Can you build up your immune system fast? Yes, but how? Oddly enough you need to trust your gut!
If you have chronic colds, depression, or dry skin or hair then you likely have immune system issues. Your allergies are also related to this, as are achy joints, chronic constipation and/or diarrhea, and let’s not forget random headaches.
In fact, many scientists believe that around 80 known health problems stem from a malfunctioning immune system.
Let’s get on top of fixing that shall we?
Hello and welcome to Fearlessly Holistic. My name is Irma and I want to share my journey to improved health by eating whole foods, moving my body and eliminating stress as much as possible.
It is my hope to inspire you to make daily changes. Why? Because eating fresh, seasonal food and getting some sunshine is the best way to increase longevity. But you do not want just a long life. You want a quality long life.
My blog posts are my opinion and the results of things that I have tried that either worked for me or didn’t. My opinions are for informational purposes only and are not intended as medical advice. Medical advice should always be obtained from a qualified medical professional for any health conditions or symptoms associated with them.
How To Boost Your Immune Health Naturally
If you are going to talk about improving health and your immune system, the place to start is to listen to your own body.
The government food guidelines are a “one-size-fits-all”. But that advice does not work for many people. Why? Because the food guidelines are not based on what to eat for optimal health.
The food guidelines are strictly for whatever the government needs to grow and sell to keep the economy rolling.
Sad but true. It is called “commodity agriculture”.
Would it bother you at all to know that the government promotes eating a high carbohydrate diet just to keep farmers working? I have nothing against farmers, and many of my relatives have farms.
What bothers me is the government telling me to eat a lot of grains, not because they are good for me, but to keep someone else employed.
We have given up listening to our bodies, and now listen to government instead.
Luckily, there is an easy fix…learning to listen to your body!
For many of us, better health does not come naturally because we gave up control in exchange for government guidelines. We may be confused at where to start and what our next steps are. I have created this blog post to help you get started.
We will start by listening to your body and understanding what it is telling you about what is going on inside the body.
Here are some ways you can listen to your body
Watching The Scale
You can listen to your body every time you put on your clothes or when stepping on the scale.
- Do your clothes fit right?
- Are they becoming too loose on you or are they fitting snuggly?
- Is the scale tipping one way or another in the wrong direction?
If you find that you are losing too much weight or packing on the pounds, it may be that you are being affected by stress and are not eating in ways that promote good health.
Good health comes from eating a diet of lean meats, fresh in-season vegetables, and in-season fruit.
Local if possible. Organic is even better.
Avoid eating processed foods such as cookies, cakes, processed meals, and candies—all of which send confusing signals to your body (because of all the lab-created franken-food ingredients).
Eating ‘food’ that is not really food causes havoc to your immune system because it triggers antigens.
Your body treats these ingredients as what they are – foreign invaders that are attacking your body. See more on this below.
Your body knows that these ingredients are not real food.
Eating too little can affect your health as well.
When you eat less than the amount of food you are supposed to eat, or eat too many foods your body does not tolerate well, you starve it at a cellular level.
You can suffer from lack of proper nutrients as well as having an increasing number of health issues from a lack of support for your immune health.
Listen To Your Digestive System
Your digestive system is not only the way you get proper nutrients but also it is a main way your body uses to protect itself from pathogens.
The digestive system is one big part of the immune system so you need to treat it with care.
This means paying attention to episodes of diarrhea that can strip the colon of protective bacteria, constipation, and indigestion from being under excess stress or eating the wrong foods.
You can care for your digestive system by eating healthy foods and by taking probiotics, which can replenish the gut with good bacteria.
Probiotics can be taken in by eating plain yogurt with live cultures or by eating fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kefir.
Read more on this below.
If you can’t get it in the foods you eat, you can purchase many probiotic supplements at the drug store or online. Some of the best probiotics are those that come in spore form.
The spores can survive the acidic environment of your stomach and then release the live bacteria in the intestines, where they take root and drive out the bad bacteria and fungi.
Listen To Your Cardiovascular System
This means monitoring your blood pressure and pulse. When you see the doctor, ask to have your blood pressure will be taken while you are there. You want this information to tweak your new health plan.
If it is consistently elevated, you may need medication or to modify your diet and exercise program a bit more.
You should check your pulse as well on a periodic basis. A high pulse can mean that you are too inactive or are under a great deal of stress.
Exercise can cause your heart to function better and will slow your pulse to normal levels.
Listen For And Respect Signs Of Stress and Fatigue
- Feel tired, but keep pushing yourself past your limits?
- Are you fighting fatigue on a regular basis, instead of taking the time to rest and rejuvenate?
Fatigue and low energy are both your body talking to you and letting you know that you need to rest and relax. If you don’t listen, you will crash and burn.
Are you ignoring anxiety, instead of looking to erase its sources and lower stress levels? Stress kills, and you are the only one that can take care to reduce its load on your body, mind, and spirit.
Great ways to fight stress and its impact are Tai Chi, meditation, yoga and taking vacations on a regular basis.
Boost Your Immune System Fast
What Is The Immune System?
