As you go about your daily life, you come in contact with all sorts of things that could make you sick. Germs are everywhere, as are carcinogens and other toxins that could be detrimental to your health.
Fortunately, your immune system quietly goes about its business, responding to the pathogens you encounter and keeping you healthy.
In fact, most people only think about their immune system when it fails, and they get sick.
Have you ever wondered why two people can encounter the same germs and only one gets sick? Have you ever eaten the same meal as someone else at a restaurant, and only one of you winds up with food poisoning?
The answer to these puzzling situations is immune function.
In healthy immune system, your body responds to events that could cause illness or injury, seeking to restore you to healthy function as quickly as possible.
How Immunity Works
Your immune system works on multiple levels.
1 – Initially, it strives to protect you from toxins or pathogens entering your body by forming a physical barrier. In fact, all of the surfaces of your body are bacteria and virus resistant, and mucous membranes contain enzymes that further break down the cell walls of substances that shouldn’t be in your body.
This occurs on the parts of your body you can see, such as your eyes and skin, as well as internally, such as in the mucous membranes of your intestines.
2 – Next, your immune system seeks to detect and eliminate those pathogens that make it through your body’s barrier system before they have a chance to proliferate. It does this with a variety of substances designed to fight disease, including antibodies, interferon, and lymphocytes (white blood cells).
T-cells, which are a type of white blood cell, come in two forms to fight immunity. On this level of immunity, “helper” T-cells detect invaders and send out an alarm to the rest of your body to come in and fight.
3 – If pathogens have managed to proliferate, then your body next attempts to eliminate the illness by getting rid of them on a massive scale.
In this stage, you will most likely notice common reactions that manifest as “illness,” which is your body’s attempt to eliminate the invaders. Here “killer” T-cells fight the pathogens in a massive attempt to eliminate them from your body.
4 – The final level on which your immune system operates is slightly different than germ-based illnesses. Instead, this stage is your body’s attempt to find cancerous cells and eliminate them before they proliferate. Your body’s tumor necrosis factor (TNF) fights off tumor formation by stopping cell proliferation.
Unfortunately, TNF can get out of balance in your body, leading to increased inflammation, which can cause heart disease and other autoimmune disorders.
Immune System Reactions
If your immune system is unable to fight off whatever pathogen or toxin you come across and you do get sick, your body does whatever it can to rid you of the germs in your system. Below are examples of immune system reactions.
1 – Inflammation: In the presence of foreign invaders, your body produces large numbers of white blood cells in your bone marrow. This is known as inflammation, and it is important in fighting off disease.
However, the body’s inflammatory response can get out of control and lead to inflammatory autoimmune disorders including arthritis, lupus, and fibromyalgia. Chronic inflammation may also negatively impact all of the body’s organs, including the heart.
2 – Fevers: When you spike a fever, it is your body’s attempt to become inhospitable to the germs that are making you sick. In fact, spiking a high temperature is actually a sign of a healthy immune system. Your body is doing what it needs to in order to return to health. If you suppress the fever, then you are creating a body temperature that is more hospitable to the germs that are making you sick, and you are teaching your body its natural responses are incorrect.
When a fever arises, I recommend resting in bed, relaxing, and eating only when you truly feel hungry. Lack of appetite during fever means your body is using its energy to fight the infection, and you don’t need to be spending it on digestion. As always, let’s learn from nature: when animals are sick they naturally fast for some time to help healing.
3 – Vomiting and diarrhea: When you ingest something that is not healthy for your body, your digestive system works to expel it in the most expedient and efficient way possible.
The result – your body rapidly evacuates everything you put in it in order to expel whatever it finds to be toxic.
Intestines and Immunity
Many pathogens may enter your body through your intestines, which break down the foods you eat into usable parts and waste. They then absorb nutrients and, in some cases, pathogens.
To protect you from this, your bowel contains plicae circulares, large flaps of mucous membranes that serve as an internal physical barrier to fight off pathogens. This barrier is especially important in the intestines, which contains millions of naturally occurring microbes.
