It’s only early autumn, so why is everyone sick?
We’re already noticing a lot of people starting to get sick and it’s only early Autumn (we have theories around why this is) and Winter is getting closer so it’s time to discuss natural immune boosters for the whole family.
This blog we share some expert advice and education, along with our own experiences and tips.
From various things we do that can be lowering our immunity, to lots of ideas on how to boost it naturally.
What is “immune-boosting” all about?
“The immune system is essentially a three-layer system:
At its most basic is the skin and mucous membranes, which act as a physical barrier to prevent invasion from foreign bodies and other antigens, such as parasites, bacteria, viruses and toxins.
The second layer is known as the innate immune system, a broad-acting, short-term, non-specific immune response to pathogens such as bacteria or viruses.
A third layer is the most complex. At its root is a population of white blood cells known as lymphocytes that have a cellular membrane embedded with thousands of identical receptors that are used to recognize and bind to specific antigens and mount an immune response locally. However, if the infection is too large, the lymphocytes secrete a molecule that alerts helper T cells that combine with the molecule as well as fragments of antigens to form a type of cell called a lymphoblast, which then secrete a variety of interleukins that provides a more powerful type of immune response. These cells can also promote the growth of cytotoxic T cells, thought to destroy tumorous cells or cells infected with viruses.
A third class of immune cells, known as phagocytes, meanwhile, work by engulfing microbes or other unwanted products in the bloodstream. The main phagocyte is the macrophage, which means “big eater” based on its ability to gobble up foreign substances.” Mark’s Daily Apple
Getting the body to a point where it can handle exposure to various common sickness ‘contributors’ and not be obviously affected (i.e. getting sick) is a nice place to be!
At the sickest time of my life when my immunity was shot, I was knocked down with a bug of some kind on a monthly basis. I was not living, I was existing. I was miserable.
Since then I’ve had bouts of low immunity on and off and would be out of action for a week at a time. Over the years as I’ve build my foundation health up that’s totally changed and now I rarely get sick and it’s only for short periods. It’s so nice!
𝗦𝗼 𝘄𝗵𝘆 𝗯𝘂𝗶𝗹𝗱 𝘂𝗽 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗶𝗺𝗺𝘂𝗻𝗶𝘁𝘆? 𝗧𝗼 𝗹𝗶𝘃𝗲 𝗹𝗶𝗳𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗳𝘂𝗹𝗹𝗲𝘀𝘁!
Happiness + the immune system are linked
“…research has consistently shown a clear and positive link between happiness and physical health. A significant connection has been made between happiness and our immune system functioning. Eg, undergraduate students exposed to the common cold virus or the flu after being exposed to the happiness condition (funny videos) were less likely to get sick, and reported less severe symptoms in comparison to those not exposed to the happiness condition. Several studies found similar results; those exposed to some variation of the happiness condition demonstrated a more positive outlook on life and a related strengthening of their immune systems.
What is the secret to a healthy immune system? Is it as simple as smiling? Well, no, especially if the smiles are fake! Research shows that when people, especially women, fake their smiles, there is a clearly negative impact on mood and productivity. But, when people focus on pleasant thoughts and memories, and their smiles are authentic, their moods and productivity improve.
Happiness is related to many benefits, including improved relationships, a positively changed immune system and a longer life. So how do we increase our levels of happiness?”
Some suggestions include:
– Identifying negative people, news and situations we’re being exposed to and distance ourselves from them whenever possible. Even just not watching the news every day or unfollowing sad news and upsetting Facebook pages can help!
– Train the brain to be more positive using different methods, finding those that feel helpful and work for you. From positive affirmation writing, meditating (guided or not), finding people to have positive conversations with, seeing a counsellor or psychologist, creating a vision board etc.
– Have self-compassion and forgiveness. Yes it’s important to take responsibility for our choices but we also need to show compassion to ourselves, forgive and move forward.
– Find your values. What’s important to you in your personal and professional lives? What are your short and long term goals? What’s your ‘happy’?
𝘽𝙤𝙤𝙨𝙩 𝙝𝙖𝙥𝙥𝙞𝙣𝙚𝙨𝙨 + 𝙗𝙤𝙤𝙨𝙩 𝙞𝙢𝙢𝙪𝙣𝙞𝙩𝙮!
8 ways to weaken the immune system
From environment, to food, medicine + lifestyle, we’re surrounded by things that supress our immune system.
In particular refined sugars and high-sugar fruits. Yep fruit! We’ll myth-bust another day but a common one is that fruit is a health-booster. It’s not, and the sugar in fruit along with standard processed sugar significantly lower immune function. Even healthier versions like coconut sugar. The only moderately healthy sugar is local raw honey.
😴 Poor sleep
You may think you sleep fine but it’s hard to tell when you’ve had a truly good nights sleep and are getting it regularly. We’ll look at sleep as topic another week but if you think you MAY not be sleeping brilliantly, it could be impacting your immunity.
Pretty obvious, but even that glass of organic wine every night could be compromising your immunity. Sugary alcohol is even worse but alcohol in general has major impacts on our health.
💊 Drugs, medications + antibiotics
This is a big category and one that is often unknown to parents, especially with so many kids being on ASD meds. There’s research on hundreds of different drugs are suggesting they increase a person’s susceptibility to infection by crippling immune function. Researchers found that certain people taking antibiotics had reduced levels of cytokines – the hormone messengers of the immune system.
