10 Natural Ways To Boost the Immune System
Everyday we encounter microbes.
Some of them can make us sick, others not.
But that doesn’t mean we get sick.
Most of the time, we’re healthy!
And that’s all thanks to our immune systems.
The immune system is a complex network
A network of organs, tissues and cells all working together every second of the day to fight off invading microorganisms.
As a mum and of small children I’m always looking for ways to boost their immune systems naturally. Kids are especially prone to catching bugs that go around so finding ways to give them an extra boost is pretty important.
Thankfully there are some amazing, simple and natural ways to give you and your child a boost when it comes to immunity.
I believe in setting the foundation for our kids when it comes to their health and it starts before conception.
I once heard of our immunity described as a dance. We come in contact with germs almost every day and when we do, it’s like we do a little dance around them.
That’s what living in this world is, essentially. Encountering microbes on a daily basis and strengthening our bodies to fight them so they do us no harm.
So, here are 10 natural ways to boost the immune system
1. Animal fats
Animal fats are saturated and monounsaturated fats. Given that we live in a day and age of the fear of saturated fats, cholesterol and heart disease I can see why some might question this point. I mean, how can animal fats BOOST your immune system?!
Are you serious?
Let me tell you why.
- is the preferred source of energy for the body and (funny enough) the heart muscle
- help reduce calcium disposition in the arteries
- protect the blood vessels from diseases like atherosclerosis
- boost the immune system by helping the body assimilate essential nutrients like vitamin A, D and K2.
At the very core of our human physiology is the need for saturated fats. From our brains to our bones to our immune systems all the way down to our cells, we are made of fats.
We absolutely need to consume them every single day.
Animal fats are meats, eggs and dairy.
These food sources provide the human body with concentrated amounts of essential immune boosting vitamins like vitamin A and vitamin D for a stronger and healthier immune system.
The beauty is that these vitamins from animal sources are naturally very easy for the body to digest and get these needed nutrients.
2. Freshly pressed juices
Juicing has become at health trend over the years and with good reason. But on the other hand some claim that it might not actually be as healthy.
When to juice:
Juicing is an easy way to get concentrated amounts of vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants into the body. For people who are struggling with digestive issues or need an extra boost for healing juicing is a great way to give the body extra nutrition.
Juicing provides the body with tons of nutrients that you simply can’t get from eating whole fruits and vegetables. For example, you probably couldn’t eat a bunch of celery or 3 beets in one sitting but your could juice them for the extra nutrition.
So, if you’re going through a sickness or illness and need a serious dose of nutrients, juicing can help a lot.
When not to juice:
The problem with juicing is that it removes the fiber from the fruit. Fiber helps the body absorb sugar into the bloodstream slower so there isn’t a sugar spike.
Juicing fruits high in sugar like oranges, apples and pineapples is not a good idea to have regularly. While you’ll get more vitamins like vitamin C you’ll be putting a lot of sugar into the body at once in an unnatural way which could lead to prediabetes or diabetes for those already in the prediabetes stage.
What’s the best fruit or vegetable to juice?
It’s always best to think “low sugar” and stay with fruits like berries, green apples and limes or lemons.
For vegetables dark leafy greens, cucumbers and peppers are all great options.
3. Cold pressed oils
We talked about the importance of consuming fats daily, specifically animal fats. But there are other oils that are extremely health-giving to the body like olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil.
The way these oils are extracted matters.
Cold pressed oils retain much needed antioxidants. Antioxidants protect the body form damage caused by free radicals. They are also rich in vitamin E. Vitamin E boosts the immune system, helping the body fight invading microorganisms that could do possible damage.
Olive oil is a powerful tool for boosting immune system health because of it’s antioxidant content. Depending on where you live it can be difficult to find true quality extra virgin olive oil because it’s a market that has, unfortunately, been corrupted. True olive oil has a smell and taste of freshness that’s unlike any fake counterpart and is deeply satisfying and nourishing.
If you’re buying olive oil look for a “best before” date on the bottle and try to buy as close to the source as possible.
If you can buy directly from olive farms or from a company that sells directly from olive farms that would probably be the best way to go.
4. Dark leafy greens
You’ve probably heard of the saying “eat your greens” but did you know that all greens especially dark greens, are packed with vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. They reduce obesity risk, high blood pressure and even fight cancer. Above all, greens are seriously beneficial to the gut.
Why am I talking about your gut?
Because 70-80% of your immune system is in your digestive tract.
We talk about encountering microbes in the environment but the whole human body is covered with microorganisms. We are an ecosystem with many other microscopic creatures all living together.
And the key is: harmony and balance.
The gut is home to the majority of these bacteria. Some are good, or beneficial bacteria, others not so much. Beneficial bacteria keep the bad ones in check, tightly controlling their numbers and stopping any harm they could do, like make us sick.
Eating foods that strengthen the good bacteria is essential.
Research shows that dark greens like spinach and kale have a sugar molecule that feeds the beneficial bacteria. If we can feed the good ones, we’ll limit the growth of the bad ones which in turn will keep us strong and healthy.
5. Regular contact with animals
If you live in an urban area you’re probably well acquainted with the noise of traffic, tall buildings, and the absence of animals.
Right now, more than 50% of the world’s population lives in urban areas. This number is projected to rise to about 70% by 2050. This number is staggering and alarming.
We were never meant to live in urbanized, sanitized close quarters. We were meant to experience the open fields and have contact with nature and animals. It’s who we are at the core of our humanity.
Sure, having a pet in an urban area is better for your immune system than not but what I want to talk about is getting out into the countryside.
