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The Truth About Immune System Boosters That Actually Work

When winter comes around, we all start looking for ways to strengthen our immune systems and reduce our risk of cold and flu. One thing commonly advertised is supplements to boost your immune system. And indeed, immune system boosters may help your body fight off infections. But supplements alone are often not enough to keep your immune system in tip-top shape - lifestyle factors play a major role too. And, these aren't one-size-fits-all. Figuring out which supplements or lifestyle factors will actually work for you depends on understanding what has reduced your immune response in the first place.

Learn More:

» Read our complete long-read article on natural immune boosters
» Adrenal Fatigue FAQs
» Take our 3-minute test to see if you may have Adrenal Fatigue

How Immune System Boosters Work

An image of a blue shield stopping bacteriaYour immune system consists of many different parts working together to help protect you against infections and disease. This means that it's not enough to do one single thing to boost your immune system. Instead, you need to do a whole bunch of things that will benefit many different parts of the whole.

Essentially, you do not want your immune system to just be stronger. Rather, you want your immune system in a state of balance to function at its best. An overactive immune response could result in other conditions like autoimmunity, asthma, and allergies with their own sets of symptoms.

Many of us think that when we get sick, it shows we have an infection. Your symptoms, however, may indicate that your body is fighting against infection and your immune response is working. A good example is when you have a cold. You may feel fatigued, have a runny nose, and even a fever. These symptoms are indications of your immune response working to get rid of a threat.

There are instances, however, when your immune system does need a boost though, especially when it is struggling to cope with demands. Here's where immune system boosters come in. These are not just supplements. Lifestyle factors are important too.

However, to understand the many different factors that can strengthen your immune system, you must first have an idea of what can weaken it or otherwise knock it out of balance.

Immunity and The Aging Process

Fisrt, our immune response declines with age. This is a natural process. It also means that the elderly become more susceptible to infections and other health issues. At the same time, as life expectancy increases, so too has the incidence of age-related health issues.

While an increasing number of elderly people stay healthy, they are still more at risk of developing health issues than younger people. What is more, they are also more likely to die from them.

Studies show that respiratory infections are one of the main causes of death in the elderly across the globe. The respiratory infections responsible include influenza, pneumonia, and these days, COVID-19.

Interestingly, nobody knows why this occurs, but it could result from a decrease in T cell production in the thymus. Your thymus, a specialized lymphoid organ that plays an important role within your immune systems, is where T cells are made. These cells play an important adaptive role in your immune system, allowing it to adapt to fight against foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses. Your thymus atrophies as you age, which results in a corresponding decline in T-cell production.

Immune system boosters like supplements together with certain lifestyle and dietary changes may be effective in improving immune health and improving your body’s ability to fight disease. If considering the use of supplements, however, it is best done with the guidance of a qualified healthcare specialist.

Stress and Immune Health

An image of a person eating a hamburgerStress is often thought of as a psychological issue. However, stress on your body results from multiple factors. These include external and internal sources. Chemicals in food, pollution in the air, and even a viral or bacterial infection can cause stress. The results are the same – your body actives your NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) stress response to cope with the stressor. This impacts major bodily functions, including your immune response.

Your immune system goes into motion the moment your NEM identifies a possible threat. Inflammation is your immune system’s way of dealing with the threat. This results in several symptoms, including inflammation, although they are only byproducts of your immune system response.

If, for whatever reason, your stress response remains activated, your immune response and the accompanying inflammation persists. In the long run, it could degrade your adrenals, your body's first responders to stress, resulting in adrenal fatigue and various health issues.

What is more, the inflammatory response resulting from immune system activation could itself become a threat. This occurs when inflammation from asthma blocks your airways, for example. Or when inflammation in the gut leads to leaky gut, spilling food particles and toxins into your body, and causing allergies or autoimmunity.

While immune system boosters may provide short-term relief in such a situation, they may also add to your body’s stress load, fueling an overactive immune response. In this case, a long-term, gentler approach to regaining the balance of your immune and adrenal health is thus a better option.

Detoxification and Immune Health

Your immune system makes up an important part of your body’s detoxification circuit. While your immune system detects and neutralizes pathogens in your body by initiating an inflammatory response, your detoxification circuit eliminates them.

If for whatever reason, your detoxification system is stressed, it may not rid your body of these pathogens. In so doing, congestion may occur, resulting in a buildup of toxins. This toxic buildup could result in various health issues while putting extra stress on your body. In turn, this further activates your NEM stress response, increases the demand for cortisol production from your adrenal glands, and stimulates a further immune system response. Subsequently, the amount of inflammation in your body increases.

Taking care of your body’s detoxification process is thus an important element when it comes to keeping your immune system in balance. It is key for flushing out the dead and damaged cells and toxins your immune response produces.

The Role of Diet In Immune Health

Various literature strongly suggests that diet plays a major role in your immune health. For example, studies show that people living in poverty and those who are malnourished tend to have a higher risk of infectious diseases. On the other hand, people who follow a healthy diet tend to be less at risk.

Evidence shows that a diet deficient in micronutrients like iron, copper, and certain vitamins negatively affects your immune system’s ability to work at an optimal level.

To avoid deficiencies, include a variety of fruit and vegetables in your diet. Also, limit your intake of processed and sugary foods.

If you believe your health issues could be the result of dietary deficiencies, immune system boosters may help until your eating habits have improved enough to make up for these deficiencies. Vitamin deficiencies could be a situation where immune system boosters are particularly helpful.

