10 WAYS TO STRENGTHEN YOUR IMMUNITY NATURALLY

Simple dietary and lifestyle changes may strengthen your body’s natural defenses and can help you fight harmful pathogens.

DISCLAIMER: The suggestions described below may boost your immune health, but there are no studies to date that offer evidence that these strategies specifically protect against COVID-19.

1. EAT MORE WHOLE PLANT FOODS

  • Whole plant foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes are rich in Antioxidants, Fiber, Phytonutrients and Vitamin C. All of these may lower your susceptibility to illness.
  • The ANTIOXIDANTS in these foods help decrease inflammation by binding to  free radicals. Free radicals cause inflammation when they build up in your body. 
  • The FIBER, in plant foods, feeds your gut micro-biome, the community of healthy bacteria in your gut. A healthy gut micro-biome can improve your immunity.
  • Juicing is a fantastic way to get a concentrated dose of PHYTONUTRIENTS. These concentrated plant nutrients have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. 
  • 66 Day Health Mastery Program is a fantastic program that introduces juicing and helps create a healthy lifestyle.
  • The VITAMIN C, plentiful in raw fruits and vegetables, benefits the body in many ways. It aids in wound healing, bone and tooth formation, strengthens blood vessel walls, improves immune system function, increases absorption and utilization of iron and acts as an antioxidant.
  • Since our bodies cannot produce or store vitamin C, it is very important to have an adequate daily intake.
  • It is beneficial to have a daily intake of at least 2000mg/day. Supplementation is typically necessary to achieve this amount.

2. EAT MORE HEALTHY FATS

  • Healthy fats, like those found in coconut oil, avocado oil, nuts, seeds and avocados are anti-inflammatory and may boost your body’s immune response to pathogens. Since chronic inflammation can suppress your immune system, these fats may naturally combat illnesses.
  • Low-level, acute inflammation is a normal response to stress or injury, chronic inflammation is damaging to your body and can suppress your immune system.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids, such as those in sustainably caught, wild salmon and chia seeds, help fight inflammation as well.

3. EAT LESS SUGAR: ELIMINATE ADDED SUGARS

  • Limiting sugar is an important part of an immune-boosting diet. 
  • Added processed sugar, high fructose corn syrup and refined carbs may contribute disproportionately to excess weight and obesity.
  • Obesity increases risk for chronic health conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. 
  • Chronic health conditions can weaken your immune system and may increase your risk of getting sick.
  • Curbing your sugar intake can decrease inflammation and aid weight loss, thus reducing your risk of chronic health conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease and keeping your immune system strong.
  • Sugar intake should be limited to less than 5% of your daily calories. This is about 2 tablespoons (25 grams) of sugar for a 2,000 calorie diet. This sugar is best when it is coming from whole food sources that contain fiber which helps the body to process the sugar more efficiently.

4. HYDRATE

  • Hydration doesn’t directly protect you from germs and viruses, but preventing dehydration is important to your overall health.
  • Dehydration can make you more susceptible to illness.
  • Dehydration can cause headaches and hinder your physical performance, focus, mood, digestion, and heart and kidney function. These issues can increase your susceptibility to illness.
  • Be sure you’re drinking plenty of purified water each day.
  • A reasonable goal is to aim to consume half of your body weight in ounces. (Example: if you weigh 180 pounds,  you would aim to consume 90 ounces of fluids per day, with a good portion of that coming from purified water).

5. MICROBIOME SUPPORT: ADD PROBIOTICS

  • Gut health and immunity are inseparable. 
  • Probiotics from supplements or from fermented foods may support your immune system by crowding out harmful pathogens and introducing helpful organisms to your gastrointestinal tract.
  • Fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir and natto, are rich in these beneficial bacteria called probiotics.
  • People with Candida Overgrowth may not be able to tolerate these fermented foods because they may encourage the Candida Overgrowth.
  • Heal Candida Now is a fantastic program that can help eliminate the Candida.
  • Probiotic supplements are a great option.

6. MOVE: ENGAGE IN MODERATE EXERCISE

  • Moderate exercise can reduce inflammation and support the immune system.
  • Jogging, biking, walking, swimming, hiking and yoga are great options.
  • Most people should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.
  • All forms of movement help. Aim for moving more than you are sitting.

