Boosting Your Immune System – Part 3

If you would like a session with Louise to discuss how to boost your immune system, please scroll to the bottom of this post for a special covid-19 discount.

The immune system is the body’s defense against infections. The immune system attacks germs and helps to keep us healthy, but everyone’s immune system is not the same.  There are many lifestyle factors that can cause our immune systems to not function optimally.  Some of these factors include:  stress • loneliness • sedentary lifestyle • extreme exercise • smoking • alcohol • and diet.

In “Boosting Your Immune System  – Part 2”, we discussed how sleep, exercise and stress can help the immune system function.  Now it is time to delve into one of the key areas that all of us have access to, which will not only increases our immune system function, but will decrease inflammation: Diet and Nutrition.

There is a lot of stress right now with some people not working, others working from home, children home from school, parents learning to home school their children, and work from home at the same time, fear of contracting the virus, feeling alone … we could go on and on.  I know that for myself, those first few weeks were filled with a few more snacks, a little more chocolate, a few less vegetables, and many skipped meals.  This is not a good combination for boosting the immune system.  As we approach the time when we will all be reentering the world, it is time to give our diets a reboot.

Sugar

When some people are stressed, or bored, they tend to reach for a sweet treat.  Eating a small treat sweetened with naturally derived sugar may not be an awful thing for the immune system, but some people can’t stop with a small treat – it usually turns into something much bigger.  There have been some studies that suggest that eating sugar may suppress the immune system for several hours after it has been eaten. How? “Consuming too much sugar can affect the cells in your immune system – more specifically it affects the way your white blood cells attack.” explained board-certified internist and gastroenterologist Niket Sonpal.  Also most foods that are high in sugar, are also void of nutritional value, which can can increase your risk level when warding off infection.  Lastly, sugar triggers low-grade inflammation in the body, which we already know can decrease immune function.

So if we have a small sugar treat once a day, it may not affect the immune system too badly.  However, if we choose to consume one sugary treat after the other, the immune system will not be able to respond to an attack.  So the bottom line is that it would be better to choose a sweet treat like fruit or something sweetened with stevia or monk fruit.

Vegetables and Fruit

Did you know that the recommended daily allowance for vegetables was increased a couple of years ago to 5-7 servings per day.  However, the government received a lot of flack for such a high number so they decreased it down to 3-5 servings including fruit.  Honestly, I recommend that all of my clients eat at least 7-10 servings of vegetables alone per day.  I know, you are thinking that there is no way that you would ever be able to eat that many, but it really is not as difficult as you may think.  A serving size is 1 cup raw or a 1/2 cup cooked.  Eating this many vegetables does require a shift in thinking.  Instead of focusing on what meat you are going to eat, you need to start your meal planning with vegetables.

Why such a focus on fruits and vegetables? Studies have shown that fruits and vegetables provide nutrients—like beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E—that can boost immune function. Because many vegetables, fruits, and other plant-based foods are also rich in antioxidants, they help reduce oxidative stress.

And so what about fruit?  I recommend that most people only consume about 1-2 servings per day. Most of the time a serving is 1 small piece of fruit or 1/2 cup.  Fruit still contains sugar and while it has many of the same nutrients as vegetables, it comes with a lot more calories.  As noted above, sugar in excess is not good for the immune system so while the sugar in fruit is different than refined sugar, we still want to watch how much we are consuming each day.

Inflammation

Again with the inflammation?  Yes, unfortunately there are a lot of foods that could potentially cause inflammation in the body.  It would be better to avoid eating these foods as we leave sheltering in place.  However, every body is different and what causes inflammation for one person might not be the same for another person.  There are tests that you can do, but one of the best things to do for yourself is an elimination/regeneration diet.  This approach removes the top offending foods for a period of time, which is then followed by a reintroduction of foods to look for symptoms of inflammation or intolerance.  I like to think of this method as an easy detoxification for your whole body.  Most of the time, people feel great when doing the elimination/regeneration diet -more energy, better focus, maybe some weight loss, and sometimes even better sleep.  If you are curious about the foods that you are eating that might cause inflammation, this is the perfect opportunity to discover them.  With everyone social distancing and eating at home, now is the time to take a deeper look.

