12 ways to boost your immune system

12 ways to boost your immune system


A strong immune system starts with a healthy lifestyle - exercise, a rainbow diet full of nourishment, probiotic and prebiotic foods, sunshine, good sleep - and avoiding things that deplete it like empty calories, drugs and antibiotics, stress, smoking and alcohol. Here are 12 things to do, starting today.

Of course you can take supplements, like Echinacea or grape seed extract, to boost your white cells quickly, but 85% of your immune memory is built in response to the microbes present in your gut. You need to take the good bacteria with you, increasing their numbers and diversity, or you will be popping pills for the rest of your life!


The University of Illinois Medical School has shown conclusively that a high intake of soluble fibre boosts the immune system. Indeed, people with the highest intake of soluble fibre have the strongest immune systems! 

Soluble fibre?  Oats, nuts and seeds, psyllium, vegetables and pulses (legumes) would be a start.

This is because your microbiome controls your immune system. People who consume the highest levels of soluble fibre have a stronger, more diverse microbiome and the best immune system. This boosts the Adaptive system, the crucial part of your immune system that makes antibodies.

Your immune system basically has two parts - the Innate system you are born with and the first line of defence, and the Adaptive system, which you build over time in response to infections so that you have a strong defence against the same pathogen or a similar one in the future.

Go to: Your microbiome controls your immune system

So what is the best diet to feed your good bacteria and boost the immune system? Well, according to a Dutch research study, which looked at all manner of foods and food groups, certain foods promote gut health and increased numbers of bacteria that make anti-inflammatory molecules. All were in the colourful Mediterranean Diet, the CANCERactive diet of choice - the Rainbow Diet. There is so much clear research to support this plant-based diet. It advocates eating whole foods with lots of natural fibre (think lentils, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, fresh vegetables in salads and ratatouille, fruits like blueberries, apricots and cherries), high levels of 'good' fats (like olive oil, oliy fish, fish and nut oils). The foods of vibrant colours are linked to high levels of bioactive compounds such as Polyphenols and Anthocyanins.

More than 90 research studies have shown that the Rainbow Diet is actually a better diet for the prevention and treatment of all manner of chronic illness, like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's, stress reduction and cancer, than even those recommended by Health Authorities!

Research shows it will even help you live longer!

Go to: The Rainbow Diet - probably the healthiest diet in the world

The Rainbow Diet also provides good levels of essential minerals, like potassium and magnesium (fundamental to controlling your body’s pH) while giving the body bioactive natural compounds like phenols, carotenoids, anthocyanins and sulforaphanes. You can also look at our review on Epigenetics - how 60 or more natural compounds in the Rainbow Diet have corrective benefits in cancer.

And a meta-analysis of 83 studies shows that eating large quantities of vegetables and fruits, and more types of fruit and vegetables, increases the strength of your immune system

You can read more about the foods that increase your good bacteria -

Go to: The best foods for gut health

You can buy the Rainbow Diet book (and also the Rainbow Recipes book) by clicking this link    


Just as the good foods you eat increase your microbiome strength and thus your immune system, so there are poor choices that put it down! 

Cut ’empty’ calories - sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, processed or refined foods, little lactose. 

A glucose-rich drink or food (for example, a Coca Cola, bought 'healthy' smoothies, ice cream, mass market honey and jam, puddings) temporarily flattens the immune system for anything from 40 minutes to 5 hours! 

Secondly, increasing glucose and High Fructose Corn Syrup consumption, also spikes your insulin levels and, in turn, increases inflammation in the body - and inflammation lies behind all chronic illness.

Sugar itself helps promote and cause cancer to grow. There are too many top Hospitals and Professors saying this from their research, for the myth that sugar doesn't feed cancer to continue.

Go to: 20 links between glucose and cancer

Finally, sugar intake actually damages your health in the longer-term.  2015 research in the American Journal of Public Health showed that a daily glucose-rich fizzy soft drink (e.g. Coca Cola) damages your immune system AS MUCH AS SMOKING!! 

