As you transition into the fall and winter seasons it becomes more important to boost your immune system. It’s difficult enough to stay healthy during our typical “Cold and Flu Season”, but now we find ourselves in the middle of a global pandemic. Protecting our bodies and supporting our immune systems may have never been more important than now.
Here are 6 simple ways that will help boost your immune system.
- Zinc – Zinc is a vital mineral that is important in many different functions in the human body. One of the most important functions is with natural immunity. Our body has an incredible defense mechanism against foreign invaders like viruses and bacteria. Zinc is a mineral that mediates the production of many immune helper cells. It is very important to make sure you are getting enough zinc via natural or fortified food sources and supplementation since the human body does not have a zinc storage system. Many natural foods that contain zinc include meat (especially red meat), beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, dairy, eggs, shellfish, and dark chocolate. If you do not consume these foods on a regular basis, it is wise to get your zinc through proper supplementation. The recommended dosage of daily zinc is 11mg for adult males and 8mg for adult females. Consult with your chiropractic physician before beginning any new supplementation to ensure safety.
- Vitamin D – One of the most commonly known facts about vitamin D is the role it plays with bone health and calcium absorption. Not only is vitamin D helpful with bone health, but it plays a vital role in immune function. Scientists have found that on average vitamin D levels in humans are lowest during the winter months. Vitamin D helps to increase immune cells’ production of proteins that help fight off other microbes4. Another natural way to create vitamin D in your body is to get out in the sun. Sun stimulates the production of vitamin D in the body. The recommended dosage of vitamin D for adults 19 and older is 600 IU and for adults >80 years old 800 IU daily.
- Vitamin C – Vitamin C has a variety of effects on immune health5. Our skin has concentrations of vitamin C found throughout the various layers. Skin serves as a protection against outside invaders and vitamin C is one of the supportive antioxidants that help keep our skin healthy and protected. White blood cells help support our immune system by searching for damaged or infected areas. As soon as these infected areas are found, the white blood cell will help clean up the area. Vitamin C plays an important role in keeping our white blood cells healthy and protected. Taking adequate vitamin C is a healthy habit to get into. The recommended daily dosage of vitamin C for adults is 90mg for males and 75mg.
- Sleep – As a kid, whenever I would get sick, I would hear the phrase, “Get plenty of rest and fluids”. I never really understood why sleeping would help me get better, but it almost always seemed to work. Scientists have studied the effect of sleep and the immune system and have discovered why sleep helps us when we are ill. During certain cycles of sleep, especially during our deepest states of sleep, certain protective cytokines (small proteins) are released to help fight off infection or inflammation. When we are sleep deprived, our body goes into “stress mode” which will then decrease our immune response. Getting adequate sleep (approximately 7-9 hours each night) will help boost your immune system.
- Exercise – Exercise can help slow down the release of stress hormones. When stress hormones are being released our body becomes more susceptible to illness. Just remember: long-standing stress will weaken your immune system. Stress is an important part of our lives, but when left unchecked, can wreak havoc on our bodies. Exercise is a great outlet to release stress. Exercise also has the ability to release endorphins. Endorphins are considered “happy hormones”. When released, endorphins trigger a positive feeling in our bodies, similar to the effect of morphine. This effect can help decrease pain and help us feel good throughout the day. If exercise seems overwhelming, just start with where you are– go outside and walk for 20-30 minutes, take the stairs instead of an elevator every now and again, or park further away at the grocery store. Getting any kind of exercise can help reduce stress and boost your immune system.
- Chiropractic Adjustments – Some may think, “How can a chiropractic adjustment help boost my immune system?” We get this question a lot. If you are constantly in pain and this pain is interfering with your daily life, then you likely have stress. As we have already discussed, long-standing stress can decrease the immune response in the body. Getting regular adjustments can either help you get out of pain or keep you out of pain, thus reducing stress and boosting the immune system.
About Elite Chiropractic & Performance Center
Located just outside of Salt Lake City and in the heart of the Salt Lake Valley, Elite Chiropractic & Performance Center is the premier chiropractic office in Utah. Dr. Monte Layton, Jeremy Wimmer, Chris Harbrecht, and Jordan Mousley specialize in providing care for many different conditions and injuries. Those in the community seek Elite’s care for low back pain, neck pain, shoulder, knee, elbow, wrist, hip, ankle, and foot pain. Call today to schedule your first appointment. 801-432-7511.
- Prasad A. S. (2008). Zinc in human health: effect of zinc on immune cells. Molecular medicine (Cambridge, Mass.), 14(5-6), 353–357. https://doi.org/10.2119/2008-00033.Prasad
- Aranow C. (2011). Vitamin D and the immune system. Journal of investigative medicine: the official publication of the American Federation for Clinical Research, 59(6), 881–886. https://doi.org/10.2310/JIM.0b013e31821b8755
- Besedovsky, L., Lange, T., & Born, J. (2012). Sleep and immune function. Pflugers Archiv: European journal of physiology, 463(1), 121–137. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00424-011-1044-0
- Cannell JJ, Vieth R, Umhau JC, Holick MF, Grant WB, Madronich S, Garland CF, Giovannucci E. Epidemic influenza and vitamin D. Epidemiol Infect. 2006 Dec;134(6):1129-40. DOI: 10.1017/S0950268806007175. Epub 2006 Sep 7. PMID: 16959053; PMCID: PMC2870528.
- Carr, A. C., & Maggini, S. (2017). Vitamin C and Immune Function. Nutrients, 9(11), 1211. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9111211