If you are interested in learning more about how to do an elimination diet, please contact Louise at the information below.

Intermittent Fasting and the Fasting Mimicking Mindfulness Program

There is way too much for me to say on this topic.  This might have to be a separate post.  There has been a lot of talk recently about fasting, time restricted eating, and the fasting mimicking diet.  Finally there are starting to be studies that show the benefits. Six years ago, a study showed that a 3-day fast can essentially reset the immune system, providing many potential benefits. These benefits include better cardiovascular health, better endurance, lower blood pressure, reduced inflammation and a boost for the immune system.  Check out our page on the Fasting Mimicking Mindfulness Program for more information on it’s benefits.

Nutrition and Supplementation

There are functional medicine doctors (doctors that focus on identifying and addressing the root cause of disease) online giving lots of advice on simple supplements that we should be taking everyday to boost our immune systems. Some people are firm believers in vitamins, others think that they are a waste of money.  Only you can decide what feels right for you.  I personally am a strong believer in getting most of the nutrients that we need from the food that we eat, hence eating 7-10 servings of vegetables per day, but sometimes we just can’t get enough from our foods and we need a little help. Extra help for the immune system during a pandemic is probably not a bad idea.

Dr. Mark Hyman, who works as the Head of Strategy and Innovation at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine suggests that we start with a simple supplementation strategy by taking a multi-vitamin, vitamin D3, vitamin C, zinc, and fish oil. It is important to remember that not all supplements are created equal. If you want to take something that is going to make a difference in your health, than it is probably best to consult with a professional about which form of the vitamin to take and which brands are reputable.

 

There is a lot of information on the internet and sometimes a lot of it is conflicting.  It is difficult to know which direction to go in.  If you are needing some extra assistance in deciphering all of the information, feel free to contact Louise.  She would be happy to help you develop an individual plan for boosting your immune system.

Please call her at 570-421-3708 or contact her at wellspring@wellsprigholisticcenter.com.  Sessions are 60 minutes ($65) or 90 minutes ($90).

Boosting Your Immune System – Part 2

If you would like a session with Louise to discuss how to boost your immune system, please scroll to the bottom of this post for a special covid-19 discount.

March 19 – that is when we closed the doors at Wellspring.  It seems like yesterday and at the same time so long ago. In the days that followed the closure there were many conversations about when the self isolation would end, what it would look like, and how we could make sure that we were ready to reopen.  Unfortunately those conversations are still happening.  During those initial days , OK maybe weeks, there was definitely stress and some anxiety, which if I am honest, resulted in some not so healthy habits.  My schedule was off, my routines were off, everything just felt off.  I was not eating as well, sleeping as well, exercising as much, and certainly not remembering to take my supplements.  Luckily as time has gone by, new routines have been established and I am back on track.  I know that I was not alone.  It has been difficult for most people.  But as we move towards getting back out into the world, it is time to boost our immune systems with some healthy habits. For more information on the immune system, look at “Boosting Your Immune System – Part 1.”

But before we talk about how to boost our immune systems, it is important to talk about one factor that is contributing not only to immune suppression, but to most of the common disease today – inflammation.

Inflammation

Inflammation is the body’s first line of defense against toxins, infections and injuries. When the cells are in distress, they release chemicals to alert the immune system that it is time to come to work.  However, there are many people today that do not just have acute inflammation, but are walking around chronically inflamed.  When a person has chronic inflammation, their body is on high alert all the time causing damage to their cells and organs.  This can point to an overworked, over-tired immune system that can’t properly protect.

