The most common question that we get here in the office these days is “how do I keep my immune system strong?” The answer is quite easy: cut out what weakens it and increase what strengthens it.
Here’s What Weakens The Immune System
Sugar comes in many forms, all of them bad. Fructose, sucrose, dextrose, maltodextrin, and so on. These are all forms of processed sugar, and all weaken your system. And no, fruit is not included on this “do not eat” list. Fruit is not processed sugar, and it’s not bad for most people. That being said, if you have blood sugar problems, as determined by your blood test, (click here to learn more about types of carbs), it’s best to keep to the low carbohydrate fruits such as raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries, at least until you get your blood sugar markers optimized.
2. Processed Grains
Most processed grains turn into sugar in your body just as quickly, or even quicker than table sugar! Included here are cakes, cookies, pasta, bread, rice, bagels, and baked goods. Not only do these processed grains turn into sugar very quickly, but they are also working in nutrients such as B vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and essential fatty acids. Sure, “enriched flour” has B vitamins sprayed onto it, but they are the poorest quality, and make deficiencies worse. Unless you are making your own flour by hand, do not use it!
3. Pasteurized Dairy
Everyone knows that milk, cheese, and other dairy products cause excessive mucus production in the body and are therefore bad for you when you are fighting a cold or flu. It’s the chemical changes that occur to dairy from flash pasteurization at high temperatures that make it A “non-food” that your body cannot digest properly. Avoid it if you want to be healthy. Conversely, raw dairy is not chemically altered, so in most cases is actually good for you. I try to eat one or two servings of raw dairy per day for its protein, essential fats, and mineral content, mainly calcium and phosphorus.
When I say “stress and drama” to a person, immediately someone or something comes to mind! Minimizing stress and drama is essential for a strong immune system. A good way to figure out just how much stress and drama is affecting you is to journal every day on the things you liked and did not like that happened during the day. If you do that for a week, you will see what really stresses you out. Do your best to minimize this stuff. I know, I know, you cannot completely eliminate stress, especially having to do with work and family. However, the simple journaling exercise above will bring your awareness to what’s causing stress so that you can at least minimize it. I’ve done it many times in life, and it’s a lifesaver. I also find that if 10 things are stressing you out, and you just eliminate a couple of them, it makes life much more pleasant. Stress/drama is cumulative, any amount you can decrease it will help. Also, eliminating what you can makes you more cause, and less effect (victim) of your environment.
5. Lack Of Sleep
While everyone knows that sleep is essential, some people still don’t know that poor sleep will weaken their immune system. Make sure that you get in bed before 10, and are in bed for at least eight hours, make sure your room is as dark as possible, neither too hot nor too cold, and is either quiet or use white noise to block out outside noise. For extra credit, write down three things you are grateful for before you go to sleep, pray, and/or meditate. Ending your day on a positive note ensures you’ll start the next day on a positive note.
Here’s What Strengthens The Immune System
1. Proper Sleep
More important than anything else is proper sleep. Proper sleep helps to balance blood sugar, minimize stress hormones, and strengthen the immune system.
2. Fix Nutritional Deficiencies
Fix nutritional deficiencies found on blood tests. I see all this talk and conversation about how people need more vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin C, zinc, magnesium, B vitamins, selenium, and so on. A simple but thorough blood test will show you most of this, taking the guesswork out of what food do you need to eat more of, and what you don’t need more of. You can either call our office for this service, or Google “functional blood chemistry “in your area. I can’t stress enough how important this step is in your health. I literally see miracles every day with Functional Blood Chemistry.
3. Nutrient-Dense Foods
The Paleo or Page diets are the best. Special shout out to the liver for its vitamin A, Zinc, copper, and iron ratio. Besides eliminating the things we shouldn’t be eating like processed sugar, refined grains, and pasteurized dairy, a diet like the Page diet or the Paleo diet will also be naturally rich in all the vitamins and minerals your body needs in order to be healthy. Click here for the Page and Paleo
The proper amount of exercise will strengthen your muscles, your cardiovascular system, and your immune system. If you perform an outdoor exercise such as walking, running, or biking, you will also increase your production of vitamin D, one of the key vitamins for your immune system that is exceedingly difficult to get from your diet. As an aside, when I take blood tests of people during the fall, winter, and early spring unless the person is taking vitamin D, they are always, and I mean always, deficient in vitamin D. Last year I had not a single patient test for normal levels of vitamin D who was not taking it. So, get outside in the sun while you still can! It’s easy, free, and fun!
5. Stress Relief
Stress relief is important, especially practicing forgiveness. Life is in a state of continual change. In fact, the only thing that is constant is the change in our universe. Letting go of resentments doesn’t help the person you forgive, it helps you. Make a goal to forgive as many people as possible, especially if they don’t deserve it. Don’t mistake forgiveness for being a pushover though. If someone is abusive to you, cut them off as soon as possible. Once again, be at cause over your environment, not effect (victim).