The immune system is the defense system of the body; it protects the body against diseases, parasite and anything that will harm it. It prevents infections and keeps the body healthy. Illnesses and death takes place when the immune system is suppressed or not working. It is the most complex system in the body next to the nervous system and its main work is to protect the body and attack infectious organism through a series of processes called immune response.
It is a collection of or a network of special cells, tissues, organs and proteins which defends the body against foreign invaders and infections. It also includes the tonsils, the digestive system, the bone marrow, the thymus gland, the skin which is the largest and first immune system of the body, the lymphatics and lymph nodes, the spleen and the thin skin inside the nose, throat and genitals.
All the above mentioned components of the immune system play vital roles in protecting the body. The white blood cells fight diseases, the tonsils which are located at the back of the throat at both sides helps in producing antibodies which the body uses in fighting infection. The thymus gland found behind the breast bone at the helps also in making antibodies in fighting infection.
The lymphatics and the lymph nodes which are located everywhere in the body helps in transporting nutrients, fluids and waste products between the bloodstream and tissues of the body. As the fluid flows through the lymph nodes; they trap pathogens and foreign invaders and the white blood cells destroy them.
The spleen which is located at the upper left side of the abdomen helps the immune system to recognize bacteria and faulty or damaged cells and other foreign substances and they are destroyed. The bone marrow found inside the long bones, spinal cord and pelvic bones helps in making white blood cells which are termed the soldiers of the body because they destroy pathogens and other parasites that cause infection.
This defense system of the body can differentiate between normal cells and damaged cells like cancerous cells and removes them out of the body. It also kills or neutralizes pathogens; the phagocytes are a type of white blood cells that chew invading pathogens while the lymphocytes are another class of white blood cells known as the memory cells, they help the body in remembering and recognizing previous invaders and they help the body destroy them easily.
The immune system is essential for our survival because we live in a sea of harmful microbes; they are in the air, water, food, surfaces we touch and soil; it is believed that the body is always at war and that is why it is very important to have a strong and active immune system. Without this defense system our bodies would be susceptible to sicknesses and attacks from viruses, bacteria, fungi and other harmful parasites.
When the immune system is weakened or not working properly; diseases begin to creep in and it can even result into death. Things that can cause immune damage are stress, poor and unhealthy diet, dehydration, drugs and vaccines, toxin overload, unhealthy lifestyles like smoking, heavy drinking, substance abuse, sexual promiscuity and sedentary lifestyle; bad thought, bad words, negative emotions and negative energy. All these affect the immune system negatively and weaken it that it can’t fight diseases effectively.
If the immune system is neglected and not well taken care of; it can lead to immune disease like allergies and asthma, immune deficiency diseases like HIV/AIDS, autoimmune diseases like lupus, MS, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, type I diabetes, psoriasis, overactive thyroid, underactive thyroid, Vasculitis and death.
How to boost your immune system naturally
Detoxify your body: Naturopaths call this the best kept health secret; regular detoxification strengthen immunity and elongates the lifespan. A scientist won a Nobel Prize for this; his name is Alexis Carrel, he kept tissue cells alive indefinitely by supplying them with more nutrients (proper and healthy nutrition) and by removing cellular excrement regularly (Detoxification and cleansing). In fact lab rats lived as long as twice their lifespan when their food was cut in half but they were fed properly and detoxified regularly. This is the best kept health secret; it is not how much you eat but the quality of what you eat and the most important of all is detoxification and removal of the waste product. The more you detoxify, the longer you live.
To detoxify your body; you need to engage in fasting regularly, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, take in lots of herbal teas, homemade fruit juices and smoothies, you can also try doing an enema or colonic. Paul Nisori said “Nutrition is important, but it is the cleansing that makes the difference”.
Sleep well: Sufficient sleep is one way to boost the immune system; sleep deprivation and insomnia cause a disruption in the levels of hormones, it increases the levels of cortisol and when this increase is prolonged, it will lead to suppression of the immune system. In fact during deep sleep at night; between the hours of 10 pm to 2 am, the immune system does a lot of works, repairing damaged and worn out tissues, relieving stress and refreshing the body. A human adult needs not less than 8 hours of sleep daily.
Avoid white sugar: Refined sugar is responsible for many health problems; it feeds cancer cells and make cancer grow fast and spread throughout the body, just 10 teaspoons of sugar or a can of soda drink or carbonated lemonade will deactivate the white blood cells and make them unable to destroy germs for some times and at the time this is happening, the body is susceptible to any kind of infection. Avoid white sugars completely and opt for natural options rather; like original raw honey, manuka honey and stevia. They are safer and better than refined sugar.
Exercise regularly: Moderate exercises when done on a regular basis improve immune response to infections and pathogens; it releases endorphins which relieves stress and calms the body, stress weakens the immune system and suppresses immune response.
