Updated: Apr 7
What does "boosting immunity" even mean and how can a family do it naturally (AKA effectively)?
Sickness has 'boosted' in the last couple of years and there are no surprises as to why. Since Covid started it's obvious more people are getting more sick more often. So we need to do MORE to look after ourselves and keep our immunity up the best we can.
But what does that actually mean?
“The immune system is essentially a three-layer system:
At its most basic is the skin and mucous membranes, which act as a physical barrier to prevent invasion from foreign bodies and other antigens, such as parasites, bacteria, viruses and toxins.
The second layer is known as the innate immune system, a broad-acting, short-term, non-specific immune response to pathogens such as bacteria or viruses.
A third layer is the most complex. At its root is a population of white blood cells known as lymphocytes that have a cellular membrane embedded with thousands of identical receptors that are used to recognize and bind to specific antigens and mount an immune response locally. However, if the infection is too large, the lymphocytes secrete a molecule that alerts helper T cells that combine with the molecule as well as fragments of antigens to form a type of cell called a lymphoblast, which then secrete a variety of interleukins that provides a more powerful type of immune response. These cells can also promote the growth of cytotoxic T cells, thought to destroy tumorous cells or cells infected with viruses.
A third class of immune cells, known as phagocytes, meanwhile, work by engulfing microbes or other unwanted products in the bloodstream. The main phagocyte is the macrophage, which means “big eater” based on its ability to gobble up foreign substances.” Mark’s Daily Apple
Getting the body to a point where it can handle exposure to various common sickness ‘contributors’ and not be obviously affected (i.e. getting sick) is a nice place to be!
At the sickest time of my (Aimee) life when my immunity was shot, I was knocked down with a bug of some kind on a monthly basis. I was not living, I was existing. I was miserable.
Since then I’ve had bouts of low immunity on and off and would be out of action for a week at a time. Over the years as I’ve build my foundation health up that’s totally changed and now I rarely get sick and it’s only for short periods. It’s so nice!
So why build up a good immunity? To live a full life!
Happiness and the immune system are actually linked
“…research has consistently shown a clear and positive link between happiness and physical health. A significant connection has been made between happiness and our immune system functioning. Eg, undergraduate students exposed to the common cold virus or the flu after being exposed to the happiness condition (funny videos) were less likely to get sick, and reported less severe symptoms in comparison to those not exposed to the happiness condition. Several studies found similar results; those exposed to some variation of the happiness condition demonstrated a more positive outlook on life and a related strengthening of their immune systems.
What is the secret to a healthy immune system? Is it as simple as smiling? Well, no, especially if the smiles are fake! Research shows that when people, especially women, fake their smiles, there is a clearly negative impact on mood and productivity. But, when people focus on pleasant thoughts and memories, and their smiles are authentic, their moods and productivity improve.
Happiness is related to many benefits, including improved relationships, a positively changed immune system and a longer life. So how do we increase our levels of happiness?”
Some suggestions include:
– Identifying negative people, news and situations we’re being exposed to and distance ourselves from them whenever possible. Even just not watching the news every day or unfollowing sad news and upsetting Facebook pages can help!
– Train the brain to be more positive using different methods, finding those that feel helpful and work for you. From positive affirmation writing, meditating (guided or not), finding people to have positive conversations with, seeing a counsellor or psychologist, creating a vision board etc.
– Have self-compassion and forgiveness. Yes it’s important to take responsibility for our choices but we also need to show compassion to ourselves, forgive and move forward.
– Find your values. What’s important to you in your personal and professional lives? What are your short and long term goals? What’s your ‘happy’?
Boost happiness to boost immunity!
Ways to weaken the immune system
From environment, to food, medicine + lifestyle, we’re surrounded by things that suppress our immune system.
In particular refined sugars and high-sugar fruits. Yep fruit! We’ll myth-bust another day but a common one is that fruit is a health-booster. It’s not, and the sugar in fruit along with standard processed sugar significantly lower immune function. Even healthier versions like coconut sugar. The only moderately healthy sugar is local raw honey.
You may think you sleep fine but it’s hard to tell when you’ve had a truly good nights sleep and are getting it regularly. We’ll look at sleep as topic another week but if you think you MAY not be sleeping brilliantly, it could be impacting your immunity.
Pretty obvious, but even that glass of organic wine every night could be compromising your immunity. Sugary alcohol is even worse but alcohol in general has major impacts on our health.
