Beyond Citrus: 5 Daily Tips for Supporting Your Immune System
Our immune system is the guardian of our body, protecting us from unwanted invaders and determining how we respond to all the different microbes and stimuli in our environment. A balanced immune system neither over-reacts nor under-reacts, but walks the fine line of shielding us while still allowing us to encounter new places, people, foods, and experiences—without going haywire.
Because it’s so integral to our health, our immune system needs to be performing at its peak for us to feel our best day in and day out. While there are many products that focus on caring for immune system function temporarily to get us through a rough patch when we’re feeling under the weather, daily immune support is the key to long-term, year-round health.
Here are five tips you can easily incorporate into your everyday routine to keep your immune system strong for optimal wellness:
1. Incorporate Probiotics
Did you know that nearly 80% of your immune system is situated in your gut? It’s true—our digestive tract is home to more immune cells than any other part of our body, meaning that a healthy gut is essential if you want to maintain true health. This is why the beneficial bacteria that line the gut play such a key role in our immune health. You see, the probiotics in our digestive tract help to keep our gut barrier strong, ensuring that toxins and harmful microbes can’t push through to our bloodstream. Research indicates that friendly flora can also increase antibodies, assist with protein synthesis, produce antimicrobial molecules that kill the bad guy bacteria, and work to regulate signaling pathways in immune and intestinal cells1.
• Take action! Supplementing with a high-quality daily probiotic formula is your best bet for supporting your gut health and immune system. Hyperbiotics Immune is a multi-strain probiotic formula with immune-supporting zinc, vitamin C, and echinacea, as well as yeast superfood EpiCor® that has been shown to help maintain balance (rather than stimulate) in your immune system, meaning that it gives you exactly what you need when you need it.
Specifically, EpiCor® has been extensively studied for its ability to significantly increase good gut bacteria, increase levels of colon-protecting butyrate, increase the key mucosal antibody secretory IgA, and activate your NK (natural killer) immune cells.2,3,4
2. Make Time for Moderate Exercise
Although intense endurance exercise (think ultramarathons and extreme training) can temporarily suppress immune function, moderate exercise—defined as getting your heart rate up 50-60 percent higher than its resting rate—is associated with improved immunity. In one study, compared to a sedentary lifestyle, daily moderate physical activity was associated with a 29% reduced risk of upper respiratory issues that can indicate impaired immune health5.
• Take action! If you aren’t sure how to differentiate between “moderate” versus “vigorous” exercise, use the talking test. During moderate exercise, you should be able to carry on a conversation but not sing, and during vigorous exercise, you’d only be able to say a few words before getting out of breath. Aim for 30 minutes per day of walking, running, biking, jumping rope, or anything else that raises your heart rate.
3. Have a Good Belly Laugh
There’s no doubt that laughing is good for the soul, but research shows that it can have physiological benefits that extend beyond stress-relief and improved mood. Researchers split 33 healthy women into two groups; one group watched a humorous video while the other viewed a tourism film. Not only did the humor group report decreased stress, but subjects who experienced the most “mirthful” laughter had improved immune cell activity and immune function6.
• Take action! From Laughter Yoga and laughing classes to watching your favorite sitcom instead of the nightly news, finding a way to let go and add more laughter to your life is not only fun but it will help keep you well!
4. Eat Plenty of Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are loaded with nutrients that benefit our health in so many ways, from our heart health and metabolism to our digestion and energy levels. Now, we know that increasing our fruit and vegetable intake even improves our immune function! In one research trial, participants who consumed five or more servings of vegetables each day for four months showed improved antibody response to vaccination, a marker of immune function7.
• Take action! Aim for at least 5-9 servings of organic (if possible) fruits and vegetables every day and include a variety of colors for the most well-rounded and powerful nutrient punch. Red, blue, purple, orange, yellow, green—try to eat the entire rainbow of produce daily!