7. POSITIVE MINDSET: STAY OUT OF FEAR

  • In recent years, researchers have found that your mind can have a powerful effect on your body. Immunity is one area where your thoughts and attitudes can have a particularly powerful influence. 
  • There are many benefits to positive thinking but most surprisingly are the physical health benefits it can bring.
  • Positive thinking helps you approach a difficult situation with the thought:  “How can I make the best of this situation?”
  • Stress lowers our natural immunity to disease. Positive thinking helps to fight stress and thus helps protect our immune system.
  • Book, The Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton
    • In his book, The Biology of Belief, Dr. Lipton explains that stress is responsible for up to 90% of illness, including heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
    • When an individual is in stress, the release of stress hormones shuts down the immune system to conserve the body’s energy for running away from the perceived stressor – the evolutionary ‘fight or flight response’.
    • Fear breeds stress and the fear of the coronavirus is more deadly than the virus itself!
    • Advice from Dr. Lipton: “If you are someone with a compromised immune system, it is supportive to surround yourself with loving family and friends, nature, and positive thoughts as well as any other nutrition and vitamins that you may already be taking for your health and wellbeing. Following your intuition about what is best for you is key! The point here is that no matter who you are and what your state of health, you will only benefit from steering clear of the fear and supporting yourself in whatever way feels best to you.”

8. SLEEP: GET ENOUGH & HIGH QUALITY

  • Sleep and immunity are closely tied.
  • Inadequate sleep may increase your risk of getting sick.
  • Getting adequate rest may strengthen your natural immunity.
  • Most adults should get at least 7 hours of sleep per night. Teens and Children need more. Teens may need 8–10 hours and younger children and infants up to 14 hours.
  • When you are sick, listen to your body and rest! You may need more sleep to allow your immune system to fight the illness.
  • Blue light emitted from your phone, TV, and computer may disrupt your body’s natural wake-sleep cycle.
  • Limit screen time for at least an hour before bed, reading a book is a much better sleep inducer.
  • Consider getting blue blocker glasses or adding this feature on your next pair of glasses.
  • Adjust the lighting on your devices to emit less blue light and more red light. This is a built in feature, in the settings, on many devices.
  • Practice good sleep hygiene: Go to bed at the same time every night, Sleep in a completely dark room or use a sleep mask, and avoid screen time within one hour of going to bed.

9. STRESS MANAGEMENT

  • Lowering your stress levels is extremely important to support your immune system.
  • Long-term stress can suppress the immune response and cause inflammation.
  • Take an honest look at our everyday routine and notice where and when stress is most intense.
  • Sometimes just the simple act of respectfully saying “no” can go a long way to reducing stress.
  • Deep breathing is a quick and effective method to reduce stress and you can do this anywhere. Just take a deep breath in through your nose for a count of 7, Hold it for a count of 7, Breathe out slowly for a count of 7, Hold again for a count of 7, and Repeat as many times as necessary.
  • Exercise like walking in nature and yoga are stress reducing.
  • Meditation and Journaling can be helpful mindfulness practices that help manage stress.
  • Laughing by yourself or with a friend is so therapeutic. Watch a funny movie.
  • Listen to some calming music and put some essential oils in a diffuser, or just on a cotton ball. Both the music and the aromatherapy can be calming.
  • Decrease Caffeine Intake. Caffeine can be a huge contributor to adrenal stress. Everyday stress can be damaging to your adrenal glands as well. Even though that cup of coffee may seem necessary to get you through your day, it may be contributing to the overall stress on your body.

10. SUPPLEMENT SMARTLY

If you decide to supplement, make sure to purchase products that are high quality, non-GMO and have been tested by a third party like United States Pharmacopeia (USP), NSF International, and ConsumerLab.

