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Immune System Fitness

Immune System Fitness | ArticlesSeptember 2009

Steps you can take to protect yourself.
We have no protection against a virus. We do have the ability to maintain a strong immune system and eliminate some things that may interfere with the immune response.

Let’s go over what we CAN do.


1. Sugar; Eliminate sugar and simple carbohydrates. When sugar enters the WBC (white blood cell) it reduces phagocytosis. Phagocytosis is the WBC's job to stimulate other components of immunto respond and attack pathogens: virus, bacteria, anA blood sugar reading of only 120mg/dL can reduce phagocytosis by up to 75%. Your immune system immediately slows to a crawl after ingesting sugar.
2. Allergens; We think of allergens as the cat or pollen. My main focus is food allergens. The foods you crave the most are probably the most offending for you and may need to be the first things eliminated from your diet! Eliminating foods which create an inappropriate immune response will spare your immune system. Common allergens are grains, soy, and dairy. If your body is working on something else...it reduces its capacity to provide enough immunity for a more serious threat.
3. Nutritious foods; The immune system can only function on the raw materials provided. “You are what you eat” applies to your immune system also. Eating quality foods is the basis for overall good health. Foods in their whole form, instead of packaged, processed food. They best foods to add to your diet are vegetables; raw preferred or lightly steamed; fresh and the next best is frozen. Start simple; substitute a piece of whole fruit or veggies for chips in the afternoon for a pick-me-up, have a salad and a side of vegetables with protein for dinner.
4. Supplements; Optimize your vitamin D levels; is it coincidental that levels are lowest during flu season? which also coincides with low levels of sunlight? If you don’t know your vitamin D levels, get them checked. There are 2 tests for vitamin D – make sure you’re getting the right one: 25(OH)D, 25-hydroxyvitamin D. Use vitamin D3 in liquid form only (liquid in gel caps are ok); never in a tablet or as a powder. I recommend 4,000 I.U. of vitamin D3 per day for most adults as part of a maintenance program once optimal levels are reached. Optimal levels of vitamin D are 55-65 ng/ml.
Omega-3 fatty acids found in flax oil, olive oil, and cod liver oil. Cod liver oil also contains EPA and DHA which are critical for proper immune function and brain health.
Antioxidants to control free-radical damage, especially to the immune system.
Zinc can be a powerful immune stimulant if used properly. Essential oils like eucalyptus for clearing the lungs. And olive leaf extract is a powerful anti-viral agent. There are other supplements which can reduce the duration and symptoms of a virus.
5. Adequate rest; If your body is overly tired it will be harder to fight a virus. During R.E.M. sleep the body releases Interleukin-1, a powerful immune-system molecule that encourages B-lymphocytes to produce antibodies. Adequate rest is a minimum of 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep.
We are the only mammals that intentionally sleep less than our bodies require.
6. Stress; Don’t let stress overwhelm you. Hormones released during stress have an immune suppressing effect. These hormones can also contribute to abdominal fat and raise blood pressure.
7. Fever; Under “normal” circumstances you should rarely use medications (aspirin) to lower a fever, especially for children. A fever signals the Thymus gland to promote the maturation of T-lymphocytes, a critical part of the immune system. Attention Parents, this is a very important concept. A fever is a protective function of the immune system and enhances your child’s immunity. By suppressing fevers the immune system is not allowed to fully develop. Your immune system is considered “mature” by age ~7.

If you feel you are getting sick or have the flu, many of the steps outlined can strengthen your immune system and shorten the duration and severity of your illness.
Get plenty of rest, and rehydrate with water, broths, and vegetable juices. Fruit juice contains too much sugar.
Fluid loss can be the most serious complication of flu and needs to be aggressively addressed.

Most deaths during the 1918 Flu Pandemic occurred approximately 11 days after contracting the illness. This time frame is consistent with a bacterial infection and not from the initial flu virus. Medications today (antibiotics) can eliminate most bacterial infections, so far.

This information is educational only and not a substitute for medical care.

It is important for you to always consult your primary care physician for matters regarding your own health.

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