Updated: Jul 19, 2020
Despite rapid advancements in medical science, believe it or not our own immune system is still the main weapon against infections!
So boosting your immune system is important. VERY important!
There are many things we're exposed to in daily life that often we don't even give it a second thought as to where it may have originated, that is until we get sick! Our bodies stave off multiple possibilities of infections every day and we are generally none the wiser! Sometimes the infection is too much for the immune system to kick it- in the immediate sense, but most of us get through it in time. Unfortunately some people are immunocompromised, find it far more difficult to rid themselves of infections, and they experience much harsher or prolonged symptoms.
One thing is for sure, no matter where the contamination comes from or what category you are in, we all could use a "recharge" to our immune system.
Most of us know about the power of Vitamin C and Zinc. Sometimes we forget about the importance of magnesium and vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin) All which are essential to numerous functions in the body, not to mention vital role in immune heath. So, absolutely keep these on hand. There's a few other proven methods to add to your arsenal as well, here's a few of my favorite recommendations.
Movement is crucial for immune function, most notably because it revs up circulation, which helps move around the cells and transport much needed oxygen to compromised tissues that require regeneration. Exercise also causes change in antibodies and white blood cells. WBCs are the body's immune system cells that fight disease.These antibodies or "WBCs" circulate more rapidly so they could detect illnesses earlier than they might have before! Exercise slows down the release of stress hormones, which helps to improve our mental heath, which then leaves us less susceptible to various inflammations in the body caused by stress. So not only does it make you feel good, exercise is absolutely necessary to supporting you're bodies natural functions. Most importantly...the immune system.
As much as we need exercise, we equally need rest. Our bodies require both sleep and wakeful rest. During deep sleep (or slow-wave sleep), your body releases Human Growth Hormone which is important for growth, cell regeneration, and cell reproduction. This hormone helps to maintain, build, and repair healthy tissue in the brain and other organs. ... This helps to build muscle mass, boost metabolism, and burn fat. During sleep, Chemicals that strengthen your immune system start to circulate in your blood, and also boosts the effectiveness of certain specialized immune cells called T cells (which are important for cell mediated immunity and the activation of immune cells to fight infection)
Sleep also helps the body suppress ghrelin, a hunger hormone, and stimulate leptin, which controls appetite. So, it aids in weight management which also eventually makes a full circle to avoiding compromised immunity.
Wakeful rest is generally defined as a period of 10 minutes or longer with minimal stimulation. The idea is to calm your mind, give at least some of your neurons a break. This too plays an important roll in mental health which affects the immune system. Not to mention the positive affects it has on the cardiovascular system, especially in women. Studies show wakeful rest has also been shown to facilitate memory performance and other cognitive functions too. What a bonus!
Reading a book, meditating, watching a sunset, maybe a nap in the park. Rest is vital for reset. Whatever way you chose to experience it, take a minimum of 10-15 minutes a day to rest your body and brain. Several times a day if possible.
Eat a Whole Food Diet:
"Whole foods" is defined as food that has been processed or refined as little as possible, and is free from additives or other artificial substances. "Nutrient dense" is defined as providing a high concentration of vitamins, minerals, complex carbs, protein and healthy fats. The most nutrient dense foods are most commonly organic, grass fed, and often labeled as "bio-nutrient". (More to come on that in a future episode!)
Nutrient dense food is one of your best defenses against dysfunction and disease. To put things into perspective we all understand; High performance engines use premium fuels. If not, it could cause damage to internal engine components. Suffice to say, our bodies work very much in the same way. The quality of foods we use to nourish our bodies should be a top priority, especially when boosting our immune system. All of our human "components" require a specific nutrient combination to operate at it's very best. If one system is lacking, our body is so smart it will take away from another "component" based on priority of need. However if we do not eventually replace the nutrients, the "components" will continue to steal from one another until we reach a deficit. That's when trouble starts to show itself in the form of a dysfunction. So, to put it simply. If you want to perform optimally, enrich your body with a variety of nutrient dense whole foods. Give your body and your immune system a fighting chance.
