As a cancer survivor, building my immune system is my number one focus. It is vital for you cancer survivors who want permanent remission as well as my readers who are non-cancer survivors (AKA regular people) who don’t want to get sick this cold and flu season!
Since January is my cancerversary month (the triple negative breast cancer diagnosis on the 2nd and my stem cell transplant “birthday” for mantle cell lymphoma on the 28th), this month I’ll be bringing to the blog the major themes that I have learned from my cancer journey.
Last week I wrote about the importance of celebrating milestones like cancerversaries. Celebration is essential but the topic of today’s post is incredibly important for those creating permanent remission. In fact, it is possibly the one thing all people should focus on to stay healthy and strong.
It may seem obvious to want a strong immune system. But how many of us actively focus on ways to build it, or even know how to keep it strong? Doesn’t it just work on its own? Yes it does! Amazingly, despite all of our lifestyle habits that actually wear it down (think stress, poor eating, drinking too much, smoking, not getting enough sleep, I could go on and on), our immune system cells keep plugging away.
But how about we give those guys a break and actually start some lifestyle habits that help them do their job?
How to boost your immune system
Our bodies are amazing. We have a built in system to keep us well fighting germs, viruses and even cancerous abnormal cells. It is the incredible immune system! There are two types of immune system cells: B-cells and T-cells. These are highly specialized defenders of our body.
B-cells create antibodies that kill bacteria in their tracks. T-cells are the super killers. They float around looking for invaders or abnormal cells. Some of them send instructions to the immune system for the most effective weapon to kill the invader it has discovered. Others kill the invaders directly.
There are many ways to boost the immune system and in particular the cancer-fighting T-cells. Here are my top five to implement in your life right away.
- Eat right. Lay off the sugar and processed grains, avoid beef and processed meats, eat more vegetables especially dark green leafy greens and mushrooms.
- Manage stress. Try healthy stress management practices like yoga, meditation, and exercise. Lay off the unhealthy ones like smoking and drinking.
- Heal your gut. I put this third but it may be the most important because 80% of your immune system is in your gut. Chemotherapy and antibiotics wreak havoc on the good bacteria that live in our gut so it’s important to focus on rebuilding them. They also play a part in all sorts of other important functions like regulating our hormones and moods. Consider trying a course of a reputable probiotic and definitely try eating probiotic rich foods like yogurt, kim chi, kefir, sauerkraut, and kombucha. My doctor’s favorite probiotic brands are Vital Nutrients, HMF Forte, Klaire Labs, and MegaSpore.
- Get Vitamin D. I recommend taking a supplement of D3 because it seems we are all deficient in this important vitamin-like hormone, especially if we don’t spend a lot of time in the sun. The immune system’s cancer fighting T-cells are activated by vitamin D so let’s make sure we are turning them on!
- Be happy and connect with people. Laughing has been shown to be good for your immune system and happiness and human connection have been hailed in a recent Harvard study to be the most important factor in human longevity. Give hugs, laugh with your friends, notice the joy in life.
Let me know in the comments below which Tip you’ll try first!