7 Ways to Create and Maintain a Healthy Immune System

Published April 1, 2020 by Jc Drobac

Whether it's avoiding colds, the flu, COVID-19, or other various illnesses, creating and maintaining a strong immune system is key in living a good quality—and ideally, a good quantity—of life. Here are some simple steps toward what we all want: a lifetime of good health!



1. Water and more water! Even though it's not summer—and we may not feel as thirsty—furnace or wood burner heat and even just the outside air being dries means our membranes, muscles, organs are challenged to stay hydrated, too. The human body is made up of an overall 60% water—though various organs like the heart, lungs, brain and muscles contain anywhere from 31% to 83% water—and keeping it replenished allows it to operate more efficiently. And remember, chugging is cheating! Our bodies can only absorb about a cup every 15 minutes at the most, so remember to intake water slowly and steadily. Consistency is key.

2. Supplements, get them as needed! Even the best diets these days can often stand a boost. Besides a good-quality multi-vitamin, here are some top contenders in protecting against illness.2. Supplements, get them as needed! Even the best diets these days can often stand a boost. Besides a good-quality multi-vitamin, here are some top contenders in protecting against illness.

  • Calcium is necessary for good bone and teeth strength. It's best if obtained through foods like dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese), tofu, almonds, kale, broccoli, leafy vegetables, navy beans, fortified orange juice, salmon, sardines, spinach, okra, soy milk. Signs of calcium deficiency—called "hypocalcemia"—can include leg cramps, confusion, muscle spasms and weakness, fatigue, irritability, and/or the sensation of pins and needles.
  • Vitamin C is necessary for the growth, development, and repair of all the body's tissues. It helps the formation of collagen and the absorption of iron, and is necessary for good immune system function and the maintenance of cartilage, bones, and teeth. Foods that contain vitamin C include kakadu plum, cherries, rose hips, chili peppers, guavas, sweet yellow peppers, oranges, blackcurrants, thyme, parsley, mustard spinach, kale, kiwis, broccoli, brussel sprouts, lemons, lychees, persimmons, papayas, strawberries. Signs of Vitamin C deficiency include muscle pain or weakness, skin wrinkling, fatigue, anemia, fever, loss of appetite, general malaise, bleeding gums or tooth loss, rashes or red spots, bruising, heart issues, irritability, and/or swollen gum.
  • Vitamin D2/D3: Vitamin D2 comes from plant-based foods. Vitamin D3 comes from animal-based foods. Both are converted in our bodies via the sun, and help our bodies absorb calcium. For those of us in the northern regions, the sun isn't strong enough from September to April to create this Vitamin D synthesizing process we need. So, supplements are how we can meet our need over the colder months. Signs of Vitamin D deficiency include frequent illness, fatigue/lethargy, bone pain, depression, slow wound healing, decrease in bone weight, hair loss, muscle pain, and weight gain, as well as being more vulnerable to rickets, colds, the flu, asthma, TB, high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis, and cancer.

3. Chicken soup. Yep, good ol' fashioned chicken soup (or a gluten-free version, like chicken and rice) is a great, age-old healing food that stands the test of time! Or, for a spicier twist, Vietnamese chicken pho soup (a spicy version of chicken soup with rice noodles) is guaranteed to open congested sinuses, and has electrolytes like sodium, magnesium, phosphorus that get depleted when sick.

4. Say 'no!' to round-up (or other Glyphosate-based herbicides) on your lawn. With spring upon us, wanting a weed-free lawn is a goal for many, but that can come at a deadly cost.

We've all walked our neighborhoods and see the tiny yard signage cautioning us to "keep kids and pets off lawn for 24 hours" due to pesticide sprayed on lawns. Besides the countless class-action lawsuits we've seen advertised, the National Institutes for Health, and pretty much anyone with their finger on the pulse knows how bad this stuff is for us. It can cause organ damage, impotence/lowers testosterone, birth defects, adrenal dysfunction, hypothalamic-pituitary issues, breast and other cancers, and more. Did you know if also wreaks havoc on our immune systems by destroying our good gut bacteria?

Glyphosate is preservative and is being discovered in our drinking water, as well as embedded in our tissues (found in autopsies) and can even disrupt our endocrine systems (which is responsible for metabolism, sexual function, reproduction, sleep, mood, tissue function, human growth and development). This stuff is toxic in every way, so to maintain our best health, it's best to avoid it—and even better is to educate others on the profound toxicity! Learn to love your weeds, hire an organic lawn service, or use low-maintenance grasses like no-mow fescue to get a beautiful lawn that doesn't compromise our health or kill garden-friendly worms and various other animals' health—including our dogs when walked, the water supply, and more.



5. Sleep, guilt-free! Feeling fatigued and craving a nap or early bedtime can be our bodies first hint that we are fighting off illness. So, listen to it, and give in to it! Cold weather makes for great sleep, so enjoy it both for good physical and good mental health. Even 'power naps' (20-30 minutes) can give us the boost we need to get through our day in better spirit/energy.

How can you tell if you're getting enough sleep at night? If you wake naturally (without an alarm) and feel refreshed—be it after 7 to 10 hours—you've found your ideal number of hours to sleep. But if you find you're needing more sleep these days, if only to compensate for the currently over-stressed world we're living in, it's okay to check out and enjoy some peaceful slumber time.

6. Maintain a positive mindset. Too often we let fear of getting sick create our reality. We think "well, my coworker /neighbor/spouse /child/community is sick," which can become the self-destructive message "therefore I am assured of getting sick, too!"  As a result, we write our own prescription for sickness. The truth is, we all come in contact with others all day long who are contagious, but whether we actually contract what they have depends a lot on our immune system and attitude. Strengthening our immune systems and feeling confident about our health can go a long way toward keeping us well all year round.



7. Keep alcohol and refined sugars at a minimum since they can suppress our immune system. Tempting as it is to "dull" the tension/anxiety with liquor or sweets at this time, opting for some exercise, an upbeat chat with a friend, or even family game time  is sure to have healthier results we feel good about!