Your gut also contains healthy flora, which keeps potentially harmful microbes in balance and at bay, further protecting you from illness. In fact, about 70 to 80 percent of the battle for your body’s health via the immune system occurs in the gut resultant of this beneficial flora. When it gets out of balance, illness often results.
As I say over and over again, your overall health and beauty largely depend on the health of your intestines!
Studies also show that gut flora is instrumental in the development of immune system components. Intestinal dysbiosis occurs when good and bad bacteria get out of balance in the gut, which can lead to many immune damaging conditions such as leaky gut syndrome and other autoimmune disorders.
Keeping a Healthy Gut
Since your intestines play such a key role in maintaining your body’s overall immunity, maintaining gut health is essential. Toxins can build up on intestinal walls, overflowing into the rest of your body and keeping you from enjoying vibrant health.
Fortunately, your lifestyle habits can help you maintain gut health. I outline my full plan for gut health in The Beauty Detox Solution.
Here, I will briefly outline steps you can take to protect your immunity via gut health.
1 – Keep food moving through your intestines. Always eat heavier foods later in the day in order to prevent the backup and putrefaction of foods.
2 – Cut down your meat intake to at most once a day, and work to cut down from there to a few times a week maximum (one to three ounces a serving, depending on your size). Animal protein is very slow moving, and cause putrefaction and the proliferation of the bad bacteria that love to feast on the rotting matter.
3 – Avoid gluten grains (wheat, rye, spelt, and barley), which can harm intestinal villi. Avoid dairy products, as well, which contain casein which is very hard for the body to digest.
4 – Eat mostly organic plant foods including plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Fresh produce contains enzymes that help break down foods and digest them easily. Tryout the green smoothie diet, a simple diet made easily ahead of time and stores easily.
5 – Ensure you have plenty of beneficial gut flora by taking a probiotic supplement twice a day.
6 – Eat my Probiotic and Enzyme salad several times a day to maintain healthy gut flora.
7 – Avoid taking antibiotics unless absolutely necessary, because they kill off all types of bacteria, not just the “bad” stuff. If you have a healthy immune system, chances are you will not need antibiotics to fight off illness anyway, since your body will do it for you.
wow thak you for this thorough and in-depth explanation of the immune system. i like ayurvedas philosophy as well, with our reproductive organs as the end station.
I almost never have a fever, not even when I’ve got a nasty infection ….How can that be explained? And what can I do about it?
Greetings from Antwerp, Belgium
wow im also from Belgium didn’t know anyone knew her here 🙂
Hi Kimberly, I am a big fan of you!! I have a question, what do you think about decaff coffee??
Hi Angela, thank you! Decaf coffee can be decaffeinated by harsh chemicals. If you want to drink it occasionally, you should choose an organic variety where the caffeine is removed via a water-based process. Still, I don’t consider it a beautifying beverage. Love xx
Ever since I included the GGS into my diet everyday (35 oz. per day) and following all of your advice for 10 months – I never get sick. Allergies gone during the Spring and Fall months. Just feel good all the time. Thanks! It’s the way to eat and live. Simple and life fulfilling!
That is awesome Kibby! Keep up the good work!!!!
Hi Kim! What do you know and think about aloe vera juice? I have heard that it can be beneficial to your digestive system. I have been having stomach problems lately and am already taking probiotics so I was wondering if it could help.
Yes, try it out! It may be soothing to the stomach and beneficial for you. xx
Please can you answer me what do you think about High intensity training, short but intense. I was practise HIT for 6 month and my skin got worse (I keep my diet very clean) and also I have lost my period when I have break from it my skin get better and within month I got my period back. Thanks a lot
Hi Sam, well i think you answered your own question! Your body seems more balanced without it, and we all have to listen to our bodies and do what serves it best, regardless if it is something that is beneficial to some people. xx
Loved this! Also loved, loved the book! The green smoothie immediately gives me this tingly feelings, I am hooked for life! My question is, I have Pea Protein powder that I enjoy…it’s only ingredients are pea protein isolate, vanilla and stevia and it has only 1 carb per serving. In your opinion, what food types could this appropriately combine with? Would it be the same rule as any protein? I really like having the powder and almond milk shakes for breakfast…after the green smoothie, of course!
