensure that you’re getting everything your body needs, especially during times of stress. A high-potency multivitamin and mineral that’s high in B vitamins, vitamin C, zinc and magnesium helps to keep the body healthy. Probiotics improve intestinal flora (good bacteria) and boost your immunity.

4. Sweat

Move your body! Movement increases lymphatic circulation and circulation helps to remove toxins, which means a healthier immune system. Further, your skin is the biggest eliminative organ of the body, so sweating alone helps to reduce impurities.

5. De-stress with yoga, meditation and deep breathing

Stress increases certain hormones in the body that can eventually wear us out, both physically and mentally. By employing techniques such as yoga, meditation and deep breathing, the nervous system relaxes and levels of stress can decrease. Research shows that people who dedicate time to stress management are sick less often that those who don’t.

6. Rest

Adequate sleep is just as important as everything else. Honour your body and give it time to recuperate and recharge. Don’t overwork yourself or repeatedly push beyond your capacity. It’s taxing on the nervous system, the immune system and your overall health and well-being. Rest if required for detoxification, recovery and cell repair. Try going to bed at the same time each night to help to maintain a healthy rhythm.

7. Love yourself

Whereas negative self-talk and debilitating thoughts increase stress and acidify the body, positive thinking and affirmations help to boost our immunity and raise our vibrations. When we replace the negative chatter with gratitude, for example, we increase our overall health, raise our vibrations and generally become happier people! And research shows that happier people get sick less often. With awareness we can change the way we think; but, as with anything else worth doing, it takes time and practice to become good at it. Make the effort: you’re worth it!

Grace Van Berkum is an adventurous, health conscious Canadian who lives in beautiful tropical Nicaragua. She offers Gracious Living Yoga Adventure Retreats that focus on detoxification of body and mind. They incorporate yoga, raw food workshops, meditation, breathing exercises, surfing and volcano hiking.

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