KITK’s Top Natural Ways To Boost Immunity a.k.a. How To Make Your Body a Disease-Fighting Warrior!
HAPPY SUNDAY! I spent the morning meal prepping & now I’m catching up on tons of blog posts, exciting content & delicious recipes for you guys!
I know, this one has been a long time coming. BUT BETTER LATE THAN NEVER!
First off, what on earth is the immune system? In simple terms, it’s an interactive network of organs, cells & proteins that protect the body from virus & bacteria or any foreign substance, for that matter. It works to neutralize & remove pathogens, such as bacteria, virus, parasites, fungus or other biological invasion, recognize & neutralize harmful substances from the environment, fights against the body’s own cells that may have undergone certain changes due to an illness & maintains proper functioning of organs & organ systems so that they do not develop life-threatening diseases.
Immune system cells originate in the bone marrow, but then migrate to guard the tissues around it, circulating in the blood & in the lymphatic system. The most important line of defence when it comes to immunity is LYMPHOCYTES, or white blood cells, which are responsible for fighting against foreign invasion in the body.
With flu season in full effect, it’s no wonder we’re all trying to find ways to boost our immune system naturally! Over the counter cold & flu meds may provide temporary relief but they don’t actually help solve the issue & build immunity permanently.
Moreover, contrary to popular belief, getting sick with the common cold or flu shouldn’t the only concern when it comes to immunity. In fact, nowadays, we are continually exposed to organisms & toxins in the environment, that are inhaled, swallowed or inhabit our skin and mucous membranes. Whether or not these organisms lead or contribute to disease is decided by how well our body is able to defend or fight against them, a.k.a. how strong our IMMUNITY is. When our immune system is working efficiently, it (most of the time) successfully manages to fight off the organisms & stop them from invading our bodies. But, when our immune system is under active, we become at greater risk of developing infection & immunodeficiency & at unfortunately, letting all those toxins into our bodies. An overactive immune system isn’t ideal either as it may result in allergies & autoimmune diseases.
Most immune system disorders result from an excessive immune response or an autoimmune attack. Disorders of the immune system include, but are not limited to: allergies, asthma, HIV, AIDS, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, IBS, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, psoriasis, overactive or underachieve thyroid. Treatment for autoimmune diseases usually focuses on reducing the immune system’s activity. BUT, since inflammation & high intestinal permeability is the root cause of almost 80% of all illness & disease, the first line of defence (& the most natural one!) should always be to address leaky gut & remove foods & factors that are harmful to the gut. When your immune system functions optimally, it’s best able to absorb & retain nutrients from food & use them for fuel & to heal & keep your body healthy!
I’m going to share with you some of the natural ways you can incorporate into your life to boost your immunity & heal certain underlying issues that may be the cause of a weaker immune system. Before you start taking any & all of these, PLEASE DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH & CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR. I’m studying holistic nutrition & I am knowledgeable about every single one of the supplements/foods/products I will recommend down below. BUT, I am not A DOCTOR, nor am I YOUR DOCTOR. I don’t have a full picture of your health or medical situation, so I encourage you to take my advice & apply it to your life, as need be! Please don’t be shy to message me directly if you have any specific questions or concerns regarding your situation.
Without further ado, let’s get right to it!
Bad bacteria in the gut (& leaky gut syndrome) has the ability to affect the body’s ability to fend off infections & has been linked to food sensitivities/allergies, autoimmune disease, immune system imbalance & overall weakened immunity. Eating foods that contain live active cultures, such as: kombucha, kimchi, tigernuts, yacon syrup, sauerkraut, fermented grains, tempeh, fermented dairy product,, as well as incorporating a daily probiotic supplement into your life will help line your GI tract with healthy bacteria, which will in turn boost your immunity, as well as provide tons of other health benefits, such as better digestion, improved ability to absorb nutrients from food, reduced inflammation & more energy.
