You Vs. THE-VID
How to bulletproof your immune system to athletically thrive in 2021 (Part II)
By Ryan McTeigue
I am not going to go into what Covid-19 is and how we got to this point - there are already enough articles, videos, blogs and information online thats been forced down your throat on the subject and I’m sure by now your probably tired of reading, hearing, and experiencing the social effects of these trying times.
Instead, I am going to go straight into 6 Practical Steps you can take - right now - to bulletproof your immune system so you can keep moving towards your physique and athletic performance goals in 2021.
As always, these steps are fully backed by scientific studies and evidence which are sited throughout the blog and at the conclusion. I will only give you verified steps to ensure your immune system is so high that no virus in the world can come within 100 miles when you integrate these 6 steps into your weekly routine and consistently apply them each day whenever possible.
You could call this your all-natural vaccine from this thing. I am not a medical doctor, but I Am an intelligent human being that can read between the lines, know my own body, my own immune system and the power we all have within us to overcome sickness especially when we remove toxicities from our physical vehicles and lifestyle and allow the body to do what it was designed to do - thrive!!!
The first one on the list is my favourite natural vaccine of all times and the most potent Immune booster in this list is - EXERCISE. As cited in the Journal of Sport and Health Science (Volume 8, Issue 3, May 2019, Pages 201-217) - exercise causes a change in antibodies and white blood cells which are the bodies immune system cells that fight ALL disease. These antibodies accumulate more rapidly with consistent exercise detecting illness and then destroying it before the sickness can take over the body.
Consistent exercise in the correct time frame and intensity lowers cortisol levels - the stress hormone that can either boost or lower the immune system. Cortisol is actually a necessary function in the body, however when it is kept high for prolonged periods of time, this can cause a decrease in the immune system. With financial and social stress at an all-time high in the world right now reducing elevated cortisol levels through physical exercise is more important than ever - especially for our mental and emotional state which prolonged elevated cortisol also readily effects.
Exercise also causes sweating and the heating of the body which leads to the release of toxins. There is also a vasodilation effect - where blood vessels expand improving circulation and improving further mobilisation of toxins from the body.
Drinking water can help improve the overall immunity of your body. Staying well hydrated helps the body naturally flush bacteria and toxins out that can cause infection or illness.
When we get an adequate amount of water daily, oxygen and nutrients are dispersed throughout the entire body, and waste material is flushed out from the body. Thus, it helps keep diseases at bay by increasing the bodies metabolism of cellular hydration and toxin removal.
As the immune system drives the health of the body and its capability to fight diseases and water hydration is scientifically proven to flush toxins thus improving the immune system then drinking enough water daily can be viewed as a preventative type of health maintenance.
Now we’ve covered how important it is to stay hydrated each day, next we’ll talk about the best types of water. One of the most hydrating and effective waters known today is called: Alkaline water. Alkaline refers to the pH scale of the water. This pH scale is from 0 - 14 and measures how acidic or basic a substance is. Alkaline water has a pH level between 8 and 10.
The difference between normal water and alkaline water is normal waters acidity level. Normal tap water contains more hydroxide than hydrogen ions.
Alkaline water also contains more minerals like; magnesium, potassium and calcium. It is known to neutralise toxic compounds present in the body. The body can also absorb more alkaline water - meaning more water that is consumed throughout the day can be used by the body to hydrate you.
Add some lemon to your water for an extra boost in vitamin C, B-vitamins, potassium, magnesium and iron. The vitamin C from the lemon juice helps prevent free radicals from causing cell damage which if allowed to build up - can lead to serious diseases like cancer.
The UV rays in our sun help the body to make more Vitamin D - which is considered one of the most important pro-hormones (not technically a vitamin) for the body as it is responsible for the health of all the bodies; bones, blood cells and the immune cells. It also helps the body absorb minerals and nutrients effectively. Low Vitamin D levels are linked to the development of autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
Apart from vitamin D’s direct effect on the immune system, it also helps to regulate the circadian rhythm - helping those who get adequate sunlight during the day fall asleep easily at night, meaning better rest and better recovery for the body.
4. Sleep and rest
Making sure your body has a chance to rest and recover from the day is important for your immune system to function at its full strength and full capacity.
When we sleep, our bodies produce a protein called cytokines, which target infection and inflammation, creating an immune response during our sleeping hours. Our bodies also produce T-cells during sleep, which are white blood cells that play a critical role in our body’s immune response to an infectious disease such as Covid-19.