Drugs, medications and antibiotics
This is a big category and one that is often unknown to parents, especially with so many kids being on ASD meds. There’s research on hundreds of different drugs are suggesting they increase a person’s susceptibility to infection by crippling immune function. Researchers found that certain people taking antibiotics had reduced levels of cytokines – the hormone messengers of the immune system.
Grains, in particular modern and refined, are highly inflammatory. Even that organic ancient-grain sourdough bread you switched to. Grains are grains and the human body does not process them well.
Humans are designed for short bursts of stress, like when we used to have to try and get away from predators, not long-term worries. When something eats away at us over a long period of time it massively reduces immune ability.
Lack of sun and nature time
We need direct sunlight exposure at various times of the day, fresh air and earthing to heal and to improve immunity. Most of us get no where near enough sun or nature time.
In food, body and cleaning products, antibacterial gels etc. Chemical over-load hugely contributes to impaired immunity.
This could be a really long post but we can fit so many characters here! So let’s focus on some less common and probably more shocking myths around immune-boosting…
Myth: Fruit and veggies are good immune-boosters
Plant foods contain natural defenses that the human body doesn’t cope with trying to process all the time. There are more anti-nutrients than nutrients and only way to reduce the level of anti-nutrients is to slowly lowly cook them down or soak them out, and aim for the least inflammatory types in general. E.g. berries + avocado are much easier on the body, and slow cooking root veggies to break them down and allow the gut to process them goes a long way.
This goes for green smoothies and green veg too!
We actually get more and bio-available (easily digested) essential nutrients from animal foods (meat, eggs, fat, offal). Fruits and veg don’t contain all of the vitamins and minerals we need either whereas eating nose-to-tail can.
Myth: Wearing sunscreen is healthy
Wrong! For one thing most are full of chemicals which definitely reduce immunity and another, blocking the nutrients from the sun absorbing into our skin means we don’t get essential Vitamin D which is one of the most effective immune boosters.
Myth: Regular detoxes are good
The body can detoxify itself effectively on a daily basis if given the right environment. Short bursts of specific detox protocols can have a short-term noticeable improvement but actual long-term negative impacts to our health if done regularly. Simply reducing inflammatory foods and lifestyle habits can help the body detox naturally, then by adding in nourishing foods like bone broth and offal can enhance detoxification and boost immunity.
Myth: Chicken noodle soup is good if you’re sick
A paleo version yes! But standard types? No. Why? The grains in the noodles and the inflammatory ingredients in the flavourings are the main culprits here. The slow cooked veggies are ok but a better option would be plain organic bone broth. Add some konjac or zoodles in, some cooked chicken and low inflammatory herbs for flavour.
Any of those surprising to you?
Tips for boosting immunity naturally
Here are some ideas you can implement to try to boost immunity naturally..
By reducing/eliminating common inflammatory foods and adding in healing foods we can greatly improve the function of our immune system. An initial detox period can make us feel worse before we feel better but this is natural and ok. We are so much healthier since going paleo 10+ yrs ago.
Upping mineral intake
Most of us are deficient in essential minerals. Siim Land has some amazing info on this but what we do is eat animal-based paleo (offal in particular contains essential minerals) and drink Sole once or twice a day. If you want more info on Sole let us know!
Lots of sun and nature time
Exposing the skin and eyes to natural direct light at various of times of the day, including Vitamin D time, getting fresh air and earthing all greatly help improve immunity.
Try alternative therapies and practices
We like to think of every method out there as ‘tools in our toolbox’ and that no one way is a fix-it-all. We like to use acupuncture, massage, NLP, meditation, journaling, psychology, chiropractic to name a few, when we need. And there are lots more out there!
Make time for ‘happy’ time
We’re ALL busy. Who do you know who isn’t?! But no matter how busy we get it’s important to make time for ‘happy’ time daily. Whether it’s chilling out watching your fave TV show, hobbies and interests, going for a walk, getting some retail therapy… whatever it is that makes you feel genuinely happy, do it!
There are many nasty ingredients in common skincare products that can do harm to yours and your kids health and if you want to look into it thoroughly and for links to specific symptoms there are plenty of resources available, here's a list of a few key players here for you as a go-to reference to try and avoid in the products you buy...