I cannot emphasize the importance of this enough. To no surprise of the natural health community, Recent studies found that the consumption of added sugars as well as alternative sweeteners, has been implicated in increased risk of a variety of chronic diseases such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) as well as cognitive decline, skin disorders and even some cancers! While naturally occurring sugars found in whole foods are essential to the body, Processed and refined sugars hold absolutely no nutritional value, and they compromise our immune system by hindering the body's immune functions. Consuming too much sugar can affect the cells in your immune system that target bacteria, it essentially puts your white blood cells into a temporary coma. Sugar triggers low-grade inflammation and hinders the absorption of essential minerals and nutrients. It has been known to cause disbiosis of the gut, lead to insulin resistance and attribute to addictive behavior patters. Children who consume foods high in refined sugar experience exacerbated hyperactivity and increased aggressive behaviors as well as unstable mood changes. While it may prove difficult to avoid sugar all together (it's in nearly all processed foods on the market, not to mention the many names it falls under -Sucrose, Dextrose, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup Solids, Cane Sugar, Cane Juice, Barley Malt, and Rice Syrup, are all code for SUGAR.) it's not impossible. Check your labels consistently and support the products that don't use added sugars or chemical sweeteners. Preparing your own foods is the best way to avoid added sugars all together.
Manuka Honey & Propolis:
What a delicious way to boost the immune system. All natural honey has some antibacterial effects, but scientists have discovered that Manuka's effects are much more potent! Manuka honey protects against damage caused by bacteria, it also boost production of special cells that can repair tissue damaged by infection. Manuka honey has an anti-inflammatory action that can quickly ease pain and inflammation. Not the same as regular honey, Manuka boasts Anti-bacterial & Anti-viral activity as well as antioxidants, which are very effective for the removal of free radicals from the body. What makes Manuka honey so different you ask? Well it contains a compound called methylglyoxal or (MGO). This compound apparently carries all the magic Manuka has to offer! There's a rating system to go by when buying this special honey, it's called called UMF, which stands for Unique Manuka Factor. This tells you the amount of MGO contained in your jar. When maintaining good health you will look for a the UMF to be between 5-10+ (30-100 MGO), however when using Manuka to recharge the immune response, I recommend a rating between 15-20+ (400-550 MGO) There are many company's and a wide range of UMF / MGO rating on the labels, not to mention Manuka can be pricey due to short harvest seasons. Whichever company you go with be sure it's; Raw, From New Zealand, and has a high UMF factor. Now's the time to slide in a shout out to Bee Propolis, also known as "Bee glue"! Propolis has a number of beneficial substances known as flavonoids and polyphenols, which have strong antioxidant and anti-cancer activities. It also has antibacterial and antifungal properties. Propolis has been shown to heal while killing germs, in a one-two punch that quickly and effectively knocks out anything attacking your system. It's basically an all natural antibiotic that's been used for this purpose for thousands of years! There's no concerns of overdosing with Propolis, just be sure to be aware of your sourcing. The one thing that won't benefit you is using a product that contains pesticide residue. Taking Manuka and propolis together is sure to be a powerhouse addition to recharging your immune system.
Studies have linked echinacea and their compounds to many health benefits, such as reduced inflammation, improved immunity and lower blood sugar levels. Echinacea is loaded with compounds that function as antioxidants. Antioxidants are molecules that help defend your cells against oxidative stress (a state that has been linked to chronic diseases) Echinacea also contains flavonoids (they corral cell-damaging free radicals and metallic ions) as well as compounds called alkamides, which can further enhance antioxidant activity. Alkamides can renew worn-out antioxidants and help antioxidants better reach molecules that are prone to oxidative stress. The active constituents of Echinacea work as a team, enhancing each others effects. All of these compounds help your immune system combat infections and viruses, which could help you recover faster from illness. Some studies even suggest Echinacea helps to prevent common viruses. Keep in mind that Echinacea is not a daily supplement, it's usually well tolerated to take your recommended dose for up to 10 days at a time to help boost your immunity.
When choosing an Echinacea supplement, I always recommend reputable sourcing, and zero unnecessary additives. This means look out for things like magnesium stearate, silicon dioxide, Titanium dioxide, artificial coloring, hydrogenated oils..etc. I almost always recommend supplements in a tincture, sublingual, chew-able or effervescent form for best efficacy because not all of us have the best functioning digestive systems, and you want more bang for your buck anyway. Right?
These tiny, dark berries contain properties that are thought to "coat" virus cells, preventing them from entering our bodies cells and preventing illness.
The studies that have been done to determine why elderberry activates the immune system indicate that the anthocyanins in elderberry are associated with greatly increased immune system coordination, they show that elderberry boosts the production of immune cytokines. Cytokines act as messengers within the immune system and help to regulate the immune response. It has been known to help tame inflammation, lessen stress, and help protect your heart, too. Some experts even recommend Elderberry to help prevent and ease cold and flu symptoms. Elderberry has been found to inhibit the growth of bacteria like H. pylori and improves symptoms of sinusitis and bronchitis. Similar to Echinacea, Elderberry is not a daily supplement, studies show it to be well tolerated to take your recommended dose for up to 10 days at a time to boost your immunity, and lessen the duration of your illness.
