It’s that time of year again. All around, you hear a symphony of…Sniffle. Cough. Sneeze. Ugh, you think to yourself, can you pleeease cover your mouth or stay home from work so you don’t infect the rest of us? Get away!
But the truth is, it’s not about the germs “getting you.” 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. You can’t control those things, but what you can control is your own immunity.
My boyfriend had a serious fever last week. He was sniffling and coughing away, going through copious amounts of what I affectionately call “snot rags,” ie contaminated tissues, that ended up being strewn all over the bed at night. TMI? Sorry but want to prove a point! I made him Immunity Tea a few times a day and made sure he was eating Probiotic & Enzyme Salad and taking probiotics to help him get better as soon as possible. He was run down from traveling a lot and working late. But I never for a second worried about myself getting sick. No siree. I nestled my head into his chest every night like usual- instead of treating him like a direct import from a leper colony- and even mistakenly drank out of his water bottle a bunch of times, because I wasn’t that concerned. I didn’t get so much as a little sniffle.
No I’m not super woman. But I keep my immunity super strong at all times with my lifestyle choices. And you can do the same.
Have you ever pondered why two people can encounter the same germs and only one gets sick (and if you’re the one getting sick it’s annoying as heck isn’t it)? 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. When your immune system is healthy, your body responds to events that could cause illness or injury, seeking to restore you to healthy function as quickly as possible. So instead of being paranoid about the outside, which you can never really have control over, focus on strengthening the inside.
How Immunity Works
Your immune system works on multiple levels. Here’s the technical stuff:
- 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.
- 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 lymphocites (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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
The intestines are among the organs I am most fascinated by- because I think optimal digestion and the efficient and continual removal of internal waste is one of the major keys to health and beauty. So yay for me, I get to talk about them here again:
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.
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.
- Keep food moving through your intestines. Always eat heavier foods later in the day (rather than first thing or at lunch) so those foods have adequate time to digest, and backup and inhibited digestion is avoided in general.
- Avoid gluten grains (wheat, rye, spelt, and barley), which can harm intestinal villi. New breeds of wheat may contain way less minerals and much more gluten than what was consumed by prior generations, which may be a reason that so many people’s bodies seem to be so sensitive to this type of protein. Avoid dairy products, as well, which very hard for the body to digest for many reasons (one being that it is not actually people food).
- 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. They contain many of the essential vitamins and nutrients our body needs to stay healthy.
- Ensure you have plenty of beneficial gut flora by taking a probiotic supplement twice a day. I really like Dr. Ohhira’s probiotics.
- Eat my Probiotic and Enzyme salad several times a day in this season (!) to maintain healthy gut flora. I recommend half a cup at dinner for sure, and some also with your lunch, if possible. Many of my clients keep it stocked in their trailer and add it to their lunches, as I instruct them to. You can also buy raw kraut in the refrigerated section of health stores if you are scared of culturing/fermenting vegetables, or until you get more comfortable with the process.
- 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 in most instances you will not need antibiotics to fight off illness anyway (of course there are some instances where it is authentically warranted), since your body will do it for you, if you fortify it and its natural power.
What do you recommend when one absolutely has to take antibiotics? (Can I take probiotics with antibiotics, and is there anything else I can do to repopulate good bacteria?)
Yes. I have to treat my chronic lymes disease with antibiotic treatment right now. I take Advanced Naturals BoulardardiiMax which is a probiotic with prebiotics for gastrointestinal support. Once off antibiotic I will work hard on what is now a most likely sterile gut.
I would eat a lot of Probiotic & Enzyme salad (basically raw kraut). If you don’t want to make it you can buy some from the store. It’s important to get a food-based source of probiotics into your diet, not just a supplement (though probiotic supplements are great also). xx
Do you still recommend no fruit if there is a candida issue? I.e. eating your raw rolled oat cereal for breakfast instead? I have been taking the dr. Ohhiras probiotic like you have suggested, but I can only afford to take 1/day. Is that doing enough, or is there a less expensive brand you recommend also? Lastly, was wondering what foods you recommend to increase levels of zinc/zinc absorption in the body?
Thank you xx
Hi Julia, I know, it is expensive. The Garden of Life Primal Defense is good also, but I think it is pricey too You can also make Probiotic & Enzyme Salad, and eat lots of that every day. Cabbage is super cheap! xx
what is probiotic & Enzyme Salad?
Thanks for posting this, Kimberly! I just got finished with the second round of sickness that has swept through my house-and I didn’t get sick!!! Out of 6 of us, I was the only one who didn’t succumb to the germs. I’ve been drinking my detox tea with lemon every morning, and taking my vitamins, (Supermom multi, cod liver oil, B vitamins) But the biggest reason, I think, that I haven’t gotten sick is that I’m taking Dr. Ohhira’s probiotic every day! I really believe that the gut flora is making all the difference. If an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, then Dr. Ohhira’s is worth it’s weight in gold!
That’s amazing! Glad your immunity is up. 🙂
Love this article, Kim! Is raw kraut safe while breastfeeding and pregnant? It is the only thing stopping me! Thanks!
