The best protection that you have against any illness is your body’s own defense system.  The human immune system has never faced a single illness that it couldn’t eventually figure out and provide an effective answer for.   The H1N1 flu is no different. 

Here are more than a dozen powerful immune boosters that you can adopt immediately.  Many of these are as close as your next cup of tea. 

Include as many of these immune boosters in your diet and lifestyle as you can.   Your chances of avoiding illness this cold-and-flu season will be greatly enhanced, and if you get sick, you’ll also get better a whole lot faster. 

  1. Have Fun. Do something pleasurable for yourself at least three times per week.  Make sure you enjoy your life. 

A single pleasurable experience can boost your immune system for as much as two days, according to research conducted by Dr. Arthur Stone, a psychologist at the medical school of the State University of New York at Stony Brook.  Conversely, negative events, such as criticism, especially from a superior or one’s employer, can depress immune function for up to 24 hours, thus making people more vulnerable to illnesses. 

“Positive events of the day seem to have a stronger helpful impact on immune function than upsetting events do a negative one,” Dr. Stone told the New York Times (May 11, 1994).  “Having a good time on Monday still had a positive effect on the immune system by Wednesday,” Dr. Stone said.  “But the negative immune effect from undesirable events on Monday lasts just for that day.”

The most powerful effects on immune response, Dr. Stone found, were positive events that one did alone, such as fishing or jogging.   On the other hand, when study participants were criticized by an employer, suffered a difficult encounter with a co-worker, were under prolonged stress at work, they experienced a diminution of their immune response for the next day. 

Of course, the impact of small pleasures on the immune systems of people with already-existing illness has yet to be shown.  Still, those who have overcome life-threatening disease say that they don’t need a double-blind study to affirm the power of small pleasures. 

  1. Avoid sugar and artificial sweeteners entirely and, as much as possible, reduce your consumption of processed foods.

Sugar and processed foods trigger an inflammatory cascade in the body in several different ways.  Inflammation is nothing more than an immune reaction to disease-causing agents found in your system.  That’s a good thing, since inflammation is a kind of battle that your immune system mounts against pathogens that would make you sick.  Unfortunately, the more disease-causing agents you have in your system, the more battles going on inside of you.  Inevitably, there is a great deal of collateral damage.  Especially important are oxidants, or free radicals, whciha re released every time you mount an immune response.  The more free radicals, the higher your chances of becoming ill. 

Meanwhile, as the immune system is forced to fight on many fronts, the overall system gets weaker.  It is forced to draw on its resources, especially its mineral content.  Sugar and processed foods rob the body of minerals, which in turn weakens the immune system and makes you more vulnerable to illness. 

By robbing the body of minerals, sugar and processed foods raise the acid levels of your blood, which makes it even more susceptible to disease. 

So do yourself a favor for the fall and winter: no sugar and no chocolate.

(See accompanying article for a recipe for the sweet drink which will balance your blood sugar and dramatically reduce cravings for sugar and processed foods.) 

  1. Alkalize your blood with the following foods and medicinal teas. Your immune system is at its strongest in an alkaline environment. The foods and medicinal teas described below will alkalize your blood and bolster your immune defenses.   And they will do it quickly.  A single bowl of soup, or a single medicinal tea, can give you an instant boost.   Eat these foods daily and feel your energy and immune foundation get stronger.  (Recipes for the foods and specialty teas are found in the third article of this newsletter.)
  • Eat miso soup daily.  (See accompanying article for recipe.)
  • Eat at least three servings a day of green, leafy, and crucifer vegetables, such as broccoli, bok choy, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, collard greens, endive, kale, mustard greens, watercress, mizuna, Napa or Chinese cabbage, cauliflower, daikon radish, and rutabaga.   Green, leafy, and crucifers are loaded with immune boosting minerals, vitamins, and phytochemicals that protect against diseases of all kinds. 
  • Eat one serving of sea vegetables daily.  These can include alaria,  arame, dulce, hiziki, kombu, nori, and wakame.   These foods are among the richest sources of minerals and phytochemicals on earth.  (See accompanying article for sea vegetable recipes.)
  • Eat one serving of roots and another of sweet vegetables daily, including burdock, carrots, daikon, parsnips, squash, sweet potato, turnips, rutabaga, and yams.  These foods regulate blood sugar and reduce cravings for processed sugar. 
  • Substitute beans and other vegetable proteins (such as tempeh and tofu) for animal foods.  Reduce animal foods to twice per week.  Animal proteins become acid in the blood, which promote illnesses of all kinds and make the body more vulnerable to viruses. 
  • Eat pickles daily.  Pickles alkalize the blood, making it very resistant against disease.  They also provide friendly bacteria and digestive enzymes.   Especially important are sauerkraut and other forms of pickles.  (See accompanying article on how you can make your own pickles.) 
  • Make your plate colorful and vary the flavors.   All the colorful vegetables are loaded with immune boosting antioxidants.   If you vary the colors and flavors of your meals, you will get lots of variety.   If you include three different flavors in each meal, you will also be creating movement in your system, thus eliminating stagnation, which disease needs in order to proliferate. 
  1. Eat cooked grains, such as amaranth, brown rice, barley, millet, quinoa, and buckwheat at least twice a day. Whole cooked grain soothes the nervous system, grounds the body, and elevates serotonin levels, thus promoting immune boosting optimism, positive attitude, feelings of stability, and confidence – all essential to reducing immune-weakening stress and fear.   (See accompanying article for a recipe for simple brown rice.)
  1. Exercise. Walk, bicycle ride, play a game, do a martial art, dance.  Perform some form of aerobic exercise daily.  Preferably breathe deeply and sweat.  The deeper you breathe and the more you sweat, the more pathogens you will eliminate from your body.   If possible, sit in a sauna once a week for ten minutes each time.  Do not stay for more than ten minutes because it will cause you to lose too many minerals from the excess heat and sweating. 
  1. Do the body scrub.  Take a warm, wet cloth and gently but firmly scrub your entire body with it until your body shines with a glistening, healthy glow.   Start scrubbing your face, neck, chest, arms, and hands.  Scrub your torso, your sides, and as much of your back as you can do.  Scrub your low back, buttocks, groin, and thighs, making sure that you go all the way around.  Scrub your calves and feet.  The body scrub will eliminate so much waste and stagnation.  It will also promote healthy circulation and elimination of toxins.  It will make your blood cleaner and freer of the foundations of disease. 
  1. Write your feelings weekly. Take the fall and winter to get in touch with your inner life.  Purge your anger on the page, feel your sadness, and experience compassion for yourself.  

