October 30, 2023
Last Updated:
March 6, 2024

6 Ways to Boost Your Immune System Naturally

IIN’s partner, Nature's Sunshine, are the pioneers of encapsulated herbs, and for the last 50+ years they have been working to create the world’s most effective natural health supplements using industry-leading science and innovation. 

Pharmacy aisles are filled with medicines and supplements that help fight off sniffles and sore throats. While these are powerful tools to help your body fight germs and infections, there are plenty of alternatives to keep sickness at bay and boost the immune system naturally.

What Is the Immune System, and How Does It Work?

We’ve all been sick, whether it was a little bug that caused a cough or a bug that had you bedridden for a week. But why? Let’s dive into how the immune system works so we know how to better support it.

Your immune response is a complex and intricate system that fights to keep the body balanced and healthy. The immune system is made of several organs, tissues, and stations throughout your body, and each has a specific function to patrol and protect against pathogens. Immunity is divided into two parts: innate and adaptive immunity.

Innate Immunity

Innate immunity is what you’re born with, and it isn’t specific to the germs, microbes ,and other substances it fights. Physical barriers act immediately as the first line of defense against harmful substances. Skin, hair, mucous, and membranes can deflect microbes that we come into contact with daily.

The internal part of innate immunity consists of cells programmed to fight intruders that may enter the body. Some of these guardians are white blood cells and cytokines. White blood cells travel to infection sites when they detect a foreign invader. Cytokines are chemical messengers that communicate the symptoms of feeling sick and inducing a fever.

Don’t be alarmed when you have a fever; It’s a sign that your body is working to heal itself! An internal temperature of 100°-102° F (37.8-38.9° C) provides your cells with an ideal work environment while making it harder for bacteria and pathogens to survive. 

Note: Most fevers go away on their own within a few days. But if your fever exceeds 102° F or lasts more than three to five days, you should seek medical attention.

Adaptive Immunity

Adaptive immunity develops over time and is specific to the germs we’re exposed to. This kind of immunity takes over if the innate response is unable to destroy the invader. The adaptive system’s responsibility is to stop the current infection and provide immunity against reinfection with memory cells. For example, if you’ve had chickenpox, you’re practically guaranteed immunity from another infection thanks to the adaptive immune system.

Adaptive immunity is also responsible for managing allergies. Antibodies release histamines and trigger the inflammatory response to help control the antigen. This is why reactions like sneezing, rashes, and swelling often occur when we battle an allergy.

Where Is the Immune System Located?

Organs and tissues all over the body make up the immune system. Some are production stations for immune cells, some house immune cells, and others act as messaging centers. Four key locations for the immune system are the gut, bone marrow, lymph nodes, and spleen. 


About 70% of immune cells are located in the gut, so it is central to the immune system. 

“The microbiome and the immune system are critically intertwined,” says UCLA professor of digestive diseases Jonathan Jacobs, MD, Ph.D. “What’s present in the gut determines what education immune cells get.” 

And if the stomach lining is damaged, more toxins and microbes are able to slip through the membrane and into the bloodstream.

Bone Marrow

All cells with immune function are made from stem cells in the bone marrow. Depending on the identity of the cell, it will either stay in the bone marrow or travel to its new base. B cells, tasked with making antibodies, stay in the bone marrow until called. T cells, used in the adaptive response, travel to the thymus to mature.

Lymph Nodes

These tissues full of immune cells are stationed throughout the body. You can find lymph nodes in the neck, underarms, groin, and along the digestive tract. When signaled, they enlarge to become centers for immune cell replication. Lymph nodes also act as a filter for toxins and pathogens.


The spleen plays an important role in a healthy immune system. It acts as a filter for circulating blood and screens for damaged blood cells and pathogens. If cells contain pathogens, macrophages destroy the unhealthy cells. This organ also hosts white blood cells and platelets, ready to aid an infection. While a functioning spleen is important for fighting infections, you can still live a healthy life without your spleen. 

What Signs of Low Immunity Should I Look For?

Many factors contribute to a weak immune system. Newborns and young kids are more susceptible to illness due to a developing adaptive immune response. Similarly, as we age, our bodies become less efficient and can’t fight infections as well. Be on the lookout for signs from your body when it needs a recharge. Some of these might include:  

  • Swollen lymph nodes  
  • A persistent cold  
  • Gut issues like leaky gut, frequent constipation  
  • Fatigue  
  • Consistently high stress levels 

These aren’t always indicators that your immunity is low. Pay attention to how you feel daily and incorporate healthy habits to fortify your immune system. 

How Can I Strengthen My Immune System Naturally?

Before you reach for the medicine cabinet, there are plenty of natural ways to maintain and boost your immune system. First, if you do get sick, let your fever pass on its own. It can be tempting to take a fever reducer like ibuprofen at the first sign of raised temperatures, but it’s better to let your immune response run its natural course as long as you’re not at risk.   

Boosting your immunity can be as simple as getting eight hours of sleep each night or eating more fruits and vegetables. Here are six natural immune boosters that you can easily incorporate into your lifestyle at any age.

