Immune System Health
In a strict medical sense, the immune system is not actually one of the body’s systems, like the cardiovascular system or the nervous system. The immune system is a set of byproducts produced by the proper and balanced functioning of the organs and body systems— perhaps even the proper functioning of the whole person: mentally, emotionally, and physically.
There is a lot we don’t know about the immune system, but we do know that it is the body’s principal line of defense against viruses, parasites, bacteria, fungi, and toxins that cause decay and damage to the body. It is the body’s major defense mechanism against cancer formation. It is as if the organs and body systems joined together to create a defense system to protect themselves.
In many ways, good health boils down to a healthy immune system. Just about all of the body’s defenses against sickness and disease are now seen to be part of its great interconnected network of chemical processes. And while the components of the immune system are intricate and complicated, the pathways to a healthy immune system are easy to understand and follow.
What are the Symptoms of a Weak Immune System?
Since the immune system is linked to our overall health, it has at least some responsibility for just about every ailment that can afflict us. Still, there are a few signs you can watch for that point to an immune system in need of support:
- Recurring infections
- Chronic fatigue, sleep disorders, never feeling rested
- Chronic diarrhea
- Slow healing
- Allergies, especially the onset of several new allergies
- Frequent colds or flu (more than 3 times per year or one that never seems to go away)
What Causes Damage to the Immune System?
The immune system is amazingly versatile and flexible. It responds to foreign substances, viruses, and other threats with speed and intelligence. Nevertheless, certain antigens may prove too strong for the immune system to fight off completely, and some may even damage the immune system. We often add to the problem by increasing our exposure to toxic substances—from our environment, our foods, and through our behaviors. We may also neglect to fortify our immune systems with proper diet, supplements, and lifestyle habits. In short, damage to the immune system falls into two simple categories: damage from toxins and damage from neglect.
Boosting the Immune System
Science has identified a number of foods and supplements proven to enhance the various elements and processes of the immune system. Most likely, a combination of these therapies is necessary to cover all the bases: combat toxins, improve chemical and hormonal imbalances, and stimulate the thymus. The details on these immune enhancers could fill several books, but here is a quick hit on the essentials:
- Eat an antioxidant rich diet. Reduce smoking and excess drinking.
- Balance your hormones and thyroid/adrenal activity (for many, this means taking DHEA supplements, reducing stress, and lowering caffeine intake).
- Take a green drink that includes maca, Chlorella, and Spirulina.
- Take vitamin C supplements.
- Include one or more herbal supplements in your diet (Echinacea, golden seal, olive leaf extract, Astragalus , Panax ginseng, or mistletoe extract).
- Get plenty of active enzymes from fermented foods and many tropical fruits.
- Increase your sense of well being by adding plenty of sleep, laughter, and love.
The best thing you can do to maintain a healthy immune system is to eat well. That means getting a healthy balance of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, fiber, and nutrients. Although no single dietary formula works for everyone, a few nutritional principles are generally accepted for good health. No matter who you are, your diet should be:
- Low in saturated fats
- Low in cholesterol
- Low in starch and carbohydrates *
- Low in salt and sugar
- Low in processed foods and artificial ingredients (dyes, preservatives, and chemical additives)
- High in plant nutrients, such as those from fruits and vegetables
- High in antioxidants
- High in fiber
An excellent way to get plenty of nutrients from food is to include one or more super foods in your diet. These are foods that are super high in nutrients and offer these nutrients in well balanced ratios. Some of these include bee pollen, Spirulina, olive leaf extract, maca, and kale. Also, refined natural proteins, including thymic protein A are useful in rebuilding your immunity. It’s important to remember that cooked foods do not contain active enzymes. Heating foods destroys both microorganisms and enzymes.
From Japan, we have maitake mushroom extract. This amazing mushroom has been shown to have immune enhancing and cancer fighting properties in the form of beta glucans, a sugar/protein complex that stimulates the white blood cells into action. It is especially useful for chemotherapy patients. Baker’s yeast is another potent source of beta glucans.