So what exactly is the immune system and what does it do for me? The immune system is a collection of mechanisms within our bodies that protect us against disease. The way it does this is by identifying and killing pathogens (microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, or parasites that can cause disease) and tumor cells before they can take hold on the body and wreak havoc.
As you probably know, the most effective method of preventing a common cold or the flu is to strengthen your immune system. More than one or two colds or flu infections a year signals weak immunity. A poor diet, physiological and psychological stress, and drug use (including the use of alcohol, tobacco, and prescription drugs) can all weaken the immune system.
This time of year, cold temperatures have set in, and runny noses and sniffles may seem like an epidemic. What if I told you there is a simple way to boost your immune system so you won't get sick? What if there were nine?
What if I also told you that people who pick three or more of the suggestions from this list - and stick to them - will substantially improve their immune strength, increase their ability to stay happy and healthy through dreaded cold and flu season, and will be able keep it up through the darkest months of the year? So here goes! Here are my 9 recommendations to keep your immune system going strong; making this winter cold and flu-free!
1. Drink your lemons.
Lemons are the ideal food for restoring acid-alkali balance. Drinking freshly squeezed lemon juice in water, or adding it to herbal tea or salad dressing (in place of vinegar), helps maintain the body's internal "climate" at a healthy pH. A balanced pH supports healthy bacteria instead of the harmful bacteria and viruses that thrive in a more acidic environment. One of the reasons lemons are so powerful is that they are rich in the strong antioxidant vitamin C; vitamin C boosts the immune system and is great for colds, coughs, flu, and ear infections. Lemons also have numerous other health benefits, including anti-cancer properties! So don’t forget to drink them!
2. Get a full night's sleep.
Get plenty of rest! Jobs and other obligations often force us to neglect our bodies. But lack of rest can hinder the body’s defense mechanisms and prolong infection. When you rest in bed, and especially when you sleep, powerful immune-strengthening substances are released, enhancing the potency of immune functions.
During deep sleep, the production of growth hormone is at its peak. Growth hormone speeds the absorption of nutrients and amino acids into your cells and aids the healing of tissues throughout your body. This hormone also stimulates your bone marrow, where your immune system cells are born.
Melatonin, often called the “sleep hormone,” is also produced during sleep. This hormone inhibits tumors from growing, prevents viral infections, stimulates your immune system, increases antibodies in your saliva, has antioxidant properties, and enhances the quality of sleep.
So much of the body’s healing occurs during the nighttime hours! It is vital to your health to get plenty of rest at night (especially between the hours of 8 pm and midnight).
In addition to all that, sleep has also been linked to balanced hormone levels (including human growth hormone and the stress hormone, cortisol), keeping weight down, clear thinking and reasoning, improved mood, and vibrant, healthy skin. Sound good to you? Get your rest, and you’ll feel the difference!
3. Drink plenty of water.
This is almost, but not quite, a given. Despite the number of reminders, most people still aren't getting enough water! In fact, most headaches occur because people are dehydrated. Headaches and thirst are both signs of dehydration. Daily, you should try to drink half of your body weight in ounces. (For example, a 150 pound person needs 75 ounces per day).
But, how does water help prevent illness? The mucous membranes lining the respiratory tract must be kept hydrated. When they become dry, they offer a desirable breeding ground for viruses. A moist respiratory tract repels viral infections. So drink plenty of water throughout the day. No coffee, black tea, or colas as they weaken the immune system. Which leads me to the next item:
4. Stop drinking coffee (and other caffeinated beverages)!
Contrary to recent marketing as a source of antioxidants, coffee, tea (other than herbal tea), colas, and chocolate are some of the worst things you can do for your immune system and your health. Caffeine robs your body of minerals and vitamins, and it dehydrates you. A vitamin and mineral-robbed immune system is a weak immune system, and you are much more likely to get sick.
If you DO decide to risk it and drink these things, make sure you add an additional two glasses to your water intake per cup of caffeinated beverage. A good quality mineral supplement such as Mega Multi helps to offset caffeine's damage, too.
