With the current focus on the swine flu outbreak, it is a good time to assess if you are doing what you need to keep your immune system balanced and strong.
The human immune system is truly an everyday healing miracle. Its purpose is clear: to block or eliminate foreign or abnormal organisms that invade our bodies and cause disease. But things we take into our bodies – smoke, pollutants, pollen, mold, some foods, etc. – as well as our lifestyle can throw our immune system into imbalance.
An overactive immune system can cause allergies, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune disorders, while an under-active system can allow viral and bacterial pathogens such as colds, flu, and infection, as well as serious illnesses, such as cancer and hepatitis, to take hold. The key is to maintain a strong and balanced immune system.
How is that accomplished? A balanced lifestyle is the basis for a balanced immune system, and there are many lifestyle habits we can adopt that will help us achieve that balance:
1. Proper Diet and Nutrition - A diet that contains healthy fats but is low in bad fats; high in fiber but low in sugar; high in fruits and vegetables but low in processed foods; and supplies ample amounts of nutrients is the most beneficial for all your systems, including your immune system. The Mediterranean Diet meets all these guidelines, and provides a very simple, easy to follow framework for a healthy, delicious, lifelong way of eating. For more details on what is included in the Mediterranean Diet, see See Dr. Cherry's Ideal Diet Video.
Other foods that are specifically beneficial to the immune system include soy products, pomegranate, yogurt, and reishi, shitake and maitake mushrooms.
Note: If you have an overactive immune system or an autoimmune disorder, you should avoid certain foods that increase immune system function and sensitivity. These include: alfalfa sprouts, excessive amounts of zinc (more than 50-100mg), and corn/safflower/sunflower oils which contain high amounts of omega-6 fatty acids (not to be confused with the very beneficial omega-3 fatty acids).
2. Exercise - Anything that gets you moving for at least 30 minutes, five days a week is what you need to maintain health; incorporating flexibility and strengthening exercises would provide numerous additional advantages.
3. Weight Management - Both being underweight and overweight are associated with lower immune system response, although obesity has more implications. However, severely restrictive diets also seem to be detrimental to immune function. Incorporating the healthy diet and exercise guidelines, as outlined above, is the most effective to achieve a healthy weight without jeopardizing your immune system health.
4. Coping with Stress and Grief - Times of intense stress or grief are hard on your immune system, and often make you more vulnerable to infections and or serious ailments. The Bible tells us, "The joy of the Lord is your strength" (Nehemiah 8:10) and "A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones" (Proverbs 17:22 NKJV). Taking care of ourselves, getting enough sleep and not worrying excessively are things we can do in the natural. Also remember that He said He would always be with us, so we know we can lean on Him in the spiritual realm, and never let go of our joy regardless of the circumstances.
5. Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs and Nutritional Supplements - Typically we all have a slow decrease of immune function that begins in our late twenties and thirties and becomes more significant by our late fifties. Research is showing more and more that daily vitamins, minerals and other nutritional supplements are tremendously beneficial in countering this trend by strengthening the immune system in its efforts to fight disease and common illness.
Basic Nutritional Support – A daily nutritional program that contains vitamins, minerals, extracts, enzymes, bioflavonoids, and marine oils best supplements what is missing from our diets.
In addition, there are nutrients and compounds that have specific roles in supporting the immune system:
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins A, C and Vitamin E - These antioxidants vitamins help eliminate the free radicals which damage our cells, which leaves our immune system free to fight off disease and infection. Vitamins A, C and E also increase the number and responsiveness of the lymphocytes, which fight off foreign invaders in our body.
Copper - Essential to immune system function, it appears to be a strong stimulant of white blood cells.
Selenium - Stimulates the Natural Killer (NK) cells if the immune system, improves thyroid function, and balances the immune system.
Zinc - Enhances immune function at 25-35mg; excessive amounts (more than 50-100mg) may over-stimulate it.
Herbs and Food Extracts
Arabinigalactan - This herbal prebiotic enhances immune cell function in the intestinal tract and increases killer cells.
Astragalus - One of the most important things you can take to balance the immune system, this herb increases T cell and T helper cell (the mobile command centers of the immune system) counts.
Garlic - Contains numerous cancer-fighting compounds.
Blueberry Fruit - Potent antioxidant and bioflavonoid.
Elderberry Fruit - May cut flu symptoms by inhibiting viruses and stimulating immune response.
Pomegranate fruit - Rich in antioxidants, it may also reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.
Reishi and Shiitake Mushrooms – These three have varied benefits to the immune system, from stimulating a weakened one to balancing an overactive one, and may have a positive effect on allergies, cancer and HIV.
Olive Leaf - Has an antimicrobial effect, and hinders the growth of harmful microorganisms.
Eleuthero Root or Siberian Ginseng - Increases T-lymphocytes, and increases resistance to stress, fatigue and illness.
L-Glutamine - This amino acid is an energy source for immune cells and enhances the ability of the intestinal lining to resist invasions by harmful microorganisms.
Inulin - A fiber-like prebiotic that increases the friendly flora of the GI tract and prevents virus and yeast from adhering to the GI tract.
Glucono-delta-lactone - Creates a barrier against the bad bacteria that might invade the body through the GI tract.
Lactobacillus - This beneficial bacteria is important for immune health in the gastrointestinal tract.
The herbs Echinacea and goldenseal are great to use for short periods of time to help you get over a cold or flu, but it is not recommended that they be used long-term or on a daily basis.
Balancing an immune system that may not be reacting properly is crucial to staying healthy and fighting disease. By taking the right combination of vitamins and minerals, along with other proven fruit and plant extracts, you can keep your immune system in balance and reap the health benefits that God intended for all of us.
Our Immunity Support contains the 23 immune-balancing nutrients, herbs extracts and compounds recommended to achieve optimal immune function, in a convenient formula that is safe enough to take every day.
It has been designed to be taken with Basic Nutrient Support, which supplies the full spectrum of nutritional support needed to maintain a basis of good health.