Our Immune System has two primary jobs, to protect and to repair. When functioning optimally, the immune system can protect us effectively from the daily bombardment of antigens such as bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses, and can also repair our DNA from damage done by oxidative stress and free radical damage. Having a high-powered immune system and lowering the daily stress on the immune system is one of the most effective and important ways to improve your health and longevity.
To better understand how the immune system works, think of it like the body’s very own military defense system. Just as the United States military has a vast defense network to protect it from attack, so does the human body.
During a war, if the enemy gains an advantage, the best response is to consolidate resources where they would do the most good. In doing so, however, certain areas may be left unprotected. This is exactly what happens in the body when it can no longer dedicate precious resources to deal with antigens such as bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses—all disease-causing organisms that a healthy immune system would defeat.
If someone is immune compromised, chances are that their immune system is not only overwhelmed, but is likely functioning on a priority basis. In other words, the immune system has dedicated its precious few resources where they can do the most good.
The body’s defense system is designed to protect us, but just like the military, must have the bullets for the guns, the soldiers to use the weapons, and a strategic and coordinated battle plan. If you are using up precious immune resources to fund a toxic lifestyle and are not arming the immune system daily with essential nutrients, health issues can become quite serious very fast.
When the body is exposed to too many antigens, or does not receive proper nutrition, the immune system can become overburdened and seriously jeopardize one’s health.
Why is it more important than ever to pay attention to immune health?
The World Health Organization has stated that 9 out of 10 people worldwide breathe polluted air, and estimates that around 7 million people die every year from exposure to fine particles in polluted air that penetrate deep into the lungs and cardiovascular system, causing diseases including stroke, heart disease, lung issues, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases and respiratory infections, including pneumonia.
As the world becomes increasingly filled with toxic chemicals from industrial pollution, toxins in the food supply and viruses running rampant, it is more crucial than ever we arm our immune systems to protect and repair. So what does one do to make sure their immune system is functioning optimally, protecting us and repairing DNA?
Here are 9 quick tips from the Zuma Nutrition team on ways to improve immune function...
The health of our immune system depends upon two fundamental things: antibodies and antigens. Antigens are toxins, bacteria, viruses or other foreign substances that induce an immune response in the body. Antibodies are the primary immune response produced by the body to destroy these antigens.
An antibody is a blood protein that has unique binding sites which allow it to combine chemically with antigens. Once combined chemically with an antibody, an antigen is neutralized and removed from the body. The immune system keeps a record of every antigen that it encounters so that it can quickly recognize it and produce the antibodies needed to protect itself. This intelligent process of the body is known as immunological memory, and it is the primary way that our immune system develops and grows strong.
This is why children have more vulnerable immune systems—because they have not been exposed to enough antigens yet to build up a strong immunological memory. While we of course want to protect ourselves from infection, a certain degree of exposure to pathogens is necessary for the body to build antibodies and to strengthen immune health. So do not sanitize your hands every time you touch a doorknob, or be afraid to go outside. Aim to live a natural life and make sure to put your hands and feet in the dirt occasionally.
Food can be the greatest source of health, or the greatest source of illness—it all depends upon what and how you eat. Many foods nowadays are laden with toxic chemicals, preservatives, pesticides, heavy metals, artificial additives, oxidized oils, and other toxins that wreak havoc on the immune system. Never before in human history have we been exposed to so many environmental toxins, nor have we had diets so far removed from the natural world.
To optimize immune health, and the health of the body in general, it is essential that we eliminate processed foods and toxic substances from our lives and return to eating a more natural diet, try to eat organic to eliminate pesticides from the diet.
The body has certain nutritional requirements that it needs to function properly. Without these nutrients, the body’s health declines, and immune function weakens. It is important that we take care of our health and eat a nutritious and natural diet if we wish to have a strong immune system.
Aside from just consuming enough macro- and micro-nutrients (such as carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals) we should also aim to include a variety of antioxidant rich foods in our diet. Antioxidants help the body to eliminate free radicals, which are unstable atoms that cause damage to cells. Antioxidants can be found in many foods, but are often found in foods of darker color such as blueberries, grapes, black beans, and purple yams. This is due to certain compounds and pigments like anthocyanins, which are well-known for their antioxidant properties.
Interestingly, foods with different colors often contain specific nutrients. For example, red and orange vegetables, such as red and orange peppers, are higher in Vitamin C than most other vegetables. Green vegetables tend to be higher in iron, especially dark leafy greens, such as kale or spinach. It is important to eat a variety of colors to ensure that you're consuming adequate nutrition, so try to incorporate different colors into your meals each day, or as you may have heard from doctors and nutritionists, eat the rainbow.
The quality of our water is also something that should not be overlooked. The human body is over 60% water, and water is one of the most essential elements needed for health. Many people drink and bathe in toxic water without realizing it. City tap water is often full of chemicals like chlorine, fluoride, and chloramines, and may even contain highly toxic substances like aluminum, mercury, lead, and pesticides.
If you wish to improve your health and strengthen your immune system, then it is absolutely necessary to get the highest quality water you can. Purchasing a high-quality water filter and shower filter can save you money long term and reduce the amount of plastic used, while also protecting from toxic chemicals commonly found in the water supply.
