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Build and Boost Immunity

by Kristin Vukovic

Natural ways to help you stay healthy

We’re all probably feeling a little run-down after the holidays and can benefit from improving our immunity to stave off illness. Getting more sleep, eating well and staying hydrated certainly help. But what else can you do to bring yourself back into balance?

I asked Jamé Heskett, MD, author of The Well Path: Lose 20 Pounds, Reverse the Aging Process, Change Your Life (HarperCollins), to share her thoughts. “Nothing will work on the body to create a change unless it’s sustainable,” Heskett says. “You can’t just tell the body something once and have it make a shift that becomes permanent. And that’s what we’re really trying to do, especially with our immune system. So whenever we’re talking about adjusting the body, we want to bring it toward balance.

Here are Dr. Jamé Heskett’s five favorite ways to help the body find equilibrium.

1. Take inulin and other prebiotics

“Gut health is paramount for everything,” Heskett says. “Our Western diets have deranged and sometimes eliminated the healthy balance of microbes in our guts. Like cutting the cable wires, the proper signaling can’t occur and the system fails.” Inulin, a soluble fiber from plant roots such as agave, is easy to digest and stimulates important gut bacteria. Heskett recommends Viv Agave Organic Blue Agave Inulin Powder, which easily dissolves in coffee, tea, smoothies or soups.

2. Make lymphatic drainage massage a habit like brushing your teeth

Improving circulation is key to regenerating tissue and to the mobilization of oxygen and nutrients into our systems, as well as the removal of oxidative products that destroy tissue and create inflammation. 

Heskett recommends purchasing a natural bristle dry brush for at-home lymphatic drainage massage. “That brush should go right next to your toothbrush,” she says. “Do it before you brush your teeth, because if you associate one habit with another habit, the second habit will come along much more quickly and it will be sustainable. Doing this twice a day takes 10 minutes—and everybody has 10 minutes.” Start at the periphery with your toes, feet, fingers and hands, moving toward your heart and brushing your entire body with firm strokes.

3. Have sex—and orgasm

“We cannot survive without orgasm—it is absolutely the crux of our existence,” Heskett says. “So if you are having an orgasm, your body is registering procreation. And when it registers procreation, it is going to do everything in its power to support you surviving. It’s going to de-stress you and stimulate your immune system because that’s what’s going to help you survive. Natural killer cells go around and scavenge all of the bad things that could kill you and potentially bring you down.”

4. Get enough quality sleep

Sleep is one of the best natural remedies for your immune system. “All of our cells repair during this time,” Heskett says. Sleep also reduces cortisol, the stress hormone.

5. Set aside five minutes to breathe

Pranayama breathing is deep meditative breathing, which has been shown to improve the immune system by reducing cortisol production. “I tell people to do it when they’re getting ready to get out of bed in the morning,” Heskett says. “Just breathe in and out as deeply as you can. A lot of this is just bringing back that consciousness that allows us to nurture our body, to take care of ourselves.”

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