Natural Ways to Boost the Immune System


The immune system is an interactive network of organs, cells, and proteins that protect the body from viruses, bacteria, and other foreign substances. 

We are continually exposed to organisms that are inhaled, swallowed or that inhabit our skin and mucous membranes.

If our immune systems are strong, our defense mechanisms will be healthier, and we are less likely to be affected by these organisms. But when we have an under- or over-active immune system, we are at a greater risk of developing infections and other health conditions due to lowered immunity.

Boosting our immune function is appealing, but that is not always simple to do.

The immune system is a system, not a single entity, so to function optimally it needs balance and harmony. 

Diet, exercise, age, stress, and other factors affect our immune response, so it is always helpful to implement healthy strategies to give your immune system the best chance.

During cold weather, people tend to stay inside more often. This means that they are not being exposed to as much sunlight so they can become deficient in vitamin D. Vitamin D allows our immune system’s killer cells, or T-cells, to react to invaders and protect us from serious infections. Low levels of vitamin D not only contribute to a weakened immune system, but it can also lead to seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or winter blues.

A healthy lifestyle gives your body the best chance of being able to fight off immune insults. 

Healthy strategies include:

  • Avoid smoking
  • Eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and low in unhealthy fats and refined carbohydrates.
  • Include a variety of mushrooms in your diet. Several mushrooms, including shitake and maitake mushrooms, have medicinal properties and can modulate immune function. Some even have antiviral properties. These can be eaten or taken in supplement forms.
  • Exercise regularly. Make the most of dry winter days and spend time outdoors.
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Control your blood pressure.
  • If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
  • Get adequate sleep.
  • Manage stress. The mind body connection plays an important role in immune function. Many physical symptoms can be linked to the effects of emotional stress. Stress can be difficult to define because it varies from person to person, but chronic stress can have a negative impact on a person’s health and wellbeing. Too much stress on an ongoing basis weakens the immune function and can make someone more susceptible to a variety of infections.
  • Use probiotics or fermented foods to increase the good bacteria in the digestive tract and improve gut immunity.
  • Eat plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables and drink at least 8 – 10 glasses of water per day.
  • Ensure adequate vitamin C intake. Vitamin C is present in many winter fruits, but it can also be taken as a supplement.

Listen to my interview with Brad Kirsten from Radio Cape Pulpit on 30 June 2022 to learn more. Listen to my next interview on Thursday at 7.45am