I don’t know about you, but it feels as if this winter EVERYONE I know has been sick; and I mean really sick! Superbugs are real and antibiotic resistance is rampant… So how do we get better or boost our immune systems if we can’t afford bucket loads of supplements? Here’s how:
1. Sunshine: Take off your clothes and expose your skin (without sunscreen) to the sun for 10-15mins. Both UV light itself and the vitamin D produced when your skin is exposed to it have potent antimicrobial effects. While vitamin D increases production of naturally occurring antimicrobial peptides that destroy the cell walls of viruses and bacteria, UV light also increases blood levels of infection-destroying lymphocytes (white blood cells).
2. Grounding: Go outside, barefoot, and walk. Grounding to the earth changes your physiology immediately. The more you ground, the more you can benefit because you are at your most natural electrical state when connected to the earth. Your immune system functions optimally when your body has an adequate supply of electrons, which are easily and naturally obtained by barefoot contact with the earth. Studies have shown that earthing or grounding improves blood viscosity, heart rate variability, inflammation, cortisol dynamics, sleep, autonomic nervous system (ANS) balance, and reduces effects of stress. Yes, really.
3. Water: Do not underestimate the health benefits of drinking pure, natural spring water. Water helps to carry oxygen to your cells, which results in properly functioning systems. It also works in removing toxins from the body, so drinking more water could help prevent toxins from building up and having a negative impact on your immune system. You can also take a cold glass of water to the next level by adding lemon. The health benefits of lemon water are plentiful. Lemons are a great source of vitamin C, which is known to boost the immune system, prevent disease, fight the common cold and protect cells. Water with lemon juice squeezed in may also help digestion and aid in detoxification.
4. Gentle Exercise: When you exercise regularly, you help your immune system by providing a boost to the cells in your body that are assigned to attack bacteria. These cells appear to work slower in people who don’t exercise than in those that do. As a result, if you exercise, your immune system is better equipped to handle bacteria that could cause you to become sick. Please note however, that too much exercise can actually cause your immune system to weaken. It’s one of the reasons that you may feel very rundown and weak if you’re training for a marathon or doing a lot of exercise during a short window of time. In order to avoid having this effect on your immune system, make sure that you get enough rest for your body. The good news though, is that you don’t have to be a super athlete to boost your immune system through exercise. All you need to do is walk for a half hour every day or find time to visit the the gym a few times every week.
5. Eat fermented foods: These include unpasteurized sauerkraut, miso, kimchee, kombucha, good quality yogurt or kefir. This is how they help keep you healthy;
– Unprocessed fermented foods boost the immune system by increasing antibodies that fight infectious disease.
– The flora in living cultured foods form a “living shield” that covers the small intestine’s inner lining and helps inhibit pathogenic organisms including E.coli, salmonella and an unhealthy overgrowth of candida (yeast).
– Some ferments create antioxidants (glutathione and superoxide dismustase) that scavenge free radicals which are a cancer precursor.
– Fermenting transforms hard-to-digest lactose from milk to the more easily digested lactic acid. It neutralizes the anti-nutrients found in many foods including the phytic acid found in all grains and the trypsin-inhibitors in soy.
– Fermentation generates new nutrients including omega-3 fatty acids, digestive aids and the trace mineral GTF chromium.
6. Raw honey: Studies have shown that a daily dose of raw honey raises levels of health-promoting antioxidants in the body. Antioxidants help block free radicals in the body that cause disease. Honey contains polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants that have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. Raw honey has also been shown to be as effective in treating coughs as over-the-counter commercial cough syrups. Increasing scientific evidence shows that a single dose of honey can reduce mucus secretion and coughs. A half teaspoon to two teaspoons of honey at bedtime is a studied and recommended dosage for anyone over the age of one.
7. Eat immune boosting foods: Feeding your body certain foods may help keep your immune system strong. These include;
– Citrus fruits (i.e lemons, limes & grapefruit) for vitamin C. Vitamin C is increases the production of white blood cells, which are key to fighting infections.
– Turmeric – a powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immune system boosting spice.
– Garlic. It’s immune-boosting properties come from a heavy concentration of sulfur-containing compounds, such as allicin.
– Ginger may help decrease inflammation, which can help reduce a sore throat and other inflammatory illnesses. Ginger may also help decrease nausea and chronic pain.
– Shellfish. Selenium, plentiful in shellfish such as oysters, lobsters, crabs, and clams, helps white blood cells produce cytokines—proteins that help clear flu viruses out of the body. Salmon, mackerel, and herring are rich in omega-3 fats, which reduce inflammation, increasing airflow and protecting lungs from colds and respiratory infections.
– Mushrooms increase the production and activity of white blood cells, making them more aggressive. Shiitake, maitake, and reishi mushrooms appear to pack the biggest immunity punch.
– Bone broth is rich in minerals that support the immune system and contains healing compounds like collagen, glutamine, glycine and proline. The collagen in bone broth heals your gut lining and reduces intestinal inflammation. In addition, collagen supports healthy skin and can reduce the appearance of cellulite. Also, the glycine in bone broth can detoxify your cells from chemicals and improve brain function.
– Coconut oil is jam-packed with lauric acid, which is a natural antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral. It is known to reduce candida, fight bacteria, and create a hostile environment for viruses. Coconut oil also boosts an already weakened immune system by improving white blood cell counts, which helps the body directly fight viruses.
– Tulsi tea. Holy basil, also called tulsi, is overloaded with antioxidants that work against invading viruses, bacteria, and fungi. Drink with raw honey and lemon for added immune system benefits.
I also should have mentioned LOTS of rest and sleep. When you’re sick your body channels ALL its energy into restoring health. So stop what you’re doing, get someone to take over your responsibilities, get into bed and stay there until you feel better.