How do you know if you have chronic inflammation?  Symptoms can vary greatly.  Some of the more common symptoms include:

eczema • fibromyalgia • gastroenteritis • gingivitis • heart disease • hepatitis • high blood pressure • insulin resistance (diabetes) • obesity • joint pain/arthritis • autoimmune disorder • kidney disease • osteopenia • osteoporosis • Parkinson’s disease • periodontal disease

This is just a small list.  As more research is being conducted, scientists are finding that most diseases today have a component of inflammation.  Therefore, it is key that we learn how to reduce our overall inflammation not only to improve our immune function, but also to decrease our risk for disease.

Sleep

One of the most important things that we can do for inflammation, and in turn our immune system, is to get a good night’s sleep.  It is during the night that our bodies repair all of the damage that has been done during the day. It is also during this time that our immune system gets primed.  But how exactly does sleep boost the immune system?

There are 2 hormones that help us to function during the day and help us to sleep at night – cortisol and melatonin.  In the morning when we wake up, our cortisol is high. Because most bodily cells have cortisol receptors, it can help control blood sugar levels, regulate metabolism, reduce inflammation, assist with memory formulation, and control blood pressure.  Cortisol decreases in the evening as melatonin starts to rise letting us know that it is time for bed.  As melatonin increases it stimulates other hormones to be released which can activate our immune cells.  These cells include natural killer cells and T-cells, which are vital to fighting infections such as viruses. In other words, while you sleep, your body can make more immune fighting cells that can attack viruses and bacteria. Without a good night’s sleep our immune system is not able to fight harmful substances and decrease overall inflammation.

Exercise

Being physically active can give your immune system a great boost in a number of ways. Just as sleep increases the natural killer cells and the T-cells, regular exercise can increase your body’s production of antibodies and T-cells as well, causing them to circulate more rapidly.  It can also help expel toxins from your body energizing your cells and metabolism.  Research has also found that when you exercise regularly your body’s stress hormones—including adrenaline and cortisol are lowered giving your immune system added strength.

There is also good news in terms of inflammation.  There have been studies that show twenty minutes to half an hour of moderate exercise, including fast walking have anti-inflammatory effects.

Decrease Stress

There are so many ways that you can work on decreasing stress.  Here are just a few:

• Keep a positive attitude • Accept that there are events that you cannot control • Be assertive instead of aggressive • Learn and practice relaxation techniques (meditation, yoga, or tai-chi) • Exercise regularly • Eat healthy, well-balanced meals • Learn to manage your time more effectively • Set limits appropriately and learn to say no to requests that would create excessive stress in your life • Make time for hobbies, interests, and relaxation • Get enough rest and sleep • Seek out social support – spend more time with those you enjoy (Zoom and FaceTime count!)

Sometimes we can only do so much on our own.  It may be important to seek treatment with a psychologist or other mental health professional trained in stress management or biofeedback techniques to learn healthy ways of dealing with the stress in your life.

 

Look for Part 3 of “Boosting Your Immune System” for more strategies to reduce inflammation and boost the immune system through nutrition and supplementation.

If you would like to speak with Louise about how to boost your immune system, please call her at 570-421-3708 or contact her at wellspring@wellsprigholisticcenter.com.  Sessions are 60 minutes ($65) or 90 minutes ($90).

 

Boosting Your Immune System – Part 1

If you would like a session with Louise to discuss how to boost your immune system, please scroll to the bottom of this post for a special covid-19 discount.

My sister-in-law, Ann Mullen, has now sewn over 1,000 face masks for the hospitals, police stations, and healthcare workers, as well as family and friends.  She made me a bunch so that I can be ready to go back to the office.  I am still not used to “not” seeing people when I am at the store or even just driving down the road.  It seems so surreal like we are watching a movie – but we’re not.

There are 2 big questions that are on a lot of people’s minds right now – when will things reopen and what will that look like?  I struggle with these questions myself and wonder what life will be like at Wellspring when we finally get the OK to open.

When we were first learning about Covid-19, I had clients who were coming in very concerned.  I was holding firm in those first few weeks that this was just another virus and that we should be treating it as such.  When the number of cases started to rise, the supplies started to dwindle, and the hospitals became overwhelmed with cases, my attitude changed and I was fully on board with closing down and staying home to help mitigate the spread.  I still feel like this was the correct action.  I was not and still am not so concerned for myself, but I do not want to be responsible for spreading the virus to populations that may not have the immune system to handle it.