Natural Immune System Boosters

An image of a person holding up a paper that says prebioticsAs you can see, several factors influence your immune system. Supplements can help correct vitamin deficiencies, for example those caused by aging or dietary issues, but they may not work for you if you are otherwise healthy. At the same time, sometimes you do not want to boost your immune system if you have allergies, autoimmunity, or an otherwise overactive immune system. In this case, balancing your immunity is the best bet. If your immune system has been weakened by stress, it is critical that you focus on supporting your adrenals along with reducing the inflammation of an immune system gone haywire. And, maintaining proper detoxification is also important.

So, when looking at immune system boosters, one should not rely on taking one supplement. You should rather look at boosting your immune system holistically, considering various options, and working to address those health issues that may have weakened (or overactivated) your immune response in the first place.

That said, here are some of the best natural ways to balance your immune system:


Exercise is one of the cheapest immune system boosters around. It need not cost you a cent. And it helps improve immunity in several ways.

Regular exercise may:

  • Cause changes in your antibodies and white blood cells while encouraging them to circulate more rapidly. This helps your immune system detect potential risks more quickly and act on them.
  • Briefly increase your temperature while exercising, which may help prevent the growth and spread of bacterial infections.
  • Help flush out bacteria and other pathogens from your lungs and airways, reducing your risk of respiratory infections.
  • Slow down your body’s release of stress hormones, e.g., cortisol. An increase in stress hormones is one of the hallmarks of adrenal fatigue and its associated health issues.

Please note that "exercising" does not require you get a full gym workout. A brisk walk with your dog, or gentle jog in the park, or a cycle around the block are great stress relievers. Yoga, Pilates, and tai chi are also gentle on your joints while stretching your muscles and working up a light sweat.

Do note that if you have serious health issues like advanced adrenal fatigue, it's important to talk to your doctor before exercising, as it can overload your already weak system.

Natural Immune System Boosters: Foods and Supplements

Various supplements make excellent immune system boosters. But before using any, please first contact your healthcare practitioner to determine which of these you may need, as well as their dosage.

  • Zinc helps reduce your risk of infection.
  • Selenium is an antioxidant and helps improve immune function.
  • The beneficial bacteria in probiotics support gut health while having a positive influence on your immune system’s function and regulation.
  • Vitamin C, a natural antioxidant, also has anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties that may help prevent infections.
  • The short-term use of a vitamin A supplement may provide your body with support in fighting off infections.
  • Vitamin D helps modulate your immune response and may reduce your risk of colds and flu as well as other infections.
  • Beta-glucans supplements are made from sugars found in the cell walls of certain lichen, plants, yeasts, fungi, and bacteria. It may help decrease your risk of cold, flu, and upper respiratory tract infections.
  • Berberine is a compound found in the bark, roots, and rhizomes of various plants. Its strong antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties may help support your immune system.
  • Elderberry may help in fighting off viruses, particularly flu.
  • Raw honey has antimicrobial and antioxidant properties that can help address minor pain and inflammation. Please note that honey is not suitable for consumption in children younger than one year of age.
  • Garlic, whether fresh or in the form of a supplement may help reduce the incidence and severity of viral respiratory infections.
  • Certain mushrooms, e.g., shitake, reishi, maitake, and lion’s mane, may help balance your immune system while their high antioxidant content may help fight free radicals.
  • Sulforaphane is a chemical found in broccoli that switches on certain antioxidant genes and enzymes in immune cells, allowing them to fight free radicals.

Lifestyle Tips for Staying Healthy

Staying healthy in general is not rocket science. It is, rather, more a case of using your common sense. But sometimes we forget or find ourselves in unforeseen situations. This could put us at greater risk of contracting certain diseases. This is often the case when people become infected with the COVID-19 virus. It is often through no fault of their own.

To protect yourself from infections, please remember the following:

  • Wash your hands with warm water and soap regularly.
  • Watch your diet, i.e., cut out processed and sugary foods as much as possible while eating a large variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Stay away from sick people if you can.
  • Keep your mouth and nose covered when going out and exposing yourself to others.
  • Cover coughs or sneezes with a hankey/tissue or do so into your elbow.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect surfaces in your home or immediate work environment.
  • Get enough quality sleep.
  • Quit smoking or smoke less and limit your alcohol intake.
  • Watch your weight.

In Closing

An image of a woman standing in the counter while holding a bottle of supplements in her hand and a breakfast in front of herThe idea of taking immune system boosters to strengthen your immunity is appealing. But you should rather aim at keeping your immune system in a state of balance. Your body may not have a shortage of supplements. Rather, it may have other issues that affect its ability to stave off infections. Your healthcare provider is best able to advise you on this.

If suffering from a health issue stemming from a viral or bacterial infection, here are a few things you can do to help alleviate the situation:

  • Explore the use of immune system boosters with your healthcare professional.
  • Examine whether your dietary or lifestyle choices could be affecting your immunity and improve them.
  • Make sure to limit your exposure to ill people and clean and sanitize your immediate vicinity as far as possible.

If you would like to know more or need assistance with immune system boosters, the team at Dr. Lam Coaching can help. We offer a free** no-obligation phone consultation at +1-626-571-1234 where we will privately discuss the matter with you. You can also send us a question through our Ask The Doctor system by clicking here.

Learn More:

» Read our complete long-read article on natural immune boosters
» Adrenal Fatigue FAQs
» Take our 3-minute test to see if you may have Adrenal Fatigue

Dr. Lam’s Key Question

There is no clear-cut answer to this question. Immune system boosters could provide adrenal support depending on your stage of the condition. They could also add additional stress to your adrenals. Your healthcare professional is best suited to determine their suitability and dosage.

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