Ways to Boost Your Immune System
Our immune system is complex, requiring many different things to perform properly, and is heavily dependent on outside factors like environment, exercise, nutrition, stress. Thus, ways to boost your immune system and improve your immune health are based on these same factors.
Even though our immune system is under constant attack from environment it does a remarkable job of defending us against diseases. Even the healthiest person at the peak of health, when the immune system is at its strongest, can have a pathogen invade his body and make him sick.
Are ways to boost your immune system too complicated? Do I need to follow them all or only some of them will do? Yes, this has to be a conscious lifestyle change incorporating these below-listed simple steps.
The interaction of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, stress levels, mental and emotional state, rest, exercise, environment and age (the level of
in your system, not the number of years you have lived) has proven to be more than a match for researchers to put together a specific list of ways to boost your immune system. The exact formula for optimizing the immune system has proven to be elusive to nutritionists and researchers, and our list, as well as theirs, is incomplete.
So, what are the ways to boost your immune system? In a nutshell, live a stress free life in a pollution free environment, eat properly, get plenty of rest and a proper amount of exercise. These simple things will help you maintain optimum
levels which will lead to longer and healthier life.
Let's take a closer look at these components:
1. REDUCE STRESS LEVELS
First, why stress, what does it do that is so bad? Stress (psychological or physical) greatly reduces your glutathione by suddenly increasing your body's hormone levels causing a variety of reactions to occur. While this can be a good short-term thing if you need to fight or flee, when it occurs too often or for a prolonged period of time, it causes problems.
The flood of stress hormones (prominently adrenaline and cortisol), causes your heart pound, raises blood pressure, makes breathing faster, and heightens awareness of your surroundings.
This is all good when it occurs once in a while, but racing your body's engine to its limits takes a toll on all your systems. When this occurs over and over in a given day, day after day, your systems start to break down - usually, first your immune system, then your cardiovascular system.
Probably, the most important thing you can do for your immune health is to reduce your stress levels. This is easily said but difficult to accomplish until you realize that your life depends on it.
Some simple steps to take:
- take some time each morning to pray, simply give your problems over to someone other than yourself - God;
- take time to spend with your family and realize that your family is more important than your job;
- spend less money (do you really need that new generation iPod or upgraded cell phone if your old ones work just fine?);
- understand the simple truth - the definition of a "rich person" is somebody who is making more money than you do. No matter how hard you try there will always be somebody making more. Learn to be content with less by enjoying what you have and not worrying about what you do not have. Chasing the rainbow is good and success is good but not when you have to sacrifice your family, loved ones and your health for it - learn balance;
- find time to pursue your hobby, something you really enjoy that relaxes you, even if it is only for 15-30 minutes a day, or only on weekends.
Additional info resources on stress management:
Education about mid-life - its concerns, how to recognize their signs and symptoms and to instigate equilibrium.
Stress-Relief-Workshop.com - A web site to help you discover how stress could be affecting your life and how to manage it using techniques and coping strategies on a daily basis to improve health and lifestyle.
2. REVIEW YOUR DIET (yes, again!)
There is information overload on this subject. Everyone out there seems to have an opinion of what the best diet is. So let's keep it simple - first see the food pyramid, from the Department of Agriculture (USDA) below.
Second, what the pyramid leaves out is as important as what is included:
- you should be drinking, in ounces daily, half your body weight in pounds. (i.e. body weight in pounds, divided by 2 = number of ounces of water per day, not tea and coffee). It is good to dilute some fresh lemon juice (not bottled concentrate which contains preservatives) or tart cherry juice in your drinking water - this helps balance your body's ph and lets you consume extra vitamin C and antioxidants. And since, for an average person of 150 lbs., this translates into 75 ounces or approximately 9 cups of water, it is worth investing in a good water filter. You can't imagine what we see when we replace the cartridge in ours.
- consume 5,000 to 10,000 ORAC units (that's how antioxidant content is measured in foods) a day, from a variety of sources - dark colored produce tends to be higher in flavonoids, polyphenols and other antioxidants.
- read the labels when you grocery shop. Avoid nitrates, artificial flavors, dyes, and preservatives whenever possible.
- lastly, a healthy diet is varied because different foods carry different antioxidants and nutrients in them. This helps make your immune health stronger. Which three daily fruit servings will be better: three apples, or an apple, a plum and a handful of berries? You got the point.
The good thing to remember always is that the less chemicals and artificial ingredients you swallow, the less glutathione your body has to use up to get rid of them, thus directing glutathione to more important immune health tasks instead, like fighting a pathogen, repairing DNA, and detoxifying you of environmental pollutants.
For more useful information about diet and lists of good-for-you foods visit our pages:
Foods That Boost Immune System3. REST
Additional info resource:
Growing your own vegetables is a great way to stay healthy. Check out Your Vegetable Gardening Helper for easy tips to get started in growing your own veggie garden.
