12 January 2011

4 wacky yet effective ways to make your immune system naturally bulletproof

Gene Stone, the author of “The Secrets of People Who Never Get Sick,” has a few odd yet apparently effective recommendations regarding how to naturally defy wintertime bugs in order to remain in tip-top health. Are you ready for this? Among his distinctive tips, he suggests the following:


Blechhh. I Guess I Gotta Do What I Gotta Do, Right?

Yes, we’re talking about the very same element -- Saccharomyces cereisiae -- that is crucial to the beer and bread making process. A living organism, brewer’s yeast possesses probiotic effects as well as an array of B vitamins, cyanocobalamin, and the mineral chromium. In addition to naturally combating diarrhea, brewer’s yeast also keeps blood sugar levels in check and bolsters the immune system, resulting in the reduced occurrence and duration of winter-related illnesses such as influenza and the common cold. On a curious side note, some even claim that its B vitamins are capable of potentially preventing once lusciously pigmented locks from going gray. (Does Costco sell this stuff in bulk? If so, I plan on unhitching my jaw and plowing into a brewer’s yeast buffet!)

While Stone recommends slurping up brewer’s yeast in tea form via hot water for maximum cold and flu fighting effects, that may literally be too hard to swallow for some due to its distinctively ‘yeasty’ taste. Alternative methods of consumption that may still yield positive immune system-boosting effects include mixing it into yogurt, cottage cheese, salads, assorted vegetable side dishes, popcorn, mashed potatoes, soups, or stirring it right into juice.


Ummm, Exactly How Cold Are We Talking?

The good news: as looney as it sounds, this natural remedy is actually backed by science. Now, for the bad news: you’ll have to freeze your patootie off for at least 1 ½ months BEFORE you begin to enjoy the immune system boosting benefits. Oh sweet lord.

Here are the facts, plain and simple. Submerging the body in cold water -- even for half a minute daily – boosts one’s mood, keeps stress at bay (because you’re too flipping stunned to focus on your typical woes), INCREASES vital organ blood flow and facilitates better oxygen transmission since you’re forced to breathe in quite deeply. Best of all, a cold shower enables the immune system proteins gamma interferon and interleukin-4 to work at optimum levels while blood lymphocytes kick antibody production into high gear.

If you’re a greenie, the bonus is that you’ll be reducing your household energy consumption and seeing a slight reduction in your monthly power bill. As for the personal energy you’ll be expending while screaming your bloody head off during the throes of this ongoing frozen aqua therapy, that’s a different story altogether. No pain, no gain.


Are You Out Of Your Cotton-Picking Mind?

Dirt. You know…the stuff that’s right outside the typical apartment window or home. Actually, it’s everywhere, including within our indoor environments despite perpetually feverish attempts to swab, scrub and obliterate it with chemicals. According to a New York Times article about the simple benefits of the mucky stuff, “researchers are concluding that organisms like the millions of bacteria, viruses and especially worms that enter the body along with “dirt” spur the development of a healthy immune system.”

It’s no secret that antibacterial products are now being fingered as the culprits responsible for the emergence of super bugs. If we let go of our obsession with bacteria and instead allowed a little dirt to enter the picture, guess what? We’d all actually be a little healthier since our immune systems would kick into high gear and combat invaders the natural way. Seems like pretty good food for thought.


Okay, I’ll Bite.

Allium sativum contains highly potent thiosulfinates, ajoene and allicin, three little compounds that not only fight viruses, funguses and bacteria but also possess very high levels of antioxidants which prevent inflammation and cell damage . In laboratory tests, allicin in particular has proven to prevent the production of cholesterol when applied directly to cells.

Consuming the bulb in its raw form (rather than cooked) naturally facilitates the production of hydrogen sulfide in the human body, which triggers antioxidant effects and increased blood flow. Why is this good? All you really need to grasp is that both offer protection against cancer and cardiovascular issues.

Experts suggest that optimum enzymatic benefits can be achieved when you allow the cloves you intend to consume to first come to room temperature. Crush your portion -- ideally at least one raw clove daily for general maintenance and up to three at the onset of immune system imbalance -- allowing to sit for at least 15 minutes before finally gobbling up.

How To Eat Raw Garlic.

If you can’t stomach the idea of consuming raw garlic ‘straight up,’ try mixing it into hummus, guacamole or blending it into a few teaspoons of olive oil (along with a dash of sea salt and pepper) for a highly palatable bread spread.

How To Tame The Garlic Dragon.

Those who might be worried about the age old vampire breath syndrome that’s likely to result from this healthy new habit should fear not. Among the most intriguing restorative techniques floating around the cyber sphere, brushing your teeth and tongue thoroughly, followed by a nice cup of mint tea (or a post-garlic snack of fresh mint/parsley) clocks in at the top of the list.

Some say that gargling with 100% pure lemon juice (which isn’t ideal if you’re concerned about maintaining as much of your tooth enamel as possible) or swishing with a tablespoon of plain vodka can also do the trick. The latter suggestion seems to have some merit since alcohol puts ‘bad breath’ bacterial colonies out of their misery – just be sure to spit out the excess in the sink so you don’t inadvertently develop a new habit that you didn’t exactly want in the first place.

Have you also tried sucking on a stainless steel spoon? Apparently the sulfur compounds in garlic – otherwise known as amino acid sulfoxides – happily bind to steel, liberating your mouth and tongue of their odiferous grip.
This is not technically backed by scientific proof, so if you want to ensure that your significant other will want to continue locking lips with you, be sure to have a breath-freshening back up plan!

Elizah Leigh | @elizahleigh
Elizah Leigh's master's degree in education combined with her passion for the written word and deep-seated interest in environmental issues has proven to be the ideal trifecta for her present status as a green journalist. Currently commissioned to write a reference book on vegetarianism, Elizah hopes to inspire people through her words. Follow Elizah on Facebook.

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