Seven steps for a healthy immune system
If you want to boost your immune health, you may wonder how to help your body fight off illnesses. While bolstering your immunity is easier said than done, several dietary and lifestyle changes may strengthen your body’s natural defenses and help you fight harmful pathogens, or disease-causing organisms.
Here are seven ways to improve your immune system:
Boost glutathione levels:
Glutathione is one of the body’s most important and potent antioxidants. Antioxidants are substances that reduce oxidative stress by combating free radicals in the body. While most antioxidants are found in the foods you eat, glutathione is produced by your body. It is primarily made up of three amino acids: glutamine, glycine and cysteine. Glutathione is known to decrease with age (1), and maintaining adequate levels of this antioxidant is incredibly important for a healthy immune system. Two easy ways to boost glutathione levels are:
Consume sulfur-rich foods. Sulfur is required for the synthesis of glutathione, and it can be found in a variety of cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, kale and cauliflower. A number of human and animal studies have found that eating sulfur-rich vegetables may reduce oxidative stress by increasing glutathione levels (2)
Intake of vitamin C. Researchers have discovered that vitamin C may help increase glutathione levels by attacking free radicals first, thereby sparing glutathione. One study showed that taking 500 mg of vitamin C supplements per day increased glutathione in red blood cells by 47% (3)
Hydration is like the oil that lubes up your immune system and keeps it running smoothly. It doesn’t necessarily protect you from germs and viruses, but preventing dehydration is important to your overall health. Dehydration can cause headaches and hinder your physical performance, focus, mood, digestion, and heart and kidney function. These complications can increase your susceptibility to illness (4)
Get enough sleep:
Sleep and immunity are closely tied. In fact, inadequate or poor-quality sleep is linked to a higher susceptibility to sickness. In a study in 164 healthy adults, those who slept fewer than 6 hours each night were more likely to catch a cold than those who slept 6 hours or more each night (5). If you’re having trouble sleeping, try limiting screen time for an hour before bed, as the blue light emitted from your phone, TV, and computer may disrupt your circadian rhythm, or your body’s natural wake-sleep cycle.
Establish / continue an exercise routine:
Physical activity boosts overall circulation, which makes it easier for immune cells and other infection – fighting molecules to travel throughout your body. Regular exercise may reduce inflammation and help your immune cells regenerate regularly (6)
Fermented foods are rich in beneficial bacteria called probiotics, which populate your digestive tract. Research suggests that a flourishing network of gut bacteria can help your immune cells differentiate between normal, healthy cells and harmful invader organisms (7). Fermented foods include sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi, kefir and yoghurt.
Simple breathing exercises are another useful strategy to bolster the immune system. A technique that we recommend is the 4-7-8 technique – inhale for 4 counts, hold for 7 counts, exhale for 8 counts. Performing this activity at least four times stimulates the vagus nerve and triggers a relaxation response.
The mushroom, Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor) is commonly used as a traditional Chinese medicine and is known to exhibit various biological activities. Here are some facts about turkey tail mushroom:
- Turkey Tail is packed with antioxidants.
Antioxidants are compounds that help inhibit or reduce damage caused by oxidative stress. Oxidative stress results from an imbalance between antioxidants and unstable molecules known as free radicals. This can result in cellular damage and chronic inflammation. Thankfully, eating foods rich in antioxidants or supplementing with these powerful compounds can reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. Turkey tail contains an impressive array of antioxidants, including phenols and flavonoids (8). Phenol and flavonoid antioxidants promote immune system health by reducing inflammation and stimulating the release of protective compounds (9).
- Turkey Tail contains immune-boosting polysaccharopeptides.
Krestin (PSK) and Polysaccharide Peptide (PSP) are two types of polysaccharopeptides found in Turkey Tail (10). Both PSK and PSP possess powerful immune-boosting properties. They promote immune response by both activating and inhibiting specific types of immune cells and by suppressing inflammation. For instance, test-tube studies have demonstrated that PSP increases monocytes, which are types of white blood cells that fight infection and boost immunity (11). PSK stimulates dendritic cells that promote immunity to toxins and regulate the immune response. In addition, PSK activates specialized white blood cells called macrophages, which protect your body against harmful substances like certain bacteria (12).
Try Flow State’s Turkey Tail capsules:
Organic, dual extracted, and third party tested here in New Zealand for safety and purity, we are thrilled to provide the immune boosting properties of Turkey Tail mushroom in easy to take capsules. We test for heavy metals, pesticide residue and microbials through Hill Laboratories, and for active compounds through Massey University. All analysis reports can be found on our website (blog titled “NZ Testing”).
Our Turkey Tail mushroom extract is vegan friendly, gluten free, and comes in a two month supply. Looking to boost your immune system? Check out Turkey Tail here today.
Glutathione. (Joseph Pizzorno). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4684116/
Glutathione S-transferase polymorphisms, cruciferous vegetable intake and cancer risk in the Central and Eastern European Kidney Cancer Study. L E Moore). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17617661/
Vitamin C elevates red blood cell glutathione in healthy adults. (C S Johnston). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8317379/
Water, Hydration and Health. (B Popkin). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2908954/
Behaviorally Assessed Sleep and Susceptibility to the Common Cold. (A Prather). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26118561/
Exercise and the Regulation of Immune Functions. (Richard J Simpson). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26477922/
The role of gut microbiota in immune homeostasis and autoimmunity. (Hsin-Jung Wu, Eric Wu). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3337124/
Antigenotoxic Effect of Trametes spp. Extracts against DNA Damage on Human Peripheral White Blood Cells. Aleksandar Knežević. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4517545/)
Flavonoids, Inflammation and Immune System. Francisco J. Pérez-Cano. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5084045/).
Medicinal mushrooms as an attractive new source of natural compounds for future cancer therapy. (Artem Blagodatski). (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6044372/).
TLR2 agonist PSK activates human NK cells and enhances the anti-tumor effect of HER2-targeted monoclonal antibody therapy. (Hailing Lu). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3206987/