Also, I have been doing volunteer work with children in Peru since September and am LOVING all the fresh and cheap produce from markets. Any super food from this part of the world that I should look to take advantage of?
Keep up the great work!
That is great. You can have that with almond milk and some stevia. I recommend having it later in the afternoon, but if you want to have it after the GGS days when you are super hungry and low on options, be sure to wait at least 30 minutes! There’s great stuff in Peru and I liked the coca tea when I was there, as well as the tea de manzanilla (spelling?). Not such a big fan of the guinea pig though. 🙂
Hello and hohoho!
Love, love, love your blog as well as your book. Has lead me and many friends to a healthier path. We all especially appreciate your view of do the best you can and do better the next day as well as understanding life is meant to be enjoyed so dont stress the small %#^€!
I’m curious to hear your take on Himilayan salt products (lamps, sole, deodorant bars, etc.) I know you recommend them for cooking in your book but nothing further is mentioned.
With great appreciation and <3,
Thank you so much!
I love Himalayan salt products. I use the candles and also the deodorant bars, as well as a salt scrub in the shower. It has a lot of amazing uses!
Was very interested to see you mention fibromylagia in this post as I am a sufferer and have been since diagnosed at 18 years of age. (I am now 31). I manage the condition with an exercise plan (walking, yoga and light weight training), healthy eating and a low dose antidepressant medication.
I would be very interested to hear any other thoughts you have on this type of condition and any advice you have for me.
I love your blog and as a result avocados, coconut water/oil and chia seeds are daily staples as well as no dairy/meat/refined carbs.
Thanking you in advance x
Thanking you in advance x
I absolutly love your blog! Its so encouraging and educational! Ive been trying to incorporate as many plants in my diet as possible and cut out dairy as well, but in the winter I just love creamy soups so I wanted to share this great vegan creamy soup recipe I found that follows the rules 🙂
Coconut Carrot Soup
2-3 large carrots, chopped small
1 onion, chopped small
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
1 3/4 cup vegetable broth
1 14 ounce can coconut milk
sea salt, to taste
Simmer the carrots, onions, ginger and curry powder in vegetable broth for 20-25 minutes, until carrots are soft.
Allow to cool slightly, and then puree in blender, working in batches if needed.
Return to heat and stir in coconut milk until well combined.
Hope you enjoy! 🙂
Im from A small town in australia and a massive fan of yours!!! i live buy your book and blog 🙂 but i still dont feel 100% and i dont undersrtand what i am doing wrong … i only eat raw (except for pumpkin and asparagus) no dairy, no gluten, no animal protien, and have coffee about twice a week (its my social treat). i drink the GGS atleast 4 -5 times a week for breakfast and the rest is all salads from your amazing reciepes …. but my glands under my throat are always swollen, please help me fix this! i feel as though this is what is draining my energy and giving me small pimples over my face.
Thankyou so much for you inspiration
Lots of love
Any tips on purposeful eating to improve or beat LUPUS symptoms?
Hi Kim 🙂
My mum has leaky gut syndrome. She has started 100% gluten, dairy and sugar free and only ever drinks and washes her veggies in filtered water. Do you recommend anything else to prevent her getting it back once she get rid of it?
I’ve been on the beauty detox for a few weeks now and am feeling phenomenal! I have SLE and Herpes Simplex (cold sores) and I am happy to say that I am off all my medications for the Lupus and have not had a flare up in weeks. I have a question about my cold sores though. I’ve just noticed a breakout starting and I was wondering if you have any additional tips for those of us with the disease? I am not exercising while I have a flare up because I’ve noticed in the past it makes my breakouts worse….
Great blog you have got here.. It’s difficult to find high quality writing like yours these days. I truly appreciate people like you! Take care!!
Lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease that occurs when your body’s immune system attacks your own tissues and organs. Inflammation caused by lupus can affect many different body systems — including your joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart and lungs. ^`..’