Your immune system is the most important area of health you can focus on to both prevent and treat any disease or illness that may arise. By incorporating beneficial diet and lifestyle habits, your chances of getting sick are exponentially decreased, regardless of your genetic background. In fact, some recent research tells us that the structure of our DNA can be altered with intentional thoughts and positive emotions such as love and acceptance. To be successful, we have to release the self-sabotaging negative belief patterns that are often formed as early as childhood and adopt new interpretations, perceptions and attitudes about life. In part 1, I explained in detail the importance of the first 5 immune boosters recommended which were to 1) reduce deep-rooted stress, 2) consume a wholesome diet, 3) decrease or avoid sugar, 4) increase antioxidant intake, and 5) make sure you get enough Vitamin D. We continue now with the second 5.
6. Minerals, Superfoods, Herbs and Vitamins
Besides a good diet, there are many additional foods that you can add to your diet to enhance your immunity. Zinc (not in excess), copper, iron (not in excess), magnesium and selenium are all minerals that contribute to immune system response. Look for the foods that provide these minerals and only when your levels are inadequate, turn to a supplement form. Some powerful superfoods for the immune system include the reishi mushroom, cacao, bee pollen, maca, spirulina, goji berries (contain more antioxidants than most foods) and even coconut oil. Other powerful herbs for immune system function include garlic, echinacea, ginseng, turmeric, gingko biloba, cat’s claw, elderberry and astragalus. Vitamin C is also extremely important for improving the immune system by increasing antimicrobial and natural killer cell activities. It’s also an antioxidant alongside Vitamin A, E and the B vitamins (B6 and B12), all of which are important for staying well.
7. Alcohol, Smoking, Drugs
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that alcohol, smoking and drugs can and do depress the immune system, while also introducing toxins that disrupt other functions in the body. Excessive alcohol consumption (3 or more drinks per day) not only blocks nutrient absorption, but also reduces white blood cells in the bloodstream impacting the amount of oxygen that flows throughout the body. It also impairs the function of b-lymphocytes, which produce antibodies to fight off invaders, making you more vulnerable to viruses and bacteria. Smoking also makes it more difficult to destroy viruses, bacteria and cancer cells by effecting the antibodies. The chemicals introduced by cigarette smoking leads to oxygen depletion, lung damage, susceptibility to illness, and impaired heart rate function and blood pressure. As a final point, chronic recreational drug use (including marijuana) also contributes to immune system vulnerability. One should be careful to monitor the amount of antibiotics they take as well as they can kill the good bacteria necessary for the healthy functioning of the immune system and overall body.
Moderate exercise is essential to a healthy immune system. Not only does it stimulate the immune system by increasing oxygen flow and blood circulation throughout the body, it also slows the release of stress hormones, flushes out bacteria from the lungs, eliminates cancer causing cells through urine and sweat, and circulates white blood cells at a faster rate. The key here is not to overdo it as strenuous exercise can have the opposite effect on the immune system by increasing stress and depleting antioxidants.
Sleep is essential to a healthy functioning body and mind. When there is a lack of sleep, the body naturally is less able to fend off disease. Sleep deprivation increases the stress hormone cortisol, while decreasing the production of cytokines necessary for fighting infection, reducing inflammation and combatting stress. The body also produces less of the antibodies necessary for combatting illness. Studies have linked sleep deprivation with obesity, diabetes and hypertension as well as an impaired immune system.
10. Life Balance
Creating physical, mental and spiritual balance is a necessity for good health. Even though incorporating all of the above recommendations will almost guarantee healthy functioning of the body and internal healing systems, one should remember that anything in excess isn’t good either and will also eventually deplete the immune system. Cultivating balance is a very personal process and is unique to each individual. Only you will know the right combination of what works for you and it is each person’s responsibility to learn about themselves in intimate detail. Yoga, meditation, breathing exercises and other relaxation techniques are excellent for keeping centered. If there are more deep routed issues to be resolved, seeking out a professional to work through them will be highly beneficial to the quality of your life. Another very important practice that will do wonders for your immune system as well as your mental well-being, is to spend some time walking barefoot on the ground each day. Grounding is a way to receive negative electrons from the earth and balance out the body’s biological rhythms in order to self-regulate and heal itself. When the body has an excessive positive charge, inflammation and physiological dysfunction arise.
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Published On: January 15, 2013