Grains, in particular modern and refined, are highly inflammatory. Even that organic ancient-grain sourdough bread you switched to. Grains are grains and the human body does not process them well.
😞 Chronic stress
Humans are designed for short bursts of stress, like when we used to have to try and get away from predators, not long-term worries. When something eats away at us over a long period of time it massively reduces immune ability.
🏘️ Lack of sun + nature time
We need direct sunlight exposure at various times of the day, fresh air and earthing to heal and to improve immunity. Most of us get no where near enough sun or nature time.
In food, body and cleaning products, antibacterial gels etc. Chemical over-load hugely contributes to impaired immunity.
This could be a really long post but we can fit so many characters here! So let’s focus on some less common and probably more shocking myths around immune-boosting…
Myth: Fruit + veggies are good immune-boosters
Plant foods contain natural defences that the human body doesn’t cope with trying to process all the time. There are more anti-nutrients than nutrients and only way to reduce the level of anti-nutrients is to slowly lowly cook them down or soak them out, and aim for the least inflammatory types in general. E.g. berries + avocado are much easier on the body, and slow cooking root veggies to break them down and allow the gut to process them goes a long way.
This goes for green smoothies + green veg too!
We actually get more and bio-available (easily digested) essential nutrients from animal foods (meat, eggs, fat, offal). Fruits and veg don’t contain all of the vitamins and minerals we need either whereas eating nose-to-tail can.
Myth: Wearing sunscreen is healthy
Wrong! For one thing most are full of chemicals which definitely reduce immunity and another, blocking the nutrients from the sun absorbing into our skin means we don’t get essential Vitamin D which is one of the most effective immune boosters.
Myth: Regular detoxes are good
The body can detoxify itself effectively on a daily basis if given the right environment. Short bursts of specific detox protocols can have a short-term noticeable improvement but actual long-term negative impacts to our health if done regularly. Simply reducing inflammatory foods and lifestyle habits can help the body detox naturally, then by adding in nourishing foods like bone broth and offal can enhance detoxification and boost immunity.
Myth: Chicken noodle soup is good if you’re sick
A paleo version yes! But standard types? No. Why? The grains in the noodles and the inflammatory ingredients in the flavourings are the main culprits here. The slow cooked veggies are ok but a better option would be plain organic bone broth. Add some konjac or zoodles in, some cooked chicken and low inflammatory herbs for flavour.
Any of those surprising to you?
Tips for boosting immunity naturally
Here are some ideas you can implement to try to boost immunity naturally..
By reducing/eliminating common inflammatory foods and adding in healing foods we can greatly improve the function of our immune system. An initial detox period can make us feel worse before we feel better but this is natural and ok. We are so much healthier since going paleo 10+ yrs ago.
Upping mineral intake
Most of us are deficient in essential minerals. Siim Land has some amazing info on this but what we do is eat animal-based paleo (offal in particular contains essential minerals) and drink Sole once or twice a day. If you want more info on Sole let us know!
Lots of sun + nature time
Exposing the skin and eyes to natural direct light at various of times of the day, including Vitamin D time, getting fresh air and earthing all greatly help improve immunity.
Try alternative therapies + practices
We like to think of every method out there as ‘tools in our toolbox’ and that no one way is a fix-it-all. We like to use acupuncture, massage, NLP, meditation, journaling, psychology, chiropractic to name a few, when we need. And there are lots more out there!
Make time for ‘happy’ time
We’re ALL busy. Who do you know who isn’t?! But no matter how busy we get it’s important to make time for ‘happy’ time daily. Whether it’s chilling out watching your fave TV show, hobbies and interests, going for a walk, getting some retail therapy… whatever it is that makes you feel genuinely happy, do it!
See our previous blog to find the info about how to reduce chemical use, especially on the skin and swap for natural options.
Move more + move better
Chronic over-exercising will deplete your system, especially cardio but a balance of natural movement, play, strength training and walking are wonderful!
Avoiding artificial bluelight at night is so helpful, especially in the eyes by wearing amber glasses.
Good, deep, long sleep at night, most nights, hugely improves immunity. A cold room and earthing can help!
Aimee’s experience with really low + really good immunity
Bonus: nutrient-dense immune-boosting recipe
Offal is by far one of the best types of foods to consume to help improve immune function and overall health and well-being. Packed full of essential and bio-available minerals animal organs such as heart, liver and kidney are worth bringing into the family diet but we know that can be challenging as we have personal experience with hating offal and slowly getting more and more used to it then eventually loving it!
So we’re here to help and a great recipe to try is beef mince and liver patties, along with an optional tomato sauce recipe which is there mostly for the really sensitive/picky eaters who need to drown out the meat flavour with sauce! The patties with a side of pastured eggs is a far better option but the sauce could get you over the line getting family members just eating offal, and that’s a win in our books!
If eating offal isn’t an option, or if you and the kids can only manage a little (which may not be enough), another option is to take offal capsules. We’ve recently started doing this and are noticing instant improvements to our health. It saves buying and cooking offal, so it’s definitely a convenience option.
Check out the website for our friends at Ancestral Nutrition and stay tuned for another blog all about our experience with offal whole and supplements!
I hope this information and our perspectives and experiences help you and your family on your journey to better health! Please comment if you have any questions.
Clint + Aimee
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