Mushrooms have been used in Eastern medicine for thousands of years and have gained even more popularity as of late. Destined to be taken as powders (they’re never really meant to be eaten raw or whole), you can find these fungi in all different forms, from teas, tinctures, powders and pills, there's one out there just right for you. What's most exciting about mushrooms is not just there immune boosting properties, but the fact that they offer a wide array of support for whatever may ail you... from anxiety & depression to cancer, there's a mushroom out there that will suit you perfectly, but for the purpose of this article well focus on immunity. A few well known shrooms to look into for immune health are; Chaga, it has the ability to lower high blood sugar and combat abnormal and mutagenic cell growth. Chaga also has the capacity to stimulate the immune response, reduce inflammation and to multitask on so many levels making it a very powerful adaptogen for the body. Reishi, Renowned for it's anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory properties, this mushroom has also shown the ability to stimulate macrophages (a type of white blood cell, it can enhance immune function through its effects on white blood cells, which help fight infection and cancer. Turkey Tail, The polysaccharide PSK is largely responsible for turkey tail’s inhibition of sarcoma formation. This same compound is effective in increasing Natural Killer cells’ activity, a type of white blood cell responsible for immunity against viral infection. Lion's Main, Lion’s mane mushroom is often called “Nature’s Nutrient for the Neurons” due to its impressive ability to stimulate nerve growth factor (NGF) production. While NGF is largely tied to its significance with neurological function, it is also effective in many other areas, including our immunity. Our immune cells express receptors for NGF, which allows for immuno-regulation when we have a supply of NGF.
These are just to name a few! Look into adding medicinal mushrooms to your daily regimen.
This is a high priority supplement to add to your stash! Your body uses minerals for many different jobs, including keeping your bones, muscles heart and brain working properly. Minerals are also needed for making enzymes and hormones. A number of trace minerals are shown to be imperative for adequate functioning of the immune system including copper, zinc, and selenium. Trace mineral nutrition influences not only the host response to a pathogen, but also the pathogen itself. Ideally, the best sourcing of minerals is through eating high quality whole foods. (Remember what we talked about earlier?) Highly processed foods, artificial fillers, environmental factors and soil depletion leaves a large percentage of people in a state of deficiency. Did you know that crops grown decades ago were much richer in vitamins and minerals than the varieties most of us get today? Even pharmaceutical medications rob us of our vital mineral stores! Because of this, it is essential to all systems to supply the necessary nutrients to keep our systems at optimal levels. The major minerals which are used and stored in large quantities in the body are calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium & sulfur. The trace minerals are just as important to our health as the major minerals, but we don't need large amounts. Minerals in this category include chromium, copper, floride, iodine, iron, maganese, molybdenum, selinium & zinc. It is very easy to add this step to your routine. I personally add in about 30 drops per gallon. Follow the instructions on the bottle, no need to go overboard. A little goes a long way! Your body will thank you.
This is a high priority supplement for your stash! Your body uses minerals for many different jobs, including keeping your bones, muscles, heart, and brain working properly. Minerals are also needed for making enzymes and hormones. A number of trace minerals have been shown to be imperative for adequate functioning of the immune system, including copper, zinc, and selenium. Trace mineral nutrition influences not only the host response to a pathogen but also the pathogen itself. Ideally, the best sourcing of minerals is through eating high quality whole foods. (remember what we talked about earlier?) Highly processed foods, artificial fillers, environmental factors and soil depletion leaves almost everyone in a state of deficiency. Did you know crops grown decades ago were much richer in vitamins and minerals than the varieties most of us get today? Even pharmaceutical medications rob us of our vital mineral stores! Because of this- it is essential to all systems that we supply the necessary nutrients to keep our systems at optimal levels. The major minerals, which are used and stored in large quantities in the body, are calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and sulfur. The trace minerals are just as important to our health as the major minerals, but we don't need large amounts. Minerals in this category include chromium, copper, fluoride, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, and zinc. It's very easy to add this step to your routine. Follow the instructions on the bottle and don't go overboard. A little goes a long way!
We don't hear much about this supplement in regards to our immune health but surprisingly it's quite effective. Most notably in matured age groups. Many age-related deterioration's occur at the cellular level in the immune system leading to a decrease in the immune response.
L-carnitine has been shown capable of restoring the age-related changes of neutrophil functions. Neutrophils are important effector cells in the immune system, when plentiful they effectively manage and regain tissue homeostasis and oversee maintenance of immune surveillance. They constantly patrol the organism for signs of microbial infections, and when found, these cells quickly respond to trap and kill the invading pathogens. These guys are main players in host defense against micro-organisms, so it's important to bolster the actions and abilities of our MVP's. Enter, L-carnitine