A healthy immune system is your body’s first line of defense against foreign invaders, including pathogenic bacteria, viruses, and fungi which can cause infections. The immune system works very hard to defend you against those infectious microorganisms. However, sometimes it fails, and those tiny little germs get in – and they make you sick. You suddenly find yourself out of the game for awhile, with nothing but a warm cup of tea and some sudoku to keep you company until you can kick your illness for good.
What if you could give your immune system a leg up? Boost your immune system with these five DIY tips:
1. Activated Charcoal Tonic
Incorporating a morning tonic using activated charcoal powder is a great way to remove harmful pathogens from your body. Activated charcoal is commonly used in hospitals as a remedy for food poisoning and other stomach problems because of its unique ability to attract and bind to harmful substances in the body, allowing for fast and easy elimination.
You can find activated charcoal at specialty stores, or online. To use activated charcoal as an immunity tonic, try this recipe:
Mix 16-ounces of fresh or filtered water with 1 tsp. of activated charcoal in a small glass jar. Seal the lid, and give it a good shake until the tonic is fully blended. Then, drink up! Ideally, you will want to take the immunity tonic on an empty stomach first thing in the morning.
For a more advanced protocol, add in 1 tsp. of fossil shell flour and the juice of one large certified organic lemon. Fossil shell flour, also known as diatomaceous earth, is a microscopic material that cleans the walls of your colon, removing any unnecessary mucus or harmful types of bacteria. This anti-parasitic mineral also aids in nutrient absorption while boosting your immune system’s potency.
NOTE: Activated charcoal may interfere with absorption of medications. So check with your doctor before adding activated charcoal to your health regimen.
2. Complete Oral Hygiene
Your oral health has a major impact on your immune system. Inflammation in the mouth is a huge burden on the immune system as it works overtime to get rid of it. The mucous membranes of the mouth can usher an infection directly into the blood, allowing it to quickly spread throughout the body.
You already know that daily brushing and flossing are imperative to maintain oral health, but there are other good ways to keep your mouth healthy as well, including:
- Tongue Scraping. This practice is essential for the removal of bacteria, and various toxins from the tongue’s surface. The tongue absorbs around half of the bacteria in your mouth, and scraping – not brushing – is the only way to remove it.
- Oil Pulling. This technique is an effective way to remove the bacteria from the rest of the mouth that the tongue scraper does not address. The ancient practice of oil pulling can be used to effectively clean those tiny cracks and crevices of your mouth, unlike any other oral hygiene technique. Coconut oil is particularly effective to use, due to its high content of lauric acid.1 To use oil pulling for oral care, take just one tablespoon of coconut oil, and place it in your mouth. Solid at room temperature, the natural heat of your body will turn the oil to liquid in seconds, so that you can “pull” or swish it through your teeth and gums. Continue the oil pulling for up to 10 minutes, and then spit. Do not swallow the oil, even if it is food grade, as it may contain many bacteria.
- Baking Soda Mouthwash. Also known as sodium bicarbonate, regular baking soda is clinically shown to be one of the most effective ways to get rid of dental plaque.2 Add it to your oral care regimen as a mouthwash. To make the mixture, just add 1 tsp. of baking soda to ¼ cup of filtered water. For extra freshness and antibacterial activity, you may choose to use 2-3 drops of peppermint essential oil as well. Gargle and swish the mouthwash in your mouth for about 1-2 minutes. The baking soda will remove plaque from along the gumline, while also helping to neutralize the pH balance of your mouth. The peppermint oil will make your breath refreshingly minty, too!
3. Sauna Detox with Niacin
Perhaps the most effective way to rid the body of accumulated toxins that can cause infections is by using your body’s largest detoxification organ: the skin. Through sweating, your skin works to remove all of those lingering toxins, and there is no better place to have a sweat session than a sauna. But you can also utilize niacin (vitamin B3) as you sauna, to help encourage toxic release from your fat cells. A well-known metabolic booster, niacin works to release toxins trapped deep within adipose tissue, or fat cells.
So, the goal of coupling the sauna with a boost of niacin is to transfer the toxic components from the fat into the bloodstream, and ultimately remove them via the skin.
Ask your doctor about the right dose of niacin for you. Sauna time can go up to 45 minutes, depending on the temperature and your overall level of health.
4. Intermittent Fasting
Eliminating the flow of solids into the body for an extended period of time is an excellent way to give your hard-working digestive system a rest. It may also help boost your immune system. As stagnant metabolic waste in the GI tract is moved through the digestive system with the help of juice from fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, and other nutrients, the intestinal tract begins to free up slow-moving debris. By eliminating waste matter from the body, your intestines begin to improve nutrient delivery to the blood, thus improving immunity.4
The immune system is one of the most complex of any in the body. And while you probably don’t realize it, an estimated 80 percent of your immune system lies in your gut. In fact, recent studies have revealed that an estimated 100 trillion living microbacteria call your GI tract home. And they too work very hard to kill off any pathogenic species of bacteria, like infectious E. coli, so that you don’t get sick.5,6
For this reason, consuming these probiotic-rich foods may help stave off common illnesses: miso soup, tempeh, kimchi, fermented cabbage (sauerkraut), dark chocolate, kombucha, yogurt, and kefir.
In order to keep your healthy immune system going strong, you must keep choosing a healthy lifestyle. This includes:
- Eating a balanced diet with plenty of raw, whole foods
- Exercising regularly
- Maintaining balanced cholesterol and blood pressure
- Getting adequate, restful sleep every night
- Washing your hands frequently, and maintaining a clean kitchen
- Drinking alcohol only in moderation
- Quitting smoking
And of course, don’t forget to add these five DIY immune boosters to your daily health regimen. It could help you stave off all types of common infections that can hold you back from doing the things you love.
Check With Your Doctor
As with any new health regimen, always check with your doctor, and tell them about plans you have for adding these immune boosters to your lifestyle. They will be able to point out if you have interactions with other supplements, or medications you are taking, and recommend an ideal dosage, or duration for these changes in your health regimen.
Want more health tips? Keep reading here:
1. Faizal C. Peedikayil, Prathima Sreenivasan. Effect of coconut oil in plaque related gingivitis — A preliminary report. Niger Med J. 2015 Mar-Apr; 56(2): 143–147.
2. Putt MS, Milleman KR. Enhancement of plaque removal efficacy by tooth brushing with baking soda dentifrices: results of five clinical studies. J Clin Dent. 2008;19(4):111-9.
3. Jason Allen, ND, MPH, Melissa Montalto, MS. Detoxification in Naturopathic Medicine: A Survey. J Altern Complement Med. 2011 Dec; 17(12): 1175–1180.
4. Valter D. Longo, Mark P. Mattson. Fasting: Molecular Mechanisms and Clinical Applications. Cell Metab. 2014 Feb 4; 19(2): 181–192.
5. Michael H. Hsieh, M.D., Ph.D, James Versalovic, M.D., Ph.D.2. THE HUMAN MICROBIOME AND PROBIOTICS: IMPLICATIONS FOR PEDIATRICS. Curr Probl Pediatr Adolesc Health Care. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2010 Jun 28.
6. Hsin-Jung Wu, Eric Wu. The role of gut microbiota in immune homeostasis and autoimmunity. Gut Microbes. 2012 Jan 1; 3(1): 4–14.