Immunity — every fall as children return to school and we return from vacations and go back to the office, new forms of the common cold and flu viruses (and many, many more viruses) begin to accelerate through our neighborhoods and across the USA. As our family and neighbors begin to cough and hack we begin reaching for the Kleenex, and if we’re smart, for juice!
Let’s begin with how the immune system works, then cover what you can do to boost your immunity (starting right now!).
The Immune System: Basics
Sometimes your immune system is triggered by a virus, sometimes it triggered by something the body believes is a virus (this non-virus that triggers a response in the body triggers a “non-benign substance”).
Your body’s immune response is generally divided into either (1) innate immunity, or (2) adaptive immunity.
Innate immunity is the immunity your body has which responds to ‘everything’ – as opposed to a specific pathogen. It expresses itself immediately as soon as any of your cells recognize a new pathogen in your body. For example, your body get hot – causing a fever – in the absence of a specific-immune response. Another example is the inflammation your skin produces after it is scratched.
Adaptive immunity is triggered by the innate immune system in response to specific adaptive immune responses (called antigens).
All of our long-term Immunity depends on ‘immune system memory’ and follows the adaptive response. Here, mature adaptive cells, which are “highly trained” to attack specific pathogens, are retained in the ‘immune memory’ for later use.The benefit to building long-term immunity to pathogens is the creation of immunity memory across genetic and hereditary lines. It’s why the Black Plague is no longer an issue (and the basis of the movie War of the Worlds).
But this doesn’t actually happen through shots or drugs — by entering the bloodstream directly they by-pass the primary layers of our body’s defenses. Instead, genetic immunity (also called ‘herd immunity’) can only result from a healthy, fully functioning immune system, which is passed down through birth and enforced with proper support.
If prior to your birth your mother got the chicken pox, or mumps, or other types of infections that she successfully fought off, all those aspects of her adaptive immune system pass on to you through natural birth and breastfeeding.
Prior to vaccines, over time herd immunity grew. But because a vaccine is a direct and artificial trigger to the “original antigen”, it bypasses the innate system while directly triggering the adaptive system it doesn’t promote herd immunity.
So, when you encounter a virus in the future, your immune system only (at most) mounts the same defense it originally created, and never passes on the “killer cells” of immune memory that create a response that passes along genetically. Over time, that memory lapses, and you must either renew the vaccine, or risk catching the strain.
This means that from a societal point of view, the best thing we can do with colds and flus and other misery-producing illnesses is to fight it naturally so as to build herd immunity. That’s why once your body has defeated a virus, you’ll never need a vaccine for it afterwards.
Yes, Your Own Cells Produce Antigens
We develop a tolerance to particular antigens. For instance, the immune system is generally tolerant of self-antigens. This is why (when it’s working right) your body does not attack the body’s own cells, tissues, and organs. However, when this tolerance is lost, autoimmune diseases and food allergies are the result.
Fortunately, certain naturally occurring enzymes increase the body’s tolerance to antigens. Most of the most powerful immune-boosting juices carry a powerful and flavorful punch(!) and include ginger (link), chilies, turmeric, lemon (link), grapefruit (link), garlic, papaya seed (link), and pineapple. (link)
My Favorite Immune Boosting Juices
- 1. Apples (link) contain quercitin, a natural antihistamine, anti-inflammatory and flavonoid which works well in tandem with Vitamin C. It’s rich in antioxidants and has been shown to reduce the spread of the common cold. It also benefits the heart, reduces risk of cancer, and also helps suppress allergies.
- 2. Carrots are a super-carotenoid (meaning that they provide lots of beta-carotene (Vitamin A), and beta-carotene fights infections). They strengthen the heart, lungs, skin, eyes, and immune system. We often think that the orange in carrots comes from beta-carotene, but it’s orange color actually originates from the alpha-carotene, lycopene (red), lutein, and zeaxanthin. And, all of these natural colorings strengthen our immune defenses.
- Red Tomatoes/raspberries/cherries/strawberries/pomegranates. Speaking of colorful enzymes, the ellagic acid in these fruits is equally as powerful as that in carrots.
- 4. Citrus (Oranges/Grapefruit) and Ginger will stimulate circulation and boost anti-inflammatories. Ginger in particular has undergone long-term studies to prove its ability to fight multiple drug-resistant pathogens that cause upper respiratory and gut infections.
- Turmeric, Garlic and Greens. Curcumin is a component of turmeric, one of the most powerful naturally occuring chemo-preventive and anticancer agents in the world. Researchers say “its biological effects range from antioxidant, anti-inflammatory to inhibition of angiogenesis,” and it’s also shown to “possess specific antitumor activity.” When you add an anti-inflammatory juice with a natural antibiotic like garlic and add some amazing alkalines (such as lemon juice), you’ve got a recipe for success!
So, to boost your immunity today, fix yourself one of these juices or run out to the Juice Shack near you and enjoy one its immunity selections!