Fast regularly: Engaging in a regular fast is a strong way of boosting the immune system; fasting detoxifies the body, it gives the digestive system a break and enables it to break down toxins and clear it from the body. The body also uses this break to repair itself, the organs and systems also rest and many things are restored to its normal set point in the body during fasting. The Chinese sees fasting as a cure all and they believe that if fasting can’t cure it, nothing else can. You will benefit your body greatly if you make it a habit to do water fast at least once a week.
Avoid tobacco: Avoid tobacco, tobacco smoke and tobacco products generally; they weaken basic immune defenses and put the body at risk of pneumonia, bronchitis and even cancer. Tobacco smoke can cause ear infection in children.
Don’t over drink: Excessive drinking weakens the immune system, impairs it functions and activities and even raises the risk of lung infection.
Practice good hygiene: Good hygiene prevents the entry of pathogens and parasites into the body; good hygiene includes regular washing of hands especially after using the toilet and before eating. The hands should also be washed when one has mingled with people and handled public things like public door knobs, staircase railings, public books and others. Practicing these will prevent regular sickness. Water and plain soap is enough to clean your hands; you don’t even need an antibacterial soap and you can get a hand sanitizer to use in public if you can’t access soap and water.
Reduce stress: Chronic stress is a major contributor to a weak or suppressed immune system; it increases the levels of cortisol and elevated levels of this hormone interfere with the activities of the T-cells and impair their abilities to proliferate the body and get signals from the body. High levels of cortisol also decrease the levels of an important antibody called secretory IgA which is a first line of defense against pathogens; they line the gut and respiratory tract. Results from studies shows that meditation increases the levels of IgA and improves immune response and function.
Spend time in sunlight: A natural way to boost the immune system is to spend lots of time in the sun especially in sunrise and sunsets. 15 to 20 minutes exposure to sunlight daily is enough to boost your immunity and increase the number of your white blood cells. This will increase the levels of vitamin D in the body which boosts immune functions, fight diseases and make the bones strong. Decreased levels of vitamin D has been associated with weak immune system and increased frequency of infection and autoimmune diseases.
Alkalize your body: The natural pH of the body is that of a natural state; in this state no disease can thrive and the immune system is strongest and can’t be overpowered in an alkaline environment. The pH of most people are acidic due to intake of processed foods, junks and toxic foods, drugs and vaccinations, alcohol and unhealthy lifestyle like poor sleep, stress, dehydration, negative energy and unhealthy foods. Raising your pH is a good way to strengthen your immune system; to raise your pH you need to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, drink alkaline water like lemon water, lemon-ginger water, ginger tea and take lots of homemade fruit juices, smoothies an herbal teas.
Do things that make you happy: Being happy is another effective natural way to strengthen your immune system; happy emotions, words, thoughts, positive vibe and energy and laughter have been used to heal people from various illnesses around the globe. Pick a new hobby that makes you happy; engage in sports and fun activities, laugh more, sing more and just be happy. Studies have confirmed that laughter boost the immune system and it also increases the number of white blood cells and antibodies; it also increases the number of antibodies in the mucus made in the nose and respiratory passages which are the entry points for most germs and pathogens. Studies also revealed that singing activates the spleen to produce more antibodies and this boost the immune system; in fact even listening to meaningful music has great health benefits.
Avoid drugs and over-the-counter medications: Prescription and non-prescription have lots of side effects that harm the body and it takes the body 3 to 6 months to recover from one week of antibiotic treatments. Avoid self prescription and only take drugs when natural remedies don’t seems to work and that is even rare. Painkillers like ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs weaken the immune system and damage the gut while Prilosec, nexium and other proton inhibitors weakens the concentration of stomach acid and makes it unable to kill pathogens that are mistakenly ingested. Opt for natural remedies instead.
Drink lot of water: The body is made up of at least 70% water; when the level of water goes down it leads to dehydration and this can weaken immune response and the activities of the immune system. Lots of toxins and waste products accumulate in a dehydrated body and this suppresses the immune system and makes it difficult to carry out its duties effectively. Every day try and take in not less than 8 glasses of water; you should take more in hot weather and when you exercise because apart from not taking enough water, another cause of dehydration is when we lose more water than we take in. so even if you are taking 8 glasses of water a day and you are losing more than that, you will still be dehydrated.
Eat healthy: Poor diet, malnutrition and regular intake of junks and unhealthy foods as main meals are the main causes of a weak or poor immune system. Every minute the body is creating new cells to replace a weak or damaged cell and the food you eat is what the body uses as the building materials. If you eat healthy you will have a healthy body but if you eat junks then your building materials will not be strong. That will make your body susceptible to any infection and parasite.
To strengthen your immunity; you have to make healthy foods your main meals and cheat if you must occasionally. Top immune boosting foods are:
- Citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C and Phytonutrients which are powerful immune boosters. Takes lots of oranges, grapes, clementines, tangerines, lemons, limes, etc.