Studies have found that this inflammation response caused by the cytokines occurs even when a person isn’t actively hurt or sick. Research conducted on the type of cells and cytokines involved in this nighttime immune activity indicates that its primary role is to - strengthen adaptive immunity7. Meaning, when we are in deep rest our body is teaching our immune system to be more resilient to disease and infection.
Just like sleep can help the brain consolidate learning and memory8, research now suggests that sleep strengthens the immune memory. The immune memory is the interaction of the immune system components during sleep reinforcing the immune system’s ability to remember how to recognize and react to dangerous antigens.
Does nutrition play a part in immunity and a strong or weak immune system? The answer is a loud - YES!
Eating enough nutrients as part of a varied diet is required for the health and function of all cells, including immune cells. Certain nutritional programs may better prepare the body for microbial attacks and excess inflammation, but it is unlikely that individual foods offer special protection. Each stage of the body’s immune response relies on the presence of many micronutrients. Examples of nutrients that have been identified as critical for the growth and function of immune cells include: vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, selenium, iron, and protein (including the amino acid glutamine). These micronutrients are all found in a variety of plant and animal foods.
Diets that are limited in variety and lower in nutrients, such as diets consisting of large amounts of ultra-processed foods and lacking in minimally processed foods, can negatively affect a healthy immune system. It is also believed that a Western diet high in refined sugar and red meat and low in fruits, vegetables and fibre can promote disturbances in healthy intestinal microorganisms, resulting in chronic inflammation of the gut, and associated suppressed immunity.
The microbiome is an internal galaxy of trillions of microorganisms that live in our body, mostly in the intestines. It is an area of intense and active research, as scientists are finding that the microbiome plays a key role in immune function. The gut is a major site of immune activity and the production of antimicrobial proteins. Diet plays a large role in determining what kinds of microbes live in our gut. A high-fiber plant-rich diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes appear to support the growth and maintenance of beneficial microbes.
Certain helpful microbes break down fibers into short chain fatty acids, which have been shown to activate immune cell activity. These fibers are called prebiotics because they feed microbes. Probiotic foods contain live helpful bacteria. Some examples of Probiotic foods are: Kefir, yogurt with live active cultures, fermented cheeses, fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut, tempeh, kombucha tea, kimchi and miso soup.
An example of some Prebiotic foods are: Garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, dandelion, bananas, seaweed. A good daily dosage of fruits and vegetables will provide a healthy amount of dietary prebiotics.
6. Immune boosting herbs and supplements
Lemon, Ginger, Tumeric, Cayenne pepper tonic:
This is a favourite tonic of mine, which is my go-to whenever I can feel my immune system lowered and sickness coming on and also during the times of feeling unwell.
For the best version of this tonic you will need a cold-pressed juicer. However if that is unavailable to you a normal juicer will suffice. Cut 2 lemons in quarters and feed directly into the cold press juicer, then juice around 50 grams of fresh Tumeric and 50 grams of fresh ginger and finally add 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper to the final juice. Mix this all up and take around 30mls for each dosage. This can be dosed 3 - 6 times in one day when your immune system is down. Or 1-3 times daily to keep your immune system high each day.
The lemon, ginger and turmeric work to clean the blood, destroy bad bacteria and pathogens while the cayenne pepper works to deliver all the nutrients of the mixture directly into the blood. This works wonders for the common flu and cold’s.
A deficiency of minerals and nutrients have ben scientifically proven to alter the body’s immune response. Studies have found that deficiencies in zinc, selenium, iron, copper, folic acid, and vitamins A, B6, C, D, and E can alter immune responses. These important nutrients help the immune system in several ways: working as an antioxidant to protect healthy cells, supporting growth and activity of immune cells, and producing antibodies. Epidemiological studies find that those who are poorly nourished of these important minerals are at greater risk of bacterial, viral, and other infections.
In conclusion, instead of focusing on the outer news, this article aims to focus you on your bodies inner news. By listening to your body and implementing these immune boosting practical steps will help you to actively navigate through these times by taking control of and boosting your bodies own natural defence system.
It is time to take back the power that has been given to others and take control of our lives again in 2021. I hope you find the hope in this article the way it was intended to be given - and take from it the gold you need to athletically, physically, emotionally and mentally thrive in the new year.
Peace and hard training everyone,