In preparation to have my second child in one week, and with everyone getting something this time of year as the seasons change, I want to make sure to support my immunity that is already slightly depressed from pregnancy. I love the concept of how every system in the body, especially the brain, requires a healthy union with the immune system.
When I see the word Immunity, my brain automatically hears I Am Unity. I am Unity could mean so many things, but when it comes to the immune system, I see all the little cells holding hands and singing Kumbaya, united together for one mission: To protect and defend.
Building immunity is a life long endeavor, different with each stage of life, but creating a robust immune system includes the basics for everyone, young or old. Below is my simple list- believe me the list could go on, and on, and on…..but lets start here.
1) Combat emotional stress. “Stress-related disease emerges, predominantly, out of the fact that we so often activate a physiological system that has evolved for responding to acute physical emergencies, but we turn it on for months on end, worrying about mortgages, relationships, and promotions.” – Dr. Robert Salpolsky, Why Zebra’s Don’t Get Ulcers.
- Reducing stresses such as fear, worry, and conflict, while increasing love, pleasure, and laughter can increase biochemicals such as oxytocin, natural killer cells, andImmunoglobulin A,( all increase immunity), while decreasing cortisol and adrenaline (which increase blood pressure, elevate blood sugars, and suppress the thyroid).
- Inflammatory cytokines such as IL-1, IL-6, and TNF-alpha are the messengers of distress and have all been shown to be elevated in the setting of depression. These cytokines can traverse the blood brain barrier.
- Adopting stress reducing habits (like exercise), removing negativity, and processing traumatic events, can overtime add years to your life, improve your outlook, and strengthen your immune system.
2) Let food be your medicine. Over 70% of the immune system resides in the digestive system, thus what you choose to eat (or drink), directly affects your immunity.
- Nutrient dense foods: Many illnesses can be avoided or lessened by eating nutrient dense foods such as lean protein, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and legumes, all year round. Stay away from processed foods, sugars, trans fats, excessive alcohol, and foods that are not organic.
- Organic foods are important because they are not sprayed with herbicides/pesticides, are hormone and antibiotic free, and are not derived from GMO products. These harmful compounds can alter hormone and immune function and even damage DNA.
- Moderation is the key to success, and “cheating” a few times a week is fine, but cheating all day long every day of the year is going to decrease immunity, period.
3) Add Superfoods to your diet. SUPER DUPER foods (SDfoods) as I like to call them are a great example of high nutrient, low calorie foods, that are full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, andamino acids that strengthen immunity.
- Look for high Vitamin C SDfoods such as Camu Camu , acai, and goji berries. Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin that squelches free radicals and helps fight infection, thus boosting immunity. My favs: coconut, camu camu, maca, cacao, spirulina, goji, kale, and berry’s of any kind.
4) Exercise. Just like healthy nutrition, exercise is at the core of having a strong immune system.
- Exercise improves circulation aiding the body inelimination of toxins, decreases insulin and cortisol levels and reduces the harmful inflammatory chemicals created by stress.
- Lifting something heavy at least 2-3 times per week and increasing your heart rate at least 4 times per week is a great way to improve immunity.
- Stress reducing activities such as yoga, Tai Ji, Qi Gong, and meditation are also immune stimulating. Besides, losing those excess pounds can’t hurt. Yippee!
5) Sleep. Research is beginning to show that sleep is THE ultimate immune booster.
- Many studies show that sleep deprivation decreases T cells, inflammatory cytokines increase, and thus you are more succeptable to colds and flus.
- Millions also suffer from sleep related disorders such as sleep apnea, which recents studies have shown increased cancer diagnosis with severity of sleep apnea.
- Bottom line: Your immune system needs adequate restfulsleep.
6) Get your head on straight and your body aligned. As many of you know I specialize in a powerful cranial, spinal, and neurological treatment, NeuroCranial Restructuring, and I can tell you from thousands of clinical examples that being pain free and standing tall has a direct impact on the immune system.
- Pain itself causes cascades of chemicals to be released into the system and chronic pain just plain wears everything out including your immunity.
- Other treatments I like: Reiki, Manual Ligament Therapy, Reflexology, Acupunture, and Hydrotherapy.
7) Vitamin D. Living in the rainy Northwest, I can tell you most everyone here and in any other dark climate during the winter, is deficient.
- Vitamin D is not really a vitamin, it’s more like a super hormone, and some studies show it as or more effective than the flu vaccine.
- It’s important to get out in the sun when you can, as the body uses it for Vitamin D synthesis and the cascade of effects it has on other systems such as bones and the immune system.
- Taking Vit K2 with the D is important too, so consider this when beginning to supplement. (Dosing is dependent on blood levels, skin color, location, and age.)
8) Probiotics. Since the digestive system holds most of your immunity, you need to support the good bacteria and help them thrive. Probiotics assist the body in a multitude of ways and are the true champions of our inner ecology.
9) Turn off your phone, your computer, your iPad, your X-box, your TV, your alarm clock, and your WiFi.
- Look others in the eye and have a real conversation, make love to your partner, hug your chidren and get outside and put your feet on the earth more.
- Electromagnetics are making us sick in more ways than one, but this is a topic for another blog.
- Connect with people, nature, and not just your devices, your immune system will thank you!