The last time I wrote to you all was in January – when I was about to launch into a few monthly emails covering the various health-related rabbit holes I had been down in the past year. Then – Covid hit! And you all know what a ride it has been and how our TV news is still dominated by case numbers, deaths and global horror stories.
So, obviously, my focus this month is on your immune system! But, I’m not going to mention hand washing, masks, social distancing, or staying home. Instead, I’m going to list the proven, documented ways to ensure that your immune defence serves you well, no matter what infectious threat comes your way.
I suggest that you save this article as a “toolbox for immune defence“.
Because the dietary and lifestyle factors, I am about to mention are not just suggestions – this is a recipe! And, cakes don’t come out well if you miss out on one or two ingredients! This is an “immune package”.
By referring back to this email in the coming weeks, you will more easily integrate this recipe into your life.
Habits can be changed or reshaped in two weeks! Two weeks! So, here goes – star with the first three, and add three every day until your new immune activation lifestyle is firmly entrenched. The first few things I cover might be old news to some of you but bear with me – because even if you have been proactive with your health care for years, you might just learn something new as you go down the list
Needless to say, the following practices will also reduce inflammation, increase your positive neurotransmitter output, and reduce the rate at which you age
As soon as you get up in the morning, drink a large glass of warm water with the juice of half a lemon squeezed into it. I have written several emails in the past about this important morning habit. In a nutshell, lemon water in the morning is alkalising, hydrating, and clears out your liver and kidneys.
Drink it nice and warm – just do it!
By the end of each and every day, make sure that you have drunk at least 2 litres of pure water – that does not mean tap water!
If you don’t have a filter, Britta filters are easy to find, reasonably good, and don’t take up much room in your fridge. (keeping it in the fridge keeps the filter in better shape). You can include the following in your 2l water intake: herbals teas (if no milk is added), fresh fruit and/or vegetable juices. Add freshly squeezed lemon juice to your drinking water for extra vitamin C and a zing – and float the skins in there too for the limonene in the peels (strongly anti-viral).
2. ALKALINE DIET
Every plate or bowl of food at every meal needs to be 2/3 to 3/4 fruit or vegetables. The grain/meat/dairy/fish/legume component needs to be seen as the “side dish”. The easiest way to do this is to place a large serving of salad or steamed vegetables on your plate FIRST. Put the other food on top. The food can often create the ‘salad dressing’. Drizzle olive oil over the top and add interesting extras such as dukkah, lightly toasted seeds, fresh-cut herbs, oils such as cold-pressed walnut or pumpkin seed oil, avocado, walnuts and so on.
3. EAT A RAINBOW EVERY DAY
The powerful antioxidant and immune protective phytonutrients present in plant foods are your best friends – not just for their immune-boosting properties. They protect you from pollutants, stress, feed your complex and diverse gut microbiome, improve the health of your blood vessels especially the smallest capillaries – and so much more!
Back to that plate that you are going to fill 2/3 to ¾ with fruit or vegetables – make it colourful! There is so much to choose from!
Greens are the basis – one large handful, including herbs and edible weeds from the garden if you have them (parsley, dandelion, chickweed, sage, thyme, chives etc). On top of that something red/orange – capsicum, tomato, red onions. Then yellow – capsicum, yellow tomatoes. Then blue – a few blueberries (yes you can add a few to salads) then magenta – beetroot, which can be steamed first, and cubed, or grated.
Grate fresh lemon or orange rind over the top, add olives, add some soaked seaweeds or sprinkle dulse flakes for the essential iodine that our West Australian soils lack.
That’s it! You have your rainbow!
4. EAT ORGANIC FOODS AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE
Pesticide and herbicide residue in foods does your gut microbiome have no favours! 80% of your immune defence comes from a healthy gut. That makes a healthy gut absolutely essential to good strong immune defence!
The above 3 dietary habits will do wonders for promoting a change in your gut flora from disease-producing to immune-boosting.
