How do I boost my immune system? It is one of the most frequently asked questions at CANCERactive. People who want to prevent disease know that a strong immune system will give them better protection. People who have an illness understand that their immune system has failed them and they want to rebuild it.
But there´s a third group of people. Those who have cancer and have taken the chemotherapy - they need a quick fix.
1. EAT a high SOLUBLE FIBRE, high BIOACTIVE FOODS DIET
The University of Illinois Medical School has shown conclusively that a high intake of soluble fibre boosts the immune system. Indeed, people with the highest intake of soluble fibre have the best immune systems - oats, nuts and seeds and pulses would be a start.
The Rainbow Diet is the CANCERactive diet of choice because there is so much quality and clear research to support it (See Here). It advocates eating whole foods with lots of natural fibre (think lentils, nuts, seeds, fresh vegetables), low but ´whole´ carbs, high good fat levels and serious amounts of foods with vibrant colours.
A growing number of research studies has now shown that the Rainbow Diet is actually a better diet for all manner of chronic diseases like heart, diabetes, stress reduction and cancer than that recommended by Health Authorities! Research even shows it will help you live longer!
It provides great levels of essential minerals (fundamental to controling your body´s alkalinity and pH) while giving the body bioactive natural compounds like phenols, carotenoids, anthocyanins and sulforaphanes. Garlic, selenium, fish oils, carotenoids, salvestrols like resveratrol, the dark red anthocyanins of beetroot and cherries are all important. There is plenty of reference to what is in the Corrective and Protective Rainbow Diet on this website. You can also look at our review on Epigenetics - See here - 60 or more natural compounds have corrective benefits in cancer.
Importantly, the diet also involves no ´empty´ sugar, processed or refined foods. There are two big benefits. Firstly, a glucose-rich food or meal temporarily flattens the immune system. Secondly, reducing glucose and High Fructose Corn Syrup consumption greatly, also reduces your insulin levels and thus inflammation in the body - really important when fighting cancer.
You can buy the Rainbow Diet book (and also Rainbow Recipes) by clicking this link.
2. CLEAN UP YOUR LIVER; lower your LDL
The liver is the largest organ in the body and is your organ of detoxification but few people understand it is crucial to your immune system. Furthermore, cancer cells produce lactate which poisons the liver resulting in fat building up in the liver and ´backwashing´ into the lymph and blood systems. People with the highest levels of LDL in their blood stream get more metastases and survive least. It is essential that you tackle this.
3. TAKE EXERCISE where you get out of breath
Exercise produces hormones called endorphins, and these are powerful positive drugs inside your body. Exercise massively improves the immune system. It moves the lymph and dissolves visceral fat, both taking toxins away from cells. It oxygenates the blood, and endorphins neutralise the harmful hormones like Cortisol, the stress hormone, and Human Growth Hormone. Research now clearly shows that LIGHT TO MODERATE DAILY EXERCISE is the aim - about 40 to 60 minutes a day, ideally early morning and, ideally, you need to get puffed/out of breath. If you can manage it. It improves survival rates of some cancer patients by 50 per cent. It does not have to be strenuous. But you have to do it. Movement is essential as you have no ´heart´ to pump the immune system for you. You have to do this for yourself. You don´t need to go for the ´burn´ or wear lycra; Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Yoga are a good place to start. You need to move your thoracic duct in your chest - so press ups and swimming breast stroke are great if you feel more energetic.
4. HEAL Ur GUT
Have you ever known a small child who seemed to get a cold every week? It wasn´t a cold. They´d touched the cat, then put their fingers in their mouth. They´d put a new bacterium in their gut. Their white immune cells had come out to attack. The immune system had developed some new cell structures to deal with the invader. Your gut is responsible for 85 per cent of your immune system - and your immune memory, until you take drugs, Proton Pump Inhibitors and antibiotics. But you can also damage it with stress, smoking, pickles (vinegar) and alcohol and parasites, amongst other things.
Research has now shown your gut ´microbiome´ gets ill first, then you get ill. And you cannot get better until it gets better. But then it doesn´t just control your immune system; it MAKES certain compounds like short-chain esters which can reduce chronic inflammation throughout the body. Without them, your body takes another battering. It it is imperative that you give yourself a HUG -
5. TAKE SUPPLEMENTS
OK. So they are the long-term fixes. What can you do in the short-term?
You have approximately 20 different types of white cell. You are unlikely to boost all the different types with just one supplement. We suggest a spectrum - for example, curcumin, grape seed extract/pine bark extract, herbs such as echinacea or astragalus or cat´s claw, beta-glucans, and melatonin. That should cover pretty well everything.
Curcumin - take with olive oil and black pepper (piperine) - is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immune booster of some note.
Melatonin is the largest antioxidant we make as animals and is very calming. It´s why sleep is so healing.
Beta-glucans - naturally occurring polysaccharides from pathogenic bacteria and fungi (like ´medicinal´ mushrooms´). They have a strong effect on the immune system (1) by causing a positive reaction, and enhancing natural killer and macrophage action. You can eat mushrooms, and buy extracts. Immiflex, PSP and PSK are the ´in´ ones at the moment.
