Your immune system is your defense against toxins such as drugs and environmental chemicals, rogue cells that cause cancer, fungi, parasites , viruses and bacteria that cause infections like the flu’s, colds and respiratory and sinus infections.
Can you boost your immune system naturally? Science has mixed reviews on how to improve our immune system. However, many studies do show that certain nutrients are critical for healthy immune function.
Our immune system is highly complex and is influenced in many ways. A healthy immune system should protect us from almost any type of virus, bacteria, fungus, parasite or toxin. If healthy, it should be able to stop almost any foreign invader or rogue cell trying to harm our body.
Our immune function is controlled through a highly complex system of organs and processes called the immune system. The immune system has many ways of protecting us. For example; your skin has antimicrobial properties and special sensory cells that act as part of your immune defense system. Your tears, mucus and saliva have special enzymes that breakdown the cell wall of invading bacteria. Since the nasal passage and lungs are coated in mucus, many germs not killed are immediately trapped in the mucus and soon swallowed. Mast cells also line the nasal passages, throat, lungs and skin and alert other parts of the immune system to respond. Inside each cell another type of immune system functions. Several enzymes act as defenders to protect the inner health of the cell. Two of these; Super Oxide Dismutase (SOD) and Glutathione peroxidase protect the cell against free radical attacks. In the liver and other cells, another class of enzymes collectively called xenobiotic-metabolizing enzymes work to detoxify toxins in our bodies. These xenobiotic removing enzymes are a part of another system, Cytochrome P-450 & P448. Cytochrome P450 & 448 are so powerful, drug manufacturers must figure out ways to defeat them so their drugs will work in the body. Hummm, I guess that’s why drugs have so many negative side effects. They alter the body’s ability to protect itself ! The health of our immune system and it’s ability to protect our body from harm is dependent on many factors. Researchers still don’t fully understand exactly how the immune system operates. They do concede, that how we live and eat may play a large role on our immune system’s health status.
Our diet and lifestyle play a large role in determining how effective our immune system is at protecting us. Those enzymes we just read about need many nutrients in the body for them to work effectively. It’s not just what we eat and don’t eat, it is also how we live.
Let’s look at the most powerful influences on your immune systems health status.
- Lack of sleep
- Emotional toxicity hatred, anger, jealousy, resentment, self-defeating thoughts
- Caffeine (in excess)
- Alcohol (in excess)
- Refined and Processed foods
- Simple Sugars
- Lack of exercise
Positives for our Immune System
- Pure water- spring water or purified water
- Adequate sleep- 7 to 8 hours
- Love, family, community involvement, self-appreciation
- Positive attitude
- Being physical activity gardening, hiking etc… , exercise daily (movement is important for our lymphatic system)
- A spiritual connection
- A diet rich in diversity, including vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains (however limit), nuts and seeds and to a lesser degree wild caught cold water fish and organic turkey or chicken breast.
It’s common knowledge that certain foods and nutrients boost our immune function. You can find thousands of sites publishing these list. What most don’t tell you, is, what you do and how you eat consistently, has the biggest impact on your health. For example; if you regularly eat refined ( foods that have been altered, removing most of the nutritional integrity of the original food) and processed foods ( foods such as luncheon meats, processed cheese, prepared dinners in a package) drink soft drinks or smoke, taking a multivitamin or occasionally eating a few healthy foods isn’t going to have much of a positive impact on your health. Refined and processed foods not only give little nutrition, they also pollute our bodies with harmful preservatives and additives that can diminish our health.
Foods that Promote Immune Function ( all plant-based foods have immune boosting potential)
- Apple Cider Vinegar (Braggs brand)
- Brussels sprouts
- Cinnamon (cinnamon & honey)
- Dark Chocolate
- Goji berries
- Grapes- red, black and purple
- Green tea
- Honey ( local raw unfiltered honey)
- Mushrooms – chaga, crimini, shiitake and maitake
- Nuts and seeds– almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds
- Peppers– red bell, cayenne
- Pumpkin, butternut squash
- Rice bran
- Swiss chard
Nutrients Important for Immune Function
All nutrients are important for our health, however a few are vitally important for our immune system to function optimally. If you have a diet rich in a variety of healthy foods, you will give yourself the best chance to build a healthy body. Remember, it is the consistency of what we do. If you live a healthy lifestyle 80% of the time you should build health. An occasional indulgence isn’t going to effect your health in a negative way. Obviously the reverse is true; live unhealthy 80% of the time and have a healthy treat occasionally and you will still build poor health.
Eat a proper balance of carbohydrates, fats and proteins to insure your ability to build a healthy body. Your daily calories should contain 50 to 60% carbohydrates, 25 to 35% healthy fats and 10 to 20% protein.
Nutrients Vital for Immune System Health
Vitamin B6 & B12
Supplements for immune function
Oregano oil (make sure its therapeutic grade and take with water, it is very strong and hot)
Nutritional Yeast (boost our ability to kill bacteria and viruses) (do not confuse with brewers yeast or bakers yeast)
Stop eating body polluters and nutrient robber like fast foods, processed foods and refined foods. They overload your immune system and provide very little nutrition needed to keep your immune system healthy. Eat a mostly plant based diet with lots of differently colored veggies and fruits. Keep the sugar in your diet to a minimum. This also means staying away from grain flours because they turn to blood sugar quickly. Exercise often and stay hydrated!!
If you really want to maximize your opportunity for optimal health, adopt a life style that includes a healthy diet, rest, relaxation, love, laughter and a strong spiritual foundation. In addition, avoid exposure to those who are sick when possible. Practice good sanitation at all times.
Wally Bishop C.N.C. I.N.H.C.
Integrative Nutrition Health Coach
The contents of the email or written communication are not medical advice and should not be considered as such! This blog is for informational purposes only. Please consult with your physician or health care provider if you have medical issues and before changing your diet or lifestyle or taking herbal or dietary supplements. Never start an exercise program with getting your doctors approval. Never quit taking medications unless advised to do so by your doctor. Only your health care provider, personal physician, or pharmacist can provide you with advice on what is safe and effective for your unique needs.