The Immune System: Prevention is the Best Medicine
The following is an abbreviated guide to bullet proofing your immune system:
- Eliminate sugar and starch from your diet. No lie. A high glycemic meal can decimate your leukocytic index (your primary immune response) for 2-4+ hours following it. Glucose attracts undesirable free radical activity, glycation, fermentation, is acidifying to the system (favoring pathogens) and increases insulin production (taking away from your internal repair and maintenence processes). Sugar also literally feeds pathogens. ALL carbs (except indigestible fiber) are sugar once they reach your bloodstream. This includes bread, cereals, pasta, potatoes, rice, juices, grains (even whole grains), corn, low-fat/non-fat milk (very high in sugars), legumes (are about 60% starch) and other starchy carbs.
- DO NOT OVEREAT. Digestion takes more energy than any other daily human activity. Placing excessive burden on one’s digestive processes diverts energy and resources that might otherwise be devoted to better quality immune function. Also, consuming excesses of protein up-regulate the metabolic pathway mTOR (which you can read about in Primal Body-Primal Mind in more detail) additionally suppressing internal repair and maintenance processes. Also, dietary protein in excess of what is needed for daily maintenence and repair will likely be converted to sugar also and be stored and used the same way.
- Be sure to get enough healthy natural fat in your diet! Fat is the only macro nutrient that can truly calm the hormone, leptin and satisfy appetite. Always include enough in each meal to make sure you are satisfied. (Use fibrous veggies and greens for bulk and added antioxidants). Short chain fats found in butter (butyric acid), coconut oil (capric, caprylic and lauric acid) have potent anti-microbial qualities, as do certain other natural fats (chicken fat is another good one). Your immune system cannot function without healthy natural fat, including some saturated ones! Lauric acid, found in coconut oil, converts to monolaurin in the human body. Monolaurin may be the single most potent natural anti-viral agent known.
- Drink plenty of pure, clean, filtered water (NOT distilled). If you can get it alkalized and micro-clustered, so much the better (see www.KangenNorthwest.net - tell ‘em Nora sent you – I am partial to Enagic systems and own one, myself). Water is required for each and every cellular and metabolic process in the body. Chronic dehydration is a set-up for ill health and vulnerability to all manner of illness. Furthermore, water is your body’s single best detoxifier. Detoxification greatly reduces the burden to your body’s immune processes. Always drink the best quality water–at least half your body weight (lbs) in ounces per day–that you possibly can! Squeezing a little lemon into the water you drink can help boost your system’s alkalinity.
- Use a rebounder! Say WHAT? Yep–those little mini trampolines are a wonderful adjunct to your detoxification and immune-boosting regimen. Bouncing on one of these for minutes a day can greatly improve lymphatic circulation, effectively “massaging” your lymphatic system and improving its capacity for waste removal (again, drink water!).
- Avoid food sensitivities. Food sensitivities can place a tremendous burden on your immune system. If you’ve never determined whether you have them or not, then simply avoid the most common foods known to trigger sensitivity issues: grains (gluten), conventional dairy (casein), soy, corn, peanuts and chicken eggs. In these cases, butter, heavy cream, sheep and goat milk dairy sources and duck eggs might be OK. For the most reliable testing, go to www.enterolab.com.
- Practice regular detoxification. Undergoing 21-day nutritional “detox” programs offered by Certified Nutritional Therapists (CNT’s)/Nutritional Therapy Practitioners (NTP’s), saunas (especially the far infra-red variety), periodic colon hydrotherapy, skin brushing, “green drinks”, etc. are all good ways of reducing your toxic burden and enhancing your immune function.
- Exercise daily - but don’t overdo it! Exercise helps move your lymphatic system and (together with perspiration) promotes detoxification. Too much exercise produces cortisol, though (your body’s stress hormone), which suppresses the immune system.
- Practice stress reduction daily. This can include, meditation, yoga, massage, laughter, biofeedback/neurofeedback, lessening exposure to EMF pollution, taking time to spend in peace and quiet out in nature, relaxation tapes, releasing techniques (Sedona Method, EFT, TFT). These practices can help minimize excess cortisol production, known to suppress your immune system. They can also possibly serve to enhance your immune function.
- Get plenty of sleep! No one’s immune system can possibly work well in a state of sleep deprivation. Most people get far to little–but a few get too much. Shoot for a good 7 to 8 hours of quality deep sleep each and every night.
- Vitamin C Complex (yes, I said “complex”). Ascorbic acid, alone, isn’t vitamin C. In nature, vitamin C appears as a complex including numerous bioflavinoids. Taking ascorbic acid without vitamin C’s other vital natural cofactors can lead to depletion of tissue levels of cofactors and eventual C deficiency! Acerola powder would be one source of complete vitamin C. I also like “Pure Radiance C” carried by www.radiantlife catalog.com.
- B-complex. By enhancing your resistance to stress, B-complex can help promote better immune function. Be sure to add B12 in a sublingual methylcobalamin form.
- Zinc. One of the single most important nutrients for the functioning of the immune system, many people lack adequate levels of zinc due to impaired digestion (low hydrochloric acid production), stress (up to triples the rate of zinc excretion), heavy metal burden (mercury and cadmium can displace zinc in the body), nutrient imbalances (copper dominance/excess copper can off-set zinc and prevent its proper absorption and utilization), chronic infections and genetic metabolic disorders (such as pyroluria). My preference is for supplementing with zinc in ionic form (www.ionicmagnesium.com) or with good digestion, zinc monomethionene can be a good bioavailable form. Oysters and sardines are a great dietary source (as long as you have enough hydrochloric acid to digest them well). Pumpkin seeds, although touted as rich in zinc are also rich in phytic acid which binds zinc and makes it difficult to absorb.
- Iodine. –HUGELY important to your immune function, but you have to know what you’re doing (please read my article on iodine in the “Nutritional Geek Corner” here).
- Vitamin D. Very few people are not vitamin D deficient today–even those living in areas with year-round sunlight. Indoor jobs, SPF use and sunlight (UV) phobias have led to epidemic vitamin D deficiencies. Vitamin D is essential to the functioning of your immune system. I personally prefer emulsified forms of vitamin D. Be sure to regularly test you vitamin D levels to be sure you’re getting enough…and also not too much. Also, be sure to supplement with some cod liver oil in order to get vitamin A. You need A in order to balance D. A is important for your immune system, too. Remember, though: beta carotene is NOT the same thing as vitamin A! True vitamin A can only be found in animal source foods!
- Antioxidants. Our need for antioxidants has likely never been greater. Increasing supplementation with antioxidant nutrients grows in importance with stress, exposure to environmental pollutants, poor digestion, heavy metal contaminants, blood sugar disregulation and rancid fats.
Keeping your immune system healthy and resilient can be a real challenge in our modern world. Be sure to remember, however, the last words of Louis Pasteur:
“The microbe is nothing…the terrain is everything!”