Boost Your Immune System Naturally!

As autumn and winter settle in, our bodies shift their metabolic requirements to deal with the cooler temperatures.  The start of school season means easier transmission of germs to children and parents (and to everyone who comes in contact with children and parents). Cold and flu season has begun. The effectiveness of flu vaccines weighed against their potential side effects is certainly debatable. But the natural, time-tested and simple methods of boosting your immune system in this article will help keep your immunity strong this flu season (and all year long)!

How does my immune system work?

Our immune systems are a wonderful coordination of many types of cells and organs working together to recognize and eliminate foreign invaders and chemical pollutants. The liver is our primary chemical detoxification factory. Our livers break down tens of thousands of foreign chemicals (pesticides, heavy metals, etc.), the toxins from foreign infections (bacteria, virus, parasite, yeast, etc.), as well as the complex byproducts of our own chemical messengers and cellular waste. One important thing to remember is that the more our detoxification factory (the liver) is overwhelmed by a polluted lifestyle, the weaker our natural immunity.  Smoking, consuming too much alcohol or other drugs (pharmaceutical as well as recreational), chemicals in the workplace (especially the oil and gas industry, auto repair, various factories, hairstylists etc.) and eating junk food can all stress the liver to the point where it can no longer do its many jobs. Minimizing these chemical stressors will allow the liver to keep our blood clean and better able to fight germs.

The spleen is a primary site of lymphatic and blood detoxification. Filled with white blood cells, a healthy spleen is crucial to immunity. The lymph is a secondary circulatory system, purifying and transporting waste products.  While the blood has the heart to pump it, physical exercise is the source of lymphatic movement. This is another reason why exercise is so vital to life. Getting some exercise that you enjoy, (hopefully 30 minutes a day) will help keep the lymphatics from becoming stagnant, polluted and toxic. Lymphatic brushing/skin brushing and deep breathing exercises are also simple and inexpensive ways to keep the lymph system flowing and to combat the buildup of industrial toxins and acquired infections. This method should especially be considered by those who have difficulty exercising. Drinking adequate water is crucial to prevent lymphatic stagnation.  A good rule of thumb is to drink half your weight in ounces per day (100 ounces a day for a 200lb. person).

Adequate Vitamin D is vital for many systems of the body including the immune system. A small blood sample (a drop of blood taken from the finger) is an inexpensive way to verify if you are deficient in this crucial nutrient. There are also other numerous herbs and nutrient rich compounds that supercharge the immune system. These are best used when specifically targeted to the individual’s main type of infection, toxicity or weakness.

In many ways, the digestive system is the seat of health. Eating an abundance of life giving foods like vegetables (cooked and raw), fruits, smart amounts of healthy proteins and healthy fats, while minimizing  processed flour, pre-packaged food, sugars, factory-farmed meats and dairy and deep fried foods will help build healthy new cells and a healthy immune system. You are what you eat!

The endocrine/hormonal glands (adrenals, thyroid, ovaries, etc. ) are constantly working to help the body handle every type of stress we experience. These stressors include the ones already mentioned (chemical exposure, unhealthy diet, lack of exercise) but also include all types of lifestyle stress. Relationship, family, financial stressors all cause the same type of physiological reactions that drain our hormonal glands. Prayer, meditation, having a sense of purpose and belonging, having people to talk to and share with, have all been proven to boost immunity, slow the aging process and increase longevity and quality of life.  Being happy is very underrated, so create some joy in your life today and boost that immune system!

Dr. Jeff McCloskey is a Doctor of Chiropractic at The Health Institute of Western Colorado in Grand Junction. He specializes in Applied Kinesiology and nutritional counseling to help restore health and prevent disease. See more at

This article originally appeared in The Grand Junction Free Press in November, 2013.