- ETHOXYLATED INGREDIENTS
- PETROLATUM, PETROLEUM JELLY
- ETHANOLAMINE COMPOUNDS (MEA, DEA, TEA AND OTHERS)
- COAL TAR
- CARCINOGENS IN COSMETICS
- CARBON BLACK
- BUTYLATED COMPOUNDS
- FORMALDEHYDE AND FORMALDEHYDE-RELEASING PRESERVATIVES
- BENZOPHENONE & RELATED COMPOUNDS
- METHYLISOTHIAZOLINONE AND METHYLCHLOROISOTHIAZOLINONE
There are A LOT more with a full list and details available via Campaign for Safe Cosmetics
Many of these are known to cause cancer, allergies and an increase in symptoms, disrupt hormones, effect ASD symptoms, impair growth and development of infants, lower immunity, effect pregnant women and more. Some are found in common trusted household brands, they could very well be lurking in your bathroom cupboard right now.
From sunscreen to talc powders, to nail polishes, and makeup and creams... unless the ingredients are listed as 100% natural and safe, preferably organic, the ingredients list is small, and you can get full transparency from a manufacturer of the sources and possible effects then the chances are the products you're using contain nasty chemicals.
𝙁𝙞𝙣𝙙 𝙤𝙪𝙩 𝙢𝙤𝙧𝙚 𝙖𝙩 www.safecosmetics.org
Move more and move better
Chronic over-exercising will deplete your system, especially cardio but a balance of natural movement, play, strength training and walking are wonderful!
Blue light blocking
Avoiding artificial blue light at night is so helpful, especially in the eyes by wearing amber glasses that block 97% of blue light (try or buy some here).
Good, deep, long sleep at night, most nights, hugely improves immunity. A cold dark room and earthing can help!
Bonus: nutrient-dense immune-boosting recipe
Offal is by far one of the best types of foods to consume to help improve immune function and overall health and well-being. Packed full of essential and bio-available minerals animal organs such as heart, liver and kidney are worth bringing into the family diet but we know that can be challenging as we have personal experience with hating offal and slowly getting more and more used to it then eventually loving it!
So we’re here to help and a great recipe to try is beef mince and liver patties, along with an optional tomato sauce recipe which is there mostly for the really sensitive/picky eaters who need to drown out the meat flavour with sauce! The patties with a side of pastured eggs is a far better option but the sauce could get you over the line getting family members just eating offal, and that’s a win in our books!
Beef Mince & Liver Patties with No-Nasties Tomato Sauce
To make one patty use about 80g grass-fed beef mince + 20g grass-fed beef liver, then times that by however many you want to make in one go.
Pink salt to taste
Fat to cook in (I use grass-fed beef tallow)
Optional: organic dried or fresh herbs and spices (I like Mingle seasoning)
Optional: lemon juice (watch the video to find out why and how)
1 brown onion, finely diced
1 organic tomato, finely diced
1/2 cup organic pure tomato paste 1 tbsp coconut amino
2 tbsp bone broth or water
Mineral salt, organic pepper to taste
Oil/fat to cook onion in (grass-fed ghee/animal fat, coconut oil)
Optional: a dash of raw honey or 1 tbsp pumpkin puree to sweeten, dried/fresh herbs and spices of choice, 1 tsp smoked paprika powder
1. Food process the liver until it's pale in colour and ground down fairly well.
2. In a bowl add a small amount of the liver with about 3x as much mince (or less liver if your pallet really doesn't like it!) - alternatively, ask your butcher to make this mince for you with the liver included.
3. Add salt, and any flavours, then stir well with a spoon
4. Place a dollop of mixture onto a piece of baking paper inside a container, then another next to it, place a piece of paper on top of those, repeat until your mixture has finished or your container is full
5. Store in the fridge for a few days then cook one at a time for a meal, on the fry pan (these patties are best served hot off the pan, not cold but you could cook them all up, store in the fridge and warm them through in the oven to serve or just serve cold. Just be careful not to over-cook and dry them out if re-heating)
6. To mask the flavour of the liver even more, serve a pattie alongside no-nasties tomato sauce
1. Place the oil and onion into a medium saucepan on the stove at low-medium temperature and cook until the onion is translucent and slightly brown on edges 2. Add the remaining ingredients and let simmer until it reduces to desired consistency 3. Allow the sauce to cool then use a stick blender (or pour into regular blender) to blitz and remove some or all of the onion and tomato chunks
Serve alongside the patties to help reduce any liver flavour coming through.
Note: you can also add kidney and heart to this.
Check out the Primal Influence website here
If eating offal isn’t an option, or if you and the kids can only manage a little (which may not be enough), another option is to take offal capsules. We’ve recently started doing this and are noticing instant improvements to our health. It saves buying and cooking offal, so it’s definitely a convenience option.
Register for our newsletters to find out when the next offal supplement bulk discount ordering opens.
We hope this information and our perspectives and experiences help you and your family on your journey to better health! Please email us if you have any questions.
Aimee & Clint
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