IMO, you can never get enough probiotics, so load up on them with food whenever possible & take a daily supplement to ensure that there is consistency & that your body will benefit from the results in the long-term!
To read more about why I think probiotics should be one of the first supplements you incorporate into your life, click here: Overwhelmed? Here’s Where To Get Started With Vitamins & Supplements!
Echinacea stimulates the immune system & prevents / treats upper respiratory tract infections (a.k.a. the common cold) & even urinary tract infections. Sorry for the TMI, but I used to get UTIs really often in my early 20s & one of my go-to remedies was always ECHINACEA! It stimulates cells in the body whose primary function is to fight invading particles & organisms & increases white blood cells & spleen cells.
One thing about echinacea is that it should be taken as soon as you notice the viral symptoms until 48 hours after the symptoms go away. But, it shouldn’t be a supplement that you add to your regular routine as a preventative measure. When your body is free of infection, taking echinacea may over stimulate the immune system & unnecessarily deplete its abilities, which results in immune system suppression & actually increases the risk of illness. SO BE MINDFUL ABOUT HOW & WHEN YOU USE IT & DON’T ABUSE IT!
Astralagus is a plant within the bean & legume family. It has been used as an adaptogen in Traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years to boost immunity & fight disease by controlling t-helper cells & regulating the body’s immune response. It has also been shown to help improve the toxicity induced by drugs such as chemotherapy, and protects the body from GI inflammation & cancer.
This one is definitely one you’ve all heard of & most probably used! It has its roots (no pun intended) in Ayurvedic medicine & acts to break down the accumulation of toxins in organs due to its warming effects on the body (especially in the lungs & sinuses).
It also cleanses the lymphatic system, which is the network of tissues & organs that helps rid the body of toxins, waste & other unwanted substances (in simple terms, lymphatic system = sewage system). This helps keep airways & lymphatics open, allowing toxins to find their way out. It also has immuno-nutrition & anti-inflammatory response, as well as anti-microbial properties, which all contribute to treating infectious disease, as well as inflammatory disorders caused by infectious agents, such as virus, bacteria & parasites.
Ginseng has long been used for its ability to maintain immune homeostasis & boosting immunity, thereby enhancing resistance to illness &/or infection. It basically acts as an adaptogen for your immune system by regulating each type of immune cell so that your immune system functions at its optimal level.
It also has antimicrobial compounds that serve as a defence mechanism against bacterial & viral infections: what this means is that it plays a role in antibody production & helps the body fight off any invading micro organisms or pathogenic antigens (by binding to the antigens & keeping them from harming normal healthy cells in the body).
Vitamin D has the ability to modulate immune responses. Research has shown that vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased autoimmunity & an increased susceptibility or risk for infection, especially respiratory infections.
In the summer months, the most natural & best way to get in your daily dose of vitamin D is from sunlight. While the body cannot produce vitamin D on its own, the sunlight triggers the skin’s production of vitamin D & a 10-15 minute exposure sans SPF will do you just right! But, sadly, from October to March (in Canada), the sun is at an angle that does not allow for the skin to be triggered to produce vitamin D. Research has also shown that we don’t get enough of it through nutrition. That’s why I always say that the most reliable way to get enough vitamin D is from supplements (especially in the winter).
Medicinal mushrooms like chaga, cordyceps, reishi & chaga help naturally strengthen the immune system as they are antimicrobial, antiviral, anti-tumour, antiallergic & anti-inflammatory. They have the power to kill viruses, bacteria & yeast & some can even destroy cancer cells or help with nerve regeneration.
They also help alkalize the body, which is associated with improved immunity. A balanced bodily pH level is crucial to health because disease doesn’t grow or flourish as much in an alkaline environment.
Mushrooms are also anti-inflammatory, contain high levels of beta-glucans, which keep immune cells alert & powerful antioxidant that help lower body-wide inflammation. They also contain special fighting abilities against deadly multi-resistant bacterial strains & microorganisms responsible for gut & skin problems. Some substances in common antibiotics (including penicillin) are derived from mushroom fungal extracts.