1. Eat the Rainbow

But not in Skittle form. A diverse and colorful diet provides your cells with essential vitamins and nutrients to optimize growth and function. Try to get as many colors on your plate from natural origins as you can. This means eating whole grains, fresh fruits and veggies, healthy fats, and lean meat, and avoid excessive alcohol and refined sugars. Include foods that have recently been “alive.” Transitioning to a balanced diet isn’t as intimidating as you might think, and you can always incorporate some of Nature’s Sunshine’s bestselling supplements*:

  • My Immune Defense: Designed exclusively with a blend of six mushrooms, natural sources of beta-glucans, and naturally occurring vitamin D for superior antioxidant and immunological benefits. 
  • Power Greens: Power Greens is the only blend packed with two full servings of vegetables, 200+ plant-based nutrients, prebiotic fiber, enzymes, adaptogens, nootropics, and immune-boosting herbs. 
  • Ashwagandha: Natural adaptogenic herbs blended to support the mind-body connection. 
  • Vitamin D: Support skeletal strength and boost your body’s defenses all year long. 
  • Zinc: Supports hundreds of important functions including metabolism, growth and development, immunity, and energy production. 

2. Get Moving

Physical activity has been shown to reduce the risk of illness by promoting white blood cell activity to detect pathogens. In addition to moving immune cells through the body, exercise can prolong the presence of the immune cells up to several hours after completing the activity. It’s recommended that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week. It’s as simple as:

Increased heart rate = increased blood flow  

Increased blood flow = more immune cells moving through the bloodstream  

More immune cells moving = more filtration from the spleen

While it’s important to move your body, be sure not to overwork yourself. You should avoid training when you feel ill or have an injury, as this can make it worse. Find ways to move that work for you. It can be as simple as a 20-minute walk or an hour-long training session. Paired with a healthy diet, exercise is a great way to keep your body healthy and ready to fight infection.

3. Catch Your Z’s

Getting a good night’s rest is arguably the most important thing you can do to keep your immune system functioning properly and efficiently. Rhythmic sleep gives your body the TLC it needs to recover each day. It’s best to be proactive vs. reactive when it comes to sleep.   

Neale R. Lange, MD encourages at least eight hours of sleep each night, and potentially more if you’re fighting an infection. 

“The worse or more fragmented your sleep is,” Lange says, “the higher your resting inflammatory condition will be, and heightened inflammation just puts you more at risk for complications to arise from the illness.”  

4. Synthesize Sunshine

Vitamin D, the “sunshine” vitamin, can work wonders for your immunity by supporting both the innate and adaptive systems. Vitamin D production initiates upon exposure to UVB rays from the sun. During the summer, getting your daily dose of vitamin D is easy: Just spend an hour or so outside (with sunscreen, of course). Colder temperatures bring less sunlight, making vitamin D harder to get in the winter.

“Winter sunlight does not have enough of the UVB component that is essential for vitamin D synthesis,” says Dr. Antony Young says. “For all practical purposes, one cannot make vitamin D in cold climates in winter.” 

If you live in colder climates where vitamin D is not readily available during the winter, try getting your “sunshine” vitamin from food.

Freshwater fish, like rainbow trout and salmon, are high in vitamin D and provide 645 IU and 383-570 IU, respectively. Don’t have the palate for fish? You can find milk and juice fortified with vitamins, specifically vitamin D.

5. Calm the Cortisol

Did you know that stress can weaken the immune system? The body responds to stress by releasing the hormone cortisol. Cortisol suppresses the immune system by reducing the number of lymphocytes and inhibiting white blood cell activity. If unmanaged stress is a part of your daily lifestyle, your body will start to adapt by accepting the high levels of cortisol as a new normal. Take time to be mindful of stress triggers or stressful thoughts and avoid them if you can. Next time you feel overwhelmed, try these activities:

  • Practice deep and controlled breathing 
  • Go for a walk 
  • Follow a guided meditation 
  • Exercise 
  • Sing/dance along to your favorite song 
  • Journal  
  • Take a media detox

6. Get Rid of Germs 

Keep your hands clean by washing or sanitizing your hands regularly. It is one of the easiest steps to keep pathogens away from our bodies. If you frequently touch your face, this step is especially important for you! Germs often enter the body when we touch our eyes, mouth, and nose. Disinfecting high-traffic surfaces is equally important. Pause and think about the last time you disinfected your phone, computer keyboard, or kitchen counters. Keeping hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes handy can help reduce your contact with germs.


The complexity of the immune system is just one example of how intelligent the body is. Find healing within the body, through food, through movement, and through nature. The next time you start to feel under the weather, try some of these natural tips! 

Interested in learning more about Nature’s Sunshine? They are now welcoming all IIN students and graduates to join their brand ambassador program, and so far over 300 have joined! Not only will you get to be part of a community of likeminded people, but you will continue to heal the world with the power of nature. When you apply to become an ambassador with Nature’s Sunshine, some of the amazing perks include: 

  • 40% off MSRP 
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  • Business tools 
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Join here today and place your first order!  

*You must operate your health practice in the United States. Nature’s Sunshine currently doesn’t ship outside of the United States. IIN receives affiliate commission for purchases of Nature's Sunshine supplements through this blog post.

Author Biography
Alexa Paolella
IIN Content Writer

Alexa holds a bachelor’s in communication studies from Boston University and is a graduate of IIN’s Health Coach Training Program. After losing her father to brain cancer in 2018, Alexa left the fashion industry to pursue a more fulfilling and empowering career in health and wellness.

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