Every year during flu season, millions of Americans search for ways to boost their immune system. Throw in a pandemic and it’s now wonder why Google searches for “immunity” and “how to boost immune system” have skyrocketed.
See for yourself in the charts below, courtesy of Google Trends:
Immunity-related e-commerce sales skyrocketed in March of this year, in comparison to one year ago. In fact, herbal supplement sales are up 136%. [SOURCE]
But you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on supplements to boost your immune system. On the contrary, there’s one simple trick you can do to support your immune system. And the best part is that it’s free….
When Boosting Your Immune System Turns Deadly
Before the easy, no-cost solution is revealed, let’s get something important out of the way….
For some people, boosting the immune system could be deadly.
As we’ve witnessed with the COVID-19 pandemic, the disease can attack the lungs and cause a hyper-immune response. Essentially, it’s not the virus itself that kills, it’s an over-active immune response.
Specifically, here’s what happens in many cases that require emergency care such as ventilation. There are proteins called cytokines. Cytokines are part of your innate immune system and create an inflammatory response. Inflammation is a necessary and healthy part of the immune response. But only if it’s in the Goldilocks zone, i.e. not too much and not too little. Cytokines help defend us from bacteria and viruses and produce antigens that can kill pathogens such as COVID-19.
In deaths attributed to COVID-19, however, a so-called “cytokine storm” occurs. This is when the inflammation goes out of control and immune cells descend upon the lungs like an invading army, attacking instead of protecting the lungs. As a result of this out of control immune response, blood clots develop. The lungs and other organs begin to fail.
Many millions of Americans suffer from autoimmune disease, allergies or inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. These conditions are textbook cases of an immune system that’s too active. If you have chronic inflammation, the last thing you should do is “boost” your immune system; your immune system is already hyperstimulated.
With autoimmune disease and allergies, ordinarily harmless substances such as pollen or food are mistaken for pathogens. This causes the immune system to increase antibodies and release histamine. The end result is chronic inflammation. With rheumatoid arthritis, the body’s immune system attacks the joints.
Do you have an autoimmune disease or allergies or other problems associated with chronic inflammation? If so, you might actually benefit by having your immune system suppressed.
A Healthy Immune System Is A Balanced One
Instead of searching for ways to “boost your immune system,” what you should learn is how to balance your immune system and keep it that way.
Here are some ways to balance your immunes system:
- Get tested for food allergies and sensitivities and avoid foods which may trigger inflammation. Dairy, soy, wheat (gluten), and smoked or cured meats are common food triggers.
- In general, eat a diet that’s at least 90% plant-based. This means lots of fresh green, leafy veggies, cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower), low-sugar fruits (berries, watermelon), nuts, seeds and some complex carbohydrates such as brown or wild rice, sweet potatoes, etc.
- Avoid added sugars. (That means no regular soda, fruit juice, pastries, syrup, white table sugar, brown sugar, cane sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup.) After you eat sugar, your immune system becomes dysfunctional for several hours.
- Avoid anything with white or wheat flour. Flour quickly converts into sugar, which produces more inflammation.
- Exercise everyday. If you have joint pain and it’s difficult to move, after modifying your diet for a couple weeks and avoiding added sugars, you may notice a decrease in discomfort. At this point, you can start going for short walks and gradually build up your endurance.
Keep Your Immune System Balanced By Managing Stress
Avoiding stress is impossible. Actually, having some stress is good for you. But when stress becomes chronic, it wreaks havoc on your immune system, weakening it when it needs strengthening, and boosting it when it’s hyperactive.
Admittedly, the advice to manage stress is easier said than done. How can you not feel chronically stressed-out during these challenging times? Especially when, say, you or your spouse has lost a job and are facing financial difficulty.
The reality of your situation may not change, but there are things you can do to counteract the negative effects of stress.
And this brings us to the one simple trick you can do to, not boost, but rather, balance your immune system….
Mindfulness Meditation For Balanced Immunity
If the word “meditation” sounds exotic, scary even, here’s the good news….
You don’t have to believe in an Eastern religion or be a Buddhist monk to meditate. Mindfulness meditation is for all walks of life.
And with free guided meditation apps on smartphones, it’s never been easier to manage stress these days.
All you have to do is sit in a quiet place with headphones and follow along to a guided meditation app. (Here’s a list of some of the best ones, according to Healthline.)
Some people think meditation is too hard. Not thinking about anything is impossible. Who can master doing that? But that’s not the point of meditation. Instead, mindful meditation puts the center of focus on slow, deep breathing and nothing more.
Thoughts will likely come to the surface. Did I pay the cable bill? When should I do the laundry? When will things go back to normal?
It’s perfectly fine if these questions arise while you’re meditating. When they do, simply recognize the thoughts and come back to your breathing. You are not a failure at meditation if you’re thinking about stuff.
So how does meditation balance the immune system. For starters, it lowers your body’s production of cortisol, the so-called “Stress Hormone.” The overproduction of cortisol can either weaken your immune system or cause it to go into overdrive.
Many studies show the positive effects on meditation and the immune system. In just one of those studies, 25 employees who meditated for 8-weeks had higher levels of antibody titers versus the control group, suggesting they had a healthier immune response than employees who did not meditate.
Balance Your Immune System By Boycotting The News
During the pandemic, you may be compelled to watch the news religiously. But being glued to the TV or the Internet, following updates about COVID-19, politics and other stressors can potentially imbalance your immune system. Keep your news consumption to a barebones minimum. Instead, spend more time in fresh air and remember to practice deep, slow breathing for at least 5 minutes in the morning and before bed.
What do you do to manage your stress and keep your immune system balanced? Leave a comment.