Friday, 23 September 2016 11:01

Natural Killer Cells: How To Keep Them Healthy So They Can Protect You From Cancer

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Of all the cells we have circulating in our bodies, about 2 billion (roughly 5-15%) are identified as “natural killer” (NK) cells. The name makes them sound dangerous – and undeniably they are, but only to cancer cells and other pathogens that can harm the body! NK cells are a significantly important factor of our “natural immune system,” so sustaining a good NK cell level is vital for everyone. And particularly if you are on a cancer-healing or prevention path of any kind, a healthy amount of properly functioning NK cells in your system is absolutely fundamental.

Follow the steps below to make sure you have plenty of active NK cells and that they are working at their best in order to pursue and wipe out any cancer cells that may be lurking in your body.

What are Natural Killer Cells?

Natural killer cells are a type of lymphocyte or white blood cell that is part of the lymphatic system. NK cells have the vital job of “patrolling” your bloodstream and are on continuous watch for foreign invaders and cancer cells. They are produced in the bone marrow, lymph nodes, tonsils, thymus, and spleen and can also be found in the liver, intestine, skin, and lungs.

Did you know that there are cancer cells developing in your body at this very moment? But if your NK cells are healthy, strong, and plentiful, you have nothing to worry about. These microscopic “exterminators” have the ability to “control both local tumor growth and metastasis,” according to a report published in the Journal of Biomed Biotechnology in 2011. Metastasis refers to the spread of cancer cells from one part of the body to another, usually through the lymphatic system and the blood. NK cells impede the growth and spread of cancer through their ability to directly cause cellular cytotoxicity and death in cancer cells.

Steps You Can Take to Keep Your NK Cells Healthy and Strong

 Here are ten ways to keep your NK cells healthy, strong, and plentiful:

Reduce your general toxic load.

As we age, we are exposed to more and more stressors in life. The regrettable result of this exposure is a decline in overall immune system function. A typical example of a weak immune system is the “reawakening” of the chicken pox virus in an older adult in the form of shingles. A part of age-related immune system decline is probably because of the lower efficiency and fabrication of NK cells. Some of this is unavoidable as we age, but there are also many things you can do to maintain your immune system integrity and keep your NK cells healthy. First, be aware of the toxic effects of stress and how you respond to the stressors in your life. Stress responses and the cascade of hormonal releases they can trigger have been directly connected to lowered immune function. Get into a daily routine of stress management by using techniques such as Emotional Freedom Technique (or “Tapping”), prayer, meditation, stretching / yoga, or walking in nature as a way to nurture yourself and “decompress.” Also, be aware of how you are exposing yourself to outside toxins through what you eat (herbicides/pesticides), if you still have amalgam fillings and root canals, the variety of products you put on your body, what household cleaners you use, and what toxins you may be exposed to in your community and in your workplace. Take measures to reduce your toxic load as much as possible through using natural products and “going organic,” as well as removing any heavy metals from your mouth. Then establish a routine detoxification regime for yourself through the use of gentle cleanses that include supplementation, enemas, and sauna sessions. All of these healing modalities have been documented as particularly effective for relieving stress, healing the body, and boosting the immune system.

Keep Your Gut Healthy

65-70% of your immune system is located in the lining of your intestinal tract, including a fair amount of NK cells. Sustaining a balanced amount of gut flora in your intestines is vital for proper immune system functioning and to ensure that your NK cells are working efficiently. Avoiding sugar, processed foods, and simple carbohydrates as much as possible (like bread), taking a daily probiotic and consuming prebiotics such as fermented foods as well as bone broth can all assist to not only boost your immune system but also repair and prevent conditions that can lead to leaky gut syndrome. Intestinal distress conditions such as leaky gut are believed to be the foundational cause of autoimmune disease.

Studies such as a 2013 investigation conducted by the University of Washington have previously recognized a clear link between autoimmune issues and impaired NK cell manufacturing, as well as low NK cell functionality.

Raise Your Melatonin Levels Through Quality Sleep And Supplementation

Melatonin, a hormone that is produced by the pineal gland, a pea-sized endocrine gland located behind the third ventricle of the brain is a powerful cancer inhibitor in and of itself, especially when it comes to breast cancer. Studies have revealed that it has the ability to literally “put cancer cells to sleep.” It also appears to have an effect on cancer stem cells, according to a 2016 Brazilian study published in the peer-reviewed medical journal Plos One. One of the many functions it executes for the immune system is managing NK cell production. Getting a sufficient amount of quality sleep is the best thing you can do to help stabilize your melatonin levels, since this imperative hormone is generally produced at night and in total darkness. If you think you may be deficient in melatonin, consider a quality supplement, especially if you suffer from insomnia.

