Dr. Don Colbert – As we work to get our daily lives back to normal, it’s a great time to focus on healthy, immune-boosting daily habits. These habits are free, yet potent. And, practicing them each day can improve your overall health, immune function, and wellness. Here are 11 free daily immune-boosting habits and why they work.
How Can Habits Boost Immune Function?
There are a few different ways our lifestyles can affect immune function.
First, they can reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. Next, they can activate immune cells directly. Third, they can indirectly affect your immunity. For example, high blood sugars are associated with increased infection, while controlled ones are not.
Lastly, and on the other side, they can negatively impact immune function by reducing the health of immune cells or degrading the body’s overall health.
Your daily habits matter. Throughout each day, you can choose reduced inflammation and better immune function. Make your habit choices wisely.
11 Free Daily Immune-Boosting Habits
1. Free Habit #1: Gratitude When You Wake
How can you boost your health and immune function right when you wake up? You can be purposeful to start the day with gratitude. Whatever lies ahead in the day, you can be grateful for something or someone to start.
How does this boost your immune system?
Gratitude is one of our daily immune-boosting habits because it reduces stress and anxiety. It reduces cortisol, which causes inflammation in the body. What’s more, gratitude can improve sleep while reducing stress.
A study of 400 individuals found that writing gratitudes during the day and/or before sleep improves both the quality and duration of sleep (1). Another study found that gratitude was linked to a 10% improvement in sleep and a 19% decrease in depression levels in patients with chronic disease and insomnia (2).
For an extra boost, combine your time of gratitude with meditation. Focus on the moment, the day, and those things for which you are grateful. Be present in these thoughts, not thinking ahead or behind. Incredibly, this sort of mindful meditation can stimulate the immune system. Its benefits include improvements in specific markers of inflammation, cell-mediated immunity, and biological aging (3).
2. Free Habit #2: Ice-Cold Shower for Better Immune Function
Not everyone enjoys an ice-cold shower or burst of cold water in the morning. But for those who can stand it, there are immune-boosting and anti-aging benefits.
First, cold showers are linked to an improved immune system. A recent study from the Netherlands found that cold showers significantly reduce sick days. In fact, 30 seconds or more of cold showering per day reduced sick days by 29% in the study. Additionally, more than half the participants decided to continue the cold-shower practice after the study since they were convinced by the results (4).
Why would cold water improve immunity? It’s thought that cold-water-stress induces the production of catecholamines, which may play a critical role in stimulating the immune system.
3. Free Habit #3: Get Outside into the Sunshine Early
There are many benefits to getting outside. And, the earlier you do it, the better. Sunshine and time outdoors are one of our daily immune-boosting habits because they:
- Increase vitamin D production: It will well-accepted that optimal vitamin D levels are associated with less viral infections. What’s more, optimal vitamin D levels improve health throughout the body, from bones to skin to organs.
- Improve melatonin levels, especially if you’re out in the early hours after waking. Why does this matter for immune function? Optimal melatonin improves sleep, and sleep is directly beneficial to the immune system. Next, melatonin may actually decrease the cell death associated with viral infections such as that from COVID-19, while increasing anti-viral immunity. Covid-19’s induction of cell death is linked to lung damage and organ failure (5).
- Improve mood, which decreases cortisol to improve health and immune function.
Get outside whenever you can, and aim for early hours if possible.
4. Free Habit#4: Daily Hydration for Health and Reduced Cortisol
Did you know that fluid restriction and dehydration may increase cortisol in your body? This becomes especially true if you are participating in an outdoor activity during the summer (7).
To reduce cortisol and therefore inflammation, hydrate your body regularly.
As a bonus, you’ll improve overall cell health and skin. One recent study has shown that increasing water consumption by 2 liters per day improved skin condition and physiology, even in those who already consumed high amounts of water. The researchers concluded that this increase and improvement in skin health would likely have the most positive effect on those with lower daily water consumption (8).
If you want to take the immune and health benefits even further, drink green tea for part of your daily hydration.