  • Vitamin C
    • Why Vitamin C?
    • Vitamin C is a powerful Antioxidant. Antioxidants bind free radicals and help your body fight inflammation which is essential for immunity and general health.
    • Vitamin C Boosts the immune system, reduces severity of allergic reactions and helps your body fight off infections.
    • Vitamin C is water-soluble and is better absorbed when taken throughout the day rather than all at once. 
    • If you take more Vitamin C than your body needs, the excess will cause mild diarrhea. This is a simple way to know  if you are taking too much.
    • Start by taking 1000mg twice daily, if tolerated, increase by 1000mg daily until you are taking 1000mg every 4 hours (5000mg while awake). This is generally enough when you are feeling well and can be increased when feeling ill by adding another 1000mg to each dose, one day at a time, as tolerated.
    • Lipophilic Vitamin C is better absorbed but also more expensive.
      • LivOn Lypo-Spheric Vitamin C 1000mg
      • This is great to add at the first sign of any illness (stuffy nose, scratchy throat, headache, fever, etc.). Add one or two packets of LivOn Lypo-Spheric Vitamin C 1000mg to about 2 ounces of water, stir and drink.
    • Capsules are convenient and typically have less ‘junk’ ingredients than tablets.
    • Powders are great; you just have to implement them into your diet.
  • Vitamin D
    • Why Vitamin D?
    • Vitamin D is actually a hormone that regulates many functions in our bodies.
    • Our bodies manufacture Vitamin D from sunlight. This requires 10-30 minutes of daily sun exposure with no sunscreen. Most people in northern climates will require Vitamin D supplementation for optimal health.
    • Vitamin D deficiency may increase your chances of getting sick, supplementing will typically counteract this effect. 
    • In addition to decreased immune function, Inadequate Levels of Vitamin D can lead to:
      • Increased Inflammation
      • Slower Wound Healing
      • Hair Loss
      • Low Energy
      • Depressed Mood
      • Increased Bone or Muscle Pain
      • Impaired bone health
    • A good starting dose of Vitamin D3 is 2000-5000IU every day. 
    • Levels can be tested with a simple blood draw. Normal range, for most labs, is 30-80 ng/ml, 30 is surviving and 80 is thriving. You definitely want to be closer to 80 than to 30; increase dose accordingly.
    • Vitamin D3 with Coconut Oil, 5000 IU
    • Nature’s Plus Vitamin D3, 5000 IU
  • Zinc
    • Why Zinc?
    • Zinc is considered an essential nutrient. This means that your body can’t produce or store it. For this reason, you must get a constant supply through your diet.
    • Zinc is important for many essential functions in your body. It supports immunity, wound healing, your sense of smell and taste, energy production, hormone function, mood and the cardiovascular system.
    • Zinc, as a supplement, can be helpful in supporting your immune function when you are ill or fighting off an infection. 
    • It is typically not necessary to supplement when feeling well. Unless a medical condition is hindering absorption, you should easily reach the RDI for zinc through diet alone.
    • High-Dose zinc supplements can lead to dangerous side effects. 
    • Limit intake to 20 to 50mg daily for a limited duration of time.
    • If supplementing, take with Magnesium and Quercetin at bedtime.
    • Supplements, if taken, should be chelated (attached to an amino acid which makes it easier to pass into your intestines for absorption)
    • Zinc Picolinate: Thorne Brand or NOW Brand 
    • Zinc Orotate: Solgar Brand or Bulletproof Zinc/Copper
    • Stay away from Zinc Oxide which is poorly absorbed.
  • Quercetin
    • Why Quercetin?
    • Quercetin is the most abundant flavonoid in the human diet, providing you eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables. 
    • It’s estimated that the average person consumes 10–100 mg of quercetin daily from fruits, vegetables, and herbal sources.
    • The health benefits of flavonoids, like quercetin, come from their antioxidant functions inside the body. 
    • Quercetin may interact with various medications, including blood thinners, blood pressure medications, and antibiotics. Speak with your health care provider before taking any supplement, including quercetin.
    • As a supplement, quercetin appears to be generally safe with little to no side effects and many potential benefits.
    • People take this supplement to Boost Immunity, Fight Inflammation, Combat Allergies, Increase Exercise Performance & Maintain General Health
    • Recommended dose is 500mg once or twice daily for up to 12 weeks.
    • Taking periodic breaks from taking quercetin may be a good idea
    • Taking quercetin supplements with Zinc and/or Vitamin C will increase its absorption.
    • Quercetin is available as a dietary supplement in powder and capsule form.
  • Probiotics
    • Probiotics may help give your immune system a boost and inhibit the growth of harmful gut bacteria. Some probiotics have been shown to promote the production of natural antibodies in the body.
    • More studies are being done on specific organisms. This will hopefully provide helpful guidance to choosing probiotics in the future.
    • Choose a probiotic with at least 10 different organisms and change your probiotic often to get diversity.
    • Take 1 capsule daily on an empty stomach
    • Prescript Assist Capsules
    • Garden of Life Critical Care, Women’s, Men’s
    • Renew Life Probiotic
    • Now Brand Probiotic
  • Elderberry
    • Taking elderberry supplements may reduce upper respiratory symptoms caused by viral infections and help alleviate flu symptoms. However, more research is needed.
    • Elderberry has been used to treat infections for a long time and is being researched for its effects on immune health.
    • It may enhance immune system response and may help shorten the duration and severity of viral infections, as well as reduce related symptoms.
    • Elderberry supplements are sold in liquid or capsule form. 
    • It is best to find a trusted local source who can provide a fresh product that is not filled with sugar or artificial sweeteners.
    • Black Elderberry Capsules
      • Take 1 capsule 2 – 4 times daily 
  • Garlic
    • Garlic contains compounds that help the immune system fight germs.
    • Whole garlic contains a compound called alliin. 
    • When garlic is crushed, sliced or chewed, this compound turns into allicin,, the main active ingredient in garlic.
    • Allicin can be deactivated by heat.
    • Crushing garlic and allowing it to stand for 10 minutes before cooking can help prevent the loss of its medicinal properties.
    • Garlic may reduce the risk of becoming sick in the first place, as well as how long you stay sick. 
    • Garlic Supplements
  • Magnesium
    • Magnesium is an important mineral, playing a role in over 300 enzyme reactions in the human body.
    • Among its many functions, it supports the immune system.
    • Magnesium together with zinc may boost your immune system and reduce inflammation. 
    • Magnesium deficiency has been linked to chronic inflammation and this leads to decreased immune function.
    • Magnesium deficiency is common today because of our depleted soil and the common S.A.D. (Standard American Diet)
    • Choose a magnesium supplement that is chelated (attached to an amino acid) which makes it easier to pass into your intestines for absorption.
    • Mega Magnesium, Take 3 capsules daily at bedtime.
  • B Complex Vitamin
    • B vitamins, including B12 and B6, are important for healthy immune response.
    • Many adults are deficient in them for a variety of reasons and this deficiency may negatively affect immune health.
    •  Stress B-Complex, Take 1 capsule daily


