“Immune system” is a term that sounds simple, but it’s not. The immune system fights infections, diseases, bacteria, viruses, illness, germs and parasites. Even more interesting, on occasion the immune system fights the healthy workings of the body by incorrectly identifying a healthy biological process as something that needs to be attacked. This is called an autoimmune reaction.
Furthermore, the immune system may overreact to forgiven substances that are not harmful (example: pollen and grass). This results in what is known as allergies.
The immune system is responsible for many issues of chronic inflammation. The list of the biological variances of the immune system goes on and on.
So how do we make our immune system stronger?
Walk in to any health food store and you’ll find rows of shelves advertising immune system supporting, enhancing, improving, and/or boosting supplements. While being malnourished or having an unbalanced diet may require some micronutrient supplementation, herbal immune support pills have yet to be proven to “boost” your immune system. Although there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that they do help, the biological process has not yet been determined.
A fun case study from a 2013 review of 29 randomized trials with more than 11,000 participants:
Researchers in a Harvard Health study found that among highly active people (such as marathon runners, skiers, and Army troops doing intense exercise in subarctic conditions) taking at least 200 mg of Vitamin C every day appeared to cut the risk of getting a cold by 50%. But for the general population, taking daily Vitamin C did not reduce the risk of getting a cold.
We’re not poo-pooing Vitamin C. The problem is, the ones benefiting from the supplementation are the ones already incredibly fit. This Harvard study does go on to say that Vitamin C reduces the length of a cold and is a great supplement for overall health. But if the average person is taking it to avoid getting sick, it won’t help as much as you’d think.
Sorry folks, there’s no magic pill. The best way to stay healthy is by living a healthy lifestyle…dang it!
Here’s a quick list of things that will actually “boost” your immune system:
1.) Reduce stress – Make sure that your body spends a lot of time in the parasympathetic nervous system. Too much stress will keep us in the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight). In a state of fight or flight our body releases cortisol (the stress hormone), diverts blood away from internal organs, and into the muscles. The parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest), uses your body’s energy to take care of itself.
In a time when we’re recovering from a global pandemic, this may be easier said than done. Parasympathetic activities are mainly solo activities, you just need to make time for them. Go for a light jog or bike ride, meditate, do yoga, pet the dog or cat, journal, take some CBD and chillax!
2.) Stop smoking – This may be the most difficult, but simplest way to immediately boost your immune system. The anxiety that comes from cravings is often calmed by snacking on comfort foods. Try taking a small dose of CBD to calm the cravings. Also, make sure healthy snacks are handy! More on CBD & appetite regulation in an upcoming email.
3.) Maintain a healthy weight – That’s a whole different email, but there is a lot of info out there. Just find a diet or a discipline that you’ll follow, especially during a stressful time. Have a hard time sticking to a plan? Check out one of our favorite books, Atomic Habits, By James Clear.
4.) Exercise – Just do it. We know that you know the benefits of getting the ol’ ticker pumping and maintaining a healthy amount of muscle.
5.) Drink in moderation – I know moderation is vague so here’s this little tidbit - According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “drinking is considered to be in the moderate or low-risk range for women, at no more than three drinks in any one day and no more than seven drinks per week. For men, it’s no more than four drinks a day and no more than 14 drinks per week.” Drinking too much will affect a lot of biological systems, including sleep.
6.) Sleep – A lot of people suffer from sleep disorders. Take sleep seriously! Go to bed at the same time every night and try to wake up around the same time. Remember, the pineal gland produces melatonin when it gets dark (production peaks around midnight). Don’t fight it unless your work schedule gets in the way.
Don’t take naps longer than 15 minutes in the afternoon. You don’t want deep sleep during an afternoon nap; it will mess up your night’s sleep. Take CBD (try our C3 with CBD, CBN, & CBG) before bed to suppress anxiety and stressful thoughts. Design your bedroom for sleep: very dark, temperature controlled, and the perfect amount of sound (your preference with ambient noises).
7.) Wash your hands – We all know how to wash our hands, but studies show that 1 in 5 people do not wash their hands after using the bathroom. Ewww!
Hope this helps!
Stay Healthy, My Friends!