Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ways to Boost Your Immune System Naturally

Personally, I never get a flu shot. First of all, I don't like needles. Secondly, it seems that most people get sick after getting the flu shot, and this is because while your body is making antibodies so that you don't get the dreaded flu later in the season, your immune system is lowered which makes you susceptible to other illnesses. And last but not least, I really don't trust a vaccine that is marketed and handed out on the cheap at your local big box store.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't get one. If you work with the public, are older, have a weakened immune system, or have children, you should do what is best for you and your family. And even if you do get a flu shot, these tips can help you when your immune system is lowered while your body is busy making those anti-bodies.

Ways to Boost your Immune System Naturally:
  1. Eat foods that are known to help your body. These foods include:
    1. High Quality Proteins (both plant and animal based)
    2. Healthy Fats (Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Fish Oil...) 
    3. Yogurt with Live Cultures. 
    4. Fresh fruits and Vegetables!!!
  2.  Exercise for 30 minutes a few times a week. Light exercise makes your white blood cells more active and healthy.
  3. Reduce the stress in your life. Stress definitely weakens your immune system... I recommend doing some deep breathing exercising, or yoga, even drinking a cup of tea can make you less stressed out. There are also herbs you can take, like kava kava, passion fruit, Valerian root, that are all good at relieving stress naturally. 
  4. Get enough sleep. Reducing stress and getting enough sleep go hand in hand. You need to make sure that you are getting the amount of sleep that makes you feel good, because resting allows you to produce more white blood cells that fight off the nasties!
  5. Avoid Toxins. Toxins are everywhere, in the food we eat (from pesticides), to the air we breathe. It's so important to avoid the toxins you can control, like eating organically grown foods, and using natural products. 
  6. Treat infections right away. Echinecea and garlic are both helpful in treating infection. I would only go on an antibiotic if treating your infection naturally with herbs is unsuccessful. We have all heard the dangers of these super bugs that are resistant to antibiotics, because they are over used... So try to treat infections first naturally, and if it doesn't get better in a few days, then definitely go to your doctor and get something stronger. 
A Few Readily Available Herbs that Boost Your Immune System:
  1. Ginseng Root is awesome for preventing upper respiratory infections, so if you find you are prone to them, I would add Ginseng into your daily vitamins and supplements. If you do get one, it is recommended that you stop taking Ginseng until you are better.
  2. Echinacea is a wonder herb when it comes to preventing colds and making you feel better if you are already sick. There are many ways to take Echinacea, but it should be taken frequently at the first sign of illness, and then you should continue to take it frequently until you feel better. Echinacea stimulates your bodies infection fighting cells, and it increases production of other immunity cells. Echinacea comes in many different forms. There is a liquid extract, capsules, it even comes in tea. I find that the capsules work best for me, because I can just take around 600-800 MG every two hours until I feel better, and I don't have to worry about preparing a ton of tea or measuring out the extract. 
  3. Elderberries are these dark blue/black berries that are known for their ability to take over viruses and make them beg for mercy. Elderberry extract or syrup is the way to go, if you take it for prevention you can take 1/2-1 teaspoon twice a day. If you are sick, take 1-2 teaspoons up to four times a day. If you have an elderberry tree, you can make the syrup yourself pretty easily.
  4. Garlic is an awesome healer, and it has been known as such for thousands of years. Garlic was used before the discovery of penicillin. The enzyme (alliin) is sulfur based, and it has antimicrobial properties. The enzyme comes out when garlic is chopped, crushed, or chewed, but cooking destroys it. When I think I am getting an ear infection, I let garlic steep in some olive oil for a while, strain the garlic out, and then drop 8-10 drops in my ear. It offers relief right away and keeps me out of the doctors office. It's excellent for infections like pneumonia, bronchitis, tuberculosis, and dysentery. You can buy garlic supplements now, and a typical dose is 600-900mg a day if powdered, and 10mg if it is in garlic oil. A medium sized clove of garlic will also do the trick, but remember cooking it kills the active enzyme, so if you are going to add it into food, do it at the end, after you have finished cooking your meal.
There is tons of research about boosting your immune system naturally, and this post just briefly sweeps the surface. A majority of the time, heeding these steps will keep you healthy, and get you better faster. If you find that your illness is lingering, or if you are getting worse, go see your doctor!!!

Here are some more websites that offer advice on this topic:

If you have any other advice to add, or if you have any questions or anything please ask in the comments below, or on my Facebook page and I will be happy to answer them to the best of my knowledge.

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