GROUNDED IN NATURE

Fall Is In The Air

I love fall! Well, if I’m completely honest, I love all of the seasons. I may wish Wisconsin winters were just a bit shorter, but I digress. Fall brings a crispness to the air, but still welcomes the warmth of the afternoon sunshine. It brings the desire for all things apple, pumpkin and cinnamon. Soon it will bring a chill that beckons a crackling fire in the fireplace and big comfy sweaters.

Summer is Coming to an End

As summer comes to an end, and the days of being barefoot, lounging in the sunshine and being outside until well after the 8 o’clock sunset,  give way to boots, shorter days and more time spent indoors; I embrace the beauty of fall with long walks through the forests of red, orange & yellow, more hot tea & soups and time spent curled up with a blanket and a book.

From The Vibrancy of Summer to The Melancholy of Fall

As the days become shorter, my mood seems to wane as the vibrancy of summer fades. Fall brings a melancholy to my soul. Over the years I have found ways to mitigate this melancholy. One of these ways is to make time for being outside with my feet in the grass, even when there is a chill in the air.

Grounding Is An Easy Way to Improve Your Mood

I find it amazing that this one simple act can improve my mood for an entire day! This is not just my quirky way to find more joy, there is an explanation as to why this helps. Grounding, also known as earthing, is the simple act of being barefoot outside. Research suggests that this can counteract stress and anxiety, boost your mood and even reduce inflammation.

The Science Behind Grounding

The theory behind grounding is that our modern lifestyle has disconnected us from the electrons naturally present in the earth. Without the electrons, free radicals in our bodies, that are missing these electrons, adversely affect many of the body’s processes. This free radical damage could be responsible for increased inflammation, increased stress and anxiety, poor sleep quality, and chronic pain. Several studies exist that support the theory of grounding, but these studies have been the subject of controversy and skepticism. However, I have experienced my own benefits through the simple act of putting my feet on the earth.

How To Get Grounded

There are many ways to become grounded and all of them focus on reconnecting with the earth.

  • Walking barefoot on the grass, sand or in the water
  • Lying on the ground and having the skin of your body in contact with the earth
  • Submerging in water: just wading in or completely submerging your body
  • Using grounding equipment, when going outside is not an option – you can find many options online

Grounding Is Becoming More Necessary

Grounding has been increasing in popularity around the world. Some grounding researchers suggest that changing environments are responsible for more people losing access to the benefits of grounding. One theory from a study is that grounding affects our living matrix, which is the central connector between living cells. Electrical conductivity exists within the matrix that functions as an immune system defense, similar to antioxidants. Through grounding, the natural defenses of the body can be restored. With less opportunities to get outside and more health issues arising, maybe our bodies are naturally drawn to getting back our connection to the earth.

More Studies May Be Needed, In The Meantime, Try It Out For Yourself

Most of the studies on grounding are small and rely somewhat on subjective measures, such as self-reported feelings, stress, pain or mood. However, some studies also rely on blood markers, such as those that detect inflammation. More research is needed but you can see for yourself if you experience any benefits just by taking the time to put your feet on the ground.

Slow Down & Breathe, Feel the Earth Under Your Feet & Enjoy Fall

With the crispness of fall in the air, in addition to enjoying all things apples, pumpkin and cinnamon, take the opportunity to slow down, breathe deeply, and appreciate the beauty of nature around you with your feet on the earth.