- Plant fibre acts as a prebiotic – which means it is a ‘cut lunch” for healthy gut microbes
- Plant foods (fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains) are your richest sources of antioxidants and a plant based diet is proven to protect your health long term, reducing your risk of all of the chronic diseases that have become common in western countries today.
5. EAT LITTLE TO NO PROCESSED FOODS
This especially applies to processed meats – which are the pink meats (ham, polony etc) which are high in nitrates.
Processed foods include anything that has been packaged, flavoured, coloured, and/or with added preservatives.
There are so many sneaky ways that manufacturers add processed ingredients to foods – to make them cheaper or better tasting.
6. GET ENOUGH SLEEP
This is so important to a healthy immune system, mainly because your body is busy cleaning out waste while you sleep – a process known as autophagy.
Lack of proper sleep means that metabolic waste accumulation takes place, which over time can reduce the efficiency of all body systems.
You need 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. The following steps can help you to achieve this:
- Get outside as early in the day as possible, to expose your eyes to full spectrum daylight. This early exposure to natural light plays an important role in melatonin production at night.
- Exercise each and every day, in the fresh air to maximise oxygenation. Noisy stuffy gyms are not always your best choice. Get out amongst trees, near the beach, in parks, wherever there is nature and space to move. Your neighbourhood streets are fine as long as you don’t live on a busy road.
- Remove mobile phones from your body as much of the time as possible during the day, and avoid having a mobile phone in your bedroom at night. Wireless technology disrupts your sensitive bio-electrical field and does rest and sleep no favours ! https://ehtrust.org/ https://bioinitiative.org/
- Get rid of any electric clocks next to your bed and use a battery operated alarm clock instead.
- Do 5-10 minutes of deep abdominal breathing before bed, to reduce cortisol levels and calm the mind and nervous system.
- Reduce accumulated mental stress before sleep by mentally listing 6 things you are grateful for in your life. Think of people you love and send them a kiss through the air waves!
7. BREATH THROUGH YOUR NOSE
Your nose is your first line of defence against airborne pathogens – which is why it was skillfully placed as the entrance to our airways by the Great Creator!
As air passes through your nose, the hairs that line it filter out fine particles, and the air is warmed and moistened.
But, there’s more! Within your nose and nasopharynx, you produce nitric oxide, which has direct anti viral and antibacterial activity. Nitric oxide also improves oxygenation in your lungs via its positive effect on microcirculation.
When you breathe through your nose, you increase blood oxygen levels by about 10%!
Levels of nitric oxide in your upper airways are reduced by 50% if you switch to mouth breathing! And there’s more!
Especially for people who have permanently stuffy noses! You can do even better by…..
When you hum, you increase nasal nitric oxide levels 15-fold compared to normal quiet breathing. One research study showed that after a few minutes of humming, nasal nitric oxide output increased from 17 parts per billion to 252 parts per billion! Humming has also been found to be effective in the treatment of chronic sinusitis – which often causes sufferers to mouth-breathe most of the time. It took only 4 days of intensive humming (one hour on the first day then 120 ‘hums’ 4 times daily for the next 3 days) to achieve a clear nose and easy breathing. So, hum while you cook, when you are out walking, when your kids are playing up, and especially when the voice in your head tells you that you ‘can’t sing’ – because humming is good for your immune defence! If you hum your favourite songs and try to remember the words to every verse, you will simultaneously be adding in some brain exercise – thus giving your brain a double whammy in terms of anti-ageing practices. Better oxygenation and memory exercises!
9. MIND-BODY PRACTICES – MINDFULNESS MEDITATION WITH CONSCIOUS BREATHING
Psychological stress can weaken your cellular immune response and disrupt the very complex networks of communication within your body that maintain the health of your immune system. (This is one reason why I think that we should take out media to court over its relentless fear-based coverage of this so-called pandemic – but more about that in a couple of weeks!)
Psychological stress, via the increased cortisol output, can also increase inflammation. Stress initiates the release of cytokines such as IL-1B and TNFalphaIL which activate the inflammasome, which in turn changes neurotransmitters, reducing serotonin output and causing yet more anxiety/depression – a destructive circle.