Eat More Organic Blueberries

Blueberries are not only super-tasty, they have also been shown to double the amount of NK cells in your system. A joint study conducted by Appalachia University, the University of Montana, and Vanderbuilt University studied the NK cell count of trained runners who consumed blueberries and those who did not. They found that “daily blueberry consumption for 6 weeks increased NK cell counts.” They also found that increasing the amount of blueberries per day reduced oxidative stress and increased the levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines (Note - Cytokines are small proteins secreted by immune cells that affect other cells in the body.)

Add Some “Spice” to Your Diet

The anti-cancer properties of “super spices” like turmeric have been thoroughly established. But did you know about the healing power of black pepper and cardamom, in particular, for enhancing the immune system and improving the effectiveness of NK cell function? According to a 2011 study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food which focused specifically on these two spices, their immune regulatory effects were overwhelmingly proven. However, the researchers were surprised at the effect these two spices had on NK cells in particular. “Remarkably, it is evident that black pepper and cardamom extracts significantly enhance the cytotoxic activity of natural killer cells, indicating their potential anti-cancer effects,” the report affirms. “Our findings strongly suggest that black pepper and cardamom exert immunomodulatory roles and antitumor activities, and hence they manifest themselves as natural agents that can promote the maintenance of a healthy immune system.”

Up Your Beta-Carotene Count

Foods that are high in beta-carotenes such as sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, spinach, and spirulina can stimulate NK cell activity. A remarkable study done almost 20 years ago and published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition compared the effectiveness of NK cells treated with beta-carotene and vitamin E respectively when these NK cells were interacting with human and mouse model lymphoma cells. The study researchers found that both vitamin E and beta-carotene-infused NK cells exhibited enhanced cytotoxic activity against lung cancer cells.

Eat More Garlic And Mushrooms

Garlic is rich in ajoene, allicin, and thiosulfinates, all sulfur-rich compounds that can boost the immune system. A study conducted by Tarbiat Modares University in Tehran and published in the journal International Immuno Pharmacology discovered that sulfur-containing compounds in garlic can stimulate NK cell production and activity. They also found that certain compounds in garlic directly blocked the growth of breast cancer cells in mice directly. As well, mushrooms, and particularly mushroom extracts are said to be rich in betaglucans, which have been proven to increase T-cell counts as well as NK cell production. T-cells are another type of lymphocytes (white blood cells) that are critical for immunity. A 2009 study at the University of Hong Kong found that beta-glucans can trigger several immune receptors, including those on macrophages and NK cells. A 2014 study available in the International Journal of Oncology found that the immune-boosting properties of beta-glucans may in particular help to suppress endocrine-resistant breast cancers by regulating breast cancer gene expression. Multiple studies have also noted the fact that different sources of beta-glucans have differing potencies – so be sure that if you opt for a beta-glucan supplement, you get one that you know is from a pure source and that the product does not contain fillers.

Make Sure You’re Getting Plenty of Selenium

Selenium is a vital mineral for immune system function, as well as for many other biological processes in the body. Multiple studies since the early 1990s have linked selenium with increased NK cell activity in particular, including a 1996 study conducted by New York University which looked at NK cell production in the spleen. According to the researchers: “Dietary supplementation with Selenium resulted in a significant increase in the lytic activity of activated NK cells.” Interleukin-2 receptors are a type of protein expressed on the surface of immune cells which respond to a substance called IL-2 and helps cells of the immune system to communicate with each other. These receptors stimulate movement towards sites of inflammation, including areas where cancer cells may reside. Selenium’s effect on immunity and in particular NK cell activity has also been connected directly to improved breast cancer prognoses. Brazil nuts are an excellent source of selenium.

Want to Really Up Your NK Cell Count?

Consider Enzymatically Modified Rice Bran (EMBR). According to an in-depth report written by Life Extension International in January 2015, Enzymatically Modified Rice Bran (EMBR) has been shown to increase NK Cell activity by up to 84 percent. A study conducted by the European Cancer Research Institute in 2013 focused on the effects of the substance MGN-3, found in EMBR, on patients with multiple myeloma (myeloma is a form of cancer that affects blood plasma). The researchers found “a clear increase in NK activity in MGN-3-treated patients compared to the placebo group.”  I often prescribed Thymus Life Force to my cancer conquerors.   

Consider this Other Powerhouse NK Cell Stimulators

Another NK cell stimulators include vitamin C.  Vitamin C is a well-known powerhouse of the immune system. According to a report published in the journal Immuno Pharmacology and Immuno Toxicology, “Vitamin C in high oral dose was capable of enhancing NK activity up to ten-fold in 78% of patients” who had originally been exposed to high levels of toxins.


Without a doubt, the two billion or so natural killer cells that are currently residing within your body and blood are the true “superstars” of your immune system. No matter what your health challenge may be, or if you just wish to be proactive with prevention, upping your NK cell levels naturally using the various approaches I have described above will not only help to boost your immunity in general… it may also help you prevent and even heal cancer in your body.

Last modified on Friday, 23 September 2016 19:25
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