Medically reviewed by Dr. Shunmukha Priya, Ph.D. in Food Science and Nutrition
With Corona virus creating a world-havoc, everyone has started thinking of ways to remain healthy and hygienic. From better sanitisation to opting for healthier foods, people are becoming aware.
Today, the entire world is facing a crisis situation. Through caller tune awareness or through public health notices, every one of us is learning to be safe and preparing for this existing catastrophe.
While we may have changed our routine and become more acquainted with desolation, we should also focus on improving our immune system to defend our bodies better.
Our bodies need a continuous supply of nutrients to help it function properly and to keep the body’s immune system strong.
The immune system is a defense system of the host body that helps it fight several diseases. This system comprises different organs and processes of the body that act as walls of resistance to various types of infection and toxins. In simple words, the immune system is like a natural Armour for the body to protect it and help it cope with emergency situations.
In this article, we bring you a few natural ways to boost the immune system. Before that, let’s know more about our immune system and how it works.
How Does the Immune System Work?
Our body is a complex interface of a vast network of cells and tissues that is alert all the time to spot, fight and protect the body from invaders like parasites, viruses, bacteria etc. The immune system is interconnected throughout our body.
The system is designed in a way that it recognizes foreign pathogens and prepares every cell of the body to put up a fight against the invaders. The immune system detects the alien cells known as antigens and forms a series of functions to destroy them. 
What constitutes the Immune System?
Our immune system is mainly composed of white blood cells. Also known as leukocytes, these cells circulate in the body and are always in the lookout for pathogens.
When they come across a foreign cell, they signal to all the cells within the body to get ready to attack the antigen. WBCs either break the antigens or prepare antibodies to fight against the antigens.
These white blood cells are derived from the multi-potent cells in the bone marrow region. Even though these cells constitute just about one per cent of your blood, the impact of them in your body is quite integral.
There are many types of WBCs that work differently on foreign bodies. When the WBC counts lower, the immune system of the body weakens – allowing several diseases to come and attack the body.
How to Boost the Immune System Naturally?
The Immune System needs its fair doses of vitamins and other nutrients to work properly. When the In babies are in the womb, antibodies are passed on by the mother through the placenta that works for the baby’s immunity. But as the baby grows, it depends on external sources for the growth of the immune system.
Through diet and healthy routines, one’s immune system can be strengthened naturally. So, if you are thinking of popping some immune-boosting pills, it’s time to ditch that all and embrace a natural way of boosting the immune system.
Here are the seven natural ways to boost the immune system.
1. Rework on your diet
The first and the foremost step in improving your immune system is following a nutritional diet with the immune system booster foods. Studies show that a strong immunity of the body depends on a stronger gut.
Our bodies require different nutrients that help in building different blocks of the body. A diet that is abundant in fruits and vegetables is essential to support your body.
- Include foods that are rich in antioxidants- they fight against the free radicals in the body that may weaken the immune system.
- Add healthy fats such as omega-3 rich fatty acids. These fatty acids help in fighting depression and inflammation that causes immune system depreciation. Fish, flaxseeds, seeds of pumpkin, sun flower, muskmelon, walnuts and almonds are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids. 
- Include anti-inflammatory foods in your diet. When the immune system alerts the body about foreign invaders, a process occurs in the body, known as inflammation. Persistence of this process may lead to chronic inflammation that is linked to several diseases. Tomatoes, leafy veggies, fatty fish, fruits and nuts can be good sources of anti-inflammatory foods. 
- Drink lots of water. While this tip is useful for a naturally glowing skin, it is also very useful in removing toxins from the body that helps in reducing the negative impact on the immune system. 
2. Get enough sleep
Sleep deprivation can do much more than just creating dark circles! Your body needs enough sleep to keep the immune system strong. While sleeping, a protein is released by the immune system, known as cytokines. This protein promotes sleep as well as helps you fight certain infections and stress.
Not getting enough sleep decreases the production rate of cytokines, thereby weakening the immune system to fight against diseases as well as stress. It is interesting to note that many studies link under sleep to certain health problems that originate from a compromised immune system. The studies have also shown the lowering of T-cells whenever we are sleep deprived.
Sleep and circadian rhythms are directly linked to immunological processes. This is established further with the bidirectional communication between the central nervous system and the immune system. Prolonged sleep deprivation brings in stress that leads to the persistent unspecific production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and immunodeficiency. 
In fact, the SleepFoundation.org has reported that sleep deprivation effects on the immune system mirror the effects of physical stress. So yes, this would be a good time to ditch all-nighters!
3. Bust away the stress
There’s a strong relationship among stress, illness and of course, the immune system. When we are stressed, the immune system’s ability to fight the antigens gets reduced. The stress hormone, corticosteroid lowers the number of lymphocytes – a type of white blood cells.