GOOD HEALTH WARNING!!!  Please don't just think this only refers to bought drinks. There are people on YouTube blending colourful fruits into a Rainbow Diet drink! We would never recommend that. The facts? A Coca Cola gives you 10.9 gm sugar per 100 ml. A home-made fruit juice or smoothie gives you 10.3 gm per 100 ml. 


What damages your good bacteria levels and diversity in your microbiome?

     * Drugs and antibiotics - these include PPI Omeprazole (decreases commensal bacteria) and steroid Dexamethasone (dramatically increases your blood sugar levels) 

     * Parasites - Parasites can completely overwhelm the microbiome and reduce levels of commensal bacteria. See - a Parasite infection can change and control your microbiome 

     * Lifestyle factors that damage the pH of your gut - smoking, binge drinking, stress, lack of exercise, lack of sunshine

     * Environmental Toxins - Herbicides, pesticides, benzene, etc.

Go to: Environmental Toxins impair the immune system over multiple generations


You can boost your gut microbiome and take all the immune boosters you want, but your immune system might still not 'work'. Boosting the volume of the white cells AND getting them to recognise a rogue cell just isn’t enough.

2011 research showed that the first thing your T-cells do before they attack a rogue cell is pick up a vitamin D molecule to ’activate’ themselves. Without enough vitamin D, your immune system cannot attack pathogens. This is one reason why vitamin D is so important.

If you cannot get 2 to 4 hours in the sunshine a day, take Boston Medical School’s recommendation: supplement with 5,000 IUs a day if you have cancer; 2,000-3,000 if you do not.

Research ha shown that 80% of the UK public on cancer diagnosis have dangerously low levels of Vitamin D - below 20 ng/ml (or 50 nmol/L)The healthy target is 125 nmol/L (or 50 ng/ml), according to the Medical Director of Harvard Medical School, the Endocrine Society and our own Chris Woollams.

Go to: Vitamin D? Say out loud 1-2-5

In the first wave of Covid-19, there was clear research that people with low levels of vitamin D (below 19ng/ml) were more likely to die; above 29 ng/ml more likely to shrug it off.

 Go to: How Vitamin D was crucial to beating Covid

Vitamin K2 plays some part in this activating process but this is not perfectly clear as yet. And K2 is helpful to the liver and can attack cancer cells in its own right. But people with clotting issues like DVT should not take vitamin K2.

Vitamin D is crucial to a strong immune system. It is important to note however that taking drugs greatly reduces your plasma vitamin D levels and so you should increase you intake of sunshine or supplement. Sunshine or supplement - there is virtually none in food; claims in this area are exaggerated.

Go to: Vitamin D supplementation increases cancer survival

5. TAKE EXERCISE where you get out of breath

There are more than 10 proven benefits to exercise, but four in particular stimulate a better immune system:

     * Exercise produces hormones called endorphins, and these are powerful positive drugs inside your body.  They neutralise harmful inflammation-causing hormones like Cortisol, the stress hormone, and excesses of Human Growth Hormone.

     * Exercise massively improves the immune system. It moves the lymph and dissolves visceral fat, both reducing toxic load on cells.

     * Exercise oxygenates the blood, and your cells.

     * Exercise actually increases the volume and diversity of the microbiome.

Go to: Exercise improves your microbiome

Research now clearly shows that LIGHT TO MODERATE DAILY EXERCISE is the aim - about 40 to 60 minutes a day, ideally early morning (to further reduce blood sugar and burn fat) and, ideally, you need to get puffed/out of breath for 25 minutes.

Exercise improves survival rates of some cancer patients by 50 per cent. It does not have to be strenuous. But you really must do it regularly. The American Cancer Socity has shown that patients with stage 3 colorectal cancer survive 31% longer and had 42% less death if they stuck to a healthy diet and exercise programme - what drug can achieve this? 

Movement is essential as you have no ’heart’ to pump the immune system for you. You have to do this for yourself. You don’t need to go for the ’burn’ or wear lycra; Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Yoga are a good place to start. You need to move your thoracic duct in your chest - so press ups and swimming breast stroke are great if you feel more energetic. 


