In these days of rapid globalization, unhealthy food habits, stress and dangerous viruses are spreading at an unprecedented rate. It is therefore important to have a strong immune system to stay healthy and live longer. But what is the immune system? Where is it located? And what is the best way to keep it healthy?

It’s All in Our Gut

The immune system is the body’s defense mechanism against disease and 70-80 percent of it is located in our gut. Our digestive system deals with a host of “pathogenic intruders” and therefore needs a protective shield in order to fight against disease. That shield is our immune system.

The immune cells located in our gastrointestinal tract are called “Peyer’s patches.” Located in the small intestine, they proactively protect the mucous membranes against infection by releasing white blood cells (T-cells and B-cells).

The Importance of Good Bacteria

Most importantly, the immune cells are booted into action by certain strains of gut flora that prevent pathogens from being absorbed. And luckily, we have colonies of good bacteria in the gut. In fact, without the right balance of gut flora our body cannot maintain good health. So, when two people are exposed to the same flu virus, but only one of them falls sick, it’s because the still healthy person has a stronger immune system.

The Quickest Way to Wrecking the Immune System 

A strong immune system can not only ward off serious autoimmune diseases but also the number of colds and flu and other antigenic conditions that plague our planet today.

One of the most common reasons for a compromised immune system in the industrialized world is a “leaky gut.” When the digestive system is leaking undigested food, gluten and bacteria which have passed through the “holes” in the gut lining, the body is no longer properly protected against invaders. The relationship between diet, gut bacteria and immunity is therefore key to whether we become sick or healthy.

Eating an unhealthy, fast food diet high in sugar, animal fat and refined carbohydrates has been found to be one of the main causes of the leaky gut syndrome and causing all kinds of problems—from depression to headaches, from eczema to psoriasis, from MS to Chron’s disease.

Gluten and milk products can also be the cause of a leaky gut as many show allergic reactions to these foods. Overeating is yet another food habit that may result in indigestion and a compromised immune system highly susceptible to viral and bacterial attacks.

The Power of Fasting

What’s the most effective way to build a strong immune system to fight viruses, reduce headaches and have lots of energy? Not surprisingly, perhaps, when we feed our digestive system with poor food choices and causes it to become bloated, leaky and infested with bad bacteria, then we need to do the opposite—we need to eat less and better.

We need to eat more nutritious food. The most nutrient-dense foods are basically green vegetables, berries and fruits. To stay healthy, those foods need to be the main bulk of our diet. In addition: we need to fast for a day or two on a regular basis.

Even better than that: we can give the digestive system a break for 3 days and blast the body with easy-to-digest super-nutrients in the form of vegetables and fruits, or, even better, juices. Recent breakthrough scientific studies by Dr. Valter Longo at USC has shown that a 72hour low caloric fast will reset our entire immune system.

Dr. Longo says that the effect of fasting is like “lightening a plane of excess cargo.” When we fast on a low caloric diet of broth or vegetable and fruit juices, his research shows, the depletion of white blood cells induces changes that trigger stem cell-based regeneration of new immune system cells.

For those who tend to overeat, intermittent fasting by skipping meals, or only eating within a window of 10-12 hours daily, will also boost the immune system.

So, if you get the flu, and you need to boost your immune system, then start a lemon, fruit and/or vegetable juice fast right away. And to prevent getting the flu altogether, begin fasting regularly, for one day a week, for two days a month, and/or for 3 days on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. Remember: if you want to boost your immune system, fasting is the best medicine.

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Ramesh Bjonnes

Ramesh is the Director of the Prama Wellness Center where lifestyle is considered our best medicine. Ramesh is also a writer, yogi and workshop leader. He studied yoga therapy in Nepal and India, Ayurveda at California College of Ayurveda and is a certified yoga detox theraphist from the AM Wellness Center in Cebu, Philippines. He has taught workshops in many countries and is the author of four books, including Sacred Body, Sacred Spirit (InnerWorld) and Tantra:The Yoga of Love and Awakening (Hay House India).

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