I’m sure you guys have all heard the token “Oh you’re coming down with something? Have some OREGANO OIL” thang. Oregano oil is known for its healing & immune-boosting properties. It has anti fungal, antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiviral & anti-parasite compounds. It also helps improve gut health, which as mentioned a million times, is very closely linked to the overall health of your immune system. Due to its powerful properties, it acts as a “weed killer” by helping eliminate the bad bacteria dominating the digestive system.
You can add oregano oil to some turmeric & ginger water, or to lemon water with manuka honey, to help dilute the taste a bit!
GET ENOUGH SLEEP & MANAGE YOUR STRESS EFFECTIVELY
Sleep deprivation & stress overload both increase the hormone, cortisol.(a.k.a. the hormone in our adrenal glands responsible for how the body responds to & copes with stressful situations). Prolonged elevation of cortisol has been show to suppress immune function.
This is why it’s crucial to find ways to cope with your stress & anxiety, whether it be through exercise, hobbies, therapy, stress management classes, taking adaptogens or other supplements to help, talking to a friend or family member, finding coping mechanisms & distraction techniques, etc. What matters is that the method you use to help yourself cope is effective!
I know how easy it is to skimp on sleep to get everything done – it’s human nature to want to get in all in, in the least amount of time, especially when we’re feeling overwhelmed. But, overtime, it catches up to you. If you don’t prioritize getting enough sleep, it can have a serious impact on your health. Research has shown that there is an association with lack of sleep & getting sick. Not only does lack of sleep leave you at a greater risk of developing infectious disease but it may also be a contributing factor in reactivating PAST disease. Reactivation happens when an old virus reawakens in your system & causes a different, sometimes worse, disease.
DRINK LESS ALCOHOL
Drink alcohol moderately! Drinking alcohol too often & in large quantities may impair the immune system & increase your vulnerability to lung infections.
Lemon is packed with vitamin C & antioxidants, both of which are directly linked to boosted immune system health. It also helps the body maintain adequate pH levels, which as mentioned above, is crucial to maintaining an immune system that’s best able to fight off disease. Lemon is also antibacterial & antiviral, which means it helps fight harmful bacteria, fungus & virus that may cause disease &/or infection.
If you don’t already, I encourage you to have a glass of lukewarm lemon water with sea salt every morning when you wake up. Wanna know why? Read this: Lemon Water a.k.a. The-Only-&-Healthy-&-Best-&-Yummy-Way-To-Start-Oops-I-Mean-Detox-Your-Day-Right!
EAT A DIET RICH IN FRUIT, VEGGIES, VITAMIN C, NUT & SEEDS & ANTIOXIDANT-RICH FOODS
You can take all the supplements in the world but if your diet is not rich in fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds & antioxidant-rich foods, YOU’RE NOT DOING IT RIGHT. This is the most old-fashioned way to cure disease & to keep your body healthy & believe it or not, IT’S PROBABLY THE MOST EFFECTIVE!
Foods rich in antioxidants & vitamin C go a long way towards strengthening immunity by killing bacteria, fungi & viruses. It facilitates the healing of all bodily cells.
Certain foods that can help boost immunity include: citrus fruits: grapefruit, oranges, tangerines, lemon, lime, clementine, red bell pepper, broccoli, garlic, sweet potato, spinach, kale, yogurt, almonds, turmeric, walnuts, green tea, kiwi, papaya, shellfish, poultry, sunflower seeds, lemongrass, oats, barley etc.
It’s no secret that exercise provides tons of health benefits & is commonly associated with those living & leading a healthy lifestyle. It helps improve heart health, lowers blood pressure, maintain healthy weight & protects against certain diseases. Just like eating a healthy diet, exercise can contribute to overall good health & therefore, boosted immunity. It also promotes good circulation, which allows the cells & substances of the immune system to move through the body freely & do their job effectively. Research has actually shown that people who live more sedentary lifestyles are far more likely to get colds or other infectious diseases.
