Boost Your Immune System
Need specific recommendations and methods on ways to avoid getting sick? Curious what to do when you do get sick or your body is fighting something of? Your body is an incredible complex of systems, and your behaviors and choices will determine the health and vitality of those systems, especially the immune system. So if you are sick, you must ask yourself: “what type of body have I been building?”
What to do when you’re sick
Drink lots of water: Drink pure water over sugary drinks. Water is critical for almost ALL cellular FUNCTION. Dehydration promotes histamine production; histamine promotes mucus production and inflammation, which make life miserable when fighting infection. Proper hydration helps the body regulate this histamine response. Drinking water also helps the body regulate temperature, especially during a fever.
Get plenty of rest: The body is an energy system and it acts on priority. For example, when we eat a big meal, energy is diverted to the digestive system for proper digestion, absorption and assimilation. Likewise, when we exercise, the bulk of our energy is routed to the musculoskeletal system. Without rest, our body cannot properly delegate its energy to the system (immune) that needs it most. While we’re talking about rest…
Postpone workouts: YOUR BODY LOVES EXERCISE, and it is good for every physiological function in your body. However when we are sick or our body is fighting something off, we should put off our workouts so that our immune system can get as much energy as possible. Don’t neglect a walk around the block, but leave the long runs and heavy weights for later.
Stay warm: 83% of a person’s energy goes towards maintaining body temperature. We compromise the immune system when the body is chilled, so make sure to layer appropriately in colder weather!
Reduce mental stress: Stress changes our physiology and body chemistry; Stress causes our blood sugar to go up, and our immune system to go down. If life is stressing you out, find a way to put it on hold so your system is as strong as it can be.
No Sugar: Vitamin C and glucose (sugar) are similar in their molecular makeup. So similar that they enter cells through the same pathway. Vitamin C fuels phagocytosis (the process that allows our body to break down and get rid of debris, toxins and invading organisms). Cells have a higher affinity for glucose, thus cells will let glucose in faster than Vitamin C. If we have an too much glucose in the blood, the cells will allow this to enter first, blocking Vitamin C from being properly absorbed. Therefore phagocytosis slows down and we open up the door for infection. Too much sugar directly suppresses the immune system!
How to eat simply and nutritiously:
No added sugars. Few refined foods. Reduce simple carbs.
Reduce meat and proteins. It takes more energy to digest a complex meal (which takes energy away from the immune system) than to digest a simple, light meal.
No pro-inflammatory food (dairy, some gluten foods, wheats, refined grains, sugar); they over-increase mucus production.
Eat plenty of whole foods, especially vegetables. Vegetables are loaded with vital nutrients our body desperately needs. When fighting off an infection, we have to make extra sure we’re providing the antioxidants and nutrients the body needs.
Healing is an inside-out job. Health comes from within and so does sickness. Supplements are supplements, not meal replacements.
Whole food supplements: Take supplements made with fruits and vegetables. In fact, the best supplements are actually eating those foods rich in the nutrients we need. If a pill is your thing, find supplements coming from whole food sources, not highly processed chemicals .
Probiotics: If we are drinking chlorinated water, have a stressful life, or have lots of toxins in our body, we are probably short of healthy bacteria which fight off infections by maintaining the proper pH of the gut. Greek yogurt and kefir are great sources of probiotics and can easily be added to a healthy breakfast.
Essential fatty acids: Fish oil, long chain fatty acids (DHA’s and EPA’s). Fatty acids are beneficial for the cardiovascular system, the immune system, the nervous system…pretty much essential to every system! Obviously fish is a great source of fatty acids, but consider nuts such as cashews, almonds and seeds such as sesame and pumpkin to add that extra supply into your day.
Vitamin C: Fuels phagocytosis and immune response. While citrus fruits are a classic supply, consider cantaloupe, kiwi, mango, pineapple and strawberries. Since vitamin C is actually a very sensitive chemical, whole food sources are the only way to get an active source of vitamin C that our body can use!
Vitamin D: Sunlight is the greatest source. If supplementing, the recommended amount is up to 5000 IU’s.
Zinc: Consume zinc lozenges for a slow release. Great for upper respiratory tract infections. Remember those sesame and pumpkin seeds? Along with dark chocolate these are phenomenal zinc sources as well!
Get extra adjustments:
Healthy motion in the spine stimulates the brain’s cerebellum, restoring homeostasis (balance in the body). A spinal joint out of a healthy position (subluxation) causes swelling and nerve irritation that pushes you further away from homeostasis through stress hormones. Add in that many common subluxations directly affect organs vital to the immune system, and you have a brain and immune system that cannot handle whatever ‘bug’ is going around. Subluxation suppresses immune function.
