Is your December off to a fantastic start? Are you carving out some “you” time to enjoy your favorite activities during the holidays?

Giving yourself the gift of good health is a great way to start… and I’ve got some tips for you on boosting your immune system NATURALLY.

BONUS: This has a spillover effect to pretty much every area of your health, including your mood! And all of these things can make a difference for everyone in your family.

Foods that boost the immune system

1. Eat A Diet of Whole Foods

There are entire books written on this topic! In a nutshell, try to make WHOLE foods the center of your diet. Especially plant-based foods like fruits, veggies, nuts, and legumes, which are packed with micronutrients and fiber that help your body defend itself.

Your gut microbiome is a major player in your immune system. You can help keep it healthy and happy by eating enough fiber as well as bolstering it with fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, naturally brined pickles, and kefir!

White Sugar

2. Watch Your Sugar

Too much sugar can suppress your immune system. This is just one reason why experts say to limit your added sugar intake to less than 10% of your daily calories. (NOTE: this doesn’t include naturally occurring sugar like the kind found in fruit or dairy products).

What that looks like, according to the American Heart Association:

  • For men: no more than 9 teaspoons (36 grams) a day.
  • For women, the number tops out at 6 teaspoons (25 grams).

This adds up fast!

Just as an example, a 12-ounce (355 ml) can of regular soda contains 8 teaspoons (32 grams) of added sugar.

You also should aim to steer clear of processed foods that come in a bag, box, or can and have a long list of ingredients.

3. Get (and stay) Fit

Most people should shoot for 150 minutes of moderate exercise (like brisk walking, bicycling, jogging, swimming, fitness classes, etc.) every week.

This matters for your immune system because it can help reduce inflammation (which is linked to illness and disease) PLUS promote the healthy turnover of immune cells in your body!

Read more here about How Working Out Can Boost Your Immune System.

4. Drink Water

Need another reason to make sure you’re getting enough water each day?! Dehydration can actually make you more susceptible to illness!

Exactly how much water you need is constantly being debated, but the Institute of Medicine recommends an overall fluid intake each day of:

  • Men- 131 ounces (3.9 liters), 13 cups (about 3 liters) of which should come from beverages
  • Women- 95 ounces (2.8 liters), 9 cups (about 2.1 liters) of which should come from beverages.

5.  Get Your Shut-Eye

Sleeping less than 6 hours a night is linked to a higher likelihood of coming down with a cold.

PLUS: getting enough sleep is also linked with less stress and fewer food cravings.

Woman relaxing at home

6.  Find Time To Relax

Long-term stress can create imbalances in the way your immune cells work… and appears to even SUPPRESS the immune response. Make some time to stop and smell the roses (Or go out and look at holiday decorations!).

7.  Should I Take Supplements?

Many supplements (vitamins, minerals, herbs, etc.) may help boost your immune system … but if you’re thinking of taking them, be sure to check with your doctor first. This is especially important if you have any health issues or take prescriptions.

As I mentioned above, all of these things affect far more than your immune system. They also play a role in your results, your energy, AND your mood!