If I were to ask you what your immune system does for you, you’d probably say that it helps protect you against viruses and infections.
That’s true, but protection against a cold or bronchitis is just a drop in the bucket for what it does.
Your immune system is an incredibly intelligent network of cells, tissues, fluids and glands that is operating on full cycle 24 hours a day. In addition to protecting you against colds, flu and infections, your immune system also protects you against devastating diseases like cancer.
Some scientists suggest that the immune system is the primary reason we human beings can even live in the world, because we’re so overpowered by substances that actually threaten our existence.
It can’t easily be fooled! Your immune system is brilliant and knows the difference between dangerous substances and nourishment, as well as proteins that are foreign versus those that are a part of you.
This is very important because if your immune system targeted every single molecule you took in (including food) you wouldn’t be able to digest and absorb anything. With autoimmune conditions, your immune system is taunted and confused into attacking your own body’s cells and impairing their functioning.
Unfortunately, many of us, including me, have subjected our immune systems to things that weaken it and impair its ability to stay sharp and do its job.
And the problem is, once your immune system becomes weakened, it’s usually not an isolated incident—instead it can get progressively worse. You start to see repetitive cycles of injuries not healing well, more chronic inflammation popping up, greater susceptibility to colds, flus and infections, new or worsening allergies, and eventually tissue damage and breakdown.
Here are 7 steps I have taken to keep my immune system strong.
Step 1: Eliminate sugar and refined carbs
Sugar and refined carbs (which turn to sugar when digested) feed cancer cells, harmful yeasts and parasites and depress your immune system functioning. Refined carbs include white breads, pastries, cookies, donuts, cakes, bagels, white rice, crackers and crisps, to name just some of them. Now if you’re a carb-o-holic, like I once was, don’t fear. Once you get away from the refined carbs and concentrate on more real foods you start to lose your taste for the sweet stuff and start appreciating the natural sweetness of whole foods. I don’t remember the last time I had gluten and I don’t miss it!
Step 2: Have a good laugh
Laughter exerts positive influences on your immune system! So take some time now and then to embrace your silly side. Watch funny movies, play with your kids, read some good jokes or watch silly YouTube videos to make you laugh. I have a YouTube video of ‘laughing babies’ saved on my laptop and whenever I play it I laugh, but not as much as my kids. The Big Bang Theory works a treat too. Mainly because my son Harrison laughs so much!
Step 3: Drink 8 glasses of water a day
In addition to helping your body flush out toxins and keeping your more “regular,” water is also the key to cellular health and lymph health—both of which are crucial to proper immune system functioning.
Step 4: De-stress and get some rest
Both stress and lack of sleep are harmful to your intestinal gut flora, which happens to be where 70% of your immune system resides. Lower stress in your life with daily meditation, yoga, exercise, what ever helps you the most. Go to bed around the same time each night to get a decent night’s sleep. 7-9 hours a night is the minimum amount that the average person needs.
Step 5: Move your body
I know I must sound like a broken record when it comes to exercise, but your immune system functioning is yet another reason to get moving! First of all, exercise is a natural stress-reducer and helps encourage better sleep, so that helps with Step 4 above. Plus exercise stimulates lymph to flow through your filtering lymph nodes, thereby helping to remove dangerous toxins from your body. In addition, the deep breathing will help increase oxygen delivery to your tissues—this is helpful because parasites, cancer cells and dangerous microbes cannot survive in an oxygenated environment. You don’t have to get fancy—even walking is helpful – which is all I can manage, alongside yoga, these days.
Step 6: Have a healthy diet of real foods
Your body is nourished by the naturally occurring nutrients in real foods, and that includes your immune system. However, when you rely heavily on processed “fake” foods and refined carbs (like I mentioned in Step 1 above), not only does your body lack the nutrients it needs, but your immune system sees the junk as a toxin and gets stressed to protect you against it. Plus so-called foods like these feed the harmful bacteria in your gut, which can then crowd out your friendly flora and greatly weaken your immune function. Stick to real foods–fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy and whole grains. Your whole body (including your immune system) will thank you. When your digestion can be accomplished more efficiently, that means more regular bowel movements and a healthier intestinal environment to house your immune system, as well as better nutrient absorption.
Step 7: Fresh air
Try to get outside and breathe in some clean, fresh air every single day. This will help reduce your body’s total load of toxins and oxygenate your cells too. I try and get down for a walk at the beach every day, even just 10 minutes will do the trick.