When I was on active duty in the military, medical care, dental care, and prescription drugs were free. One of my Navy shipmates and I were on our way out for a day of liberty, when he said he needed to stop by the base pharmacy to pick up some antibiotics. I asked him if he felt ill. He told me that he was fine, that he had taken tetracycline for acne as a teenager, and that each time he tried to stop, he would catch everything that came into town. So now he felt like he had to take it permanently, because it had shut down his immune system.
Scientifically speaking, biologic immunity is the body’s ability to defend itself from nasty bugs and despicable diseases. Simply put, it’s the body’s personal Department of Defense. The natural resistance we’re born with consists of everything from layers of skin to white blood cells, and is usually termed innate immunity. Acquired protection is often called adaptive immunity, which can be developed artificially through methods such as immunization, or naturally as the body responds to a chance exposure to live pathogens.
To a warrior, immunity is their armor, shielding them against the fiery darts of the microscopic world. Let’s examine some of the things we can do to toughen up this armor, and boost our immune system.
Following accepted general health guidelines such as getting plenty of exercise and adequate sleep, controlling weight and blood pressure, and consuming a more natural, plant oriented diet, are important to a strong baseline of immunity. The diet I’m talking about is heavy on fresh fruits, nuts, berries, vegetables, and seeds.
That all seems pretty obvious, but are there some specific things we can include that will effectively bolster the body’s ability to defend itself? Absolutely, and most of them are easy, inexpensive, and delicious to add to an already healthy diet.
- Garlic is a killer. By that I mean it’s a powerful broad spectrum anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-almost-anything-bad agent.
- Oregano oil is amazing. I’ve heard it referred to as the “weed killer” for the body. It’s particularly effective on the bad bacteria in the digestive tract.
- Ginger is a pungent root that has strong anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial qualities, helps to eliminate toxins from the body, and cleanses the lymphatic system.
- Mushrooms are chock full of antioxidants and have been shown to enhance the immune system.
- Probiotics are helpful in reducing both intestinal and respiratory infections.
- Vitamin C is the glue that holds the body’s protective armor together.
- Vitamin D is a great facilitator of an effective immune system and actually helps in combating several diseases. It is often called the “sunshine vitamin” for obvious reasons. The body can normally produce adequate amounts from just 15 minutes of exposure to direct sunlight. You may also benefit from taking a vitamin D supplement.
- There are a number of herbs, like ginseng and echinacea, as well as the mineral zinc that are purported to reinforce the body’s defenses.
My mother was actually a huge part of my immune system when I was a boy. In fact she miraculously healed me one day when she emphatically said, “If you’re too sick to go to school, you’re too sick to watch tv.”
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