The Human Microbiome Project involved 200 scientists in the USA at 40 Medical Centres - their research told us that your gut ’microbiome’ gets ill first, then you get ill. And you cannot get better until it gets better.

Put the good guys down in terms of volume and diversity and at least three things happen

     * Your immune system falls

     * You make less crucial compounds -  the bacteria in a healthy microbiome MAKE certain compounds like B vitamins, melatonin and serotonin for mood, and short-chain esters which can control cholesterol levels and/or reduce chronic inflammation throughout the body; some like butyrate even kill cancer cells and stop gut inflammation (colitis etc.).

Go to: Butyrate significantly improves your health

     * Your pathogens come out to play - you need a strong set of good bacteria to keep the pathogens in check. 

We are not going to go into it here - but Chris Woollams back in 2005, told the World how to build a strong microbiome to restore your immune system and health:

Go to: Article: Heal Ur Gut - Heal Ur Body


As we age, our Thyroid weakens. This has many effects on our body. Sometimes the thyroid is just short of iodine - taking a little sea kelp can help.

When it does weaken, we lose the ability to convert Beta-carotenes into vitamin A. When we were young, it was always better to eat lots of beta-carotene (red and yellow peppers, sweet potatoes, greens, carrots, apricots) and let your body make the vitamin A levels it needed. Too much vitamin A might have caused liver problems. But once we get past 50, this ceases to be the case.

Vitamin A strengthens cell membranes - it builds walls and can restrict a virus' ability to attack a cell. Vitamin A is also anti-inflammatory; and it boosts immune system cells like macrophages, T-cells and NK cells.

Cod Liver Oil contains much higher levels of vitamin A than other fish oils. It also contains a little vitamin D.


OK. So they are the long-term fixes. What can you do in the short-term? 

You have approximately 20 different types of white cell. It is almost impossible to boost all the different types with just one supplement.

We suggest a spectrum - for example,

     * Herbs such as Echinacea, Cat's Claw and Astragalus are very powerful

     * Minerals such as magnesium - recent research showed magnesium was essential to a good immune system. As we age, you may benefit from a trace mineral containing boron, iodine, and phosphorus amongst others

     * Grape Seed Extract, Pine Bark Extract (pygenol) are both OPCs. In research on high street supplements that boosted the immune system, Grape Seed Extract was over 40% stronger than all the others!

     * Beta-glucan - naturally occurring polysaccharides from pathogenic bacteria and fungi (like ’medicinal’ mushrooms’). They have a strong effect on the immune system (1) by causing a positive reaction, and enhancing natural killer and macrophage action. You can eat mushrooms, and buy extracts. Immiflex, PSP and PSK are the ’in’ ones at the moment.

     * Melatonin - produced naturally by the body is the biggest antioxidant we make as animals and a huge anti-inflammatory. You make it in your pineal gland. It acts as a message to your gut bacteria which make 400 times your levels. Don't disturb them by eating late. Their melatonin has been found in your bone marrow prompting your immune system. Dose is 5 mg to 20 mg.

Then there are 3 compounds particularly relevant to Covid-19:

     * Vitamin C - There is research that mega-doses (4-10 gm) of vitamin C can reduce colds - in terms of severity and time - by up to 85%. In the Northwell Group of Hospitals in New York, they are giving Covid-19 patients 1.5 gm on arrival at the Hospital and then the same dose 4 times per day. Apparently, when the Covid virus starts to cause severe respiratory problems it crashes Vitamin C levels in the body. Your body doesn't want more than 2.3 gm in the bloodstream, so pace out your amounts during the day - take 1 gm several times rather than 4 gm all at once. Secondly, vitamin C finds it hard to cross the gut lining. Take it with a little oil or fat so it forms liposomes.

     * Zinc - There is research from the World Health Organisation that children who develop respiratory problems have low zinc levels; and that zinc supplementation can prevent pneumonia.  There is research on zinc and vitamin C reducing the risk of respiratory problems. 