The immune system is a collection of special cells, organs, and substances that defends the body against infection and illness. It monitors the body at the cellular level and attempts to rid it of anything unfamiliar.
Any substance that enters the body that the immune system does not recognize is known as an antigen. When an antigen enters our bodies, the immune response is triggered and the attack to get rid of the substance begins.
Our immune system has the ability to destroy anything containing a particular antigen, including, germs, viruses, and cancer cells.
Your body does not send out antigens unless your body recognizes an invader. This is key.
It’s safe to say that without our immunity, we wouldn’t be around too long because it is a tireless warrior protecting our health.
There are bacteria and viruses everywhere, not to mention helminths (worms) and tiny mites that carry infection and our immune systems continuously fight all types of bacteria, viruses and various parasites.
There are also lab created food products that your body knows are not real food. Lab created foods are:
- “Vegetable” oils – Aka Trans Fats. Canola, grapeseed, soybean, corn and safflower oils are all partially hydrogenated and created using solvents. Read more here. These products are usually rancid. As well, soybean and/or canola oil are used in fast food outlets for deep frying, but they become unstable at temperatures required to deep fry (375F), so doubly unhealthy.
- “Impossible” meat substitutes – No one really knows the health implications of eating this fake meat, but it is also not food even if it is created with food-like ingredients. Read more.
- High Fructose Corn Syrup – A lab created food that was developed to replace higher priced cane sugar in foods. HFCS is highly addictive, which is why it is used in so many foods. If you’ve ever wondered why you want to eat the entire box of doughnuts, its the High fructose corn syrup tricking your brain into it.
- Farmed Fish – First, they are farmed. Second, farmed fish get an unnatural diet, unrelated to that of marine animals. Third, their diet includes ingredients to enhance the look of the finished product. So that fresh looking salmon only looks fresh. That tasty color comes from an additive. Blech.
There are many more of these scary lab grown or fake foods. Some are food label ingredients like like the ones listed in this post.
“Foods” that can trigger the release of antigens are:
- Processed foods
- Foods with chemicals and preservatives
- Carbonated sugary drinks, especially diet sodas with artificial sweeteners
- Artificial sweeteners
- Refined sugar foods, like cookies, cakes, doughnuts, and muffins
- High carbohydrate processed foods like bread and pasta (these are not ‘whole’ foods)
We also use our immunity to fight and kill cancerous cells that can pop up in our systems and while of course it is not always successful as people still get cancer, those with a poor immune system get cancer at higher rates than individuals who take care of their immune system.
Related Post: Improve Your Gut Microbiome Today
It is therefore of great importance to be sure and take care of our immune system health. Thankfully, some of the ways in which we can do this are also beneficial in other ways to our overall health.
Immune System Booster Foods
- Eat probiotics – Probiotics are one of the best things to reach mainstream medicine. Probiotics are found in some yogurts as well as in capsule form. They consist of living spores of healthy bacteria or living organisms themselves. They colonize the gut and displace the “bad bacteria” that can make you sick. With probiotics, you can have a healthier gut immune system and can avoid gastrointestinal upset from bacteria or fungi in the gut. Homemade sauerkraut and kimchi are both probiotic foods.
- Eat Good Quality Fresh Foods – This means getting enough nutrition through meat, fruits and vegetables, and nuts and seeds. There are nutrients in these foods that act as antioxidants, scavenging your body for oxygen free radicals that can damage cellular systems. Research has shown that increasing the number of fruits and vegetables in your diet can improve the ability of immunizations to “take hold.”
- Eat garlic – Garlic is an antimicrobial agent in and of itself. It boosts the immune system in a general way but is inactivated by heat. For this reason, you should add garlic to foods just before serving the food.
- Immune Supporting Herbs – There are tons of immune-supportive herbs out there and probably yet to be developed. Some important ones are eleuthero, Asian ginseng, astragalus, and American ginseng. These have been used in Chinese medicine for millennia to prevent infection and keep the body healthy. They can be found at health food stores everywhere and even at certain pharmacies.
- Eat shitake and Maitake mushrooms – Studies have shown that really concentrated extracts of these types of medicinal mushrooms have enhanced the immune system of women who have breast cancer. While eating the mushroom alone hasn’t been studied, it may have a beneficial effect on the immune system of otherwise healthy people.
More ‘Boosting Immune System’ Tips
- Get vitamin D – Many people in the Northern Hemisphere are deficient in vitamin D and this can negatively affect immunity, particularly in the winter months. You can get vitamin D with exposure to the sun, during spring and summer. You can take a vitamin D supplement to boost your levels. In the summertime, just ten to fifteen minutes of sunlight per day can be a big benefit to your immune system. Sunscreen blocks Vitamin D production.
- Echinacea tincture – Echinacea is good for respiratory infections, especially when taken early in the course of the infection. Make a tincture yourself or get one from a reputable herbalist.
- Stay away from tobacco smoke – Tobacco smoke ruins immunity, even if you aren’t the actual smoker. Kids have an increased risk of getting middle ear infections and lung infections when exposed to second hand smoke by way of parents or family members smoking around them. Adults are more prone to getting bronchitis and pneumonia when exposed to tobacco smoke. The toxic ingredients in smoke lessen your ability to fight off all kinds of infections.