We all differ in the amount of sleep we feel comfortable with but each of us needs from 7 to 10 hours of sleep each night. Lack of sleep has been linked to many disorders that occur in our bodies. Why? Also, most of us know without reading any scientific information, clinical trials or other sources of information that our bodies heal best when we are sleeping. Again, why?
If we do not know why getting proper amount of rest is essential, we are not very motivated to do what is being suggested. So, what happens when we sleep that helps us heal? One of the most important things is that during sleep in complete darkness the pineal gland in your brain produces
, a hormone and a powerful antioxidant. This frees up glutathione from its antioxidant duty, which in its turn starts repairing DNA, ridding the body of toxins, transferring additional energy from the mitochondria to the cell and feeding your immune system. These processes take time, and because they take time it is essential you do not cut your sleep time too short.
4. REDUCE ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION INDOORS
Even though it is impossible to avoid the outdoor pollution (unless you are willing to move to a cleaner area somewhere up in the mountains) you have the power to improve the quality of your indoor environment.
Some things you can do:
- do not wear your outside clothes and shoes at home. You bring in lots of pollutants, pesticides, bacteria, etc. on the soles of your shoes and track them around the house. This can be especially hazardous if you have carpeted flooring and there are crawling babies.
- shower as soon as you get home from work. This helps keep what's outside outside. My husband Ray works in a New York office. When he comes home at night his hair, skin and all clothes smell like exhaust fumes as if he spent the entire day in a busy mechanic shop. Even if you don't work in the heart of Manhattan showering right away would still be a good habit.
- switch to environmentally friendly cleaning and dishwashing supplies that don't have harsh chemicals, dyes and bleach in them.
- purchase laundry soap made with natural earth friendly ingredients. It can be found online, often with free delivery even, and doesn't cost more than Tide. Your other option is to buy laundry soap from supermarket shelves that is dye and fragrance free. Use a cup of white vinegar instead of fabric softener. Believe me, your clothes will not smell like vinegar, and there will be much less chemical residue in your clothes and linens. Vinegar actually helps wash out soap residue from your laundry in the rinsing cycle.
Green brands to consider for all your household cleaning needs: Earth Friendly Products, Seventh Generation, Biokleen, Mrs. Meyer's, Method, Ecover, Green Way, Green Works.
Where to find them:
- start using fruit & veggie wash when washing store bought produce. It helps remove pesticides, wax and dirt from your food better than just water.
- if you have to dry clean your clothes, find a green dry cleaner that uses only non-toxic cleaners. If there are none in your area, air your clothes outside for several days before putting them in your closet where the vapors will concentrate and escape into your bedroom.
- take a closer look at your personal care products like shampoo, soap, body and face lotions and washes, foot and hand creams, baby care products, toothpaste, etc. Cosmetics industry loves putting very cheap chemical ingredients in all their products. Your skin is your largest organ, it also absorbs almost anything you put on it.
Ingredients you would want to stay away from: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, EDTA, mineral oil, petroleums, synthetic fragrances, dyes, parabens, propylene glycol to name a few.
Also, switch to aluminum free deodorant. Research (the results of autopsies of breast cancer patients) have shown that aluminum gets deposited in underarm tissues, lymph nodes and breast tissue. There is no scientific proof that deodorant aluminum causes breast cancer but it may easily be a contributing factor. Deodorant made of natural mineral salts, a crystal or roll-on, is a great alternative.
is where you can research the ingredients in products you use. It is the cosmetics safety database created by the Environmental Working Group. You will be able to find safer alternatives there by reviewing products with the highest safety ratings.
Natural skin care products do not cost much more than what you pay for all the pretty brand name bottles filled with chemicals promising you shinier hair or a wrinkle free face. Your immune health should be your number 1 priority.
5. CHECK YOUR VITAMIN D LEVELS
Recent research has demonstrated that vitamin D is key to a healthy immune system. This vitamin is also essential for normal cell growth and maturation.
Laboratory studies also show that vitamin D keeps cancer cells from growing and dividing, and plays a critical role in controlling infections (some scientists speculate that lower vitamin D levels in fall, winter and early spring are the reason why everybody gets more colds and flues).
Vitamin D is produced in the skin and is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. Its production is blocked by anything that blocks ultraviolet light including sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 8 or more, windows, clothes, smog, fog and skin pigment (people with darker skin produce less vitamin D).
Our indoor lifestyles, fear of skin cancer, and subsequent obsession with sunscreen created a vitamin D deficiency epidemic. A mere 15 minutes a day in the midday sun (your shadow has to be shorter than you are for vitamin D to be produced in your skin) with as much unprotected skin exposed to sunlight as possible will give you an adequate amount of vitamin D. If you wear only a bathing suit your body will produce 20,000 IU of vitamin D in about 15-20 minutes. You will not get a sun burn in that amount of time.
The recommended daily intake currently set at 400 IU is ridiculously insufficient according to the recent studies showing that a higher intake of vitamin D (a minimum of 1000 IU) is associated with the lower risk of bone fractures, cancers (breast, prostate, colon) as well as multiple sclerosis.
