Your immune system is your body’s first line of defense against cancer. It’s normal for the body to have a few cancer cells, and some authorities believe they pose no problem at all as long your immune system is healthy. You never even know you’ve “got cancer” as your immune system wipes out these piddling little colonies of rogue cells.
In fact, I’ve heard some cancer experts call cancer an “immune deficiency disease.”
How does a person become immune-deficient? Or – to give it a more positive spin – how do you keep your immune system strong and healthy, to make sure you never get cancer? Today’s report is an overview of all the major steps you can take to do that.1
Avoid these threats to your immune system
1. Environmental and chemical hazards
Smoking, lawn and garden chemicals, plastics, and some vaccines can compromise your immune system. The toxins force your body to work overtime to process and expel them.
Then, when a pathogen comes along, your system is overtired, overworked, and unable to mount an appropriate response. It’s like trying to run sprints right after completing a marathon. Your body doesn’t have an ounce of energy left.
Drinking alcohol in moderation won’t damage your immune system, but be careful.2 Alcohol is hard on your body, hinders your ability to fight off disease, interferes with sleep hormones, and raises your blood sugar levels.
Oops, sorry. You can’t avoid this one.
But… you can avoid aging’s most common and dangerous side effects, especially a type of malnutrition called micronutrient malnutrition. This is common in older people, even in affluent countries – partly because your nutrient assimilation decreases with age.
Counter it by eating a balanced diet chock full of essential vitamins and trace minerals, the more the better.3 And read on for more about this.
4. Chronic stress
Prolonged emotional stress, such as family drama or challenges at work or on your commute, can weaken your immune system. Unchecked stress can lead to serious consequences like heart disease and cancer.4
You may have noticed you’re more likely to get a cold when you’re undergoing a lot of stress. That’s because stress lowers your immunity.
Nurture your immune system
1. Sleep 8 hours a night — uninterrupted, if possible.
Fragmented sleep changes how your immune system responds to cancer. In a study, mice with disrupted sleep developed more aggressive tumors that grew twice as large as the tumors of well-rested mice.5
2. Exercise and maintain a healthy weight.
Exercise improves your cardiovascular health, lowers your blood pressure, and improves your circulation, which allows your immune cells to move through your body freely and efficiently. Good circulation keeps your immune system operating at peak capacity.6
3. Get vitamin D.
Vitamin D helps kill bacteria, viruses, and fungi. It also reduces your risk of at least 17 different types of cancer.
But most Americans are vitamin D deficient. One study estimates that 50 to 70 thousand Americans die prematurely from cancer each year because their vitamin D levels are too low.7
Most people need at least 2,000 IU daily (about 35 IU per pound of body weight). But only a blood test can determine the amount you need, and a great many people should take five thousand, ten thousand, even 20,000 IU per day.
The best way to obtain your D is to get out in the sun daily around midday for at least 15 to 20 minutes. The darker your natural skin tone, the more sun time you’ll need for your skin to absorb vitamin D. During the winter, sunbathing will not be feasible for most people, especially in the north. So supplementation is almost always needed.
4. Eat a healthy diet.
Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, grass-fed beef, and pastured chicken. Avoid carbs that break down into sugar (which absolutely pummels your immune system).
These simple measures help maintain your healthy immune function. But sometimes you need a little extra help. How do you take your immune system from good to great?
7 Supplements that build superior immune function
Beta glucan makes your immune system smarter.8 Your body doesn’t naturally produce beta glucan, so you need to consume it. The best sources are mushrooms, yeast,9 and seaweed.10 We just wrote an extensive article outlining the benefits of beta glucan. Read more about beta glucan in Issue #701.
In addition to being a good source of beta glucan, mushrooms also contain powerful polysaccharides that help improve your white blood cells – especially your killer cells and macrophages.
Here are the most powerful types of mushrooms:
1. Agaricus blazei murill (ABM)
ABM is a potent natural immune builder and cancer killer.11 A Japanese study shows that ABM is 80 percent more effective than the world’s number one cancer drug, PSK.12
In another study, ABM increased NK cells – especially important for hunting down and killing cancer cells – by 3,000 percent in humans within two to four days.
2. Coriolus versicolor (Asian ‘Turkey Tail’)
This mushroom helps fight leukemia as well as stomach, esophagus, colorectal, lung, and breast cancers.13 More than likely it’s effective against all types of cancer. A study of women with breast cancer showed that Turkey Tail increased lymphocytes and T and B cells, and made NK cells more efficient.14
Shiitake mushrooms contain a sugar called lentinan, which tells your immune system to produce white blood cells. The mushrooms also trigger interferon production, which helps prevent certain viruses from replicating.15 Plus, they’re high in fiber, folate, potassium, magnesium, vitamin B6, and zinc.16
Called the “mushroom of immortality,” reishi holds a revered place in Chinese traditional medicine. Its potent effects against cancer and a number of other diseases have been confirmed by medical science. Rich in beta glucans and triterpenes, reishi ramps up your NK cells. Read more in Issue #406.