     * Selenium - a known anti-viral; it attacks the walls of viruses. Low selenium levels have been shown to promote the growth of influenza and even its mutation into more aggressive strains.

" If you are thinking of supplementing with any of the above products you may like to see what NATURAL SELECTION has to offer.  Please CLICK HERE "


Sleep is healing. A lack of sleep also weakens your immune system and makes you more prone to infection - for example, you are four times more likely to develop a cold if there's one around.

Always sleep in a fully darkened room with no EMFs around you - Elctromagnetic Fields include WiFi, computers, cell phones, masts and aerials and more. About 1 hour after you fall asleep your pineal gland makes Melatonin and it pushes you into a deeper sleep. People who have disturbed sleep develop more hormonally-driven cancers.

As we said above, what few people seem to know is that melatonin is the biggest antioxidant we animals make and is also a strong anti-inflammatory - add these together and it is why sleep is so healing.

Melatonin also regulates oestrogen and growth hormone in the body. We make less and less of it as we pass the age of 50 years.

Your gut bacteria have circadian rhythms - if you cannot get to sleep, the problem lies with how much melatonin you make. If you constantly wake up early, the problem lies with how little melatonin they make!

You can supplement about 30 minutes before going to bed. It was thought that supplements above 10 mg could cause vivid dreams and even hallucinations but there is clear research on the benefits of 20 mg supplements of melatonin to fight cancer. Available in supermarkets in the USA and Canada, you can only obtain it on prescription in Europe.

As we age, our white cells start to lose their ability to 'see clearly' and we develop more auto-immune diseases, which are highly inflammatory. Our white immune cells have melatonin receptors and it aids their function to see and attack pathogens rather than attack our own bodies; and being an anti-inflammatory, it helps reduce any damage caused by the faulty immune response.

The age-related fall in immune function starts around age 60; and research is very clear that melatonin supplementation boosts immune function in the elderly. 


Remember what you enjoyed doing a decade ago? Playing Tennis, watching comedy shows? People who laugh a lot have stronger immune systems; so go and buy some old funny videos. People who have good sex lives have stronger immune systems - no comment. People who meditate have stronger immune systems - find a meditation class to go with the yoga. UCLA have produced several studies showing those who meditate survive significantly longer! People who and in awe of a wonderful view - they have a boost in their immune system too.

Be Happy - Conversely, cut out the things (and people) who make you feel inadequate, worthless, guilty, cause you stress.


UCLA have a Stress Management Laboratory - it specialises in cancer. They say that "Actively managing your stress improves survival times significantly". They also say that this is the most ignored area of cancer treatment. Well it would be - especially as Charities such as Cancer Research refuse to accept stress has anything to do with cancer!

Stress flattens the microbiome; stress flattens the immune system; stress (adrenalin and cortisol) turns on an enzyme COX-2 in every cell of the body and causes inflammation throughout the body.

Exercise and yoga produce endorphins which neutralise cortisol; prayer and meditation increase levels of opioids in the body which neutralise adrenaline.

UCLA say that you can manage your stress through counselling and other management techniques such as EFT; and you can reduce stress hormones through 

     * A colourful Mediterranean Diet

     * Fish oils

     * Yoga

     * Meditation

People who cannot do exercise should look at the adaptogen Ashwagandha which reduces cortisol and is anti-inflammatory.


Hardly a surprise really. The main reason is that it reduces blood oxygen levels and alters hormone levels; it also alters the natural acidity in the blood and damages the levels of healthy bacteria in the gut microbiome. The first directly down-grades the immune system; the second stops your commensal gut bacteria doing their immune-boosting job.


Latest Government advice is for a maximum of 15 units a week. Alcohol reduces your magnesium and B vitamin levels, poisons your liver and depresses the immune system. 

However, a little (2-5 glasses of red wine per week) does help reduce stress and inflammation, promoting well-being. It can also lower LDL cholesterol.

Go to: Red wine increases friendly gut bacteria


Readers of this article also read:

12 foods to fight cancer

20 herbs that fight cancer

12 of the best supplements to fight cancer

15 ways to control inflammation in your body


Ref (1) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17895634 

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