Written By Rebecca Walker
Have recent events caused you to think more about your health? Did stress and poor eating cause you to gain weight? Do you wake up feeling tired – wishing you had gone to bed earlier and/or slept better? Do you wonder if there are any vitamins or herbs you can take to make you feel better? Do you realize that your health is more important now than ever?
If you answered yes to any of these questions than keep reading! It’s time for you to make some simple lifestyle changes that will help you lose weight, become healthier, and boost your immune system! In case you didn’t know, your immune system is actually directly related to your overall health. That’s right, your immune system plays a part in how you feel, how much energy you have, any weight gain you may be experiencing, and much more.
This is exactly why you want to make sure that your immune system is firing on all cylinders, all year long. Unfortunately, however, most people’s immune systems are not as healthy as they believe them to be.
One of the common misconceptions when it comes to your immune system is going to be that you are not sick, so it must be working great. What you fail to realize though, is that your immune system is in charge of much more than helping prevent you from falling ill. Here is everything you need to know about your immune system and the mistakes you are making every day that are destroying it. First, let’s talk about why it is so important to make sure your immune system is strong right now. A year ago, nobody could have guessed that a worldwide pandemic would soon be affecting all of us on such a personal level. While this is ideally a once in a lifetime event, the upside is that it has brought some much-needed attention to our individual health. You have more than likely heard the myth that only age, weight, and diabetes can affect Covid-19 complications, right? Well, we looked at the research and based on 8 meta-analysis studies of almost 50,000 infected patients, the risk factors for complications with Covid-19 are actually going to be much broader than that.
Some of these risk factors include:
- Any type underlying diseases
- Respiratory system and cardiovascular diseases
- Existing GI issues
- Autoimmunity (1)
Since your body’s natural defense mechanism against any disease is its immune system, it is extremely important (especially in this day and age) that you have an immune response that is as fast as possible. This means that the immune cells in your body will be able to fight against any invading microbes and kill them. And if there was anything to be learned this past year, it would be that strengthening your immune system is critically important for your overall health and well-being. Whether it’s increasing your energy, losing some weight, keeping up with the kids or grandkids, not wanting to wake up achy, or struggling with digestive issues, when you are able to focus on your immune system health, you will be able to improve all these and so much more! Now that you know all about the link between your immune system and your overall health, there is a very good chance that you are making at least one of the three mistakes listed below. While this is not a good thing by any means, you have nothing to worry about. With just a couple of small tweaks here and there, you will be able to boost your immune system health and everything that goes along with it. So, get ready to be in the hot seat and discover exactly how you are sabotaging your immune system on a daily basis without even knowing it. Now keep in mind that nobody is pointing any fingers here. We just want to help you be your healthiest, and we know how detrimental these mistakes can be to your immune system (but don’t worry, we’ll help you fix them too ? ) Discover the three most common mistakes that are destroying your immune system below!
You’ve Been Using Food and Alcohol to Help you Manage the Extra Stress of 2020 If you are like most people, there is a good chance that you have been using food or drink to help you manage the extra stress you have been experiencing over the past year. If so, it means your microbiome (gut bacteria) might need a little extra love. Why you ask? Because 70-80% of your immune system is housed in your gut bacteria. Think about it like this – whatever the weak link in your body is, there is a very high probability that it is connected to your gut. Whether you have bad headaches, skin issues, or even joint pain, it can all be linked to your gut. While not many people are aware of this fact, your gut is one of the most important things in your entire body and is also one of your body’s first lines of defense. This means your gut is in charge of monitoring the influx of nutrients and defending from invaders. Unfortunately for you, this very same defense can be weakened by things such as processed foods, booze and stress, the three top mainstays of many people’s lives today. If you do fall into this category, the sky is not falling just quite yet. As was mentioned before, all is not lost! All you need to do in order to repair any damage that has been done to your gut bacteria, is to simply rebuild it in a healthier way.
The best ways that you can do this include:
- Removing sugar and processed foods from your diet
- Increasing the number of leafy, green vegetables you consume
- Adding fermented foods such as kraut, kimchi, and low sugar kombucha
- Include a targeted probiotic in your daily routine
- Need more Gut Support – ask us about our GI Map test and how it will help you get to the bottom of your symptoms and a personalized healing approach to get your gut healthy again!
