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Boosting Your Immunity – 12 Areas of Focus

Boosting Your Immunity – 12 Areas of Focus

With all that’s going on today with the Coronavirus / COVID-19, there is a high priority on boosting our immune systems.  Stay healthy, stay safe and be well. 

Definition of Immune System (per Merriam-Website)

: the bodily system that protects the body from foreign substances, cells, and tissues by producing the immune response and that includes especially the thymus, spleen, lymph nodes, special deposits of lymphoid tissue (as in the gastrointestinal tract and bone marrow), macrophages, lymphocytes including the B cells and T cells, and antibodies.

The immune system is made up of special organs, cells and chemicals that work together to defend against germs and fight infection (microbes). The main parts of the immune system are: white blood cells, antibodies, the complement system, the lymphatic system, the spleen, the thymus, and the bone marrow.

When the body senses foreign substances (called antigens), the immune system works to recognize the antigens and get rid of them. B lymphocytes are triggered to make antibodies. These specialized proteins lock onto specific antigens. The antibodies stay in a person's body.

Antibodies attach to a specific antigen and make it easier for the immune cells to destroy the antigen. T lymphocytes attack antigens directly and help control the immune response. They also release chemicals, known as cytokines, which control the entire immune response.

For way more detailed information, take a look at this Wikipedia link: Immune System

12 Ways to Improve Your Immune System

Your first line of defense should be to choose a healthy lifestyle. Implementing general good-health guidelines is the single best step you can take toward naturally keeping your immune system strong and healthy. Every part of your body, including your immune system, functions better when protected from environmental assaults and bolstered by healthy-living strategies.

1) Be Positive and Laugh Often

In times like this it may be a challenge to be positive, but there are real health benefits to maintaining an optimistic perspective. It turns out that looking on the bright side doesn't just aid your mental health—it also impacts your physical well-being.

Also, remember the phrase, “Laughter is the best medicine”?  Well it’s true.  Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body's natural feel-good chemicals which promote an overall sense of well-being.  Laughter also decreases cortisol, which then reduces stress and enhances the immune system.

2) Minimize Stress and Meditate

Easier said than done, right?  During this time, many people have increased stress – financial, emotional, physical – along with disrupted sleep cycles and other results of this stress.  When we’re stressed, the immune system’s ability to fight off antigens is reduced. That is why we are more susceptible to infections. Short term suppression of the immune system is not dangerous; however, chronic suppression leaves the body vulnerable to infection and disease.

The stress hormone corticosteroid can suppress the effectiveness of the immune system (e.g. lowers the number of lymphocytes).  Stress can also have an indirect effect on the immune system as a person may use unhealthy behavioral coping strategies to reduce their stress, such as drinking, eating poorly and smoking.

Try meditating for 10-20 minutes, 3-4 times per day.  Focus on calm breathing, calming your mind, sitting in a comfortable position, closing your eyes, focus on gratitude, focus on abundance an positive energy, etc.  Listening to relaxation-related soundtracks may also help (for example, Deeply Theta).

3) Eat Healthy Foods

Gut health is incredibly important to a strong immune system.  Eating a low-fat, plant-based diet may help give the immune system a boost. The immune system relies on white blood cells that produce antibodies to combat bacteria, viruses, and other invaders.  Studies have shown that fruits and vegetables provide nutrients—like beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E—that can boost immune function. Because many vegetables, fruits, and other plant-based foods are also rich in antioxidants, they help reduce oxidative stress.  Here are some items to add to your diet: citrus fruits, broccoli, almonds, garlic, ginger, spinach, bell peppers, turmeric (curcumin and black pepper), green tea, papaya, kiwi, sunflower seeds, etc.

Stay away from processed foods, fried foods, high fructose corn syrup, refined sugars, chemical additives and inflammatory omega-6 oils (soybean oil, corn oil, etc.).  These toxic "treats" force your body to do extra work to expel all this junk and repair the internal inflammation that they cause in your body. Also, grain-based foods like bread, cereal, muffins, pasta and bagels are major culprits in causing internal inflammation and disrupting normal gut function, so avoid certain grains as much as possible.

Personally, in our house we make a hot drink often which includes the following ingredients: water, honey, lemon juice, ginger root, turmeric root, very small amount of pepper, CBD, Actual Being™ FOCUS blend and a tiny bit of cayenne pepper.  Boil this collection for a few minutes then sip / enjoy. So good.