If you live north of the line connecting Los Angeles and Columbia, SC, you need vitamin D supplementation from October through March, and maybe even throughout the year if you live north of Boston, MA, or if you spend most days indoors or cover your skin when outside. If your medical condition absolutely prohibits exposure to sunlight, you must supplement only.
For more info on this vitamin please visit our page
Vitamin D Council
is the great source of recent research and recommendations on how to have your vitamin D levels tested correctly and what to do if your results are too low. This non-profit web-site was created by doctors who are working hard to educate as many people as possible about the spreading epidemic of vitamin D deficiency. Please take time to educate yourself and subscribe to their newsletter.
6. EXERCISE (oh, no!)
Exercise has both positive and negative effects on our bodies' systems. It is a process of aerobic respiration and cellular oxidation that produces energy by catabolism (burning of fat cells).
Regular, moderate exercise can boost several aspects of your body's immune system, strengthen your cardiovascular system and even increase glutathione production. 20-30 minutes a day of fast walking, yoga, pilates, stretching, dancing, even tennis or badminton, are all good ways to incorporate moderate exercise into your daily life.
But like everything else, too much of a good thing can be very harmful. Exercise also produces harmful oxides, such as nitric oxide and dangerous free radicals.
Excessive workouts cause oxidative stress in the cells both during exercising and afterwards. Glutathione is consumed rapidly to preserve cellular integrity by combating oxidative stress and free radicals. This can make you vulnerable to pathogen invasion. Also, exercise which is moderate for somebody else is not necessarily moderate for you, so before altering your normal workout routine always consult your physician first.
To get you started:
Everything for Tennis
This site has been developed to provide a "one-stop" shop for all of your related items and gear. Whether you're a coach, or a beginner, an advanced player or just a weekend warrior, browse this site to find just what you've been looking for.
7. DO NOT DISREGARD PROFESSIONAL HEALTHCARE
Raising your glutathione levels, eating healthy, exercising, keeping stress levels low, staying away from pollutants and getting the proper amount of rest will not make your body 100% invincible but it will make it much less susceptible to diseases.
Since our bodies can not be made invincible, they will break down from time to time and pathogens will overpower our immune system from time to time. Regular check-ups with your family doctor can prevent most problems from becoming major problems. Work with your body, not against it. Do everything you can to keep it well nourished, rested, stress free, pollutant free and physically fit, but know that natural remedies are not magical potions or cures - they simply help your body do what it was designed to do better than if you did not do them at all. So do all you can to stay healthy and see your doctor regularly.
General practitioners can help with diseases that invade our bodies and licensed professional chiropractors can help keep our structures in proper form. A chiropractor can help us keep our bones and joints in the positions where they perform at their best. Just like eating healthy, exercise and rest help our bodies perform better, having our bodies properly aligned also helps our bodies perform better.
8. AVOID ADDICTIONS
Avoid addictions and weaknesses that wear your system down, like smoking, alcohol, drugs, excessive exercise, eating disorders, yelling and getting angry quickly.
I know some of these are diseases that require professional help. All of these and many not mentioned here, that get out of control, need help. If you have an addiction that is causing you stress, is weakening your physical or mental state, making your loved ones suffer too, get help. First admit to yourself that it is a problem, then talk about it to someone you trust and work out a plan how to make things better. We all need help with different issues from time to time.
9. LAUGH EVERY DAY
While painful emotions like anger and grief can impair health, laughter does just the opposite. A real belly laugh increases infection-fighting antibodies and boosts natural killer-cell activity.
Even anticipating a humorous encounter can enhance immunity at the molecular level. Laughter also increases circulation, stimulates digestion, lowers blood pressure and reduces muscle tension.
Try telling a joke once in awhile and take time to play with the kids (if you do not have some of your own, visit a friend or a relative who does) and just have some fun, because life is but a vapor and is far too short to sit and pout.
10. SEEK TO KNOW WHAT YOU DO NOT KNOW
The problem is we do not even know what we do not know. And knowledge is the power in the hands of a true seeker. A phrase from the Bible eluded me for a very long time "the beginning of wisdom starts with the fear of God". What in the world does this mean? Well, most of you are here seeking knowledge to improve your health or the health of a loved one, not because one day you decided it would be interesting to do some research, but because you or your loved one has a health concern - a fear of health if you will.
That concern led you to seek the truth, because a lie will not help. So, the fear of a health issue has brought you to seek to know something you did not know before. This explains the "fear of God": when we are afraid or concerned about who we are, where we came from, and where we are going - we seek the truth about God, thus starting a journey of wisdom.
Most of you, before coming to this web-site, probably did not know anything about
You had no idea there was a tripeptide (glutathione) produced in your body that controls 12 major functions, and that your life expectancy can be determined by the level of this one thing that is in you. Clinical trials have been preformed for AIDS and cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy showing that by determining the level of glutathione, life expectancy can very accurately be determined. That is why knowing how to increase your glutathione levels and thus improve your immune health is so vital.
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