5. Free Habit #5: Focus on Anti-Inflammatory and High Antioxidant Foods
Throughout the day, choose foods that are anti-inflammatory and full of antioxidants. These foods include:
- Fish and seafood
- Healthy fats such as extra virgin olive oil, avocados, MCT oil powder and more
- Vibrant vegetables and small amounts of fruits
- Cacao, spices, and herbs such as ginger, garlic, basil and more
Sound expensive for a list of free habits? Consider this: You have to eat anyway, so being more mindful about your food is a switch, not an addition. What’s more, there are many wonderfully inexpensive foods that are high on the list. Black pepper, whole or ground ginger, turmeric and/or garlic cloves, spinach, broccoli, and more are concentrated in immune-boosting nutrients and don’t cost much at all.
6. Free Habit #6: Move Your Body
Exercise provides a powerful 3-punch combination of immune function, health, and healthy aging. It:
Modulates antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects in the body by improving neuroprotective action, increasing circulating of anti-inflammatory markers, and improving antioxidant defenses (9).
Improves overall body composition and reduces fat mass. Obesity is associated with a decline in immune function.
Decreases blood glucose. High blood sugars and diabetes are linked to worsened infections and disease.
7. Free Habit #7: Keep Foods High in Healthy Fats, Moderate in Protein and Low in Sugar and Carbohydrates
Here’s another habit that may seem like it involves buying food (not free)…and it does. But again, it’s just a matter or trading out one type of food for another, so really, it’s a net “0.”
By reducing sweets, carbohydrates, and sugars, you can boost your immune system and not overload your body with higher blood sugars and insulin. High-sugar binges can specifically diminish your immune response.
Next, adding anti-inflammatory fats improves immune function and overall health.
You can find all you need to reduce carbs and add healthy fats within the Keto Zone diet plan.
8. Free Habit #8: Laugh and Enjoy Healthy Relationships
What do healthy relationships and laughter have to do with immune function and overall health?
Incredibly, the Harvard Study of Adult Development has shown that good social relationships promote physical and mental health, provide a buffer against loneliness, increase longevity, and foster happiness. The Harvard Nurses’ Health Study found similar results. This means less anxiety and cortisol, and better health outcomes.
9. Free Habit #9: Starting Mid-Evening, Employ Intermittent Fasting
Around 7 pm in the evening, consider starting a daily intermittent fast to boost your health and immune function.
Amazingly, there are many documented benefits to intermittent fasting including:
- Immune function support and potential reduced cancer cell growth (12)
- Improve cholesterol markers
- Reduced triglycerides
- Improved aging
- Weight loss without negative cellular adaptations
- Reduced risk of diabetes
- Reduced risk of cancer and improved treatment
In fact, many studies have shown improved aging, brain health, heart health, and blood sugars associated with intermittent fasting (13).
To add intermittent fasting, aim to fast 15-16 out of the 24 hours per day. Simply finish eating dinner at 7 pm each night, and fast with only non-carbohydrate liquids (like coffee) until 10 am or so. Then, utilize Keto Zone eating for 8 hours per day.
Prayer has been studied for years. It’s been shown to increase the secretion of neurotransmitters, such as dopamine. Dopamine decreases cortisol and promotes relaxation, focus, and motivation.
Of course, these are just a few health benefits. Prayer’s greatest benefits lie in our close relationship with God.
11. Free Habit #11: 7 or More Hours Per Night of Sleep
Good quality sleep has many health and aging benefits. These include:
- Reduced daily cortisol
- Improved immune function
- Better melatonin levels
- Less depressed moods
- Less inflammation
- Healthy body weight
- Better heart health
It’s a cycle. Good sleep begets good sleep, and lack of sleep increases cortisol for up to 24 hours which negatively affects sleep again (14). Lack of sleep has also been shown to reduce mental performance and alertness while increasing inflammation and cortisol (5).
Ready to boost your immune system every day? For free? Follow our 11 free daily immune-boosting habits to start. Then, you can add more by utilizing more foods that boost immune function and other lifestyle habits. We can continue to fight this virus, and grow stronger and stronger each day.
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