- Avocado is a store house of essential amino acids; it contains antioxidants and healthy fats which boost immune functions and balance the levels of hormones.
- Garlic is a strong immune booster and it has powerful antibacterial properties; to use garlic to boost your immune system, it should be taken raw because heat destroys Allicin, its active ingredient. Take three cloves of garlic; peel it and chop it into tiny pieces, leave it to air dry for 3 minutes then swallow it with the help of water. You can do this daily to boost your immunity.
- Spirulina are blue-green algae that help in stimulating the immune system; they fight cancer and they can replenish the RNA in someone’s brain thereby improving the performance of the brain.
- Red bell peppers are powerful immune boosters; they are rich in vitamin C, they contain more vitamin than citrus fruits and they are also rich in beta-carotene which keeps the skin and eyes healthy. Remember the skin is the first and the largest immune system.
- Healthy oils like extra virgin olive oil and canola oil are good in boosting the immune system; they contain healthy fats which help in lubricating the cells and they enhance communication and flexibility between cells and all these will help strengthen the immune system.
- Medicinal mushrooms are powerful immune boosting foods; studies have even showed that it boost immune strength in women with breast cancer.
- Kale is a rich source of vitamin A which supports normal immune function; it stimulates the production of new white blood cells and antibodies.
- Broccoli is very rich in vital minerals and vitamins needed by the immune system; it is also rich is antioxidants and fiber which serve as food for the friendly bacteria in the gut. It is one of the healthiest vegetables in the world; to use it to boost your immunity; it should be eaten raw or slightly cooked.
- Dark chocolate boost immunity; they also do other good works in the body like maintaining the levels of good cholesterol in the body, reducing blood pressure, and preventing heart disease.
- Raw honey or manuka honey is a natural immune booster; they also have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. It has been used since prehistoric times to boost the immune system and treat a wide range of diseases.
- Sweet potatoes are good for the skin which is the first line of defense against harmful microbes. Sweet potato is rich in vitamin A which helps in the production of connective tissue which is very important for the skin.
- Spinach is rich in vitamin C, various antioxidants and beta carotene which help in boosting the immune system. Its nutritional value is still when cooked slightly and it is similar to broccoli; cooking it separates the needful nutrients from oxalic acid and it also enhances the release of vitamin A.
- Green leafy vegetables are powerful in boosting the immune system; add them daily to your meals and you can also make smoothies with them.
- Echinacea is a powerful immune stimulant that is used mostly in treating recurring infections.
- Nuts like peanuts, cashew nuts, walnuts and almonds are all effective in boosting the immune system.
- Yogurt with live and active culture like the Greek yogurt contains probiotics that can increase the strength of your defense system; this type of yogurt is also rich in vitamin D which helps in regulating the immune system and boost immune response.
- Berries are very healthy and they are rich in antioxidants which boost immune functions. Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries should all be added to your meals daily.
- Elderberry and flower has been used for thousands of years to boost the immune system; even Hippocrates, the father of medicine used this and taught that this plant is the key to a strong immune system.
- Eggs, nutritionally speaking are one of the richest foods on the planet; they are rich in proteins, antioxidants, vital minerals and vitamins, they are also rich in healthy fats and all these are essential for a healthy immune system.
- Almonds are rich in vitamin E which is next to vitamin C in boosting the immune system; take lots of almonds daily.
- Peas are rich in powerful antioxidants like carotene, polyphenols, flavonoids and phenolic acids; all these fortify the immune system.
- Colloidal silver has been used since ancient times to stop the spread of diseases; it also has the ability to inhibit the growth of bacteria under aerobic and anaerobic conditions. You can take a drop of this internally but it should not be more than 14 days in a row. You can also apply it topically to the skin to treat skin problems like wounds, sores and infections. Do not over use this substance; it can cause argyria which makes people turn blue and it can also be caused when it is a fake like ionic or silver protein.
- Selenium is an essential mineral needed by the immune system to slow down over-active responses; it has a powerful effect on the immune system and it can be found abundantly in garlic, sardines, tuna, brazil nuts, barley and it can be found in green vegetables in little quantities.
- Turmeric is a powerful immune boosting herb; thanks to its active ingredient Curcumin, it strengthens the immune system and treats a wide range of health problems like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammation.
- Zinc and iron are important minerals needed by the immune system; zinc controls inflammation and slows down immune responses while iron increases the flow of blood and oxygen all through the body. Rich sources of iron are poultry, seafood, beans, broccoli and kale while rich sources of zinc are oysters, crabs poultry, beans, lean meats, chickpeas and yogurt.
