Turns out Mom sure knew how to increase immunity when she’d pass out the chicken soup when we were sick. She may not have known that the amino acid cysteine created by cooking chicken simulates acetylcysteine which is a drug for bronchitis or that the chicken broth thins out mucus much like a cough syrup or that a University of Nebraska study found chicken soup could block inflammatory white blood cells so they couldn’t build up in the bronchial tubes, but she somehow knew it was good for us when we were sick. I used to think my mom was psychic because she always seemed to know what I was doing, what I was thinking and how I was feeling without being told. Just a little scary, right? I realize now as an adult she was picking up on subtle clues from me that she was able to interpret by knowing me so well. The same thing is true when looking at your health and how well your immune system is working.
To know if your immune system is doing its job or not, do some observing of your overall health and diet. Here’s a few questions you can ask yourself:
- Do you seem to catch every illness that is going around? This is a big clue that your immune system may not be functioning its best. It is normal to get sick a few times a year with a cold, flu or virus, but more than that could be an indication of a weakened immune system.
- Do you eat or drink much sugar? A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that even ingesting the amount of sugar found in 3 cans of soda a day could cause your white blood cells to fail in killing bacteria for 5 hours after eating or drinking sugary foods or drinks.
- Is your nose dry? Mucus collects germs and helps to get them out of the body. If your nose is too dry and you are not producing enough mucus, you may be holding on to more germs than can be fought off.
- Are you over-stressed? Stress has definitely been linked to a weakened immune system.
- Do you get enough sleep? Inadequate sleep in amount or quality can over-stress the body and weaken the immune system.
If your answers to these questions indicate that your immune system is not doing the best job for you, then you may be looking for natural solutions for how to increase immunity. I have 2 tips today for how to increase immunity that Mom may not have known about or even heard of. Beta Glucan and Mushrooms. Let’s take a look at how both of these work and can be natural solutions in how to increase immunity.
How To Increase Immunity: Mushrooms
According to Douglas Schar, DipPhyt, MCPP, MNIMH, director of the Institute of Herbal Medicine in Washington, DC, recent studies have shown mushrooms to be supportive of white blood cells that fight off infections. With their immunosupportive agents, they can help protect you from viruses, bacteria and even yeast. There are even mushrooms being used to kill cancer cells and for nerve regeneration. Shiitake, maitake, and reishi seem to be the ones that have the biggest impact for immune system support. Dr. Joseph Mercola tells us that polypores are the mushrooms that work best as antivirals and Paul Stamets has recently made the discovery that the polypore, Agaricon, can help fight off diseases such as smallpox and the flu. Dr. Mercola also believes it is better to go with a mushroom blend so that your body doesn’t become resistant and adapt to one particular mushroom. There are 2 mushroom blend supplements that I like to help me with immune support. This one combines the powerful organic mushroom blend of reishi, maitake, cordyceps, wild black trumpet, and Poria cocos mushrooms and the other one has a blend of reishi, cordyceps, maitake, shiitake, Turkey Tail, and Agaricus blazei, with astragalus, beta glucan and bluegreen algae.
This second one leads us to the next immune support tip – beta glucan. One of the reasons mushrooms are being found effective for immune support is that they have polysaccharides, glycoproteins, ergosterols, and triterpenoids. These are all precursors to beta glucans. Let’s take a look at beta glucans and how they are another of the natural solutions for how to increase immunity.
How To Increase Immunity: Beta Glucan
Beta glucan is a complex carbohydrate of the simple sugar glucose. It can come from cereals like oats and barley or from yeast, bacteria and fungi. Beta glucans differ in structure according to how the glucose is linked. Yeast beta glucan is linked in such a way that it has been found to enhance and stimulate macrophages, a type of white blood cell that kills off foreign invaders and stimulates other immune cells to fight them off. The beta glucan that comes from baker’s yeast is the most potent anti-infective beta glucan immunododulator. This is the type that I get from this supplement along with the mushroom blend. Since the body does not produce beta glucans by itself, we have to get them from the foods we eat or supplements. Baker’s yeast, shiitake mushrooms, barley, oats, rye, and wheat are all sources of beta glucan. One study from Norway reported that when animals got beta glucan from eating oats and barley they were less at risk for contracting flu, herpes and anthrax. They found it to be an immune booster for people by increasing the effectiveness of antibiotics and helping wounds heal faster. Other studies have found beta glucan to be effective against bacterial infections and viral infections and even lessen duration of symptoms of the common cold.
With cold and flu season upon us, building up our immune systems is extra important to stay healthy and productive. So get out the chicken soup, mushrooms and beta glucans to help your immune system do the best job it can for you.
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