A discussion on how to boost the health of your oh-so-important immune system.

Dr. Axe, DNM, DC, CNS, doctor of natural medicine, clinical nutritionist and author says:
We are continually exposed to organisms that are inhaled, swallowed or inhabit our skin and mucous membranes. Whether or not these organisms lead to disease is decided by the integrity of our body’s defense mechanisms, or immune system. When our immune system is working properly, we don’t even notice it. But when we have an under- or over-active immune system, we are at a greater risk of developing infections and other health conditions.” – www.draxe.com

Nourishing your body with immune-boosting foods and herbs, getting plenty of sleep and rest, encouraging states of being that enhance levels of happiness and joy in your life, and adding in some immune-boosting supplements are essential ways to keep you and your body feeling healthy and strong while reducing your chances of getting sick.

Below I outline some natural ways to stay healthy this season by keeping your immune system strong, because the key with the immune system is to keep it strong before you get sick.

Why? Stimulates the cells in your immune system, including your natural killer cells and other white blood cells.
Tip: Raw garlic has the most potent immune boosting properties and organic is best!

Why? Packed with immune-boosting nutrients like selenium, sulfur compounds, zinc, and vitamin C, onions are also one of the best sources of quercetin, an antioxidant and flavonoid that has antiviral properties as well as histamine regulating effects.
Tips: April is Bermuda onions month! Make your way to your local farmer this weekend to find out when they’ll be available.

Why? Contains curcumin, a potent anti-inflammatory that has the potential to disrupt harmful processes in the body and therefore is very beneficial for immunity.
Tip: But it fresh in your grocery store produce section or buy the dried spice in the spice isle. Take it with coconut oil or another healthy fat and black pepper to increase it’s absorption in your body.

Leafy Greens – Like local kale & spinach
Why? See below SPOTLIGHT
Tip: Buy from a local farmer on Saturday when the stands are out but ask if they spray with pesticides or herbicides – you do not want that at all!

Raw Honey
Why? Has a high level of antioxidants and antibacterial properties.
Tip: Buy unpasteurized Bermuda honey if possible.

Organic Bone Broth
Why? It’s nutrient-dense and packed with powerful amino acids that help regulate immune response and control inflammation. Also helps the body to rebuild proteins faster.
Tip: Make your own at home with organic beef or chicken bones from your local butcher using this recipe.

Organic Berries
Why? Loaded with immune boosting vitamins and antioxidants! Also, berries have been shown to have positive effects on the gut microbiome, which naturally increases immunity because 80 percent of your immune system resides in the gut.
Tip: These can be very expensive and spoil quickly when bought fresh in the produce section, so buy the big bag of frozen organic berries at Price Rite for the best deal on island, or buy local if you can find a farmer who has them right now.

Coconut Water – NO SUGAR ADDED! Check the label.
Why? Hydration is very, very important and coconut water is hydrating plus it has electrolytes and anti-inflammatory properties. Staying hydrated keeps the lymphatic system flushing itself to continuously detoxify, so the immune system can function at an optimal level.

Why? Oregano contains potent essential oils, which are known for their antimicrobial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. Also packed with antioxidants.

Why? Hugely anti-inflammatory, cleanses the lymphatic system.
Tip: Take raw, grated over salads, chopped into smoothies, cook with it or make ginger tea! Freezes very well as a whole piece and then grate it from frozen as it is amazingly easy to grate like that, or freeze in chunks you have chopped that are just the right size for your smoothie portions and pop into your smoothies frozen and blend! You can even leave the skin on for added convenience.

SPOTLIGHT on Leafy Greens &  Boosting Immune System Function:
“There’s no question that dark leafy greens are healthy, but they aren’t just healthy in an overall sense, they are powerful for the immune system specifically. Leafy greens like Swiss chard, kale, and spinach contain immune-boosting vitamins, such as vitamin C. Vitamin C supports the immune system by having antioxidant properties and protecting against oxidative stress. It fights pathogens and promotes cellular functions of the immune system as well. Leafy greens also contain fibre, which is helpful for keeping the digestive system regular. Toxins are eliminated through the digestive tract, so the more often you can eliminate toxins, the less work your immune system has to do! Greens also contain important vitamins and minerals like immune-boosting folate, blood-building iron, and vitamin E.” – www.chopra.com

Supplements are not a substitute for eating nutritious foods and maintaining a balanced diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, but they can be used a tool to enhance your nutrient intake and boost immune function during periods of stress or travel, or during times where there is the potential threat of infection from other people. Please speak to your qualified health professional if you would like to start incorporating the supplements below.