Stress is related to several diseases. During stress, digestion is hindered and the adrenaline released because of a stress response can lead to stomach ulcers. Stress also inhibits the heart rate that leads to high blood cholesterol levels.
While stress-induced immune system suppression may not hamper much but a chronic suppression of the immune system may lead to life-threatening diseases. Stress is also associated with heart issues that increase the chances of coronary heart diseases, hypertension as well.
The relation of stress and the immune system is also explained through a study of acute and chronic stressors impacting the wound healing process. This proves that wound healing, an intricate process between dermal cells and the immune system, gets affected by stress.
4. Bring on the exercises
How to increase immunity by home remedies? Simple! Put on your exercise pants!
Daily exercises act as an adjuvant for the immune system. They help in keeping up the natural defense system of the body by positively impacting the body metabolism.  Moderate exercise has shown results in mobilizing immune system cells that help the body fight the several types of pathogens.
There also have been studies that show that leading a physically active lifestyle not only reduces the chances of communicable diseases such as bacterial infections but also helps in fighting viral infections and non-communicable diseases such as cancer. 
In a study by David Nieman of Appalachian State University, moderate exercises may lead to long-term immune system response. In his study, he found that people who followed a regular walking regime for 40 minutes had half as many sick days due to colds or sore throats as those who don’t exercise. 
Regular exercises also help ageing people in fighting common diseases that can otherwise impact them greatly.
5. Maintaining hygiene
Another important natural way to boost the immune system is to maintain proper hygiene.
While the world is witnessing sterilization and quarantine is becoming the new solution to fight COVID-19, maintaining a clean and healthy environment majorly impacts the immune system. That is why we notice that people who are not living in good conditions are often susceptible to common diseases.
Maintaining hygiene is as simple as learning to wash hands properly to be mindful of cooking habits, to be alert while using public restrooms and to be aware of pollution. 
6. Being ready with supplements
Several herbal antivirals behave as natural remedies for boosting the immune system. While a proper diet helps in getting the required nutrients, several natural herbal supplements can help you gear up your immune system. They are:
- Astragalus – it helps in improving digestion and building up the body’s defense system against viruses.
- Echinacea – aka the purple coneflower, echinacea, increases the number and activity of the immune system cells.
- Olive Leaf – besides fighting common cold and flu, olive leaves are also great for stabilising blood sugar levels and in aiding autoimmune disorders.
- Vitamin C – found in several citrus fruits and dark green leafy vegetables, Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant and helps to fight against immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease etc.
Besides the above steps, there are general healthy-living strategies to strengthen the immune system too.
- Avoid smoking
- Eat a well-balanced diet
- Moderate your alcohol consumption
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Avoid gatherings that may lead to communicable infections
7. Taking charge of the kitchen
As we have already mentioned, eating the right food is very important to help the immune system. That is why it is a good step to take charge of the kitchen and play a major role in choosing what you eat.
Some ingredients are known to be natural immune boosters. Mushrooms, Ginger, Garlic, Chilli and Onion are some of the major immunity-supporting food sources. Including them in your diet can be amazingly helpful to strengthen your immune system. The ideal way is to be mindful about what you eat and how you cook your food! 
If you are really busy and can’t find time to do the cooking, we bring to you this Immune Boosting Tea Recipe that can help you!
- 200 ml – Water
- 5 – 6 nos Tulsi Leaves
- 1/2 tsp Cinnamon Stick(Powdered)
- 1/4 tsp Green Tea
- Take some water in a tea vessel and add some tulsi leaves and boil.
- Add crushed cinnamon sticks and start boiling more.
- Now add the green tea leaves.
- After straining the tea, add one teaspoon of honey.
Enjoy your drink!
1. How can I boost my immune system fast?
A. You can fastly and naturally boost the immune system by maintaining a balanced diet that fulfils your body requirements. There are other ways like regulating enough sleep, maintaining stress and managing a proper weight that can speed up your immune system.
2. What are the signs of a weak immune system?
A. Some of the major signs of a weak immune system are chronic digestive issues, loss of appetite, inflammation of internal organs, blood abnormalities like anaemia and other autoimmune diseases.
3. What vitamins can boost your immune system?
A. Vitamin C is a major immune booster. Besides it, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin E also help in strengthening the immune system.
4. What foods weaken the immune system?
A. There are studies that have shown that a high intake of sugar content can suppress the immune system. Foods like deep fried foods, carbonated drinks, processed foods, refined carbohydrates, alcoholic drinks are associated with weakening of the immune system.
5. How to naturally boost the immune system?
A. With the right foods and the right lifestyle, you can power up your immunity naturally. However, there are some diseases that may lead to the degradation of the immune system. In that case, it is advisable to consult a physician.
Diseases that target the immune system usually occur due to deficiency of certain nutrients in the body, hence the first step to fight immunity issues is to get the right nutrition for the body!