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).

 

About acunut

Acupuncturist, Nutritionist and co-director of Wellspring Holistic Center with Anita Bondi