If you’re looking for high-quality mushroom supplements, I recommend Mushroom Science and Mushroom Wisdom.
Olive leaf contains two powerful ingredients: oleuropein and polyphenols. Oleuropein is antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-parasitic17 – basically anti-every type of pathogen. Polyphenols reduce inflammation and protect your DNA from free radicals.18
Olive leaf also prevents viruses from replicating and infecting healthy cells and can protect you from viral-related cancers.
Colostrum is the first milk a mother produces 24 to 48 hours after giving birth. This ‘super’ milk builds the newborn’s immune system. Cow milk colostrum contains even more immune factors than human milk colostrum does.
According to Dr. Daniel G. Clark, author of the book Colostrum, Life’s First Food, “bovine colostrum rebuilds the immune system, destroys viruses, bacteria, and fungi, accelerates healing of all body tissue, helps lose weight, burn fat, increase bone and lean muscle mass and slows down and even reverses aging.” You can check out Issue #363 for more about colostrum.
You can buy colostrum as a supplement.
Clinical studies published in the Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology show that lactoferrin (also found naturally in milk) can prevent colon, esophagus, lung, and bladder cancers from growing in laboratory rats. Like colostrum, you can get it as a supplement.
Your immune system has many types of specialized cells. Ginseng has the ability to supercharge all of them.19 This means ginseng helps your body fight a wide range of infections and disease,20 including cancer.21
Zinc acts as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. It helps keep your immune system healthy, triggers enzymes to act, builds proteins, and creates DNA. If you’re deficient in zinc, animal sources are better than plant sources. Think seafood, beef, lamb, lean pork shoulder, and chicken… all organic and (in the case of meat) grass-fed if possible.
To keep your immune system from breaking down, plan and execute a healthy lifestyle with sleep, exercise, and smart foods, and take these immune-boosting supplements. These steps will help prepare your system to fight cancer and other invaders.
References Article #1:
1 “How to boost your immune system.” Harvard Health Publications. Harvard Medical School. 2016 June.
4 “How to boost your immune system.” Harvard Health Publications.
6 “How to boost your immune system.” Harvard Health Publications.
7 Grant WB, Holick MF. “Benefits and requirements of vitamin D for optimal health: a review.” Altern Med Rev. 2005 Jun; 10(2):94-111.
8 Jockers, David, DC, MS, CSCS. “How Beta Glucans Boost Immunity & Fight Cancer.” The Truth About Cancer.
11 Firenzuoli F, Gori L, Lombardo G. “The Medicinal Mushroom Agaricus blazei Murrill: Review of Literature and Pharmaco-Toxicological Problems.” Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2008 Mar; 5(1): 3–15.
12 Takaku T, Kumura Y, Okuda H. “Isolation of an antitumor compound from Agaricus blazei Murill and its mechanism of action.” J Nutr 2001 May;131(5):1409-13
13 Thyr, Sara, ND. “Efficacy of Coriolus Versicolor (Yun Zhi) on Survival in Cancer Patients.” Natural Medicine Journal. 2012;4(12).
14 Torkelson Carolyn J, et al. “Phase 1 Clinical Trial of Trametes versicolor in Women with Breast Cancer.” ISRN Oncol. 2012; 2012: 251632.
18 Boss Anna, Bishop Karen S, Marlow Gareth, Barnett Matthew PG, Ferguson Lynnette R. “Evidence to Support the Anti-Cancer Effect of Olive Leaf Extract and Future Directions.” Nutrients. 2016 Aug; 8(8): 513.
19 Kang Soowon, Min Hyeyoung. “Ginseng, the ‘Immunity Boost’: The Effects of Panax ginseng on Immune Stystem.” J Ginseng Res. 2012 Oct; 36(4): 354–368.
20 Azike CG, Charpentier PA, Lui EM. “Stimulation and suppression of innate immune function by American ginseng polysaccharides: biological relevance and identification of bioactives.” Pharm Res. 2015 Mar;32(3):876-97. doi: 10.1007/s11095-014-1503-3. Epub 2014 Sep 11.
21 Kang Soowon, Min Hyeyoung. “Ginseng, the ‘Immunity Boost’: The Effects of Panax ginseng on Immune Stystem.”