Let the body fight it off:
If we let the body fight off infection, it gets smarter and stronger. When we interfere with that system, we suppress the symptoms and push the infection deeper into the body. When it is more important for you to be comfortable than healthy, your body becomes weaker and less healthy. When your body has a successful, robust immune response to infectious invaders, it recognizes that invader quicker and it learns how to respond better the next time it faces it. We are supposed to be naturally exposed to the world so that we learn how to mount a defense and respond to the surrounding environments appropriately.
Build up your strength and fight off the sickness. Think of it as training for your body to get stronger and smarter. Your body is magnificent, the symptoms of sickness (fever, headache, etc.) actually mean that your body is working properly! Think of your body as getting well, not getting sick. Shift the mindset from “I’m feeling sick” to “I’m expressing health!” What we do to our body (overstress, overwork) and put into our body (foods and drugs) can suppress our body’s ability to respond, and in the end, our body becomes weaker. By cutting back on things that weaken us and pumping up the things that strengthen us, we can build a stronger immune system and realize the amazing God-given health we were designed for!
What’s a Fever Good For Anyway?
A fever is common, but a fever is also complicated. We must understand that a fever is a sign that the immune system is working well! A fever launches many beneficial body processes that help to ward off invading pathogens. Anytime we lower a fever artificially we’re making the body more susceptible to the invading pathogens.
Purpose of Fever:
Stimulate the immune system. Increased heat kicks the immune system goes into overdrive mode, responding quicker and stronger to invaders. This also creates an inhospitable environment for invaders. A fever sets up the body to fight on it’s own terms, not the invader’s!
Benefits of Fever:
Increase in antibodies that specifically attack the exact type of invader that your body is fighting off.
More white blood cells are produced to help fight off the invading bugs.
Increase in interferon (a natural antiviral and anticancer substance) helps block the spread of viruses to healthy cells.
Walling off of iron, which bacteria feed on.
Increased temperature, which directly kills microbes and inhibits their growth.
Improved abiility of certain white blood cells to destroy bacteria and infected cells.
Fever also impairs the replication of many bacteria.
Putting it all together
A healthy immune system starts with healthy habits. We can reduce our chances of sickness by building our immune system and avoiding those things that break it down. With a few simple changes we can build a stronger immune system and realize the amazing God-given health we were designed for!
Stay tuned next week for specific things you can do this season to build up a strong immune system!
Flu Season Fallacy
Why we get sick and what to do about it
Every year we get bombarded by the news that it is flu season, and the only way to protect yourself is to get the shot. Nevermind that the shot is neither entirely safe or very effective (~1% efficacy rate in adults). There is actually little increase in exposure during this time of year. If we take a step back to the foundations of how our immune system works, we see that what really happen. It isn’t a nasty bug going around but a population with a susceptible immune system.
A Strong Immune System
What makes a strong immune system? One that works the way it was designed, at 100% capacity. We’re designed for perfect health, and when we get the right building blocks we can fight off just about anything that comes our way. We need plenty of clean water, clean air, abundant sunshine, exciting exercise and nutrient rich foods to build our immune system as strong as it can be, not to mention a healthy nervous system to control it.
A Season of Immune Suppression
Think about how our habits change in the fall and winter. It starts to get cold outside, so we bundle up and spend less time outdoors. We stay inside, don’t move around as much, and then come the holidays. Big meals and sweet treats, not to mention more cooking and fewer fresh foods. Each of these key changes hinder immune function, leaving us open to whatever infections might be going around.
Less sunshine and vitamin D: sunshine is the best source of vitamin D, and vitamin D helps regulate the immune system.
Less fresh air: when we go inside we breathe recirculated air, increasing our potential exposure to ‘bugs’ going around.
Less exercise: exercise helps boost the immune system over time, and over time we can weaken it by sitting around.
Too much sugar: too much sugar directly suppresses the immune system, leaving us vulnerable to infection.
Too much processed food: along with being nutrient poor, we tend to over-eat during holidays. This directs energy to the digestive system, robbing our immune system of energy needed to protect ourselves.
Fewer fresh foods: most nutrient dense foods we need for our immune system are fresh fruits and vegetables. These go great in a summer salad, not beside a honey baked ham. Fewer nutrients gives our immune system fewer building blocks to fortify itself during the long fall and winter season.
We can build a stronger immune system and realize the amazing God-given health we were designed for; stay tuned next week to learn more about a strong immune system!
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