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How to Boost Your Immune System Naturally: 10 New Practices to Try

Here at Plunge, we’re all about health and wellness, and a big part of that is the immune system. Your immune system is your body’s main defense against harmful invaders, which is especially important in the colder months when germs seem to be their most abundant. While your immune system won’t be able to keep away all germs and illnesses, there are things you can do to boost it to be at its best performance!

There are the typical things we’re told to do to boost our immune system naturally: take your vitamins, eat citrus fruits, exercise, eat right, etc. but have you ever wondered if there’s anything else you can do?

Fortunately, many more exciting ways can help boost your immunity so that it can do its job as efficiently as possible. Keep reading for 10 surprising ways to boost your immune system naturally!

Importance of the Immune System 

Living a long and healthy life depends on a well-functioning immune system. This complex network of organs, cells, and proteins acts as your body’s defense protecting you from everything from bacteria to viruses.

With a functioning immune system, you can expect to experience fewer and less severe illnesses. On the other hand, a compromised or weak immune system leaves you exposed to a variety of health problems, such as:

  1. Increased susceptibility to infections such as colds, the flu, and even more serious conditions such as pneumonia, which take longer to recover from.
  2. Autoimmune diseases where the immune system mistakenly attacks the body, such as lupus.
  3. Chronic inflammatory diseases in which your immune system is constantly activated in response to minor threats, can lead to conditions such as heart disease.

Natural Ways to Boost Your Immune System

When you prioritize your immune system’s health you’re also investing in your long-term wellness. Below are some of our favorite ways to naturally boost the immune system:

  1. Get Enough Sleep
  2. Sweat it Out With a Sauna
  3. Get Fermented Foods (Or Take a Probiotic)
  4. Laugh It Out
  5. Brush Your Body
  6. Play a Musical Instrument
  7. Write Expressively 
  8. Grow Your Own Immune Boosting Herb Garden
  9. Stay Hydrated
  10. Take a Plunge Into an Ice Bath

1. Get Enough Sleep

Good, quality sleep is crucial for a strong immune system. During sleep, the body undergoes various repair processes, producing and releasing cytokines, proteins that target infection and inflammation. There’s even research that shows a lack of sleep 

For sleep that supports a healthy immune system, try:

  • Aim for seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep each night.
  • Start a bedtime routine that helps you wind down.
  • Create a sleep-conducive environment with cool temperatures, darkness, and minimal noises. 
  • Most of all, try to stick to a consistent sleep schedule that follows your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle.

2. Sweat it Out With a Sauna

group of people in a sauna

The sauna is a great way to boost your immune system and sweat out toxins. Sweating is an essential part of your immune system because as you sweat, your immune system gets rid of any harmful chemicals that may have built up. A sauna session will also improve circulation, which helps to nourish and heal tissues in the body. Finally, the concentrated heat from a sauna has been shown to reduce inflammation throughout the body by circulating oxygen-rich blood, which makes it a great way to keep away infection-causing bacteria or viruses. 

There are many different types of saunas you can try, which you can find at a spa or gym or you could even invest in one for personal at-home use. If these don’t seem like viable options right now, try using a hot shower to create some steam in your bathroom for a DIY at-home sauna.

wellness within reach sauna financing

3. Eat Fermented Foods (Or Take a Probiotic)

Fermented foods like yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, and kefir are rich in probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that support gut health. A healthy gut microbiome is crucial for a robust immune system, as about 70% of the immune system resides in the gut. Probiotics help maintain the balance of good bacteria, improve digestion, and enhance the body's ability to fight off pathogens. If incorporating enough fermented foods into your diet proves challenging, consider a high-quality probiotic supplement. 

4. Laugh It Out

Researchers have found that laughing has an abundance of benefits, including boosting your immunity, lowering stress hormones, preventing heart disease, easing anxiety, tension & stress, and even strengthening resilience. This is because laughter not only releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter involved in boosting your mood and controlling your appetite, but it also increases the body’s endorphin production, aka the feel-good chemical that can also temporarily relieve pain. 

So, whenever you need a mood or immune boost, call up a friend or put on your favorite comedy show and have a good laugh!

5. Brush Your Body

Dry brushing is a great way to stimulate your lymphatic system (aka the network of pathways inside your body that can help support your immune system and keep you in top shape). It’s important to remember that our lymph nodes are located all over our bodies, so it’s good to brush them regularly. It’s recommended to dry brush your body no more than once or twice a week.

Dry brushing (or “effleurage” if you want a new word for scrabble or to impress your friends), removes dead skin cells which prevents skin infection and it encourages the production of vitamin C, which simulates lymphatic detoxifying.

How to dry brush: 

  • Use a natural fiber brush and brush in long, smooth, upward strokes starting at your feet and moving up. 
  • Afterward, take a shower to remove any dry skin and moisturize with some lotion to encourage even more lymphatic circulation. 

A shower will also help soothe any tight muscles or stiffness from using the brush too vigorously. If you need extra relief from muscle soreness or slight skin irritation, consider taking an ice bath, which can be beneficial for dry or irritated skin.

