How well do you know your immune system? Most people don't give it a second thought until they get sick, but your immune system is actually one of the most important aspects of your health. In this blog post, we're going to explore the truth about your immune system and how to keep it healthy. So whether you're looking to boost your immune system naturally or just want to know more about what's going on inside your body, read on!
You have thousands upon thousands of cells in your body and they form this big team. Very similar to having all these soldiers inside of you who's always on a mission. What that mission is to protect you from enemies, foreign such as viruses and bacteria, and domestic alike. These domestic ones would be diseases like cancer or abnormal cells that need to be stopped when they're replicating.
The problem is when your immune system is compromised or when your immune system is just not working the way it should, everything is low. Defense system is low and you don't have the ability to fight off infections and diseases like you normally would. Depending on why your immune system is compromised, it can be a temporary state or a permanent state.
We're talking more about the temporary states right now. The biggest takeaway today is: YOU are the biggest controller of your body's ability to fight disease. It can be really liberating because so many times we're told that just have to wait and see what happens and then we'll treat the certain condition not. With your immune system, you are in control of how this is going to respond and you can catch things before it gets big. Small habits can have significant effects on your health.
This team of ‘soldiers’ fight off anything that shouldn't be there. It includes everything from when you get a splinter in your finger or you get an infection and you have a bacteria or a virus. There's two phases of how this happens.
The first one is called the innate cells. This is when something invades your system and it triggers your body to get it out immediately. Mainly, the task of this group is recognizing there's a problem and fighting it.
The second part of the response is when the cleanup crew comes in. They clean up whatever is left behind. This second one is called an adaptive response. That's what we get after having an infection or after having some sort of exposure to something. This response is amazing. It's the body's way of really recording and remembering those different exposures. This way the body can be more efficient at finding and making antibodies against those invaders next time.
The reason we have so many issues with a coronavirus is it's called a “novel coronavirus”. Basically, nobody's immune system has seen it before and it is somehow what's stirring up so much trouble in so many people's systems from an inflammation standpoint.
The Great Deterrent
Let’s talk more about the first line of defense because this is really crucial. This is where we can make a big impact. It's the first step to preventing these foreign organisms from even getting into your system. You've got your army ready to keep the foreign attackers out.
Your skin is the biggest barrier. It's gonna be the best thing that you can do. Think of your skin like this huge stone wall and protect you like it's protecting a castle. The skin actually shields all of your delicate organs and tissues from being attacked. Everything we learned in kindergarten taught us how to boost this first line of defense. Wash your hands for at least 30 seconds.
The nasal passages. They have these little hair-like structures called cilia. And every time you breathe in and breathe out, it actually captures those foreign particles, everything from bacteria and pollen, even to dust. That's why we sneeze. The cilia works as triggers and we sneeze to get the foreign particles out.
Saliva is another line of defense. It's enzymes that are found in your mucus membranes. These are enzymes found in your tears, the lining and the mucus of your lungs and intestines. All of those different mucosal surfaces help destroy pathogens and keep them from entering your body. So imagine the little hairs and enzymes, those are like more soldiers protecting the gates around the castle.
A bit about autoimmune disease.
Autoimmune disease is when your system gets too revved up and basically, it can't tell what is self anymore and starts attacking itself. You can have inflammatory responses that are normal, but in somebody who has an autoimmune disease, when they have an inflammatory process kick up, it can actually trigger it to attack itself.
This is where we get a lot of really big problems as this can happen anywhere in the body. Autoimmune diseases are actually more common in women than they are in men. We think that's because of both some genetic and environmental factors. Here's what you need to know. There are more than 80 different types of autoimmune diseases that affect more than 24 million people. A few examples are:
inflammatory Bowel disease
Type One Diabetes
When you think about a system that might be immune suppressed, meaning the immune system is not working the way it should, you have to think of all of these people who have an autoimmune issue in the background. Think about that on a global scale. 24 million people in the US with autoimmune issues alone means their immune system is not fighting things it should. It can be and is a big problem.
Now, the other thing we really worry about in these scenarios is there's a significant, increased risk of cancer in people whose immune system is not doing what it's supposed to as well. For example, 40% increased risk of cancer, especially lung cancer, are observed in people with rheumatoid arthritis.
We can also see up to a 19% full increase in lymphoma in patients who have another autoimmune condition called Sjogren's Syndrome. The immune system is very important that when it turns on and attacks itself or is not as effective, we run into big problems. So what can we do about it?
ThesThere aree may look familiar and easy, but still very vital.
A large percentage of your immune system lives in your gut. Gut health is so important because 70% of your immune system comes from it. You have trillions of microorganisms and there's over a thousand different types of gut bacteria. The bacteria in your gut actually can weigh over four pounds. It is really important for us to have these good bacteria making these byproducts that nourish the gut lining. The stronger your gut lining you have, the better defense against all these intruders that can come in.
Nourishing the gut
Part of your gut lining gets nourished. If you're reading about the immune system, you might have read about centralized locations of where your immune system army hangs out. The bacteria in your gut lining also get nourished by eating a high-fiber and diverse diet. This helps maintain the balance of good versus bad microbes that live there, which is important for optimal health!
Sugar does not do that. You need to be fully aware that sugar is not entirely your friend as it puts your immune system on hold for hours. For instance, when you have something sugary, like a sugary drink, for up to four hours afterward, it sort of paralyzes your immune system.