1. Vitamin D
2. Echinchea
3. Probiotics
4. Vitamin C
5. Zinc
6. Iron
7. Selenium
8. Colloidal Silver
9. Elderberry

SPOTLIGHT on Vitamin D & Boosting Immune System Function:
D3 with vitamin K (Vitamins D-K) is a huge multi-tasker. It supports immune, bone and brain health while also promoting heart health and the health of your muscles, cells and organs like the pancreas, colon and kidneys. Vitamin D helps with healthy cell replication and may help protect against the development of autoimmune conditions in addition to less serious common colds and the flu. Vitamin D3 can improve your skin and help your body maintain a healthy blood sugar balance. It’s also a strong anti-inflammatory which benefits the whole body. However, many people are vitamin D deficient, even those living in sunny places. It’s very difficult for most people to get sufficient vitamin D from the food they eat alone, or through sun exposure, and, as a result, a vitamin D3 supplement is one of the most important daily supplements to take. Again, a high-quality vitamin D3 supplement not only combats vitamin D deficiency, but also promotes a wide range of healthy bodily functions and is a serious immune system booster. You can ask your doctor for a blood test that shows your vitamin D level so you know how much you need to supplement, which will fall between 1,000 – 5,000 IU (International Units). Note that Vitamin D2 is not the same as D3 and the key one to supplement with is D3 for most of us.

In the past decade, an increasing body of research has arisen that explores the link between health and happiness, and it consistently shows that happiness has impressive medical benefits. And these benefits include improvements to the immune system, showing us that positive emotions are good for our health.

Make the time every day to develop these emotions within yourself, no matter what your situation is right now. In every moment lies the power for us to chose:

Start a gratitude practice where you list or speak aloud 3 to 10 things you are thankful for in the morning, and 3 to 10 things you are thankful for in the evening. Envision them as you go through your list, and flood your body with feelings of thankfulness. This positive emotional flooding will have an incredible impact on your health, including bathing your vagus nerve in cues of safety and reducing cortisol levels, which will allow your immune system to function at an optimal level, because stress has been reduced. I have even started to teach and share my gratitude practice with my little 5 year old nephew, Gabriel, and he is really good at it! He always lists more than the 3 things I’ve asked him to! We take this to the beach sometimes too, out in nature, for the added benefits of fresh air, salt water, pink sand and sunshine.

As a society, we need to laugh more! Watch a comedy show on YouTube or Netflix, tell a funny story to your partner or child or colleague or get a joke book like this one I love! Here is a really funny Tedx Talk that will also do the trick!: How to Humor Your Stress | Loretta LaRoche | TEDxNewBedford

Ask yourself: Am I living a vibrant, joyful, and fully-charged life?
Joy is our birthright and yet so many of us do not make it a priority in our lives, meaning we do not focus on achieving states of joy throughout our day, every day, nor do we actively work towards staying in that beautiful state of joy once we’ve achieved it. And yes, that is something that you can “achieve”; it is the result of daily practices you can start doing today. We CAN create our own states of joy by simply deciding to do so. First of all, it takes mental discipline to turn away from thoughts of dissatisfaction, anger, frustration, unfairness, etc., and turn towards joy. Mental discipline. Think about that. In the world we live in, we must actively discipline the mind to focus on joy. Which is easy to say and hard to do! But in every moment lies the ability to chose again, to chose what we wish to think or feel, to chose to turn towards thoughts that are wholly joyful.  Also, we can chose to do activities that promote joy every single day, even if just for 10 minutes a few times a day. So here is my tip to get you started on that immune boosting initiative – It’s called a “Feel Good Menu” and you need one NOW!! Or yesterday even! I learned about this success hack at a health conference I attended in Chicago years ago and have been building up my menu ever since, and referring to it either mentally or actually in print, week in and week out. It’s basically a menu that identifies things you can do that you love and that bring on feelings of joy and increase your life force! Get out a piece of paper and write them all down! Keep writing until you have a menu with at least 30 items on it! Mine includes: listen to music that makes me happy, dance, jump on the trampoline to a great song, walk on the beach, swim in the ocean at the sunrise, spend time with the dog, have safe, sensual sex with a loving partner…. okay now it’s your turn! Then you can go to this list when you need a joy boost! Because as New York Times Bestselling author Gabrielle Bernstein says “It’s Good to Feel Good” (2019).

