heal, unbroken, karyn shanks md

Re-Energize Your Immune Resilience

This is part 3 of my Body-Soul Resilience 2021 series. Become a subscriber to have these drop right into your in-box.

Dear One,

Did you know our bodies manufacture a million new white blood cells every ten seconds?

And get a completely new immune system—literally trillions of cells and immune molecules designed to rejuvenate and keep us safe—every few months?

What does this tell us?

There’s opportunity and potential built into our immune health.

  • Opportunity to create healthier cells through the effects of healthy living on genetic expression (your genes are not your destiny!).
  • Potential to create deep immune resilience and support optimal function while living among the diverse populations of microbes that share our world.

What can we do to capitalize on that opportunity and potential for immune resilience and protection?

There are two phases to creating immune health—rejuvenation and support.

Optimal immune health occurs when our immune responses are balanced—neither under nor overactive in the face of potential threats.

To achieve this balance, we need our immune responses to switch from hyperactive (hyper-responsive to small triggers, chronically inflamed, hyperallergic, autoimmune) or underactive (recurrent or prolonged microbial illnesses) to balanced: optimized to defend, repair, and stay in healthy balance.

The goal of optimal immune health?

Immune resilience—an agile immune response that adapts to all challenges effectively, then pulls back when the job is complete.

There are two phases to creating immune health and resilience:

  1. Immune Rejuvenation.
  2. Immune Support.

Immune Rejuvenation

Rejuvenation is how we generate the switch, through epigenetic changes, from suboptimal immune behavior to healthy immune behavior, producing immune cells capable of balanced and appropriate protection and repair.

The epigenetic switching that leads to immune rejuvenation, must come about through environmental and lifestyle factors that we control to influence our genetic expression.

Epigenetic immune rejuvenation occurs by removing dysfunctional and damaged cells (a process called “autophagy”), repairing damaged tissue, and producing healthy new cells.

These are the most powerful personal immune rejuvenation behaviors:

  • Eat a plant-rich diet. These foods provide phytochemicals to revitalize and support epigenetic immune optimization. Eat a rich variety of multicolored plants every day.
  • Restrict your feeding time. This is also known as “intermittent fasting.” This eating strategy resets both immune function and energy production. Start with a 16-hour overnight fasting window and increase as tolerated.
  • Optimize sleep quality. Practice sleep behavior that leads to feeling refreshed and restored every morning, paying attention to length of time in bed (for most this needs to be 8+ hours), depth of sleep, and sleeping in accordance with the day-night solar circadian cycle.
  • Optimize daily movement. We’re genetically designed to move all day. In addition to your favorite exercise regimens, avoid excessive sitting and static postures.
  • Create stress balance. Honor your need to engage with challenge in healthy ways while also finding time to rest and creatively discharge the energy of worry, anxiety, and powerful emotions.

Immune Support

A rejuvenated immune system, comprised of millions of healthy cells, is dynamic, interactive, and smart. Its primary functions are:

  • Surveillance and protection against foreign invaders.
  • Repair of damaged tissue.

Once the powerful personal immune rejuvenation behaviors are in place, we provide support. In that order.

Otherwise, we’re potentially stimulating an already overactive system or we’re throwing expensive nutrients at a system that can’t use them.

Immune support provides nutrition necessary to operate these 4 vital functions:

  • Energy
  • Detoxification
  • Inflammatory cytokine quenching
  • Adaptogenic Rebalancing

Foundational Immune Support Strategy

Our immune support strategy is designed to bolster optimal function of those beautiful new cells created through epigenetically robust immune rejuvenation practices (above).

  • Eat a nutrient-dense, whole-foods, plant-based diet free from excesses of sugar, grains, irritants, and toxins.
  • Ingest adequate high-quality protein to support the complex enzyme systems involved in energy, detoxification, and immune function: on average, 8 grams protein per pound body weight daily.
  • Drink plenty of purified water every day (generally 2-3 quarts per day).
  • Support detoxification pathways with sulfur containing plants (onions, garlic, leeks, cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, watercress, Brussel’s sprouts) daily.
  • Support detoxification pathways with supplements (see Resources for specific brands that I use—with no financial incentive to share).
    • Liposomal glutathione: 200-400 mg twice daily.
    • Liposomal alpha-lipoic acid 400-600 mg twice daily.
    • Vitamin C 1000-2000 mg daily.
    • Comprehensive detoxification support supplement with minerals, B-complex, milk thistle, pomegranate extract, green tea extract, N-acetyl cysteine. 2-4 capsules twice daily.
  • Reduce the damaging effects of inflammatory cytokines without the toxicities of anti-inflammatory medications:
    • Cytokine-quenching, anti-inflammatory supplement with turmeric extract (curcumin), ginger, Boswellia, and proteolytic enzymes. 3-6 capsules twice daily.
  • Support mitochondrial and adrenal energy production:
    • Mitochondrial energy support supplement with creatine, l-carnitine, d-ribose, malic acid, coenzyme Q-10, trans resveratrol. 4 capsules once to twice daily.
    • Immune-Energy adaptogenic support with cordyceps, ashwagandha, Asian ginseng, and Rhodiola. 3-6 capsules once to twice daily.

Today’s Practice

Carefully assess where you’re at on the spectrum of immune resilience.

Are you hyperactive, underactive, or balanced in your overall immune function?

Have you set the stage for deep personal immune robustness through rejuvenative immune practices?

Are you ready to intensify your immune support through either additional life- style practices or supplements?

I embrace the opportunity and potential of my personal immune resilience. I know that my genetics and past and present experiences with my health are not locked in. I powerfully influence my own destiny. I can change the trajectory of my health and wellness through my own personal behavior.

I love myself. I reverently focus time, attention, and energy to what I need to create deep energy-immune resilience. I am worthy of this. And when I’m safe and protected, so are the people I love.

Yep, we’re powerful!




Jeffrey Bland PhD. A New Way to Consider Immunity, From a Functional Medicine Expert. Mbghealth.

Karyn Shanks MD. How to Optimize Energy with the Foundational Intensive Nutrition Energy (FINE) Food Plan. 2019.

Karyn Shanks MD. How to Boost Energy with Ketosis and Intermittent Fasting. 2019.

Karyn Shanks MD. How to Heal Chronic Fatigue with Beautiful Natural Sleep. 2019.

Karyn Shanks MD. How to Optimize Protein for Energy and Vitality. 2019.

Detox Support. Nutri-Dyn.

Mitochondrial NRG. Designs for Health.

Inflammatone. Designs for Health.

Trifortify watermelon (liposomal glutathione). Researched Nutritionals.

C-RLA (liposomal alpha-lipoic acid with vitamin C). Researched Nutritionals.

Stress Essentials Balance. Nutri-Dyn.

p.s. The Unbroken Workshop is now open for registration!

In this workshop, we’ll throw out the tenacious, perhaps unconscious, stories that have hijacked our personal control of life’s outcomes and replace them with healing stories to support, soothe, love, empower, and guide us through the changes and challenges of life.

You will experience the beauty and power of your vast untapped potential and renewed resilience.

Come over and look at the details at The Unbroken Workshop.

Our new story of healing? We’re Unbroken.

Unbroken Workshop
Karyn Shanks MD


Karyn Shanks, MD, is a physician who lives and practices in Iowa City. Her work is inspired by the revolutionary science of Functional Medicine, body-mind wisdom, and the transformational journeys of thousands of clients over her twenty-eight year career. She believes that the bones of healing are in what we do for ourselves.

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