- Probiotics helps to restore immune balance and strengthen the immune system; they also aid the digestive system which is part of the immune system and prevent digestive problems and disorder. These friendly bacteria detoxifies the colon and fight pathogens; they also induce different cytokine responses, they help to prevent immune mediated diseases in children by improving the gut mucosa and increasing the number of immunoglobulin cells and cells that produce cytokines in the intestines. Yogurt and fermented foods are rich in probiotics.
- Whole grains like wheat, rye, barley oats and brown rice are rich in vitamin B6, folate and pantothenic acid; all these support a strong immune system.
- Green tea is rich in flavonoid and powerful antioxidants which are effective in enhancing immune functions; it is also rich in L-theanine which helps in the production of white blood cells.
- Pomegranates are rich in powerful antioxidants that boost immune function and combat cell damage. Ancient Egyptians used pomegranate juice to treat infections.
- Astragalus has been used for centuries to strengthen the immune system and fight diseases; it has been used in Chinese traditional medicine for thousands of years but it is not well known in modern medicine because it is one of the least herbs that are studied. It protects the body from cancer and gastrointestinal inflammation.
- Watermelon is rich in high levels of glutathione which is a powerful antioxidant that fortifies the immune system and enhances it fight and response against infection.
- Papaya is dense in vitamin C, B vitamins, folate, potassium and a digestive enzyme called papain; these are all vital for proper and stronger immune function.
- Wheat germ is rich in fiber, proteins, healthy fats, zinc, B vitamins and powerful antioxidants; all these ensure a strong and fortified immune system. It will be nice if you substitute your regular white flour with wheat germ.
- Ginger; ancient Indian traditional medicines have relied on this powerful root herb for thousands of years to boost the immune system, breakdown toxins and remove them from the body, cleanse the lymphatic system and treat a wide range of diseases.
- Miso is a traditional Japanese seasoning made from fermented soybeans; it is added to soups and sauces, it is a rich source of probiotics; it improves the function and response of the immune system and it is used in Japan to treat diarrhea naturally.
- Kiwis are loaded with vital nutrients that the immune system needs; they are rich in vitamin C, K, folate, potassium and d other essential nutrients.
- Tomatoes are rich in vitamin C and powerful antioxidants and phytochemicals which help in strengthening the immune system.
- Ginseng is a powerful plant; it widely used in China to boost the immune system and fight a wide range of diseases and infection. Every part of the plant is being used to maintain the homeostasis of the immune system; it enhances immune response and resistance to infections and sicknesses, it improves the performance of the white blood cells and can also induce antigen specific antibody response when taken orally.
- Apples, you know the famous quote “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”; this is true as this fruit is loaded with healing phytochemicals, antioxidants, essential vitamins and minerals which supports and boost a healthy immune system.
- Organic poultry also boost the immune system; chicken pepper soup is given to sick patients to help them recover fast. Organic chicken and turkey are rich in vitamin B6 which in involved in the formation of new red blood cells; they are also rich in chondroitin, gelatin and other essential nutrients that heals the gut and strengthen immunity.
- Vitamin D is an important vitamin that the immune system needs; a deficiency in this vital vitamin has been linked with autoimmune diseases and increased susceptibility to infections. It modulates innate and adaptive immune responses; it promotes protective immunity and maintains tolerance.
- Sunflower seeds are rich in essential nutrients like phosphorous, magnesium, vitamin B6, E and powerful antioxidants; all these help to regulate the immune system and improve its function.
- Vitamin C is another powerful immune boosting vitamin; it strengthens the defense system of the body and fights infections. It also scavenges for free radicals, increases the number of white blood cells and prevents oxidative damage and diseases; a deficiency of this vitamin has been linked to weak immune system and frequent cases of infection.
- Shellfish are rich in zinc and other essential vitamins and minerals that help to strengthen the immune system. Crabs, mussels, clams and lobsters are varieties of shellfish that are powerful in boosting immune functions.
- Zinc is an important mineral that the immune system needs for strength; it has multiple effects on the immune system and it fights off free radicals from the body because it is a powerful antioxidant. A deficiency in zinc has been linked to poor immune system.
- Red wine when consumed moderately can help to boost immune functions and fight diseases. Too much of it can damage the liver and weaken the immune system so it has to be taken moderately.
- Myrrh essential oil is the most widely used essential oil in the world; it has been highly valued and used since ancient times to boost the immune system and treat a lot of health problems like hay fever, infected wounds and to stop bleeding. It also has powerful antibacterial properties. You can combine it with frankincense oil to make it more effective.
- Flaxseeds are rich in alpha-linolenic acid, omega-3 fatty acids and lignans; all of these help in regulating immune response, they prevent autoimmune diseases, fights cancer and prevent infections.
- Oregano essential oil is widely used for its immune boosting and healing properties.
- Oats are rich in fiber, Vitamin B1, selenium, copper, zinc, iron, magnesium, and manganese and phosphorous. Its fiber is soluble which makes it effective in reducing the levels of cholesterol.