4) Take Certain Supplements

We are big fans of superfoods: Daily Wellness and Natural Recovery Greens.  Additionally, we love mushroom blends, kombucha, garlic, probiotics, green tea, chamomile tea, Ayurvedic herbs, astaxanthin, omegas and other homeopathic options.  There are many options available, so do your research, speak to your doctors / nutritionists and find the right combinations for you.

5) Enjoy Some Time in the Sun

Getting outside is always a great release – the warmth of the sun and fresh air.  In the right doses, sun exposure is a fantastic way to improve Vitamin D and serotonin. The sun is the best source for Vitamin D. 

When your skin is exposed to sunlight, it makes Vitamin D from cholesterol. The sun's ultraviolet B (UVB) rays hit cholesterol in the skin cells, providing the energy for Vitamin D synthesis to occur. Vitamin D has many roles in the body and is essential for optimal health.  Exposure to sunlight is also thought to increase the brain's release of a hormone called serotonin. Serotonin is associated with boosting mood and helping a person feel calm and focused.

6) Exercise (But Not Too Much)

Moving your body every day in moderate and consistent ways is ideal.  Whether it’s walking the dog, stretching, doing yoga / Pilates, lifting weights, etc., exercise is needed and helpful.  When you get your blood flowing and your body moving, you release endorphins which combat stress. Upon exercising, neurotransmitters like serotonin or norepinephrine help teach your body how to better respond to stressors. So, higher levels of those chemicals during exercise naturally make you feel good. 

But be aware, too much exercise can compromise your immune system.   Research has found that during intense physical exertion, the body produces certain hormones that temporarily lower immunity.  After exercise, some cells in the bloodstream decrease substantially -- sometimes falling to levels lower than before exercise started, and this can last for several hours. Many scientists previously interpreted this fall in immune cells after exercise to be immune-suppression.

7) Don’t Smoke

Just don’t smoke, especially during a respiratory virus outbreak like Coronavirus / COVID-19.  According to the study, nicotine use affects both branches of the immune system and "produces an altered immune response that is characterized by a decrease in inflammation, a decreased antibody response, and a reduction in T cell-receptor-mediated signaling.”

8) Limit Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol affects the way health gut microbes interact with the immune system. Alcohol also disrupts the gut barrier, allowing more bacteria to pass into the blood. These rogue bacteria can cause inflammation in the liver and may lead to liver damage. Alcohol doesn’t just affect the function of the digestive tract. It also affects the respiratory system. Excessive drinking may impair the function of immune cells in the lungs and upper respiratory system, leading to increased risk for pneumonia, tuberculosis, and acute respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS. Because the immunity of the mucus is impaired in both the lungs and digestive tract, any disease can become more severe. 

9) Get Adequate Sleep

Sleep requirements vary slightly from person to person, however most healthy adults need between 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night to function at their best. Children and teens need even more.  Without sufficient sleep, your body makes fewer cytokines, a type of protein that targets infection and inflammation, effectively creating an immune response. Cytokines are both produced and released during sleep, causing a double trouble if you don’t prioritize adequate rest.  Studies show that people who don't get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus

10) Stay Connected

Social distancing is absolutely impacting personal connectivity, so it’s very important to stay connected to positive people virtually.  Social isolation or loneliness can increase the hormone norepinephrine in the bloodstream which can negatively impact your immune system. Also, lonely people's white blood cells seem to be more active in a way that increases inflammation, a natural immune response to wounding and bacterial infection.

11) Limit EMF Exposure

Man-made electromagnetic frequencies (EMF’s) are the ‘newest’, invisible, modern toxin and one of the biggest stressors on our body. They cause a vibration in the body that leads to cell & DNA damage.  Extremely low frequency electromagnetic field (ELF-EMF) is produced extensively in modern technologies. Numerous in vitro and in vivo studies have shown that ELF-EMF has both stimulatory and inhibitory effects on the immune system response. 

12) Wash Your Hands

You know this but make it a more frequent habit!  And are you washing your hands correctly?  In our house, we teach signing the “Happy Birthday” song while washing your hands – not finishing until you’ve finished singing the song.

The CDC website details a 5 step process: Wash, Lather, Scrub, Rinse, Dry

Washing your hands is easy, and it’s one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. Clean hands can stop germs from spreading from one person to another and throughout an entire community—from your home and workplace to childcare facilities and hospitals.

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