Write in a journal as many times per week as you can.  Multiple studies have shown that emotional writing in a diary significantly boosts the overall immune response.  A study published in the medical journal, Psychosomatic Medicine (March-April, 2004) showed that men with HIV who engaged in emotional writing boosted their CD4 cell count and decreased their HIV viral load.   Conversely, non-emotional writing had no effect on the immune system. 

Other studies have reported similar findings.  An experiment published in the journal Health Psychology (July 2006) showed that even emotional writing via e-mail can significantly boost immune reaction. 

  1. Drink Green and Black Tea. Green and black tea are essentially two kinds of antioxidant soup.  Both contain an abundance of antioxidants, flavonoids, tannins, and indoles – all powerful immune boosters.   Green tea also contains one of the most powerful antioxidants in the food supply — EGCG, which helps fight all kinds of illnesses, including cancer.  It also slows aging, and promotes healing.
  2. Eat immune-boosting condiments and sauces, using sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sea vegetables, and kuzu. Kuzu is an herb used throughout traditional Western cultures to strengthen the intestines, lungs, and kidneys. It also boosts immunity.  (See accompanying article for foods, condiments, and sauces containing these and other immune boosters.)
  3. Eat Shiitake and other forms of mushrooms.

Mushrooms of virtually all types are powerful immune boosters and cancer fighters.   Shiitake, reishi, and maitake are among the most carefully studied, but new research is showing that other mushrooms are also powerful health enhancers.  Mushrooms lower blood cholesterol, reduce inflammation, boost immune strength, and fight cancer.   Eat mushrooms three times per week. 

(The accompanying article provides a recipe for kuzu-shiitake gravy, a delicious way to add flavor to your meal and boost your immune system at the same time.) 

  1. Eat healing herbs and spices, especially garlic, cumin, and tumeric.

Garlic is anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and immune boosting.  Taken in small amounts – in cooking – once or twice a week, it helps to cleanse the liver and promotes digestion. 

Cumin has been found to strengthen the urinary tract – which is essential for eliminating virus and disease causing agents.  Cumin also protects against bladder and prostate cancer. 

Tumeric is so powerful against viruses that it is now being studied as a possible treatment for HIV. 

Chamomilla, including chamomile tea, boosts macrophages and other immune cells that consume pathogens, including viruses of all kinds. 

  1. Eat seeds and nuts, especially pumpkin seeds, almonds, walnuts, and sesame seeds, both black and yellow.  

Seeds and nuts are abundant sources of immune boosting minerals, such as calcium and zinc, as well as antioxidants, such as vitamin E.   Eat a handful of nuts daily. 

  1. Whenever you are feeling weak, fatigued, or vulnerable to a cold or flu, drink one of the medicinal teas that alkalize your blood and digestion, boost energy, and strengthen immune response. Among the most powerful of these are ume-sho-kuzu and ume-sho-ban, both of which provide an instantaneous alkalizing tonic and increase energy and overall vitality.  These teas work quickly and are easy to make.  Simply follow the instructions provided below and feel how quickly they take effect. 

To a great extent, the strength of your immune strength is under your control.   Adopt as many of these recommendations as you can and watch yourself get stronger and stronger this fall and winter.