Happy Autumn everyone 🙂
As the colder weather approaches I wanted to take time to educate everyone on their wonderful immune system, and give some tips on how to keep it working in top condition. As the saying goes, make time for health now or make time for illness later. Which will you choose?
Your Immune System
Your immune system protects us against foreign substances and repairs our body after damage. Foreign substances can be things like pathogens (bacteria, viruses – like the cold or flu-, parasites, fungus), chemicals, objects (did somebody swallow a button?), or even foreign tissue (like in the case of organ donation). Your immune system is so brilliant that a tiny blog post cannot do it justice. Just think of all the things your body is exposed to on a daily basis – drinking water (chlorine, pipe debris), walking barefoot around your home (dustmites, dirt), food (pesticides, trusting in employee hand-washing) and the list goes on. The only reason you are not sick every single day from one of these things is because of your immune system!
The main cells of your immune system are your white blood cells (WBC), which include T-cells, B-cells, and Natural Killer cells (cool!). Your WBC travel in your lymph nodes all around your body identifying, destroying and eliminating unwanted substances.
If your immune system is TOO active, you might acquire things like auto-immune conditions, allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, or lupus. If your immune system is UNDER active, you might be susceptible to more illness such as cancer, AIDS or increased infections.
What can increase my susceptibility to illness?
An under-active immune system can be caused by many things. Stress, high sugar intake, not enough sleep, low level of nutrients, physical trauma, excess activity, drugs….these are all common perpetrators. In times of stress, your body shuttles all resources to getting you through, and unfortunately boosting your immune system is not part of that pathway. Your immune and digestive systems get placed on the backburners during times of stress, which may help explain why busy people get sick more and constipation is so common.
Immune Boosters and Balancers
The most effective helpers are often the simplest and most traditional. Case in point: Cold FX. I’ve heard so many people asking about Cold FX lately that I just had to put it on here and let everyone know…….Cold FX is GINSENG. Yes that’s right folks, good old fashioned, eastern-medicine celebrated ginseng. Of course, Cold FX uses a “proprietary ChemBioPrint® (CBP) product rich in poly-furanosyl-pyranosyl-saccharides extracted from the root of Panax quinquefolius (North American ginseng 4:1)”…..for regular people, this sentence boils down to meaning Cold FX is a 200mg dose of American ginseng (“Panax Ginseng”) root. Nature’s Harmony Cold Control is an alternative product.
Vitamins – Vitamin C is the most famous immune booster and can be taken in doses up to bowel tolerance, meaning until your stool becomes loose. Usually between 500-2000mg/day and more if needed. Go with foods like red peppers, pomegranate, or blueberries. Vitamin D is also great for supporting your immune system – 1000 IU daily at minimum.
Antioxidants – Vitamin E, A, Zinc and Selenium are potent antioxidants, meaning they help your immune system neutralize free radicals (i.e. damaging particles) that might be hindering your health. Get these from richly coloured fruits and vegetables, orange peppers, pumpkin, Brazil nuts, almonds, and pumpkin seeds. You can also get these combined in antioxidant blends like “ACES” from Sisu, or through superfood powders like acai berry powder.
Essential Fats – your body uses omega 3 fats to make prostaglandins, which control inflammation in the body. Essential fats also help lubricate the colon for ease of digestion during stressful times. Nuts, avocado, coconut, salmon, flax and hemp are all great sources.
Adaptogens – these are herbs or nutrients that help your body adapt better to stress, and as we now know lower stress = better immunity. Look for herbs like astragalus, ashwaghanda, schizandra berry, green oat, licorice, or maca. Try green oat or licorice as delicious teas!
Probiotics – around 80% of your immune system resides in your gut – your small and large intestines and the bacteria they colonize. Having a greater population of good bacteria (probiotics) means less room for pathogenic bacteria that may cause you illness. Pick up probiotics in the fridge at your health food store, or go the natural route with fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh or kombucha.
Herbs and Spices – garlic, cayenne, oregano, ginger, turmeric, thyme, ginseng, lemon…..these are all potent anti-microbial gems. Echinacea can be found in tea or tincture form, and tincture of goldenseal is a powerful acute anti-viral for conditions involving mucous membranes, i.e. throat or sinuses. Finally, raw honey is a powerful all-purpose elixir, boosting the immune system and busting pathogens. Look for manuka honey if possible, from the relative of the tea-tree plant.
***As always, for your safety if you’re taking any medications, have allergies, or are being followed by a professional – please run any new additions by them first!***
Think Outside the Box…
– your immune system is psycho-spiritually related to your Root chakra, embodying the energy of community, togetherness, and the tribal feelings of survival, protection and family. Your root chakra grounds you and is found in the base of your spine, travelling all the way down your legs. Your immune system is designed for survival and protection as well. Do activities that strengthen this chakra like dancing, wearing the colour red, talking with your family and spending time in nature.
– thymus tapping – your thymus is a gland located beneath your sternum (right in the middle of your breastbone). Your T-cells grow and mature here. Some people find that tapping their chest here helps liberate more white blood cells, enhancing immune response. Check out this video if you’re interested!
– lymph massage – have hot and cold contrast showers, be upside down, jump, or give your body a dry brushing to all enhance the circulation of your lymph system which is the vehicle for your white blood cells.
Have a safe and healthy fall!