5. Quit eating refined white sugar!!
If you do only one thing to boost your immune system, eliminating sugar will do the trick. When you break the cravings and stop eating refined sugar, you will see noticeable results in your energy levels, weight distribution, immunity, and your ability to think clearly. Many holistic nutritionists actually consider sugar a drug for its impact on the human body.
Sugars depress the immune system, period. And this limits the body’s ability to kill bacteria and viruses. In addition, blood sugar and Vitamin C compete for entry into white blood cells. Who do you want to win?
Healthier sugars such as agave and stevia do exist, but avoid artificial sweeteners; they are more toxic than cane sugar. NOTE: If you feel like you might be coming down with something, dilute all fruit juices with at least equal parts of water to reduce the amount of sugar you’re consuming.
6. Eat lots and lots of raw fruits and vegetables!
Fruits and veggies are high in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and enzymes. The nutritional content that you receive from raw fruits and veggies is unparalleled. Many vitamins, including C, are antioxidants and will protect cells - including those of your immune system - from damage by toxins in the environment. Dark-colored produce (berries, kale, broccoli) tends to be higher in flavonoids, polyphenols and other antioxidants. The perfect source of minerals is seaweed, which is sold dried, but can often be found raw (dried at low temperatures to maintain most of the enzymes and nutrients) in health food stores.
7. Spend some time out in the cold (Bundled up, of course).
Exercise can make a noticeable difference to your health and happiness by releasing endorphins. Most of us spend 90% of our lives indoors, inhaling dubiously filtered air and other people's germs, so take any opportunity you can to get outside. Time spent outdoors in the cold also stimulates the thyroid gland!
20-30 minutes of exercise daily outside in the fresh air (preferably in the sunshine) will help expel toxins, boost the immune system to fight infections, and increase circulatory function. Also it will help increase draining of the lymphatic system, which in turn, expels toxins.
8. Relax and be happy!
Stress slows the healing process and lowers the immune system, which will increase healing time. Make sure you take time to yourself, spend some time with friends, or unwind with a massage, a hot bath, or other relaxing technique.
Our bodies respond to our emotions - if you're feeling harassed and anxious, it can manifest in a sore throat or a cold. Prayer and bible study can relax your mind and improve your health! Giving thanks for the blessings and abundance in your life and of the world around you helps! Think positive thoughts!! Pay attention to warning signs of sore throat or exhaustion so you can keep them from getting worse. Remember, when you're happy, you're far less likely to get sick!
9. Give your body an herbal boost.
Many herbal supplements and tinctures exist to give the immune system additional support during the cold months (or any time your immune system is compromised). Of course, I have a few personal favorites! Here are the ones I have personally studied, taken, and highly recommend:
To prevent an infection and boost immune system, I like:
C-Blast – This is a whole food Vitamin C blend (which is much stronger than commercial synthetic Vitamin C products). C-Blast will give your immune system the boost it needs to fight off infections.
Acerola Chews – For children, or adults, who don’t like to swallow pills, this is a delicious chewable form of Vitamin C. Tastes great and gives your immune system a kick!
Mighty Immune Plus – If you don’t like pills: swallowable or chewable, this product is perfect for you. Mighty Immune Plus is an amazing blend of over 200 vitamins, minerals, herbs, and nutrients that will help to boost the immune system and prevent infections.
If it’s too late and you feel an infection starting to come on, try:
Immune Boost – A highly potent Echinacea formula, Immune Boost is designed to take at the onset of an infection to get rid of it fast!
Ultra Fighter – Whenever I feel something coming on, I reach for Ultra Fighter. Known as a natural antibiotic and “anti-everything.” This one fights all infections, whether the cause is viral, bacterial, or fungal.
Anamu – Especially helpful for serious immunodeficiency disorders, Anamu helps boost the immune system to fight against foreign harmful and damaging organisms and particles. Also kills viruses and bacteria! Great for colds and the flu!
Sore Throat Spray – When you feel that tingle in your throat, immediately reach for the sore throat spray. It will help stop the infection in its tracks, while soothing the throat and reducing inflammation and pain.
Congesta-Clear – This product works quickly and effectively. When the infection is deep and congestion is present, some people may experience relief in as little as 15 minutes.