- Cut down on alcohol – Those who excessively drink alcohol have an increased risk of getting infections from a poor immune system. Pulmonary infections are particularly likely to happen in heavy drinkers. Your body must process alcohol first, so other health processes are put to the side when you drink.
Related Post: Anti-Aging Foods for Optimal Health
The Health Benefits of Probiotics
Most people spend a lot of time trying to get rid of bacteria in their lives, but what if we told you not all bacteria is bad for you?
In fact, your body relies on millions of healthy, helpful bacteria to keep you safe and healthy every day. And by giving your body beneficial probiotics, you can improve the population of helpful bacteria inside your body that are necessary for your continued health.
Eating foods rich in probiotics can not only prevent illness but also treat some disorders and imbalances.
Learning which foods are high in probiotics, as well as the benefits these organisms offer to your body, will help you feel better and stay healthier over time.
You have bacteria, yeast, and other microbes all over your body, both inside and out. Luckily, many of those organisms are helpful bacteria that perform vital functions for your cells, tissues, organs, and body systems.
Probiotics and the beneficial bacteria they support can help:
- Boost your immune system, allowing you to heal faster from sickness and injury.
- Prevent infection by stopping hostile bacteria from taking over.
- Improve your digestion, which allows you to better absorb nutrients from the foods you eat.
The majority of helpful bacteria in your body live in your gut. Keeping your digestive microflora healthy not only aids your digestion but also ensures your immune system is working properly.
These two systems are directly linked.
When you throw off the balance of good versus bad bacteria in your gut, such as when you are sick or when you are taking antibiotics, you need to help your body replenish the friendly bacteria in your system.
Eating probiotics can restore this balance, which creates a barrier against harmful microbes.
Probiotics and Antibiotics
When you take antibiotics to treat an infection, you not only eliminate the bad bacteria that are making you sick but also the healthy, beneficial bacteria that can make you well.
As well, overuse of antibiotics can destroy the intestinal wall, causing thin spots that allow food particles to pass through. This is known as “leaky gut”.
Fixing leaky gut requires a limited diet, bone broth, and probiotics.
If you think you have leaky gut, be gentle with the probiotics as too much can make symptoms worse.
When you take probiotics during and after using antibiotics, you are helping to restore the natural gut microflora that your body needs quickly. This also can help increase the effectiveness of antibiotics, which can help you feel better faster and require fewer and smaller doses of antibiotics in the future.
Foods that are cultured or fermented are good sources of probiotics, as bacteria are what create their flavor and texture.
These foods were created to help people survive times of illness, which is why most cultures around the world have some form of probiotic food. Foods that are high in probiotics include cultured yogurt, miso, tempeh, kefir, buttermilk, sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi, and nattō.
They contain live bacterial cultures; the bacteria must be live to work.
While some of these foods have bacteria which grow naturally, some include bacteria that are adding during the preparation process.
These foods and beverages contain one or more of the following strains of probiotics:
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Lactobacillus casei
- Bifidobacterium bifidum
- Lactobacillus bulgaricus
- Lactobacillus gasseri
- Saccharomyces boulardii
- Lactobacillus plantarum
- Bifidobacterium lactis
- Enterococcus faecium
- Bifidobacterium longum
Any food that claims to have probiotics should contain at least one of the strains listed here. This is also true for probiotic supplements, so always read the label if you are in doubt.
Make sure that the labels says “live’ or “active” bacterial cultures.
FYI sauerkraut purchased from the store in the pickle aisle does not contain live cultures. The processing killed off any bacteria. However, you can easily make your own in a few minutes. It then requires a few days to weeks to develop the bacteria. #win-win.
Supporting a Probiotic Environment
In addition to eating foods that contain probiotics, you can create an environment that is supportive of the healthy bacteria in your body.
You can start by altering the pH of your digestive system by eating more sour foods.
Fermented vegetables and vinegars contain small amounts of probiotic, but their acid content is the most powerful part of their benefits.
They contribute to a gut environment that allows probiotics to flourish.
You can also be sure the bacteria in your system have plenty of fuel by feeding them a high-fiber diet. The fermentable fiber in fresh vegetables, fruits, flax and chia seeds are perfect for giving probiotics the food they need to maintain your healthy bacteria levels.
Adding probiotics to your diet is one health move you can make to improve your health.
These foods contain beneficial bacteria your body needs to fend off unwanted visitors.
Help your body today by including probiotics in your next meal or snack.
As you can see, by eating quality foods and adding in probiotics, you create a healthy micro-biome which in turns improves and maintains a health immune system. You will be able to withstand seasonal colds and flu, as well as feeling awesome most of the time.
As you improve your health by eliminating processed foods, you will find it easier to know instinctively which foods your body does not like. Once your body is healed, you can add in some of the questionable foods on special occasions if you want.
Because life is for the living!
Holistic approaches never just address symptoms of specific health problems, but instead aim to return or keep the patient in a state of balanced health between mind, body, and spirit. Holism targets overall wellness, and when we are well, we only get better with age.
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Until next time, here’s to our health!