6. Play a Musical Instrument

You probably know that music can have a soothing and uplifting effect, but did you know that playing music can have the same effect plus boost your immunity? 

According to research from 2016, a group that drummed together for 10 weeks experienced a long-term decrease in depression, an increase in social resilience, and an improved anti-inflammatory immune response greater than that of a non-music control group.

When you play a musical instrument regularly, you’ll build up your hand strength and dexterity while also stimulating your heart rate, respiration, and blood flow. These factors can all help improve your immunity by increasing circulation to different body parts that are important for fighting off pathogens. The increased heart rate and oxygen supply will give your immune system more energy than it can produce on its own. 

Additionally, when you play an instrument on a regular basis, it can help reduce stress levels and feelings of anxiety. You don't have to be the next Beethoven though, you can just play around and have fun with it. If you’ve never played an instrument, consider starting with a recorder or a small xylophone - something simple.

7. Write Expressively

A few years ago, researchers discovered that penning down your thoughts and feelings can help you stay healthy. There’s evidence of this in scientific studies which showed that writing about personal experiences positively influenced people’s health and well-being even if those events were stressful.

Writing about your experiences helps to release pent-up emotions and allow self-reflection, which relieves stress and improves mood. The body uses these positive emotions to boost its natural defenses against invaders. Other research found that expressive writing can reduce blood pressure, lessen insomnia, improve liver function, and shorten hospital stays.

Sitting down with a journal or notebook is an easy way to express yourself about what's going on in your life, whether it’s for a minute or an hour.

8. Grow Your Own Immune Boosting Herb Garden 

Gardening can help boost your immune system in a variety of ways. First, it increases the level of nutrients and vitamins in your body, an essential aspect of healthy functioning. Gardening also helps reduce stress levels, which can harm your immune system. 

Additionally, gardening allows you to enjoy time outdoors and get some vitamin D from the sun which helps the immune system by boosting the production of microbe-fighting proteins in addition to strengthening the bones, controlling infections, reducing inflammation, and even reducing cancer cell growth

If you’re not sure what to plant, try planting your own immune-boosting herb garden! Here are some of the best herbs that can help:

  • Echinacea: One study with over 700 people found those who took echinacea recovered from colds slightly more quickly than those who received a placebo or no treatment.
  • Elderberry: One 2021 review found that elderberry could reduce the symptoms of viral upper respiratory infections and may even reduce its duration and severity!
  • Garlic: Though technically not an herb, this plant is well-known for its antibacterial and antiviral properties. In fact, one study found that supplementing with garlic reduced the incidence of the common cold by about 30%.

9. Stay Hydrated

Water is essential for every single of our bodily processes, and that includes immune function. When you're dehydrated, the body struggles to transport immune cells and perform other critical functions. It can result in headaches and hinder your physical performance, focus, mood, digestion, as well as heart and kidney function. These complications can all increase your susceptibility to illness.

Proper hydration ensures the smooth operation of the immune system, allowing it to respond to pathogens. Our tip is to drink plenty of water throughout the day and adjust your intake based on activity level and climate. In addition to water, unsweetened herbal teas and certain fruits and vegetables can also contribute to your daily fluid needs without adding extra sugar to your diet.

10. Take a Plunge Into an Ice Bath

man in cold plunge tub in his backyard

Louisa Nicola, MMed, BSc, says, "Studies indicate that exposure to cold water and cold temperatures can have an immunostimulating effect, meaning that cold therapy may bolster your immune response. This is done by inducing mitochondrial biogenesis, which is the creation of new mitochondria that takes place when your body experiences prolonged cold temperatures."

If you want to keep your immune system in tip-top shape long, you should do cold water immersion daily (or as many times a week as you can). 

Cold water immersion (or ice bathing) can boost your immune system with its benefits such as creating new mitochondria and stimulating leukocytes - the white blood cells that help fight off sicknesses. The cold water detoxifies your body and boosts your immune system by causing your lymphatic system to contract, which forces fluid through your lymph nodes.

Besides building your immunity, ice baths also elevate your energy, support recovery, boost your mood, provide pain relief, and ease your stress.

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Boost Your Immune System With A Cold Plunge

Don’t get caught off guard by colds, the flu, and other illnesses - set up your immune system for the long term by taking the Plunge today! Ice baths not only boost your immune system, they also reduce fatigue & recovery time, improve alertness & energy, and treat muscle & joint soreness, strain, and inflammation.

"I've noticed that it significantly boosts my mood, and the effect lasts throughout the day. It's also great for energy, immune support, and overall mental/physical resilience. Highly recommend!" -Plunge review

As you embark on your mental wellness journey, consider exploring our revolutionary Plunge All-In and cedar and hemlock at-home saunas for the ultimate relaxation and rejuvenation experience.

All of our cold plunge tubs and saunas are available with flexible financing options that work for you. We’ve also teamed up with TrueMed to give you the ability to use your Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA) for your Cold Plunge Tub or Sauna purchase. Head to this page to learn more about how you can put your pre-tax dollars to work and unlock up to 40% in savings!