There are a few aspects of a good immune system that we all know about: getting fewer colds and sore throats and resolving them quickly; absence of allergies and asthma; healing well from cuts and other injuries. Still other immune-related issues correspond to auto-immunity which is common in the area of thyroid and joint health. As a naturopathic doctor, there are a few important steps to encourage a better functioning immune system.

Step One – Manage Stress.

You may not realize it but the immune cells and antibodies in your blood and digestive tract respond to the thoughts and feelings and stressors that you face. For instance, a Canadian study on patients with early stage breast and prostate cancer found that those that learned mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) techniques had a better immune profile, lowered blood pressure and less symptoms of stress overall. It is important to live a life with balance, and that starts with including stress reduction and relaxation techniques to balance out the everyday ups and downs of living in our modern fast-paced and complicated lives. Whether its yoga, tai chi, deep breathing exercises, or getting professional help with your mental health, it will help your immune system.

Step Two – Eat Well.

Your immune system needs nutrients to function properly. This can include vitamins, trace minerals, water and proper caloric intake. For instance, make sure eat enough foods that contain vitamin C such as papaya, bell peppers, citrus fruits and broccoli. Zinc is fundamental for proper immune function and is found readily in pumpkin seeds, spinach, beef and lamb, asparagus and mushrooms. A 2013 Japanese study appearing in the journal Nutrients found that foods that contain ‘flavonoid’ compounds were associated with less asthma and allergic manifestations overall. High flavonoid-containing foods include berries, apples, apricot, red and black beans, parsley and onions.

Step Three – Detoxify.

Cleansing the body helps rid the waste that can easily accumulate. A build up of waste and toxins can hamper your immune functions and is one of the suggested causes of auto-immune disorders and what can increase the risk of various cancers. For instance, researchers published a study in the Canadian Journal of Microbiology indicating that mold toxins can damage the cells of your immune system, leading to immune-related diseases such as respiratory illnesses. Cleansing your body means encouraging regular bowel movements, obtaining sufficient fluids to flush your body and perspiring to rid waste through your sweat. Make sure you eat fiber containing foods like flaxseed, vegetables and fruits. Drink enough water to have your urine a pale yellow colour. Herbal supports can also help your body to detoxify: dandelion root, turmeric, milk thistle seeds and many other herbs can be helpful.

Step Four – Exercise.

Many studies have shown that those who do moderate exercise experience fewer infections. With aging, the immune system tends to weaken and allow more infections, however, regular exercise is associated with better overall immune system functions. A mixed routine is ideal, combining aerobic and anaerobic exercises with stretching before and after.

Step Five – Repeat.

Consistently applying the above steps will ensure your immune system is balanced and well—functioning.

About the Author

Rahim Habib is a registered naturopathic doctor with over 15 years of experience in general family practice. He has a special interest in helping patients comprehensively detoxifying their bodies for preventative and therapeutic benefit. He also has a special interest in children’s health, assisting kids in their learning and behavioural health with conditions such as ADHD, Autism spectrum, asthma, allergies and childhood obesity. He also helps adults with chronic conditions, such as thyroid disorders, infertility, inflammation, obesity, autoimmunity, dementia and cancer care. He is the director of the Four Seasons Naturopathic Clinic for Detoxification and Healing and can be reached at 905-597-7201 or