Mindfulness meditation reduces inflammatory cytokine output, improves immune function and assists with sleep problems. The effects are better with ongoing practice.
The problem with mindfulness meditation is that many people feel too stressed to do it! So, by combining conscious slow breathing with mindfulness, relaxation is much easier.
One of the easiest breathing methods comes from pranayama yoga and is simple to learn.
Breathe in for 3-4 seconds, pause for a second or 2, then breathe out for 6-8 seconds, pause again, then repeat. This slow, rhythmic breathing, where the out-breath is longer than the in-breath, has been shown to increase natural killer cell output, and reduce levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the body as well as calm the mind and reduce stress hormone output.
Recently I watched the newest version of the documentary on Grounding (find it on youtube) and it was even more of an eye-opener than the original version. Grounding means getting your body in contact with the earth – simply and literally.
That means skin-on-earth – with no rubber soles, gloves, concrete pad, bitumen road etc in between your body and the surface of the earth.
The profound health benefits of grounding are too many to go into here in detail. Watch the documentary!
In brief, when your body is in contact with the earth, you discharge static electricity that you pick up from electrical appliances, cars etc and you receive a flow of health-promoting electrons FROM the earth.
The research present in the most recent documentary covers the therapeutic effects of grounding on many diverse health conditions, from chronic pain to stress to high blood pressure.
Get barefoot, a garden without gloves, hug a tree, do whatever you can to get your body in contact with the earth’s surface every day!
Best of all, get into the ocean – a powerful way to immerse yourself in the healing effects of the earth’s field, and saltwater is a great conductor.
11. COLD WATER SHOWERS
Yes, I know, you read that and go NOOO….! It’s winter! What is she talking about?
But cold water stimulates circulation, causes you to take a good deep breath, and feels great! The way to do it is to finish your warm shower with a burst of 2-3 seconds of cold water.
I don’t suggest that you do this is you usually shower straight before bed, because it can be too stimulating especially for stressed wound-up people who already have difficulty getting to sleep.
If you shower in the morning – add this to your shower routine and feel how much more alive you are after your shower. The effects last for more than a few minutes
12. YOGA AND EXERCISE
There are countless studies that prove that the stretching and breathing techniques that are involved in the practice of yoga result in reduced cortisol (stress hormone) output, reduce blood pressure, improve heart rate variability and fasting glucose, reduce LDL and total cholesterol and offset the effects of trauma in our bodies.
Exercise increases “happy hormone” output, improves oxygenation, builds muscles that in turn improve metabolic and physical balance – I’m sure you don’t need any convincing on the benefits of exercise. Just do it!
If possible start your day with movement. Get out of bed, drink up your lemon water, and get going! Winter mornings will take on a whole new zing.
13. SOCIAL INTERACTION
People who get together regularly with family and friends live longer, are sick less and suffer less stress (refer to The Blue Zone).
The recent social distancing measures have been counter-productive in this respect, and this highlights the problems that occur when science dominates the social/spiritual aspects of health.
Vitamin D is essential and I am constantly dismayed at how often I am seeing terrible vitamin D blood results even at the end of summer!
It’s winter and the sun is not strong. So, ditch the sunscreen and get outside with as much of your body exposed as you can decently get away with, without getting chilled!
You need at least half an hour of full-body exposure or the equivalent of this, 3 times a week in winter, to make enough vitamin D. That means every day for half an hour if all you can expose is the face, hands, arms, and lower legs.
THAT’S IT FOR NOW!
Next week I will go into the herbal and nutritional helpers that build resistance, counteract stress and reduce inflammation – which will result in a powerful immune defence.
I will also outline the simple supplement protocol that will achieve this in a way that does not break any budget.
The following week, I am going to go down the rabbit hole that is Coronavirus! Be prepared to be surprised – there will be plenty of “things that make you go hmmm!”.
I have spent literally hours over the past 5 months listening to immunologists, doctors, nurses, virologists, antibody researchers and more and I have been baffled, empowered, outraged, and surprised by what I have come up with.