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  • Writer's pictureDr. Jesse Ropat

Boosting Your Immune System Using Natural Methods

If you’re like me (and most people), you hate getting sick.

And it always happens at the worst time. Before a big vacation, prior to your best friends' wedding, or leading up to an important work deadline.

That’s why I tell my patients how important it is to keep up a solid immunity routine all year round, not just before those winter months when the flu is going around.

A strong immune system helps you maintain overall health and fight off various infections and illnesses. While genetics play a role, lifestyle choices, dietary habits, and natural supplements can significantly help improve your immune system. 

I’m going to give you my top 5, all-natural methods and supplements to boost your immune system.

1: Balanced Diet and Nutrition:

The foundation of a healthy immune system starts with a well-balanced diet. Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. These foods provide essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that support immune function. 

My favorite way to incorporate this into my busy schedule is through smoothies. Usually, these are post-workout smoothies, but this could easily be a breakfast for a busy person on the go.

To make sure I’m getting all the nutrients I need, I try to, as they say, “eat the rainbow.” This means veggies of all colors get thrown in my smoothie. Here’s a quick recipe you can try:

Dr. Jesse’s Smoothie

  • 1 scoop, Protein powder of your choice

  • A handful of your favorite leafy green (mine is spinach… I grew up watching Popeye, what can I say?)

  • A few carrots, and tomatoes (trust me, you won’t taste them, but your body will thank you)

  • A handful of walnuts for some healthy fats

  • For even more healthy fats, if you’re someone who finds they need more food in their belly to keep them satiated longer, throw a scoop of peanut butter in there.

  • A handful of your favorite frozen fruit (I reserve all frozen strawberries for smoothies)

  • Top it up with your liquid of choice. I often go with 2% Milk, but you can use just about anything, from plain water to almond milk.

Blend until smooth and enjoy!

There you have it. A filling and tasty smoothie to start your day or to refuel you after a good workout. Is this meant to be the tastiest drink or something they’d serve at Booster Juice? No. The point here is nutrient density. It just happens that I truly enjoy this. Maybe you will too!

2. Sleep, Exercise, Hydration (Oh, my…):

Physical activity is essential for overall health, and it has been proven to have positive effects on the immune system. Obviously, there’s a limit where if you overdo it, you can actually worsen your immune system because you’ve fatigued your body. In general, though, most people are NOT going to that limit.

When I exercise regularly, I rarely ever get sick. It’s usually after a big training block where I take time off that I get sick. It’s a trend I’ve noticed for myself, and science supports it. Staying active year-round should be your goal.

People love to complicate exercise programs. I’m going to make it simple for you.

Pick your favorite cardio exercise: running, elliptical, biking, swimming, or anything you can do for an extended period of time, and get a good sweat going (this might even just be walking briskly like you’re in a hurry). 

Picked one? Good, do that 3 times a week for 30 mins to 1 hour.

Pick one exercise for each major body part (think Chest, Shoulders, Legs, Back) and one exercise for the more minor body parts (Triceps, Biceps, and Calves if you want to be bold). If you don’t know an exercise for each of these, head to Google or YouTube and type in Best (body part) Exercise.

Got one for each? Good, stack them together and do 2-3 sets of each exercise, 2 times a week.

If you can do more, by all means, I support that. But if you’re new, start slow, with just 2 cardio sessions a week and 1 weightlifting session. Add in 1 more session every 2 weeks until you’re at 5 workouts a week. Now you have a solid foundation from which to build off of, and to find exercises you like more.

Okay, so now that you’re moving your body, let’s talk about when you’re not moving.

Adequate Sleep is so important for recovery. You will not recover if you don’t get the sleep you need. Your immune system also needs it to help fight off infections. 

Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night to allow your body to repair and regenerate. Cut the lights, keep the room cool, and keep that phone far away from you for about an hour before bed.

Lastly, everyone knows we’re mostly water, so hydration is the final item I want to mention in this section.

Staying well-hydrated is essential for optimal immune function. Water helps flush toxins from the body and supports various bodily functions, including the immune response. 

You’ll also have a hard time keeping up with all those workouts if you’re not drinking enough water because you will surely be sweating more than you’re used to. 

Aim for about 100 ounces of water a day (about 3 litres for my fellow Canadians).

3. Vitamin D:

You’ll hear me harp on this over and over. It’s because it’s important. Vitamin D deficiency is a problem, particularly in North America. We need vitamin D for strong bones, muscle function, and preventing chronic disease. 

We also need it to support our immune systems. Studies are showing that vitamin D deficiency can make us more susceptible to lung infections, and other viral infections. 

Sunlight exposure is a natural way to improve your vitamin D levels, but it’s not always easy in those winter months. As someone living in Toronto most of the year, the sun is often hiding. 

So, make sure you include vitamin D-rich foods like fatty fish (salmon), eggs, and dairy products (milk and cheese) in your diet. Additionally, consider vitamin D supplements, especially if you have limited sunlight exposure.

In general, most people should be supplementing with Vitamin D supplements. 

I recommend at least 1000-2000 IU of Vitamin D3 daily as the baseline.

How does it help with your immune system? It supports those cells that are crucial for fighting off infections, and may even reduce the duration and severity of those infections. It’s even been associated with better COVID-19 outcomes in some studies, but those are still being investigated.

Some factors impact how people respond to vitamin D supplementation, such as where you live, how dark your skin is, and your overall health. Remember, supplements are meant to add to a healthy diet and lifestyle, not replace it.

4. Zinc:

Zinc is a trace element that supports immune function and helps the body fight off infections. Most meat, fish, and shellfish (beef, salmon, oysters to name a few) contain zinc. Pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds also contain high amounts zinc. However, for most people, you may not be getting the amount your body needs.

Zinc supplementation is straightforward. Most adults need about 10mg per day unless you’re truly deficient. 

Zinc 10mg per day is where I recommend most of my patients start, and if they’re curious, they can always ask their family doctor for some additional blood work to check their levels.

5. Moringa, and Turmeric

Moringa oleifera is a plant rich in bioactive compounds, including flavonoids, polyphenols, and carotenoids, which have antioxidant properties. 

Known for its rich nutritional profile containing essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, all of which contribute to improved immune function. These include vitamins (such as vitamin A, C, and E), minerals (like iron and zinc), and amino acids. 

It also contains quercetin, another potent antioxidant that can reduce inflammation and strengthen our immune system over time.

Turmeric is a spice that contains the active ingredient, curcumin. It is also a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agent. Like Moringa, it also supports the activity of those key immune cells in our bodies, and better equips them for when an infection presents itself. 

It may even help our bodies produce more antibodies, which can help our bodies respond more rapidly to invaders.

Moringa is available in a variety of forms, but I prefer the capsules from Science Natural Supplements. They’re easy to swallow and taste better than powder forms.

If you’re also interested in Turmeric, SNS makes a fantastic Turmeric supplement that includes BioPerine to help your body better absorb it. 

Try them today, and let me know if you notice the difference that I did!

So there you have it, my top 5 tips, and supplements that I take to make sure I’m keeping infections away, and staying healthy all year round.

A combination of a balanced diet, key nutrients, lifestyle choices, and potentially, the support of a supplement, can contribute to a strong immune system, so make sure you give attention to each of these key areas.


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