Gatekeepers of Your Gut Health

How to Boost Your Immune System Naturally

By on October 29, 2014 in Gut Health, Microbiome, Restore with 0 Comments

This blog posting was originally posted on the Relay Foods Blog

Got a cold? We’ve got answers.


As we head into the Fall, everyone would rather be outside enjoying the leaves than inside with a cold. Why some people get sick and others do not is complicated and not exactly known in medical science. What is known is that the immune system is incredibly important to our health. If you take good care of it, it will take good care of you.

So the question is, how do you and I take care of our immune systems? How to we keep them “boosted” to give us our best chance to guard against sicknesses around us? Well, the first step is to eat well. Foods high in refined sugars and refined wheat tend to suppress the immune system function. [1] You may not want to hear this, but the majority of sodas out there are full of sugar and can paralyze your immune system. [2] (Sodas with artificial sweeteners are bad for you for a whole different reason we won’t get into here.)

The key to success in healthful eating is to eat low on the food chain – more plants than animal products – and go for diversity in nutrients (think veggies and whole fruit) to fuel bacteria in your gut which will, in turn, feed you the good stuff you need.


One way to maximize both nutrients and healthful bacteria in your gut is through ensuring that at least a couple tablespoons of fermented foods are a part of your fall and winter daily routine. Root crops and ferments were seasonal staples in the millennia before refrigeration hit. Fermented beets and turnips are a nice variety to the typical sauerkraut. Fermented foods that are not heat pasteurized – i.e. live culture products – are a great way to ensure biodiversity in your gut during those colder months when less time is spent in the great outdoors. This biodiversity is critical in supporting healthy immune function.


Your fall and winter green leafy vegetables such as kale are a wonderful source of vitamins (C, A, K, D and Bs) and are very rich in antioxidant effects.[3] Here is a link to one of my favorite kale salad recipes.

With cold weather coming, soups are a safe hit. Of course, we probably all associate chicken soup with getting from a cold. More than the nutrients, perhaps the biggest way soups can help you “get over” a cold is through improving your hydration. [4] Proper hydration ensures that we have enough lymph for our body to use. Lymph functions to circulate white blood cells throughout the body as well as remove toxins from the blood.

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In addition to eating the right foods, supplements play an important part in our immune health. There has been much confusion recently as to whether or not supplements actually do anything. I had one physician tell me that all they do is create expensive urine. This can be true with many multi-vitamins, and based on the Women’s Health Initiative Vitamin Study (over 160,000 women followed for over 10 years), taking synthetic USP multivitamins was actually associated with an increase in death by as much as 9%.

When picking supplements, we need to remember that the food you eat is central to your health. Like healthful food that is grown and prepared without chemicals and excessive processing, supplements need to have bioavailable nutrients in their native form with as little processing from original natural sources as possible.

In this cold season, when our immune systems are often compromised, picking a few choice supplements that are often under represented in our food can promote health.

Vitamin C is perhaps the best known supplement for boosting the immune system. This water soluble vitamin was largely responsible for ushering in the era of anti-oxidants. Vitamin C functions as a sponge to soak up positive charged oxidants that are the driving force of inflammation once an injury occurs. EmergenC and other water constituted vitamin C products are functional. For best results you may look to a whole-food vitamin C source such as Kamu Kamu powder which can be added to your smoothies or green drinks.

Vitamin D3. This fat soluble vitamin is best absorbed in an oil base – gel capsule or liquid vitamin D preparations are best. Vitamin D3 is a steroid hormone rather than a vitamin, and is very similar to estrogen and testosterone in its basic molecular shape. It is poorly represented in even healthy organic foods, and its primary source in the human body is our own skin. It takes a strong sunlight to activate vitamin D3 from human skin, and in winter it is nearly impossible to get adequate activation of vitamin D in the central and northern United States. This unique hormone is critical in the function of the human immune system. The white blood cells are responsible for immune surveillance in the blood stream and in the tissues of your body – seeking out damaged or infected cells. These white blood cells are covered in vitamin D receptors which bind activated vitamin D3 to improve immune regulation. A minimum of Vitamin D3 2000 iu daily is recommended in winter months, with many adults using 5000 iu daily.

RESTORE Carbon Redox supplementation. The Virginia-based company, New Earth Dynamics, has ushered in a new era of science and a first-of-class dietary supplement that delivers the first balanced communication network composed of the carbon molecules made by bacteria in soil and in the human gut. The product, sold under the trade name ‘RESTORE’, represents a major leap forward in our immune defense arsenal. This unique liquid supplement has been shown in University-based studies to promote a strong firewall at cell membranes by supporting tiny structures called tight junctions that prevent unwanted material from entering your body and activating your immune system to cause inflammation. Restore is taken orally to promote gut health and immune function. In addition to reducing immune system exposure to allergens and food toxins, like gluten and herbicides, it also works as a prebiotic – diversifying bowel flora for optimal nutrient metabolism and absorption for your body. Restore makes your food work better for you. Use 1 teaspoon twice daily for health maintenance, if more aggressive health support is needed 1 tablespoon two to three times a day before meals. In addition, Restore can be used in a neti pot in fall and winter months to promote health in cold and flu season as well as assisting allergy sufferers to reduce nasal drainage and congestion. Just add 1 tsp to your typical neti pot salt water mix.

Eat strong this winter for optimal health!


1. Sanchez A, et al. Role of sugars in human neutrophilic phagocytosis. Am J Clin Nutr 1973; 26: 1180-84
2. Ringsdorf WM jr, Cheraskin E and Ramsey RR jr. Sucrose, Neutrophilic Phagocytosis, and Resistance to Disease. Dent Surv1976; 52 (12): 46-48

About the Author

About the Author: Dr. Zachary Bush is Relay Foods medical nutrition consultant, medical director of Revolution Health Center in Scottsville, VA, and founder of New Earth Dynamics. .


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