the immune system- your body's own little army

Let me begin this post by saying I am not a medical expert, doctor, epidemiologist, pathologist, or anything else that would have required me to take a lot of science classes in college. I am just someone with a passion for health and wellness, and doing whatever I can to best take care of myself and my family. Especially if it is as simple as being mindful of what we are eating and our lifestyle choices.

Now that we've gotten that disclaimer out of the way, I am going to share some words you may or may not be familiar with, their definition, and how you can integrate them into your life so you can build and maintain a strong immune system. Ready? Here we go!

Immune Modulators
An immune modulator is a food or herb that balances and works to strengthen the immune system, and how it functions. By strengthening the immune system, our cell signals are able to work more effectively to help fight off pathogens. Here are some examples of immune modulators and how you can incorporate them into your diet.

➤ Mushrooms- In order to get the most out of your mushrooms, it is best to cook with them. Try including them in stir fries, soups, or curries. Another option for reaping the benefits of mushrooms is through mushroom tea or coffee. I haven't personally tried it, but there is a very popular brand called Four Sigmatic that sells mushroom coffee and elixirs that use a variety of different mushrooms that help boost your immunity.

➤ Elderberry- Elderberry is a powerful herb that helps to block viruses from connecting with our cells that would then turn into an illness, it is also great for your immune system thanks to it's high antioxidant properties. Elderberry can be taken daily as a preventive measure, or every hour once you start feeling sick with a cold or the flu. You can take elderberry in the form of syrup, in an herbal supplement, or as tea. Many elderberry teas also contain echinacea which makes for a powerful combination. Due to it's gentle but effective ways, elderberry is great for kids, adults, and the elderly. My parents actually began taking elderberry supplements daily in the beginning of 2020 and they have both reaped the benefits, and have stayed healthy.

Immune Stimulants
An immune stimulant helps to fire up the immune system so that it can more quickly and effectively fight off illness and infection. Immune stimulants are most effective when they are taken at the first sign of a cold, flu, or infection and are taken in frequent and high doses until the illness or infection passes. Let me give you some examples.

➤ Echinacea-  Echinacea is one of the best immunity supporting herbs out there because of how it interferes with a virus's abilities to spread, kills bacteria, and promotes lymph movement which clears out all the "debris" to help you feel better faster. Some people take it as a preventive measure when they are exposed to more germs, like when traveling for example, or when cold/flu symptoms start to make an apperance in hopes of cutting down the duration of the illness. Echinacea can be taken in supplement form, or in tea form. I would recommend trying Traditional Medicinals Echinacea Plus Tea.

➤ Ginger- Ginger is not only good at helping relieve symptoms of the common cold, but it is also a great natural way to help reduce and ease feelings of nausea. Ginger is loaded with antioxidant, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties which work to strengthen your immunity. Ginger is most effective when consumed fresh from the ginger root instead of as a powder.

Here is a great (and easy) recipe for making your own ginger tea:
Fresh Ginger Thermos Tea
-1 (1 inch) piece of fresh ginger, sliced thin or grated ~ no need to peel it (unless you prefer to), just make sure it is thoroughly washed~
- the juice from 1/2 of a lemon
-1 to 2 tablespoons of honey (manuka is the best option, but of course any honey will do!)

Add the ingredients to a travel mug or thermos, fill with boiling water, and sip throughout the day! It is perfect for a warm (and immune benefiting) every day drink or you can make when you start to feel run down or sick, especially during the colder months.

➤ Oregano and Thyme- These herbs are excellent for stimulating your immunity! Herbalists say that "the more bite, the better" so try and use fresh when possible. These herbs are antimicrobial (which we will talk about next) meaning they fight germs directly. Thyme is especially good at opening your lungs, and relieving asthmatic issues. These herbs can be mixed into soups, stews, sauces, broths, etc. Oregano oil can also be consumed in the form of a supplement. A bonus is that both of these herbs promote healthy digestion and gut health.

An antimicrobial is an agent that works to kill viruses, bacteria, and fungi, or stop their growth. They are often times strongly scented and flavored. Antimicrobials have broad action and are overall a beneficial component to anyone's health, but they are generally best used to treat infections of the respiratory and digestive systems.
Here are some examples of antimicrobial foods and herbs:

➤ Elderberry, echinacea, oregano, thyme, sage, holy basil, garlic, ginger, onion, onion, lemon balm, licorice, turmeric, honey, cinnamon

Gut Health
Did you know that having poor digestive health automatically puts you at risk for a weakened immune system? A healthy digestive system helps prevent germs from wrecking havoc on your body. It is important for us to focus on our gut health and to remember to eat foods that specifically help to heal, strengthen, and maintain a happy gut. Remember to be mindful of what you are eating, do you notice a shift in how you feel after you eat certain foods? Our gut health can directly effect our overall health and how we feel, so make sure to try and avoid foods that don't agree with you.
Here are some ways you can treat and maintain a thriving gut:

➤ Take a probiotic every day, eat more fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, or yogurt, incorporate foods/herbs like plantain or licorice root that help heal and soothe gut tissues.

Are you still with me??? We are almost done! Let me wrap up this post by giving you two more ways you can easily take care of yourself and your immune system.

Move your body
Studies have found that just 20-30 minutes of moderate exercise a day can help to boost your immune system. A brisk walk around your neighborhood every morning or evening, or hopping on your Peloton will not only strengthen your immunity army, but it is also great way to take care of your mental health and escape reality. With exercise comes sweat and sweating is actually very beneficial as it is a natural way for your body to get rid of toxins. Be careful not to over do the exercise though, your immune system may have a hard time keeping up with you if you are doing TOO much.

Practice good hygiene
You know the drill... wash your hands, clean your phone and other high use items/surfaces often, use hand sanitizer when washing your hands isn't an immediate option, stay home if you are sick, be respectful of other people's space.

Just to reiterate, I am not a medical professional. I also don't intend for this post to be directly related to what is currently happening in the world, it is just a friendly way of letting you know how you can take care of yourself now that some of you may be back in the office more, with school starting again, or with the weather starting to change in some parts of the world.

All of this information comes from the books I read during my Holistic Nutritionist course and from things I implement in my own life. I 110% support doctors, medication, and using different treatments to treat illnesses. But with that being said, if I can support my immunity through the foods I eat, and exercise, and possibly avoid having to see a doctor, or take a prescription medication then I will gladly go that route! If you found this post insightful then I would love if you shared it with someone who you think would enjoy it as well!
Hope you are all staying healthy and happy 💛


*The sources that inspired this post and where I found all this information came from the books I have read in my Holistic Nutritionist course, How Not To Die, Disease Delusion, and Body into Balance*

Photo by Tra Tran on Unsplash

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