TAKE CARE OF YOUR LIVER
Believe it or not, your liver is one of the most important organs in your body as it’s responsible for flushing your body of toxins, unwanted substances or particles & keeping things flowing & moving. A healthy liver means a liver that’s able to detoxify as much as it can & provide a good environment for immune cels that live there. Nourish your body with cruciferous veggies, such as kale, broccoli, lettuce & cabbage to help boost your liver’s ability to flush out toxins. Milk thistle, chlorella, spirulina, matcha, chlorophyll & marine phytoplankton are also great supplements when it comes to detoxifying the liver & ridding the body of heavy metals.
I always say this, but to put things into perspective, manuka honey is basically raw honey on steroids. Typical raw unfiltered only is a rich source of amino acids, B vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, sodium & zinc. With manuka honey, you’re getting up to four times that of normal flower honeys. That’s what is called the unique manuka facotr. It has a consistently higher level of enzymes than regular honey, which create a natural hydrogen peroxide that works as an antibacterial.
What separates UMF Manuka from other Manuka varieties is that it contains the natural hydrogen peroxide that regular honey contains, but also its own natural UMF antibacterial property, which greatly enhances it effectiveness. The UMF properties of Manuka are extremely stable and, unlike the hydrogen peroxide common in most honey, are not easily destroyed by heat, light and enzymes in the body. This means that the stimulation of your immune cells that would happen if you consumed regular raw honey are extremely amplified when you consume manuka honey!
Bone broth is known for being uber gut-healthy. Anything that supports gut health has a holistic effect on the entire body & supports/boosts healthy immune system function. In a nutshell, leaky gut occurs when undigested food particles make their way into the bloodstream through tiny openings in a weakened intestinal lining, where the immune system detects them & becomes hyperactive. This increases inflammation & leads to bodily dysfunctions, as the immune system naturally releases high levels of antibodies that cause an autoimmune-like response & attack healthy tissue.
Consuming bone broth restores gut health, strengthens the intestinal lining & therefore supports immunity & healthy inflammation response. The collagen/gelatin & amino acids (proline, glutamine & arginine) help seal the openings in the gut lining & support gut integrity.
BEE POLLEN, BEE PROPOLIS & ROYAL JELLY
Bee pollen is rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins, lipids and fatty acids, enzymes, carotenoids & bioflavonoids. It has powerful antibacterial, anti fungal & antiviral properties that strengthen the capillaries, reduce inflammation & in turn, stimulate the immune system.
To read more about bee pollen & all its benefits, read this: What In The World Is Bee Pollen? Why It’s One of The World’s Most Nutritious Foods & BONUS RECIPE: KITK’s Glow-From-The-Inside-Out Chocolate Collagen Bee Pollen Bites!
Bee propolis specifically targets candida albicans, a fungus characterized by yeast overgrowth, which usually affects the genital & oral read. Research has indicated that propolis may inhibit candida from growing & has the potential for stimulating a healthy immune response to Candida infestation.
Royal jelly also helps boost immunity & in one study, histamine response to allergens was immediately suppressed when royal jelly was consumed, which means it may help relieve seasonal allergy symptoms.
Like probiotics, a B-complex vitamin is one of the top 5 supplements I would recommend if you’re just starting out & feeling overwhelmed! There are eight B vitamins – B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12 – that work synergistically to keep our bodies strong, healthy, happy & resistant to disease.
If your body is fueled by the proper combination of all 8 B vitamins, these nutrients will work together to fight off germs that cause illness, all while providing a host of other health benefits from energy-boosts to mental health & cognitive strength, heart health, reduced cholesterol levels, balanced hormones, etc.
Okay loves, that’s all!
I hope this was helpful & please let me know in th comments below or contact me directly if you have any other questions or concerns! xx <3 love you all!