Love is the ultimate healing emotion. Make the time to emotionally flood yourself with feelings of love by imagining all of the people, pets, places, etc. that you love dearly. Bring them close to your heart and then send your love to them. If you happen to see the actual person or pet or place you love today, be sure to tell them with your words that you love them. Saying “I Love You” brings peace and warmth into every situation and lifts our spirits and that of others. Don’t forget to also send love to yourself, from yourself. Psychologist Gay Hendricks often states that learning to love yourself is the key mindset that can help you end the cycle of negative thoughts, toxic eating (or other) patterns, and chronic dissatisfaction (2011).

Tony Robbins says that “Finding your purpose isn’t a luxury or leisure activity – it’s a necessity. Research shows that knowing how to find your purpose is linked to living longer.” That’s because people with a purpose experience a stronger sense of meaning in their lives, enjoy the pleasures and benefits of personal growth and achievement, and have the potential to reach a true sense of fulfillment and self-actualization.  It can be said that without a purpose, we perish, so if you haven’t figured yours out yet, make it your business to know what your gifts are and then to uncover and pursue your mission in life. There is an incredible lifeforce that comes from living on-purpose, for something that is larger than yourself.

SPOTLIGHT on “Helpful Consciousness”:
“Make no mistake about it, emotions play a role in whether or not we successfully achieve our ultimate dreams. Empowering or positive emotions like interest, joy, hope, gratitude, cheerfulness, serenity, inspiration, confidence, enthusiasm, satisfaction, enjoyment, love, awe and “fuelled” keep us on course and ever moving forward towards the realization of our ultimate dreams. This is helpful consciousness. However, disempowering or negative emotions like fear, indifference, frustration, overwhelm, boredom, dread, anxiety, envy, stress, worry, discontent, disappointment and guilt can lead us to stagnate. And don’t all of these disempowering emotions really boil down to fear at their core?

These emotions can impact the vision we set out for ourselves, for better or for worse.

So I’m here to tell you that you do not want to stand in your own way. You do not want to be the biggest obstacle in the achievement of your own personal success. You do not want your disempowering emotions, like fear of change, cost, failure and of venturing outside of your comfort zone, to stand in the way between who you are and who you want to become.” (FUELLED, 2018)

Sleep is important for restoring and regenerating the body – that’s how the body recharges itself. Also, infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during periods when you don’t get enough sleep, so, your body needs sleep to fight infectious diseases.

Strive for 8 hours of solid sleep every night. Sleep benefits your heart, your mind, and your body. Not getting enough can be very bad for your health. If you struggle with anxiety or insomnia, please learn what you can about overcoming these health challenges and get as much support as you can so that you can sleep as soundly as possible. Being a great sleeper will help you THRIVE and keep your DRIVE ALIVE!

It is also important to understand how important it is to avoid particular substances, such as tobacco and alcohol, that decrease your body’s immune response, as well as how important it is not allow stress to overcome you.

The 4 key substances and states of being to avoid are:
1. Alcohol
2. Tobacco
3. Chronic cycle of negative thoughts/negative patterns of thought
4. Stress

Hope you enjoy these tips on Superfoods, Supplements, States of Being and Sleep that help boost your immune system! For immune boosting recipes, please see my book, FUELLED: Transform Your Body | Enhance Your Energy | Supercharge Your Life (2018), available at many locations in Hamilton, Bermuda, as well as from me. Buy Here.

And Remember:
Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.” — Oprah Winfrey

Feel free to share this with someone you care about!

P.S. – If you enjoyed this post and would like to receive this kind of information regularly, sign up for my weekly eNewsletter to get these updates delivered right to your inbox!

Note: The information in this post is intended for your educational use only; and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health programs.