5. Sleep at Least Eight Hours
In our busy, never-stop culture, sleep often falls by the wayside in favor of work, family, and other responsibilities. Scientists have long known how important sleep is to our overall physical and emotional health, but recent research now shows that a lack of sleep directly impacts our immune health. In fact, studies indicate that people who sleep less than six hours per night are more than four times likely to experience less-than-optimal immune function8.
• Take action! Arrange your schedule to make meeting your body’s personal sleep needs —whether it’s 7, 8, or even 9 hours of sleep each night—a priority. Not only will your cognitive function (and mental health) improve with increased sleep, but your immune system will be better able to stand strong all year long.
When it comes to staying well all year long, taking care of the microscopic friends that live within your digestive tract and support your immune system day in and day out is one of the most powerful steps you can take. Interestingly, all of the above recommendations—taking probiotics, exercising, reducing stress, eating fruits and vegetables, and sleeping well—can also help maintain gut health. This may help to explain why (and how) these important lifestyle choices also help support your immune system function—perhaps it’s their influence on our gut health that makes them so good for our immune health.
One thing’s for sure, from birth through old age, our immune system works hard to support us through all of life’s diverse challenges. And we now know that focusing on our immune function by nourishing our mind and body with good food, good bacteria, plentiful sleep, daily movement—and lots of joyous living and laughter—are the perfect ingredients for long-term health and wellness.
1. Lievin, V. (2000). Bifidobacterium strains from resident infant human gastrointestinal microflora exert antimicrobial activity. Gut, 47(5), 646-652.
2. Ducray, H. A., Globa, L., Pustovyy, O., Reeves, S., Robinson, L., Vodyanoy, V., & Sorokulova, I. (2016). Mitigation of heat stress-related complications by a yeast fermentate product. Journal of Thermal Biology, 60, 26-32.
3. Jensen, G. S., Patterson, K. M., Barnes, J., Schauss, A. G., Beaman, R., Reeves, S., Robinson, L. (2008). A Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled, Randomized Pilot Study: Consumption of a High-Metabolite Immunogen from Yeast Culture has Beneficial Effects on Erythrocyte Health and Mucosal Immune Protection in Healthy Subjects. The Open Nutrition Journal, 2, 68-75.
4. Possemiers, S., Pinheiro, I., Verhelst, A., Van den Abbeele, P., Maignien, L., Laukens, D., Reeves, S. G., Robinson, L. E., Raas, T., Schneider, Y. J., Van de Wiele, T., Marzorati, M. (2013). A Dried Yeast Fermentate Selectively Modulates both the Luminal and Mucosal Gut Microbiota and Protects against Inflammation, As Studied in an Integrated in Vitro Approach. Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, 61(39), 9380-9392.
5. Matthews, C. E., Ockene, I. S., Freedson, P. S., Rosal, M. C., Merriam, P. A., & Hebert, J. R. (2002). Moderate to vigorous physical activity and risk of upper-respiratory tract infection. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 34(8), 1242-1248.
6. Bennett, M.P., Zeller, J.M., Rosenberg, L., McCann, J. (2003). The effect of mirthful laughter on stress and natural killer cell activity. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 9(2), 38-45.
7. Gibson, A., Edgar, J. D., Neville, C. E., Gilchrist, S. E., Mckinley, M. C., Patterson, C. C., . . . Woodside, J. V. (2012). Effect of fruit and vegetable consumption on immune function in older people: A randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 96(6), 1429-1436.
8. Prather, A. A., Janicki-Deverts, D., Hall, M. H., & Cohen, S. (2015). Behaviorally Assessed Sleep and Susceptibility to the Common Cold. Sleep, 38(9), 1353-1359.
Emily Courtney is a Writer and Editor at Hyperbiotics and mom to two fun and active boys. Emily is passionate about natural wellness and helping others learn about the power of probiotics for vibrant health! For more ideas on how you can benefit from the power of probiotics and live healthier days, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.