Photo by Kondwani Crawford

13 Easy Ways to Improve Your Immune System Naturally in 2013

By LaKenya McClough, MPH

Happy New Year family! Given the recent spike in flu incidences in California and across the country, I thought it might be helpful to highlight a few more options on how to stay healthy this season. In this article, I’m sharing with you 13 different and simple ways you can naturally boost your immune system. These are not new ideas. In fact, they are easy everyday practices that when adopted on a regular basis can make a world of difference for your health and may even help prevent you from getting the flu!

Tip #9 of 13 — Laughter

You’ve heard it before, attitude is everything! And laughter makes us feel good any time of day. On a physiological level, laughter is also healing and a preventative strategy for protecting ourselves from sickness and illness. That’s right, laughter actually changes your mood, body, outlook and can help keep you from getting sick!

Laughter makes you healthy in two ways; reducing hormones and increasing immunity.

1) Laughter reduces stress hormones. A fundamental component of life and health has to do with how well we manage stress. When we experience stress, it causes a hormonal response in our bodies which can negatively impact our immune systems, inhibiting our immune response. Laughter on a regular basis has been proven to help reduce stress and increase the presence of positive hormones (called endorphins) that help make the body function properly and make us feel better. At the same time laughter reduces stress hormones such as cortisol which can negatively impact weight and mood. The result is that not only do you feel better, but it actually makes you physically better.

2) Helps to improve your immunity by increasing immune cells and antibodies. Stress negatively impacts the body’s sympathetic nervous system, endocrine system and lymphatic organs. Each of these systems is responsible for helping the body to fight off sickness and disease. Specifically, laughter helps to increase the “body’s protective cells, including antibodies, T-cells and especially Natural Killer cells’, which kills the activity of tumor cells.” According to Medical News Today, laughter causes the body to respond in ways similar to that of moderate physical exercise. (i.e. deep breathing, heart rate improved, and insulin production.) The results are your mood improves, stress hormones decrease, immune activity is enhanced, bad cholesterol (LDL) and systolic blood pressure are lowered, and good cholesterol (HDL) is raised. To learn more about the scientific affects of laughter read this full article from Medical News Today.

Another great article to read about the scientific effects of laughter on your immune system, was published by National Institutes of Health. Check out this link to learn more.

In summary, learning to smile and laugh is just good policy for life. The fact that laughter has a positive impact on your health is just more evidence. Whether it’s your favorite comedian, a funny show or movie, having a great time with friends, and for the really evolved folks, those of us who can learn to laugh at ourselves, having a sense of humor can be a path to greater health!

Here’s something you might find helpful. Laughter Yoga is a concept sweeping the globe. Many people all over, even right here in California are getting involved with so called “happy groups” aka “laughter groups,” and using laughter as a way to support each other and stay healthy. That’s right, laughter can be contagious and people are learning how to laugh and passing it along to other people. To learn more, check out LaughterYoga.org.

Click here for a list of Laughter Yoga clubs located throughout the country.

Check out Good News.org for something positive everyday.

“Your sense of humor is one of the most powerful tools you have to make certain that your daily mood and emotional state support good health.” ~ Paul E. McGhee, Ph.D.

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