How to Strengthen Your Immune System Naturally
(UPDATED) Though the novel Coronavirus has become a pandemic, please remember that there is A LOT you can do to stay safe and remain healthy. Aside from all the recommendations we're hearing about to protect ourselves, the BEST way to truly protect yourself is to STRENGTHEN your immunity.
If you have a tendency to catch colds easily, or generally feel run down and get sick often (and especially if you have compromised immunity) you've got to do your best to maintain a strong and well-functioning immune system in order to stay healthy and strong.
But, how do you do that?
If you've wondered how to strengthen your immune system naturally, you'll get a lot out of this post with some practical, doable steps you can take, and I want to tell you about a fabulous product that, literally, saved my life.
Some of you may know that I had cancer over five years ago. A pretty scary lymphoma diagnosis with about a 10% chance of survival (gulp!)
What I discovered through my cancer journey - and what I'm sharing with you here - made a HUGE positive impact on my immune system (even after chemo) and my ultimate healing and recovery to become cancer-free.
And, honestly, I've been able to remain healthier since then than at most other times in my adult life. Fewer colds and infections, feeling stronger, with more energy and vitality.
So, read on... I really hope this post helps YOU do the same.
A BIT ABOUT OUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
When I was a kid, my dad used to tell us that a tiny army inside of us could detect invaders, destroy and get rid of them, so we can get well again.
The image of an army of tiny soldiers running amuck inside my body really freaked me out.
Well, I’ve grown to really appreciate that miraculous aspect of the incredible healing machine we call our body. Although, personally, I prefer imagery of everything working in HARMONY inside of me, rather than images of an internal battle or war.
Regardless, as a priority, I do my best to support my immune system on a daily basis, along with the rest of my entire being, to remain as healthy as possible, and so that cancer never EVER recurs in my life time.
OUR FIRST LINE OF DEFENSE
Under normal circumstances, cells that have been infected with viruses, and other pathogens (and mutated cells that become cancerous) are typically identified by the elite forces of our innate immune system called Natural Killer cells (NK cells). Though they only make about 10% of our total white blood cells, they’re present in all tissues in the body, ready to deal with any threats that may arise.
NK cells are our first line of defense and can detect, attack and kill unhealthy cells quickly by injecting a toxic substance into the cell. Then they release a hormone that stimulates other white blood cells nearby to come and gobble up the remains of the dead cell.
All of this without us even being aware of it. Such an amazing miracle of the healing machine that is our body!
Unfortunately, as we age and are exposed to various stressors and toxins, our NK cell function can weaken and become ineffective.
TOXICITY AND STRESS
We live in an increasingly toxic world, no question; from environmental toxins in the air, water, pesticides on our food, to so many toxic chemicals in home cleaning products and even cosmetics we put directly on our bodies.
All of that, on top of the daily stress of our busy lives, work, traffic, family dynamics, relationships, financial concerns, etc. that accumulate and, eventually, our immune system becomes over-burdened, exhausted and ineffective.
This makes us much more vulnerable to picking up "bugs" and getting sick.
It’s absolutely crucial to maintain the proper functioning of our immune system, especially our Natural Killer cells that identify invaders first thing.
SO, HOW DO YOU STRENGTHEN YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM?
There are many ways to maintain our immune system in top shape.
First, as we've discussed, all chronic diseases stem from some sort of toxicity, so it’s crucial to detoxify our bodies to reverse the condition. (You may want to read a post I wrote about detoxing right here.)
Also, some basic things like:
It’s essential to provide the body with vast amounts of nutrition through a nutritionally-dense diet. (If you're not sure what that is, let me know. I LOVE sharing info about proper diet and how to make it practical.)
Get excellent, restful sleep.
Get regular gentle exercise (walking and rebounder are great).
Manage stressors at all levels to the best of our ability.
A substantial part of our immune system lives in our gut, which is affected in some significant way by toxicity. It’s essential to increase the permeability of our gastrointestinal tract, through proper balance of bacteria (the probiotics in your fridge and fermented veggies like sauerkraut, etc.) among other factors, to allow toxins to easily be removed so we are better able to absorb as much nutrition as possible.
THIS PRODUCT MADE AN ENORMOUS DIFFERENCE IN MY HEALING!
When I embarked on my cancer journey back in 2014, I did a series of blood tests suggested by my naturopathic oncologist (yes, they exist) to get a baseline for my immune system function. (See the P.S. below for some test info if you'd like to do the same).
What we discovered SHOCKED ME!
Though I had the right number of NK cells, even on the lowish end of the scale, they were completely asleep!
My NK cell activity results showed under 2, where normal is considered to be between 50-300 by the lab, and low under 50. My NK cells were just floating around, taking a nap. (I love naps, but this was ridiculous.)
These are my initial lab results, in October 2014:
What? No wonder!
So, through a lengthy (and expensive) process, I tried various types of supplements typically associated with stimulating immune system response over several months:
Several types of mushrooms (reishi, shitake, chaga, maitake, cordyceps, and turkey tail (Host Defense is what we now take and love, in addition to the aloe arborescens below.)
Three months on each type of supplement, and then the blood test.
None quite did the trick for me the way I would've liked. (NOTE: Those supplements may work very well and be perfect for YOU, they just didn’t work for me.)
Finally, I tried a product called Aloe Arborescence Immune Health Formula.
After a few months we tested again and my lovely arsenal of NK cells were finally doing their job (even after chemo!) Though still under normal, the numbers were climbing markedly in September, 2015.
Can’t tell you how elated I was! Plus, the fact that I was cancer-free, due to the integrative combination of treatments and therapies I decided to do, along with all the inner healing work and dietary/lifestyle changes I adopted.