There are other ´polysaccharide´ immune boosters - like extracts from seaweed, and the Chinese herb astragalus.
And astragalus has a double benefit - it boosts the immune system and helps the white cells see the bad guys. On the subject of herbs, you could consider echinacea and cat´s claw.
Vitamin E (all 8 forms) is good, as is vitamin A.
We prefer natural chlorella, to vitamin A as it lets your body make the amount of A it needs. Then there´s vitamin C, but this is poorly absorbed if consumed in pill or powder form (more expensive, but better is liposomal vitamin C.
Finally, there is MGN-3 Biobran, which has a great deal of research to support it. It is expensive and total white cell count goes impressively high. But I´d like to see more information on the width of the white cells enhanced.
6. ACTIVATE YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM WITH VITAMIN D
It seems that boosting the volume of the white cells AND getting them to recognise a rogue cell still isn´t enough. 2011 research showed that the first thing your T-cells do before they attack a rogue cell is pick up a vitamin D molecule to ´activate´ themselves. Without the vitamin D, they cannot attack. This is one reason why vitamin D is so important. If you cannot get 2 to 4 hours in the sunshine a day, take Boston Medical School´s recommendation. Supplement with 5,000IUs a day.
Vitamin K plays some part in this binding process but this is not perfectly clear as yet.
So, Vitamin D is crucial to a strong immune system. It is important to note however that taking drugs greatly reduces your plasma vitamin D levels and so you should increase you intake of sunshine or supplement.
7. CUT OUT TRANS FATS AND GLUCOSE FROM YOUR DIET
I have told you that cholesterol and fat can ´clog up´ (it´s a biochemical term!) your liver, pancreas and lymph. Trans fats are the worst - they come on fast food and junk food, and also in some packaged foods and processed foods. But saturated fats are not helpful either, causing not just a build up of fat in your liver and lymph, they are the building blocks for certain hormones like oestrogen.
Sugar (glucose and high fructose corn syrup) is awful. 2015 research in the American Journal of Public Health showed that a daily glucose rich fizzy soft drink damages your immune system AS MUCH AS SMOKING!!
People reach for a fruit smoothie on their supermarket shelf and do not realise how the glucose ´hit´ hammers their immune system about 30 minutes after drinking it. Cut out all added glucose (and HFCS) from your life (Fizzy soft drinks, puddings, ice cream, chocolate cake, smoothies and bought fruit juice, biscuits, refined foods, refined honey etc).
Sugar damages your immune system and cancer cells love it. People with the highest levels of blood glucose develop more cancers and survive least. Glucose has even been shown to cause cancer.
8. HAVE UNINTERRUPTED SLEEP IN A DARKENED, EMF-free ROOM
Always sleep in a fully darkened room with no EMFs around you - Elctromagnetic Fields include WiFi, computers, cell phones, masts and aerials and more. About 1 hour after you fall asleep your pineal gland makes Melatonin and it pushes you into a deeper sleep. People who have disturbed sleep develop more hormonally-driven cancers.
What few people seem to know is that melatonin is the biggest antioxidant we animals make. It is also anti-inflammatory and why sleep is so healing. It also regulates oestrogen and growth hormone in the body. We make less and less of it as we pass the age of 50 years.
You can supplement about 30 minutes before going to bed. It is thought that supplements above 10 mgs can cause hallucinations but there is clear research on the benefits of 20 mg supplements of melatonin to fight cancer. You will have to buy it on-line. Available in supermarkets in the USA, you can only obtain it on prescription in Europe.
9. LAUGH, BE HAPPY
Remember what you enjoyed doing a decade ago? Playing Tennis, watching comedy shows? People who laugh a lot have stronger immune systems; so go and buy some old funny videos. People who have good sex lives have stronger immune systems - no comment. People who meditate have stronger immune systems - find a meditation class to go with the yoga. UCLA have produced several studies showing those who meditate survive significantly longer! People who and in awe of a wonderful view - they have a boost in their immune system too.
Be Happy - Conversely, cut out the things (and people) who make you feel inadequate, worthless, guilty, cause you stress.
10. AVOID ´CHEMICALS OF CONCERN´
Go toxin-free. A UK Royal Commission stated that there were over 4,000 chemicals in common use in your own homes, two-thirds were probably toxic and one-third probably carcinogenic. The EuroMPs voted to ban over 1,000 chemicals of concern in 2005. Nothing happened. The average woman comes in to contact with approximately 680 ´chemicals of concern´ in her own home every month. These chemicals damage your immune system and worse.
It is not hard to go ´Toxin-free´.
11. DON´T SMOKE
Hardly a surprise really. The main reason is that it reduces blood oxygen levels, increases the acidity in the blood and the gut. The first directly down-grades the immune system; the second stops your commensal gut bacteria doing their immune boosting job.
12. DON´T DRINK TOO MUCH ALCOHOL
Latest Government advice is for a maximum of 15 units a week. Alcohol reduces your magnesium and B vitamin levels, poisons your liver and depresses the immune system.