We are continually exposed to organisms that are inhaled, swallowed or inhabit our skin and mucous membranes. Whether or not these organisms lead to disease is decided by the integrity of our body’s defense mechanisms, or immune system.
When our immune system is working properly, we don’t even notice it. But when we have an under- or over-active immune system, we are at a greater risk of developing infections and other health conditions.
To function properly, an immune system must detect a wide variety of agents, known as pathogens, from viruses to parasitic worms, and distinguish them from the organism’s own healthy tissue. In many species, the immune system can be classified into subsystems, such as the innate immune system versus the adaptive immune system, or humoral immunity versus cell-mediated immunity.
In most cases, the immune system does a great job of keeping people healthy and preventing infections. But sometimes problems with the immune system can lead to illness and infection.
But, even if you do get sick this season, the severity and longevity of illness is highly dependent on the strength of your immune system and your body’s ability to fight off the invading virus.
Here are several very easy, all-natural steps you can take to strengthen your immune system and arm yourself against colds and flu today.
It thrills me to see Turmeric more widely available. Turmeric is a cancer cell destroyer and works on nearly every type of cancer. Its active compound, curcumin, has the ability to simultaneously kill and promote healthy cellular growth.
Increasing your Vitamin C dosage is one of the easiest ways to boost immune function. Low levels of C are linked to infection and disease. Vitamin C is not dangerous in heavy doses, showing no side effects from the increase. Lyphospheric Vitamin C can break cell’s lipid barriers and increase absorption by up to 90% preventing viruses, disease, cancer, and improving cardiovascular health.
While a plant-based diet reduces inflammation and creates an alkaline environment, your body needs Zing for immune support. If you’re deficient, animal products are better sources than plant, think only organic grass-fed beef, chicken, shellfish, or lamb. Zinc builds immunity and is actually very anti-inflammatory. Vegetarians, be sure to intake good amounts of legumes and nuts to maintain your intake.
Your body contains ten times more bacteria than cells. Friendly bacteria not only attack pathogenic bacteria and fungi, but they also trigger appropriate white cell reactions to invaders. Surprisingly, one of the main functions of friendly bacteria is to stimulate your immune system. By eating probiotic-rich foods and maintaining good intestinal flora, a person can also maintain a healthy immune system.
The majority of adults and children in the U.S. are deficient in the sunshine vitamin, putting them at greater risk for all infections. A number of recent medical trials have demonstrated that individuals with the lowest levels of vitamin D had the highest rates of serious illness and infections.
You can get Vitamin D naturally by daily exposing your arms and face for 20 minutes in the sun, but most people need more than this. Good dietary sources include good old fashioned cod liver oil (my favorite, least processed brand here), grassfed beef liver, egg yolks from pasture-raised chickens, and fatty fish like salmon.
You can also buy liquid Vitamin D supplements which are very effective and easy to take.
Whatever amount of sleep you need to feel refreshed in the morning, whether that’s 6 hours or 10—make sure you get it! Insufficient sleep depresses the immune system, opening the door to colds, upper-respiratory infections, and other nagging ills. Also consider your caffeine intake, and don’t let it keep you from getting a good night’s sleep.
If you have a constricted airway that prevents you from sleeping deeply, Breathe-Right strips on your nose can be very helpful. If you have insomnia (which I often do), then a little warm cow’s milk (which provides tryptophan, a relaxing amino acid) or some magnesium drink can quickly and gently ensure you get a good night of rest. (My favorite book about curing insomnia here)
Nothing works for boosting my immune system or spirit more than a homemade bowl of chicken soup. There is a reason why this is a go-to for cold and flu season, the chicken provides cysteine and amino acid that breaks up congestion, while the hot soup can strengthen the movement of white blood cells and the broth is ultra hydrating. Any combination of bone in chicken and broth slow cooked with celery, onion, carrot, and herbs is all it takes!
I love the taste and loathe the stinky breath, but garlic is well worth it! The sulfuric acid compounds in garlic are strong enough to eliminate bacteria and infections while studies show that garlic consumption may reduce the risk of developing several types of cancer, especially cancers of the gastrointestinal tract. Use fresh garlic for max benefit as heat can decrease the potency.