That seems like what it is all coming down to … the immune system.  Why would one person test positive for the virus and have absolutely no noticeable symptoms, while another person tests positive, gets seriously ill, and maybe even dies?  There is no other explanation at the moment than their immune systems.  So what does that mean?  What does your immune system have to do with catching the virus?

Our immune systems are our first line of attack against foreign invaders and it has three primary tasks:  identifying threats and removing them; neutralizing pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi; and destroying dead or malfunctioning (including cancerous) cells within the body.  Before our immune system can go on attack, it first needs to differentiate between “self” and “non-self” to identify a true threat.

What does that look like?

There are specific proteins located within or resting on the surface of harmful bacteria, fungi, microorganisms, and viruses called antigens which help to trigger the immune response.  When these antigens come in contact with an immune receptor, the immune system respond by neutralizing, removing, or destroying the threat.  As part of the immune response, the body make antibodies which not only help to destroy the invader but also stay around in your body so that if that foreign invader tries to come back, they will be ready to attack and defend the body.  This is the hope with the Covid-19 virus – that those that catch the virus and create antibodies will become immune to the next round of infections. Our immune systems function in a complicated cascade of events that most of the time works beautifully to keep us safe and healthy.

So what does this have to do with reopening the center? 

Our immune systems are our first line of defense and at the moment, the only line of defense that we have against this virus.  As we start to reenter the world – going shopping, going to the doctors, socializing with our family, friends, and neighbors, maybe even going out to eat – we need to be prepared with something other than a face mask and gloves.  It is important that we make sure our immune systems are functioning at their optimal level so that if we come in contact with the virus, our bodies will respond and ward off the attack.

How do we do make sure that our immune system is functioning at it’s optimal level?

Look for Part 2 of “Boosting Your Immune System” for more information on how inflammation can reduce your immune system and some of the strategies to help reduce it and optimize the immune system so that we can reenter the world with confidence and resilience.

If you would like to speak with Louise about how to boost your immune system, please call her at 570-421-3708 or contact her at wellspring@wellsprigholisticcenter.com.  Sessions are 60 minutes ($65) or 90 minutes ($90). 

Discounted Air Purifiers

Place your order through Wellspring Holistic Center to receive a special discount.  All orders will be drop shipped directly to you.  Contact us at 570-421-3708 or email us at:
Wellspring@wellspringholisticcenter.com
Ever since the mid 1990’s I (Anita) have been using  Austin Air Purifiers.

My mentor, Dr. Stephen Myles Davidson was recommending them and knew they were top on the market at that time.

Today, there are so many different brands out there, but at Wellspring Holistic Center (and in our private homes), we only use Austin.

(Go to the bottom of this post for info on ordering directly from us, your ‘virus’ discount, and drop shipping right to your door.)

Here is the latest comment from Austin Air:

“Over recent weeks as COVID-19 continues to spread to countries across the world, we are all concerned about our health and the health of our loved ones, particularly if they are elderly or have on going health problems.

As this global crisis unfolds, we have noticed a huge increase in demand for our products.  And it is clear many people have lots of questions and concerns. As we face the challenges ahead, we thought we’d take the opportunity to explain how our units can help.

Do Austin Air Purifiers protect against COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a new strain of virus that as yet, remains untested. However, the HEPA technology used in our filters is clinically proven to remove 95% of all pollutants as small as 0.1 microns. The COVID-19 virus is larger than this, at 0.12 microns in size. So we are confident our air purifiers are effectively removing the vast majority of the virus when it is airborne.

There is also emerging evidence from the UK Health Protection Agency that shows the HEGA carbon cloth, used in our Bedroom Machine, is highly effective at capturing and destroying airborne viruses.

The discount is only available by ordering through Wellspring Holistic Center. Call 570-421-3708 or write wellspring@wellspringholisticcenter.com

Here’s to our health!

Anita (and Louise)