30 Ways to Strengthen Your Immune System

Get-Fit Guy has 30 tips to boost your immune system to avoid cold and flu viruses this season. Learn how to make your immune system stronger using stress, exercise, sleep, supplements, and even dirt!

Ben Greenfield,
Episode #211

Sniffle. Snot. Cough, hack, cough.

You’re no doubt all-too-familiar with the scary holiday sounds of colds and flus. But just like you can make your muscles stronger, your lungs more fit, and your bones more dense, you can strengthen your immune system to fight off these phlegmy intruders and maintain your health year-round.

In this episode, you’re going to get 5 quick and dirty tips to do just that!

What Is The Immune System?

Before we delve into the steps you can take to improve your immune system, let’s review what exactly the immune system is.

At its most basic, your immune system is a system of biological structures and processes that protects you against disease..

More specifically, your immune system is comprised of 6 different components that serve to protect you from the environment, shuttle immune system cells around your body, and fight off foreign invaders. These components are:

  1. Your lymph nodes and lymph system, which recognize and fight invading pathogens.

  2. Your respiratory system, which moves mucus and contaminants upwards and outwards from your digestive tract.

  3. Your skin, a relatively thin but effective barrier against invading pathogens.

  4. Your white blood cells, which attack pathogens in your blood and other tissues of your body.

  5. Your spleen, a major organ that helps protect you from bacterial infections.

  6. Your stomach and intestines. Your stomach acid kills harmful bacteria and inside your gut reside good bacteria that help to fight pathogens and absorb nutrients. Antibodies secreted by your intestinal cells also help to fight off foreign invaders.

So a good strategy for getting a strong immune system will move lymph fluid through your body, keep your respiratory system prepared to fight foreign invaders, limit pathogens passing through the skin, keep white blood cells elevated, strengthen the spleen, and keep your gut in good shape,

Tip #1: Increase Stress (the Good Kind)

You may have heard that stress is bad. But in reality, not all stress is actually bad for you. Mild amounts of stress, also known as hormesis, actually help your body and immune system to bounce back stronger. So what are some ways that you can stress your body throughout the day? Here are a few ideas:

  • Exercise: As long as you don’t overdo it, lifting heavy stuff, moving, and sprinting are all great hormetic stressors.

  • Cold: You learned all about how to use cold throughout the day to burn fat in my episode How to Use Cold Weather to Lose Weight. Turns out, cold is a hormetic stressoer too!

  • Heat: I personally sit in the sauna one to two times per week for 20-40 minutes to stress my body and produce what are called “heat shock proteins.” You can learn more about that here.

  • Calorie restriction and fasting: Both moderate calorie restriction as well as fasting can give you good, mild stress, which is probably why these methods are also associated with anti-aging. (By the way, fasting doesn't mean going on a hunger strike for days. It simply means not eating for a 24-hour period once a month, or avoiding eating between 8pm and 9am).

  • Sunlight: While a nuclear disaster probably wouldn’t do your immune system any favors, mild radiation from the sun can. The sun produces healthy and balanced doses of UVA and UVB radiation, which in moderate amounts (30-60 minutes of sun exposure per day) can be great for your immune system. 


About the Author

Ben Greenfield
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