by Yoga Digest | March 25, 2020 7:17 pm
You are washing hands and commonly touched items per federal health organization guidelines
and you have moved your yoga practice from a studio setting to a space in your home for the
next few weeks. You feel like you are taking the right precautions, but like many of us you are
probably wondering if there is more you should be doing to reduce your risk. One question
many people have right now is, “how can I boost my immune system?”
The reality is one’s immune system is developed mainly during the earliest part of life, starting
with immunity conferred by mother to child during the third trimester of pregnancy and later
through breast milk. In childhood it is strengthened by being challenged. Exposure to “threats”
such as infections of bacteria, viruses and fungi, once identified and overcome by the immune
system, result in the immune system being prepared for these infections and similar infections
later in life.
This is part of the theory behind vaccines in which substances which resemble infections, and
appear to the immune system as such but are harmless, are introduced into the body so that
the immune system mounts an effective defense in preparation to the possibility of real
infection in case it is encountered after vaccination.
The immune system does tend to generally weaken in “old age”, but it can be weakened at any
point in life by not maintaining healthy habits and staying healthy. So, the key to making the
most of your immune system is to keep it functioning at its best. This can be accomplished by
doing a few easy things:
1) Adequate sleep – Aim for regular sleep – 7 – 9 hours nightly and during roughly the same
period (eg, 11p – 7a each night rather than at varying times, especially as occurs with
2) Daily exercise – Anything is better than nothing but ideally a minimum of 30 minutes, 3
times per week of effort that amounts to brisk walking. 5 – 6 times per week would be
even better, and efforts of an hour each time would be even better. However, more
than that is not necessarily better.
Of course, you can always add some fitness equipment or accessories in your daily exercise if you want to work out at home.
3) Proper nutrition – This includes staying hydrated, eating a balanced array of whole, non-
processed foods, and spending the time to find what diet works best for you (one diet
does not fit all). In addition, avoid overeating. Most people eat more than is necessary
for good immune health. Keep sufficient fiber in the diet to maintain regular bowel
movements and a healthy gut microbiome – now considered a major factor in
maintaining healthy immune function.
4) Modulate and avoid excess stress – Breathing exercises and other methods (eg,
meditation and yoga) of reducing stress (and excess cortisol levels) can help keep the
immune system functioning at its best.
5) Avoid excess alcohol consumption and smoking – both known to have negative effects
on immune function.
Rand McClain, D.O. is a leading mind in regenerative and sports medicine using nutrition, progressive therapies and supplements to optimize the body and improve quality of life. He is chief medical officer of LCR Health, a health optimization supplement line, and practices medicine at his clinic, Regenerative and Sports Medicine, in Santa Monica, California. His therapies — “based on science and proven in practice” — include: cryotherapy, stem cell therapies, and more.
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