This study shows that children who grow up on farms have lower rates of autoimmune disorders and allergies. Not only that but they bounce back from illnesses quicker and are more robust than their urban counterparts.
So, why would being around dirt and animals give your immune system a boost?
Because they carry small amounts of dirt and soil in their fur. When we come in contact with them we come in contact with the soil based organisms in their fur that are very beneficial to our immune systems.
Soil based organisms are bacteria. They help keep plants healthy just the way that beneficial bacteria in our guts keep us healthy. Humans used to consume a lot of soil bacteria through food and drink. Now, not so much.
Soil bacteria don’t populate the gut but they do us a lot of good as they pass through our digestive tracts.
Some species have been found to clear waste products in the gut which could help lay the ground for healthy beneficial bacteria to take up residence. Being exposed to a good amount and range of bacteria, especially during childhood, lays the ground for a healthy immune system.
But, being around animals isn’t just good for kids! It’s good for adults too showing to reduce symptoms of allergies and even increase mental health.
6. Physical activity in nature
We all know that physical activity is so important for overall health and happiness.
Have you ever watched kids run around and play out in the sun?
They’re laughing and running and so happy!
Physical activity boosts the immune system.
Exercise helps blood circulate more around the body sending more oxygen in circulation. This means more blood cells are moving around and able to function optimally.
The body also makes more blood cells as a response to exercise.
There’s a reason why kids are happy outside.
Being in nature lowers stress levels, relaxes the mind and body and improves mental and emotional health.
When in a relaxed state, the gut and microbiome can rest and perform other functions that maybe don’t get done when in “let’s fight off all invaders” mode.
Being around plants also increases the diversity of microbes in and on us leading to better overall immunity.
I have to say, it is shocking that what once was seen by some cultures as a powerful and healing force is now classed as a Class 1 carcinogen by the World Health Organization.
In case you’re wondering, a carcinogen is a substance that could cause cancer in anything alive.
There is a lot of controversy about the benefits and dangers of sunlight exposure. While excessive sunlight exposure can be harmful, we all need constant sunlight exposure to be healthy.
When was the last time you came back in from being in the sun sad or unhappy?
My guess is never.
That’s because UV radiation literally increases endorphins in the blood, making you feel happy.
Not just that but the skin is made to photosynthesize vitamin D from sunlight. This means our skin makes vitamin D from being exposed to full spectrum light from the sun. Interestingly most diseases including 17 different types of cancer are linked to vitamin D deficiency.
There’s no doubt about it. Vitamin D boosts the immune system, significantly decreases the likelihood of disease and helps to build strong bones.
8. Onions and Garlic
“I don’t like the onions” or “I don’t like the garlic” are two sentences I hear a lot from my daughter at mealtimes. Not that I’m surprised. Kids generally tend to say no to most vegetables.
But these two ingredients that form the base of most recipes are superfoods.
Onions and garlic are a part of a group of vegetables called the allium family.
What makes them smell so strong? That’s due to the sulphur content of these vegetables. But it’s also this compound that makes them so health giving.
Onions and garlic are:
- help lower inflammation
- detoxify the body and so much more!
They are also prebiotics. This means they feed beneficial bacteria in the gut making them stronger. They are high in vitamin C and selenium which are both immune boosting compounds.
If you’re consuming them for an extra dose of healing or nutritional boost, try them as close to raw as possible for the most health giving impact.
9. Fermented foods
Over the years fermented foods have gained popularity for their potent health giving properties. The human body is home to around 1000 different types of bacteria with a ratio of bacteria to cells of 10:1.
These bacteria are powerful at influencing our genetic expression, our overall health, physically and even psychologically.
Fermentation is a traditional way of preparing food that has been passed down the generations. Before refrigeration and our Modern way of life, this is how people used to preserve their harvests or milk.
When you ferment food you increase its digestibility. This is so important because in this day and age our Modern lifestyles have left us with a compromised gut. One way to help heal the gut and increase health in our digestive tracts is to consume fermented foods. Remember, 70-80% of our immune system is in the gut!
Fermented foods increase gut health, are high in probiotics and digestive enzymes. Another bonus is that fermentation produces short-chain fatty acids. Short-chain fatty acids boost the immune system by stopping the way in of harmful pathogens and are quick to respond if and when they invade.
In short, fermented foods are an inexpensive and exceptional way to naturally boost the immune system and should be part of a healthy lifestyle.
We’ve evolved a lot compared to how people before us lived.
Actually there’s one word that I’d say changed everything.
And that is:
Don’t get me wrong. As a busy mama I’m thankful for electricity that powers things like dishwashers and washing machines. But one thing’s for sure, because of the light bulb we sleep a lot less than we used to.
As humans we were made to rise with the sun and go to bed at dusk (or a little after). This is the natural way that our bodies were made to interact with the world.
A few hundred years ago people used to sleep in two shifts. They would go to bed shortly after dusk then rise after about a 4 hour sleep cycle. In those waking hours they did anything from prayer and meditation to physical activity. Then they would sleep a second sleep cycle until the morning.
Since the mid 1600s when Paris was the first to light it’s city and then the dawn of the Age of Electricity, sleep became unfashionable as people began to favour socializing by night.
Sleep is essential to health.
When we sleep our bodies go into a different mode that we need to stay healthy. From regenerating our brain to lowering inflammation and even getting meaning out of the day’s events. Sleep improves memory not just in our brains but in the immune system.
During sleep the immune system’s memory to previously encountered pathogens is strengthened. This means that it is able to respond faster if and when it encounters that pathogen another time.
The immune system is an amazing part of the human body
created by an amazing God. With a natural lifestyle and healthy diet, you can make a significant positive impact on your overall health!