After the pandemic of 2020 (virus which shall not be named) ravaged our day-to-day lives, it was apparent that just about everyone wanted to get a little healthier. An uptick in blogs and articles (not unlike this one, but probably more credible) were published en masse that dealt with this very subject, ranging from immunity to quarantine to paranoia. Because of this, everyone agreed that the tools to boost the immune system should be easily accessible.
On top of said virus is the annual flu, which carries with it a challenge of its own each year. Not only does it bring harsh symptoms, but the U.S. is plagued with deaths due to symptom complications. Health.com says, “Preliminary CDC estimates for the 2019-2020 influenza season indicate that, as of April 4, 2020, between 24,000 and 62,000 lost their lives to the flu. Add to that the misery of hundreds of thousands of flu-related hospitalizations and millions of medical visits for flu symptoms” (Gillespie, 2020).
Beyond the flu, allergies affect people year-round and if untreated, lead to worsening issues like sinus infections and chronic sinusitis. And even though allergies are better treated by clinical diagnosis and treatment, giving a boost to our immune system can help our experience with symptoms, especially if those sinus infections turn into chronic sinusitis (4 or more sinus infections per year, lasting longer than a normal infection).
Now, for the immune system part.
How to Boost the Immune System
Before we get started, it’s imperative we disclaimer this by saying any of these remedies are not supplements for actual in-clinic treatment from a professional.
For example, if you have the flu, it’s worth the effort to get diagnosed and receive a prescription that’ll get you through that virus.
In terms of allergies and sinus infections, an allergy test will point out the specific allergen that the body’s reacting to. For sinusitis, going to an ear, nose, and throat specialist will benefit you greatly.
Also, please note that these are not ways to boost the immune system against COVID-19. If you’ve tested positive, it’s best to seek medical advice.
Now, here’s a few things you can do at home to bring temporary relief until you make an appointment.
You’ve probably heard this one a million times and can’t seem to get away from this one, but the reason it’s touted as an immune system booster is that it actually works. Healthline actually suggests that moderate exercise (brisk walking, bicycling, jogging) can have great positive effects on the immune system. “Studies indicate that even a single session of moderate exercise can boost the effectiveness of vaccines in people with compromised immune systems (23Trusted Source). What’s more, regular, moderate exercise may reduce inflammation and help your immune cells regenerate regularly (23Trusted Source)” (Shoemaker, 2020).
Drink more water
No, not more coffee. Not more milk. Not more beer. Not more anything other than water. Staying hydrated ensures your body’s working the way it’s supposed to and helps relieve symptoms present. For example, when struggling with post-nasal drip, drinking more water thins the mucus and keeps it from getting stuck in the sinus and nasal passages, preventing infection.
There’s a reason we’re told to drink orange juice when we’re sick, and it’s not just some wive’s tale. Consumption of citrus means you’re getting a good amount of Vitamin C. Why’s that important? Because Vitamin C is believed to help increase white blood cells (Schend, 2020).
Take your vitamins
Not just any vitamins, although the ones we took as kids were pretty great, as adults we’ve gotta change those out for supplements like Vitamin C and Vitamin D. In some studies, vitamins like zinc and elderberry were helpful too. For zinc, Healthline states that, “In a review in 575 people with the common cold, supplementing with more than 75 mg of zinc per day reduced the duration of the cold by 33% (32Trusted Source)” (Shoemaker, 2020).
This one’s easier said than done. With all the stress getting passed around these days, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, but sleep affects our physical and mental health in so many ways. Without sleep, our mental health goes on a decline toward anxiety and depression, leading to more sleepless nights. On top of that, a lack of sleep weakens the immune system, making us vulnerable to various illnesses. Here’s a few things you can do to help you sleep better (Mawer, 2020) (Robinson, 2020):
- No electronics just before bed. The blue light can affect our sleep cycles.
- Exercise more, but not just before bedtime.
- Reduce caffeine intake, especially at night.
- Avoid meals and late-night snacking.
- Melatonin, a supplement that increases the sleep hormone in our bodies.
- Get a sleep study to confirm it’s not a sleep disorder, like sleep apnea or insomnia.
A change in diet
Unfortunately, most of the things we find delicious are not always great for our immune systems. No, a cheeseburger won’t cut it. A chocolate malt isn’t a supplement for something nutritious. Not that there’s anything wrong with those now and then, but to boost the immune system, a change in diet might be necessary. Here are a few immune boosting foods:
- Fruits (oranges, papaya, kiwi, lime, grapefruit)
- Vegetables (spinach, broccoli, red pepper, mushrooms, sweet potato)
- Green tea
These simple changes could help your immune system greatly. It is not proven that these things will prevent or treat COVID-19, and that’s not what we’re saying, but to boost the immune system is to give yourself a fighting chance against viruses, allergies, sinus issues, etc.
Now it’s time to break down the immune system function. What does it actually do? What parts of the body contribute to it?
How does the immune system function?
For those that may not know much about the immune system’s function, this will be a foundational exposit of information rather than a deep dive.
We all know the immune system protects us from foreign pathogens, viruses, dust, mold, bacteria, dander, etc. But what’s actually happening in the body when our immune systems are activated?
According to NCBI, “The immune system can be activated by a lot of different things that the body doesn’t recognize as its own. These are called antigens. Examples of antigens include the proteins on the surfaces of bacteria, fungi and viruses. When these antigens attach to special receptors on the immune cells (immune system cells), a whole series of processes are triggered in the body (NCBI, 2020).
And I don’t know about you, but I thought this was a cool segment from that same source: “Once the body has come into contact with a disease-causing germ for the first time, it usually stores information about the germ and how to fight it. Then, if it comes into contact with the germ again, it recognizes the germ straight away and can start fighting it faster.”
And there you have it. The immune system function and a boost to the immune system all wrapped up into one package with one message: Giving help to the immune system is always a great idea.
If you’re struggling with allergies, sinus infections, or ear pain, we’ve got you covered. To schedule a same-day or Saturday appointment, call 770-740-1860 or click the button below.
- Schend, J. (2020, April 30) 15 Foods That Boost the Immune System [Health Article] Retrieved on October 26th, 2020 from https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/foods-that-boost-the-immune-system
- Shoemaker, S. (2020, April 1) 9 Tips to Strengthen Your Immunity Naturally [Health Article] Retrieved on October 26th, 2020 from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-to-boost-immune-health
- NCBI (2020, April 23) How does the immune system work? [Medical Journal] Retrieved on October 26th, 2020 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279364/#:~:text=The%20immune%20system%20has%20a,various%20organs%2C%20cells%20and%20proteins.
- Gillespie, C. (2020, September 24) This is How Many People Die From the Flu Each Year, According to the CDC [Health Article] Retrieved on October 26th, 2020 from https://www.health.com/condition/cold-flu-sinus/how-many-people-die-of-the-flu-every-year
- Mawer, R. (2020, February 28) 17 Proven Tips to Sleep Better at Night [Health Article] Retrieved on October 27th, 2020 from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/17-tips-to-sleep-better
- Robinson, J., MD (2020, September 7) Immune-Boosting Foods: Berries, Oysters, & More [Health Article]