Keep in mind that you need to make sure you're drinking plenty of fluids because your immune system is completely dependent on your bloodstream, cycling it through your system. Our bloodstream is mostly made of water. Hence, if you don't have enough water, you can't transport these nutrients around and you can't transport these little cells that have communication networks inside. So staying hydrated is essential.
Vegetables are the foundation of this nourishing diet. It's because of the color diversity and something in them called flavonoids. Also, they're very high in vitamin C and antioxidants. We think about things like red bell peppers and broccoli and spinach. For flavonoids, we think of carrots, sweet potatoes and kale. It is basically the vegetables and fruits you can think of when someone tells you to eat a rainbow.
It all goes back to nourishing the good bacteria in your gut. Adding in those key nutrients that help you find infection and giving you what you need to have. We want to aim for two servings of fruit a day and eight or more servings of vegetables a day. Think of a serving as like half a cup.
Two servings of fruit, eight servings of vegetables may usually be quite a lot more than most people are used to, but that's what it takes to keep that diversity in your system. For key foods, berries, pastries, meats, nuts, and seeds are all some nutritional powerhouses. It's also pretty accessible because you can keep a lot of those in your freezer so you can stay stocked up.
The stress (including emotional) factor
Stress has a very direct effect on your immune system. Increased stress levels definitely cause an increased susceptibility to viruses. In one study they had cold viruses injected into the subjects’ noses. Only the people who scored high on the stress questionnaire developed active infection.
Now is the time to really double down on your self-care. Whatever it is that you do to settle your system down, do it.
Take that walk in nature.
Do those deep breathing exercises.
Do your yoga and meditation,
Everybody has stress and it's a part of life. However, if it drags on too long, it can really lead to problems. Certainly, immune suppression is not the direction we want to go.
There's some kind of cool thing about emotions that tie into our immune system. Things like high levels of fear, doubt, and anxiety, have a very negative effect on the immune system. People who tend to not let out their frustrations or their sadness and they hold it in, get negative effects on the immune system.
Interestingly, crying actually has a very positive effect on the immune system. Sometimes, crying will boost the immune system. In contrast, laughing boosts your good hormones. Those feel good hormones increase some of our immune responses. Needless to say, laughing is very good. Connections with others are really good.
Things you can do in addition to these is avoid immersing yourself in negative media. It seems like most media right now is pretty negative so we try to avoid that as much as we can. You may not be able to get rid of your stress, but you can learn how to manage it. It is better to learn to meditate, slow down, connect with other people and work out to blow off some extra steam.
Natural Immune Boosters
Sleep. Sleep is one of the most important things you can do for the immune system. Everything that we talk about with heal and repair happens at nighttime. Melatonin, which is your sleep hormone, rises at nighttime.It actually boosts your natural killer T-cells. We know that seven to nine hours nightly is the most ideal sleep time, generally speaking.
Fasting. We know that fasting actually decreases inflammatory markers so that you heal faster. Fasting also recycles old cells.Here's the key about fasting: Fasting can completely reset your entire immune system. That's amazing because we don't have medications that do such a thing. We don't have anything that can reboot your immune system like fasting can.
Exercise. Normally what happens in our immune system over time is that our cells die. Our ability to create these fighting cells drops our ability to make antibodies drops. It's like a bunch of our soldiers retire. Exercise can completely reverse that deterioration process. That is how important exercising is.
The other thing is it increases your feel good hormones. As mentioned above, feel good hormones trigger a positive response in your immune system. There's a massive surge of antioxidants that are released after you exercise. That's incredibly powerful and we know that it only takes just 20 to 30 minutes daily. If we do it out in nature, we add benefits. So get that movement in every day. It does the body good.
Supplements. Ideally, we'd get all of our nutrients from food. The problem is a lot of our foods are not as nutrient dense as they used to be. Most people are probably not getting eight to 10 servings a day of what they need. Therefore, a lot of times these supplements will come into play. Just so you know, some specifics on a few vitamin C boosts those natural killer cells.
Flavonoids are antioxidants. They are pigment molecules that make your vegetables and fruits have different colors. Antioxidants neutralize the bad guys. Keep that in mind eating the rainbow means taking in lots of antioxidants which neutralize the bad guys and boost your immune system.
Sweepingly, Vitamins A, C, and D are the super nutrients to be getting in. You don't want to overdo it, though. ideally, you would test for it first, but overall, those are good ones to have in your system, along with C on a regular basis.
Now a supplement that's been talked out about a lot lately is called quercetin. It is one of those plant pigments that has been used in a lot of allergy medications and it's also a flavonoid. Quercetin has some cool effects to it. It stops histamine from being released that's why we've seen it in allergy medicines.
As we all know, the world is a crazy place right now. There’s so much going on and it seems like every day the news brings something new to worry about. It can be hard to stay positive and focused when everything feels so uncertain. But one thing that we can control is our own health. We can do our best to make sure that we’re eating well, getting enough exercise, and getting good sleep. And if things are feeling a little too stressful, there are supplements that we can take to help boost our immune system. Scheduling a free discovery call with us is the perfect way to start taking care of yourself during this time. Let us help you create a wellness plan that will keep your immune system strong.
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DISCLAIMER: The information in this email is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content is for general informational purposes only and does not replace a consultation with your own doctor/health professional