This is the season to be jolly but that doesn’t mean it can’t also be the season to be healthy too! For individuals dealing with cancer or other chronic diseases this is even more important so that you can keep your immune system functioning at peak performance. Remember, your immune system is what fights disease if it isn’t operating at optimally it can’t do its job properly.
Many of us need to think more long-term as many of us are dealing with long winter months of cold weather, lack of sunshine, shortened days and more inactivity. Along with your immune system needing extra TLC at this time of year, a lot of people are also affected with SAD (seasonal affective disorder).
It does take a bit of imagination and planning but there are countless ways to boost your immune system throughout winter by making small adjustments to your lifestyle & diet. There are many healthy, delicious recipes to choose from and I’ll include some highly recommended supplements that, in addition to eating healthy foods, can help make your immune system “Bulletproof”.
A word about our Immune System and its importance
Our immune systems main purpose is to fight germs, viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites. It is a grouping of cells with the task of identifying and destroying these foreign invaders before they can do significant damage to your body. Disease-causing organisms are detected, identified and destroyed by these hungry immune system cells when it is kept strong, healthy and functioning at peak levels.
It was also designed to recognize cancer cells as abnormal and unwelcome. A strong, healthy immune system will seek them out and destroy them before they can multiply. The specific cells that do this are called Killer “T” cells. It is our Front Line of defense against sickness and disease.
The role of diet
A diet (Standard North American) consisting mainly of cooked animal source foods, preservatives, refined sugars and grains & refined table salt leaves a lot of toxic rubbish behind in the body which, becomes a fertile feeding and breeding ground for the “bad guys” (foreign invaders).
Our body has the ability to heal itself when given the proper tools. We all have a responsibility to maintain a diet and lifestyle that will keep our immune system strong and healthy so it can fulfill its function of protecting us against invading organisms. How we live and what eat and drink determines whether our immune system functions at peak levels or is repressed.
Ways to Super charge your Immune system
There are three most important ingredients of a healthy, properly functioning immune system:
1 Diet; 2 Exercise; and 3 Manage Stress
Diet: Eat a diet consisting mainly of raw vegetables and fruit, seeds and nuts and fresh, home-made vegetable juices or smoothies often. Avoid sugars and processed foods and eat local, seasonal and organic as much as possible. Following these simple steps ensures your food is fresh, supports your local farmers, is appropriate for the climate you live in and is free of pesticides & chemicals and contains as many live nutrients as possible. Ideally, especially if you have cancer, your diet should consist of 75% raw, uncooked foods to assure you get all the live enzymes your body needs to thrive.
Drink plenty of pure water: The link between stress and dehydration are well documented. This makes is a great read also. http://www.watercure.com/. We’ve all heard about drinking 8, 8 oz. glasses of water per day but a better rule of thumb is to drink ½ your body weight in ounces each day. That’s because we’re all different sizes and activity levels.
Exercise: Exercise is essential to develop and maintain a strong immune system healthy enough to resist invaders and to help move any toxins that do enter, out of the body quickly. Aside from the many obvious benefits of exercise (weight management, better mood, healthy heart & lungs and strong muscles) exercise stimulates white blood cells, doubles blood plasma interferon levels and increases natural killer cells. Daily, moderate intensity exercise that includes some type of cardio (min. 20 min heart rate increase) along with weight training has the most benefit. If you’re new to the exercise concept start slowly and if possible work with a trainer who can show you the right way to do things to avoid injury and to see the best results for your efforts. http://goo.gl/DhBMlQ
Manage Stress: We all face stress in our lives but it’s when it becomes overwhelming/chronic that your body is less capable of fighting off illness. It is estimated that 90% of illness and disease is stress related.
If stress has taken a toll on your health consider using Emotional Freedom Technique, certain forms of yoga, daily exercise (even a long walk in nature), practice meditation or deep breathing (Eli Bay offers many CD’s so you can do this in the comfort of your home whenever you need), stay positive and hang out with people who are.
Must Have Immune Boosting Supplements
- Probiotics (good bacteria) – About 80% of your immune system is located in your digestive system which makes having a healthy gut a focal point if you want to obtain optimal health. Since the root of many health issues is related to imbalanced intestinal (gut) bacteria I recommend probiotics for all my clients.
- Note * – many of us have an imbalance of gut flora due to poor diets, use of antibiotics and excess sugar and grains. So if you have digestive issues (acid reflux, indigestion, IBS etc.), vaginitis, repeated ear and bladder infections or food and skin allergies to mention a few chances are you also need these.
- Vitamin C – Vitamin C is essential and very important to a healthy immune system and because it is a “water soluble” vitamin your body can’t store it. Unlike most other mammals we don’t even have the ability to produce vitamin C which means you have to get it from your diet. Vitamin C is used by your body for wound healing, repairing and maintaining the health of your bones and teeth and helps your body absorb iron. But its vitamin C’s role as an antioxidant that it is most well-known for; it enhances the activity of immune cells. This vitamin should be taken to “bowel tolerance”, which means until you get loose stools. Once that happens you cut back slightly. Start with 2000 mg. daily and increase by 1000mg every three days. Buy only good quality from a health food store, not GNC or Popeye’s (not health food stores) or a reliable website such as http://www.healthyplanetcanada.com/ or Liposomal vitamin C is even more absorbable due to much higher absorbency. Because you’re essentially getting higher dosage this may help avoid intravenous applications.
- Vitamin D – It is estimated that about 85% of the population have no idea they are deficient in this very critical vitamin. While the media and conventional medicine promote avoiding the sun this is actually putting our health in serious danger. Considerable evidence shows that vitamin D plays a key role in disease prevention and maintaining optimal health.
This chart shows the ideal therapeutic levels of vitamin D you’ll want to reach and maintain: Ask your doctor to check this at your next visit or pay for it yourself when you go. This usually costs $35 or so and can be claimed on your income tax (Canadians).
- Multi vitamin and mineral formula – Supplementing with a good quality formula will help top up the nutrients you may not be getting enough of in your daily diet. It can also help address slight deficiencies but dosages are minimal. I prefer food based formulas as they are better digested and absorbed and do not cause stomach upset. I highly recommend anyone of the following:
Mega Food One Daily – please choose gender specific and age appropriate. http://megafood-vitamins.com/men-over-40-one-daily.html; Men and women need different nutrients and quantities. New Chapter and Garden of Life one a day are also excellent choices. Please note there are other websites that may carry these or your local health food store.
- Zinc – This is a key trace mineral for immune response and in the production of signaling Killer T-cells. Take short term to boost your levels and immune system or buy with copper as taking zinc alone can cause an imbalance.
Sources: Mercola.com & www.myhdiet.com/healthnews
*First posted on Nu Healings
Michelle Thibodeau Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Health & Cancer Coach at Fascial Connections Myofascial Release and Wellness Centre. Learn more about Michelle. Call to book an appointment or go online to www.fascialconncections.ca