In the wake of the recent events in our country and around the world I thought I’d create a post to help everyone boost their immune systems and maintain it. I will pose some general information, some tried and true tips, as well as some new ways to increase your immunity.
Immunity is “the ability of an organism to resist a particular infection or toxin by the action of specific antibodies or sensitized white blood cells.” The immune system is not a single thing to improve, it is a finely tuned process of things. To function at optimal levels, it requires balance and harmony. Things like lifestyle, diet, activity and mindset significantly impact how your immune system functions. Experts are still doing research on exactly how these things effect your immunity. When our bodies are not “at ease” we open ourselves up to being more susceptible to illnesses, hence we use the term “disease” when talking about long term or chronic illnesses. Take into consideration that these factors are just the tip of the iceberg. There are endless ways to boost your immune system, so it’s definitely worth doing more research yourself.
Let’s take a look at some tried and true ways to give yourself a boost.
Things like smoking, drinking alcohol and diet can negatively influence your immunity.
The Alkaline diet as been shown to nourish your cells by eliminating processed foods, sugar and other acidic foods and drinks and replacing them with immune boosting foods that decrease inflammation, balances your pH, and strengthens your immune system. All life on Earth depends on appropriate pH levels to thrive. Alkaline foods include foods; certain fruits, green leafy and cruciferous vegetables, garlic, onions, and other substances like Apple Cider Vinegar. Garlic itself is a broad-spectrum antimicrobial agent and immune booster. For a comprehensive list, click here.
Try to limit or completely eliminate dairy products, grains, non-grass fed and antibiotic laden meats, and sugar. Besides helping with your overall immunity, changing your diet can reduce your risk for many health issues and diseases. Many people argue that cancer only grows in an acidic environment and can be treated or possibly cured with an alkaline diet. This diet might be hard at first to implement, but the long term effects are worth it.
We all know that we should quit smoking, but what exactly does it do to our bodies? Smoking has been shown to play a role in inflammation, general immunity and our overall lifelong immunity. Specifically it acts on cytokines, which have a direct effect on other cells. This can lead to autoimmune illnesses and overall inflammation, which causes illness. Check out the research for yourself, here. There are many ways to cut down or quit smoking. The idea is the find what works best for you and don’t give up. Lung tissue can be completely healed in as little as 9 months. After 10 years, your chances of developing lung cancer and dying from it are roughly cut in half compared with someone who continues to smoke.
Despite our cultures love with alcohol, it is one of the worst drugs you can use (in my humble opinion). I’m not saying to completely avoid alcohol, but if you have a problem not only will it wreak havoc on your immune system, but it will start to destroy your liver, lungs and life. Having a drink here and there will not hurt you, but chronic use needs to be addressed. Abusing alcohol causes bacteria to grow in your gut, which can eventually migrate through the intestinal wall and into the liver, leading to liver damage. Gut health has also been shown to significantly raise your inflammation levels and thus creating the immune response.
If you drink more than once or twice a week, you might notice that you catch colds, the flu or other illnesses more frequently than people who do not drink. Alcohol can weaken the immune system and make the body more susceptible to infections. According to NCBI, “There has been evidence that shows that alcohol disrupts immune pathways in complex and seemingly paradoxical ways. These disruptions can impair the body’s ability to defend against infection, contribute to organ damage associated with alcohol consumption, and impede recovery from tissue injury.” Click here to find help today.
Other lifestyle factors you can control include; getting enough sleep, being more active and keeping a healthy weight.
Monitor Your Stress Levels
Stress is one of those things that is hard to control. When we are stressed, the immune system’s ability to fight off antigens is reduced. That is why we are more susceptible to infections. Additionally, the stress hormone cortisol can suppress the effectiveness of the immune system (specifically, it lowers the number of lymphocytes to fight illnesses). Stress can also have an indirect effect on the immune system as a person may use unhealthy behavioral coping strategies to reduce their stress, such as drinking and smoking (see how the cycle works). Figuring out what causes you stress and taking steps to reduce stress can greatly boost your immune system. For more on stress click here.
Now let’s look at some “out of the box” ways to boost your immune system.
What you might not know is that other plants, herbs/spices and fungus can improve your immune system. Certain vegetables pack more punch than others too. Turkey tail, Maitake, Shiitake, and Tremella mushrooms can significantly impact your immunity. Shiitake and Maitake specifically have shown enhanced immune function in women with breast cancer. Bell peppers have 100mg of vitamin C per serving, which is way more than oranges. Eating bell peppers raw helps to preserve the vitamin content. You might not think an apple is a plant, but it’s from a tree right? Apples contain quercetin, which is an antioxidant that increases immunity in multiple ways. Apples also contain pectin, which is a form of fiber that boosts immunity and has been studied as a way to activate cancer-fighting cells.
Echinacea, Elderberry, Andrographis and Astragalus work wonders for your immune system. Oregano, tumeric, ginger, licorice root can act as anti-inflamatory, anti-viral, anti-microbial and anti-fungal agents. Ginger and honey are powerful antioxidants that contain anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Honey itself activates the immune system’s response.
As always vitamins and minerals will also increase your immunity…
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What are your favorite ways to boost your immunity? Please comment below and share with the community.