I love the P&E salad, but I’m nursing now, and my baby gets extremely fussy several hours after I eat it. I’ve heard cabbage can upset a baby’s tummy. Advice?
are probiotics good for kids ?
Hi Kimberly – Thank you for posting this article. It couldn’t have come at a better time! My hubby and I are feeling like a cold is coming on so we made your immunity tea this morning. All I can say is YUM!!! I loved the way this tasted and will gladly continue to drink this tea daily with my GGS.
I just wanted to say how much I LOVED your book and the amazing information that you post on your site. The only thing that is missing is information that pertains to pregnancy/breastfeeding. I’m currently breastfeeding (my son is now 11 months) but have been following a vegetarian (mostly vegan diet) for a few years now. After reading your genius book a few months ago, I added your GGS and probiotics to my day which has made such a difference to my energy levels and feeling of well being. I’m also more mindful of food pairings and eating light-to-heavy.
The only thing that I haven’t tried yet is the Probiotic and Enzyme Salad – I’m not sure if this is safe for breastfeeding? Also, is following the “Radiant Beauty” phase safe when breastfeeding or is there potential for toxins to be eliminated through the milk and harmful to baby?
Many thanks xx
I’ve been drinking your immunity tea a few times a week for almost a year now and I can’t believe how well it works.
Just want to thank you again for all of the useful information you give to us and let you know I’m really looking forward to the new book. 🙂
Kimberly, Dr. Ohhira’s pribiotic supplement that you recommend makes me incredibly sick to my stomach, do you have any other options that you recommend? Usually when I have this issue it is related to something in the supplement (binding or inactive ingredient) that I have a allergy to…and sometimes taking a different one helps. I would like to continue taking probiotics, but need to function in daily life.
hi kimberly, i’m slowly trying to incorporate what I’ve learnt from your book into my life. however its getting cold now so I was wondering how you would usually keep warm with raw foods/fruits/vegetables in the winter time. your gss is sooo amazing but i acutally feel really cold after drinking it. is this normal? i feel that meats and cooked foods keep me warm while fruits and vegetables make me feel colder! I would love your feedback please!
My husband recently got a bit of a head cold and with ample liquids and rest, he was much better by about 5pm that day. I was much like you, and I didn’t avoid him or act any differently. Thanks for the scientific breakdown, even from my own education it’s always nice to have a reminder.
Thank you for posting this article. It couldn’t have come at a better time! My hubby and I are feeling like a cold is coming on so we made your immunity tea this morning. All I can say is YUM!!! I loved the way this tasted and will gladly continue to drink this tea daily with my GGS.
I just wanted to say how much I LOVED your book and the amazing information that you post on your site. The only thing that is missing is information that pertains to pregnancy/breastfeeding.
Many thanks xx
Hi Kim! Thanks so much for this informative article! I would love to read more from you about leaky gut syndrome you mentioned in this article and how to prevent it/cure it. Thanks so much!
You want to be careful of contamination, so if you’ve never made it before and are nervous about the culturing process you can just buy the raw kraut from the healthstore. You should always check with your doctor, but in general probiotic-rich foods are an amazing health-enhancer for most all! xx
is it hard trying to reply to all of these comments?
Thanks for this article! I have your book and have been following your advises. One question, the oat groats with avocado for breakfast. Does oats contain gluten? I thought it doesn’t but my friends say it does. Thanks! 🙂
I love all the food in Beauty Detox… LOVE IT! BUT, I just can not for some reason eat the probiotic and enzyme salad, I also can not eat the sauerkraut that is available in the stores. I’ve even tried carrot-craut and other variations, but I just can’t do it. Something about the smell…
Is there any other natural source for a healthy dose of both prob. and enz? What do you think about Kombucha? Is that as beneficial?
can I leave out the miso or substitute it for something else
I am 79 yrs old and catch severe bronchitis.
What is your immunity tea? anything else for me? Where do youget Dr. Ohhiras probiotic? Thanks for help…
I ran into you at the Whole Foods in Atlanta over the summer with my sister if you remember! I was just wondering if you suggest another brand besides Dr. Ohhira to try such as Renew Life? Thanks!
I’m really hoping you see this I’m dying for an answer so I can be assured I’m doing this right 🙂 I have all of the supplies to make my probiotic & enzyme salad BUT all i can find is unpasteurized BARLEY miso paste….go figure! Is this okay to use or should I resort to buying raw krout until I can find the right kind of unpasteurized miso paste? while we’re on the topic..what WOULD be the right kind? I assume a rice or something light in colour?
Thanks in advance for a response, my cabbage is dying to be used!
I was very, very quick. So quick I only tried on one pair. Luckily, being Prada, they were the ones I’d been waiting for all my life. Slim at the top, a tiny flare at the ankle (good for Colorado thighs), super stretchy (no bagging, ever) and they fitted everywhere. They also come in a techno fabric that the deputy fashion editor described as slimy ski stuff, but which i would refer to as transeasonal a perfect weight that will go from winter to summer.
I am go to a new year’s party but i don’t know if im going now because of my f***ing cold