Parasites are one of the most damaging, overlooked, and widespread health issues that many of us face today. There is a huge misconception that parasites only exist in third-world countries with poor sanitation. In reality, parasites are some of the most abundant creatures on earth, and a pest to nearly all animals, as a parasite is characterized by its need to live off of the nutrients of its host.
In humans, parasites that live inside us use up our vitamins, proteins and other nutrients, depriving us of optimal nutrition and are a constant distraction for the immune system. Not only do they steal nutrients from our body, they also eliminate waste inside us, releasing their toxic bacteria and viruses.
Parasites are most commonly found in the colon, however, any part of the body is vulnerable to infestation: the lungs, liver, brain, blood, muscles, joints, skin, etc. Regularly eliminating parasites from the body is a necessary protocol for maintaining optimal health and keeping our immune systems strong. Give our blog a read “How to do a Parasite Cleanse”, and check out our complete parasite cleanse protocol.
When we're stressed, the immune system's ability to fight off antigens is reduced, causing us to become more susceptible to infections. The stress hormone corticosteroid can suppress the effectiveness of the immune system by lowering the number of lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell that is part of the immune system.
It is important that we recognize the connection between the mind and body, and understand that psychological states have a very real physiological effect on the body. Psychological stress is a major contributor to many forms of physical illness. To protect our immune systems, we must also learn how to reduce stress and process experiences with more calm and relaxation. Consider adding adaptogenic herbs to a daily routine such as those found in our Liposomal Curcumin Tonic to help relieve the body from the effects of chronic stress.
Deep and restful sleep is essential for optimal health in general and immune health. The only time your immune system has a chance to do it’s second job, repair DNA, is while you're asleep.
During sleep, your immune system also releases proteins called cytokines, some of which help promote sleep. Certain cytokines need to increase when you have an infection or inflammation, or when you're under stress. Sleep deprivation may decrease production of these protective cytokines.
Read our blog article on 9 tips to improve sleep quality.
6- Exercise and Lymphatic System
Exercise is also an essential component to both general health and immune system health. Exercise helps the lymphatic system flow more effectively and potentially helps prevent infections and other diseases. The lymphatic system is a network of tissues and organs that help transport immune cells, and rid the body of toxins, waste and other unwanted materials. The primary function of the lymphatic system is to transport lymph, a fluid containing infection-fighting white blood cells, throughout the body. A clogged lymphatic system can lead to a buildup of toxins in the body, impaired immune function and is often linked to foul body odor.
Any form of exercise is beneficial to the lymphatic system, just make sure to move and get a sweat as often as you can. One of the most beneficial types of exercise for the lymphatic system is rebounding, a type of aerobic exercise that is performed while jumping on a mini-trampoline, jumping rope is also very beneficial. The contraction of your muscles during exercise acts like a pump that helps lymph fluid move around your body more effectively. Physical activity may also help flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways. This may reduce your chance of getting a cold, flu, or other illness.
7- Whole Food Zinc Supplement
Zinc is one of the most important nutrients for the immune system. It is essential for not only immune system health, but hormonal balance, cellular growth and development, and much more. Zinc helps your body fight off invading pathogens and also plays an important role in making proteins and DNA, the genetic material inside all your cells. As an antioxidant, zinc is important for healthy aging and supports the body's ability to repair everyday "wear and tear" on DNA caused by environmental factors such as harmful toxins, free radicals, poor diet, alcohol, and stress.
Isolated minerals such as typical zinc supplements are difficult for the body to absorb and can even cause health issues. Zinc is a mineral that has to be reduced to a molecular size that can be absorbed by the body.
Our Liposomal Guava Leaf Zinc Tonic is a unique herbal supplement that offers a plant-derived organic source of zinc in the most bioavailable form that the body can receive. Guava leaves contain co-factors for zinc absorption such as Beta-sitosterol and co-nutrients such as flavonoids and polyphenols. Guava's co-nutrients work synergistically to support the immune system.
Our organic zinc is recovered from guava leaves using a water extraction process, and no chemicals. It contains toxic excipients, is vegan, and 100% organic.
8 - Vitamin C
Vitamin C is one of the most well known and most important immune boosting nutrients that exists. Vitamin C is responsible for many reactions in the body, specifically the manufacture of the collagen and protein that makes up 80% of our connective tissue. It is essential in healing tissue damage and keeping gums healthy, and it also helps to detoxify inhaled air pollutants such as free radicals from cigarette smoke and car exhaust. Vitamin C is necessary for the assimilation and utilization of many other nutrients, and it also contributes to immune function and the production of hormones and other chemicals that support body function. Vitamin C is water soluble and not stored in the body so it is crucial to replenish Vitamin C levels daily for optimal health and longevity.
9 - Co Enzyme B Complex
When it comes to getting your daily dose of vitamins, you’ll want to make sure you aren’t lacking when it comes to B-vitamins. B-vitamins play many roles when it comes to your metabolism and strengthening your immune system. Deficiencies can affect immune response and disease resistance, resulting in adrenal exhaustion, fatigue, digestive problems, increased stress, and chronic infections. B Vitamins are also water soluble and not stored in the body so it is crucial to replenish B Vitamin levels daily for optimal health and longevity. There are thousands of B Vitamin formulas on the market, and the vast majority of them are made in China. Our team has been in the vitamin industry for 40 years and has created the highest quality B Complex in a Co Enzyme form that we are capable of creating with no synthetic ingredients or preservatives.
Stay well Zuma Nutrition community, we appreciate each and every one of you!