The true potential of our immune system is still unknown, but we are all aware of the vital role the immune system plays in keeping us healthy and feeling our best.
In this article, our goal is to shift the way you think about your own immune function, while we share helpful tips that you can use every day to stay healthy and happy!
In a world smaller and more connected than ever before, with more and more of us travelling every year, it is becoming common for viruses to spread and affect many people. Our modern medical system can develop vaccines and treatments fairly quickly, but we must also agree that it is most crucial to have a healthy immune system above all to fight these infections naturally.
What is the Immune System?
The immune system is a specialized network of cells, nodes, tissues, and organs that work together to defend us against diseases and infection. When fully optimized our immune systems prevent infections, destroy viruses and balance good/bad bacteria levels without us ever giving this process a second thought. In fact, we usually think about the immune system only after we have come down with something.
Once your specialized receptor cells detect a virus or bacteria, the immune system responds in two stages; the innate immune response, and the adaptive immune response. The innate immune response rapidly starts upon infection and helps to contain the spread and reproduction of the virus. The adaptive immune response occurs after and more specifically targets the virus that has infected us.
Recently, scientists have come to understand the importance of the innate immune response that precedes the adaptive immune response as the first wave of defense. The innate immune response also shapes and instructs the outcome of the adaptive immune response. While scientists learn more about how viruses work and how our immune system responds to viruses, we take a look at how we can boost our immune system quickly and easily, our primary weapon while fighting with all kinds of diseases.
Boosting the Immune System
Sleep and Rest
Your body needs to rest between 8 and 10 hours a night. Every night. We cannot say enough how much your body needs sleep and rest, especially now that we are exposed to blue light from our computers and phones constantly. However, a sound sleep without any disturbance from light and sound produces the best hormonal response.
Sleep has two distinct benefits in terms of boosting the immune system: first of all, getting enough sleep allows the body to naturally heal and detoxify. When you are stressed or anxious, your body releases adrenaline and cortisol which lowers your immunity. During an adrenaline response, your body will shift energy away from the immune system and digestive to temporarily allow you to escape any perceived danger. This feature of the human body worked great to keep our ancestors alive, but now can greatly impact your healthy immune response as it has become very common to suffer from adrenal fatigue due to poor diet and stressful lifestyle.
Secondly, when you are sleeping your body produces a master hormone called melatonin, which is an incredibly underestimated hormone important to the entire body! Melatonin has many benefits, among them is to help prevent certain diseases. In fact, our cancer patients are administered high doses of melatonin as part of their alternative treatment protocol. Inadequate amounts of sleep or even sleeping with too much light present will decrease your melatonin production which directly lowers immune response.
Did you know there is a Yogic Practice for restful sleep? Listen to a ‘Yoga Nidra’ meditation to help you fall asleep quickly and soundly!
Eat Your Veggies
Just as your mother would say, you should eat your veggies. Actually, you should eat foods with high antioxidant levels. Fruits and vegetables, berries, dark greens, whole grains all contain an array of antioxidants and phytonutrients. These components can neutralize free radicals throughout the body.
Three of our top superfoods to boost your antioxidant levels are turmeric, raw cacao and goji berries! These superfoods support not only our immunity, but other systems of the body as well!
Beware of Food Allergies
A food allergy is when your immune system mistakenly responds to a particular food as foreign invader, initiating a host of unpleasant side effects. Your immune system creates antibodies to fight this mistaken pathogen, which can damage the body over time and create inconvenience in daily life. An immune system weakened by stress and poor diet will create more issues than a more active immune system which is better equipped to respond in a more appropriate way.
One of the most important reasons we encourage our guests to eat organic is because of the link between food allergies and conventionally farmed produce, meat and dairy. The excessive pesticides and GMOs used in conventionally farmed products have been linked to the decades long spike in immune system and developmental disorders throughout the world. GMOs and processed foods can cause leaky gut syndrome, in which undigested proteins, sugars and fats leak from the small intestine and into the bloodstream. Leaky Gut Syndrome can cause chronic fatigue, food sensitivities, brain fog and even autoimmune conditions.
Quiet is Good
For our city dwellers, let’s find more peace and quiet! Noise pollution may have an impact on your immune system, according to recent research. Excessive noise has been linked to higher cortisol levels in the blood, which increase blood pressure and blood sugar and reduce the ability of the immune system to perform optimally. So, turn your TV down… and look for silence in nature or with noise cancelling headphones!
We now know that exercise makes our body stronger, increases circulation of blood, stimulates the lymphatic system and helps the body flush toxins and deliver nutrients to every cell.
Fitting more exercise into your daily routine will not only help to lose weight but also can boost your immune system and keep you from getting sick easily, especially during the winter months.
When you exercise, your body also releases endorphins which will improve energy level and overall mood. When you feel good, your immune system will instantly perform better! One of our favorite ways to build immunity and increase microcirculation is to use an ice plunge pool!
Drink Enough Water
Water not only keeps you hydrated, but also carries oxygen to every single one of your cells. Oxygenated cells are optimized cells!
Water is also effective in removing toxins from the body, so drinking more of it could help prevent toxins from building up and harming your immune system.
The most important time of day to get hydrated is after you wake up and before consuming any other foods or liquids!
Enjoy Life Fully
Spending time with good company, laughing together and doing things you enjoy can drastically lower stress hormones, increases immune function and infection-fighting antibodies. When we laugh, for example, our bodies release endorphin, our natural feel-good chemicals.
Another powerful way to release endorphins is through simple breathwork meditations where our intake of oxygen and release of CO2 is greater than normal (deep breathing through the nose and mouth). 7 conscious breaths is enough to boost immune function. Breathwork expert Wim Hof has been at the forefront of recent groundbreaking studies showing how the mind and breath can affect immune function in a positive way!
No Smoking, No Alcohol
Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals. At least 43 are known carcinogens. Your body tries to fight each and every chemical as foreign bodies. This happens every time you smoke and leaves your immune system tired and unfit to fight against diseases.
There is strong evidence that alcohol disrupts immune pathways and affect the body’s ability to defend against infection.
Increase your Vit C and Vitamin D intake
Research shows beneficial effects of vitamin D on the immune system, in particular for the prevention of autoimmunity. Direct sunlight triggers the skin’s production of vitamin D. In the summer, a 10-15-minute exposure is enough to strengthen the immune system. However, it is recommended you don’t wash the parts of your body exposed to sunlight with soap for 24 hours after exposure. Vitamin D is fat soluble and can take some time to be fully absorbed into the body.
Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant and supports various cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune system. Boosting our vitamin C intake through the diet is great, but for a true immune boosting protocol, Vitamin C must be administered through IV, bypassing the digestive system which creates a limit for the amount of Vit C that can be absorbed through digestion.