Micronutrients and immune support
Healing your gut is like ‘Phase 1’ of taking care of your immune system. Micronutrients also play a dominant role when it comes to immune support in your body. Our immune system requires specific micronutrients including vitamins A, C, D, E, B6, B12, zinc, iron, copper, folate, and selenium, all of which play a synergistic role in every stage of your immune response. Marginal deficiency of these micronutrients can micronutrients can seriously impair your immune system health. So, consider ‘Phase 2’ of repairing your immune system to be getting all of the necessary micronutrients that your body requires on a daily basis. Numerous scientific studies have shown that supplementation of micronutrients with immune supporting roles can help reduce your risk of infection and modulate immune function. Essentially, when you are consistently consuming the right vitamins and minerals on a daily basis, you can expect your immune system to be stronger than ever! For example, vitamin C, vitamin D, and zinc are considered the key players with the strongest benefits in terms of boosting your immune response.
When it comes to Vitamin C, it has been shown to decrease your body’s inflammatory response system, which when it is weakened, has the potential to become fatal during the later stages of viral infection. If you have a Vitamin D deficiency on the other hand, there is a good chance that you will experience an increased risk of respiratory infection. Studies have shown that vitamin D supplementation is a proven way to boost your immune systems protective effects towards the prevention of acute respiratory infections. It does this by modulating the levels of cytokines in your immune response. While it is awesome if you are able to get all of your micronutrients in on a daily basis, you must also keep in mind that the amount of each micronutrient your body requires is going to vary throughout your lifespan. A bidirectional relationship exists between infection, immunity, and nutrition. Poor nutrition compromises immune function and leads to an increased risk of infections. Adequate amounts of these micronutrients ensure proper functioning of your immune system, although your diet alone may be insufficient to fulfill your body’s requirements.
We recommend that a tailored micronutrient supplementation program based on your age is necessary for a robust immune response against infection.
Hydration is Health:
While you may already know that you should be drinking water throughout the day, that is not always the case. Sometimes you are too busy to remember to drink water, you may switch it out for a soft drink or coffee, or you even may just be accustomed to not drinking water. However, as the temperature begins to drop outside, you will tend to drink even less water than normal. This is bad as it basically ensures that you are not drinking enough water to have optimum health and immune function. In fact, nearly 75% of all Americans are chronically dehydrated! You read that right. Making sure you are well hydrated is crucial to help protect your immune system! Drinking water throughout your day will help keep your ear canals and nostrils lubricated, meaning that moisture will stay in your skin for longer. These are all going to be your first lines of defense against viruses and illness. One of the best ways to get more water into your body is by eating more fruits and vegetables that have a high-water content (such as celery, cucumber, citrus, and melons). These are the foods will help to boost your intercellular hydration. On top of that, water is necessary for oxygenating your blood and supporting your lymph system, which is responsible for carrying waste products out of our body. Water also supports your kidneys, which must be adequately hydrated in order for them to function at an optimal level.
Some of the symptoms of dehydration include:
- Impaired metabolism and cell function
- Decreased performance
- Increased inflammation
- Weight gain
- Joint and cartilage damage
- Swollen joints and ankles
- Elevated Cholesterol
- Lack of focus, fatigue, and mood swings
Some other tips to help you get more water from your food include:
- Limit dry snacks like crackers, chips, cookies, and pretzels—these are low in water and lack the hydrating benefits of ‘mini meals’ like hummus and vegetables, green apples and nut butter, soups or a green shake!
- Eat a hearty morning porridge, as it soaks up the liquid that it is cooked in. This essentially means that you’ll be getting a little extra dose of water first thing in the morning.
- Sip on herbal teas or use water flavoring such as food-grade essential oil, white balsamic vinegar from Amphora Nueva, one of our flavor sticks like apple cider vinegar hibiscus cranberry (also great for digestion), mint or other herbs, or even just a sliced lemon/lime/cucumber.
Keep in mind caffeinated beverages like coffee and some teas, as well as alcohol, are dehydrating. So, if you’re consuming these types of drinks, you’ll want to make sure and replenish with extra water. It’s also much more effective to drink your water slowly throughout the day to allow your body a chance to truly hydrate (as opposed to guzzling a bunch of water a few times per day.)
- Soups are awesome, especially this time of year. Stews, chilis, soups—they all are full of extra liquids in the form of water or broth.
Salt and electrolytes are important for your body to absorb water efficiently. Adding a pinch of sea salt to your water can be useful for water absorption, extra minerals, and even a metabolism boost!
You’re Burning the Candle at Both Ends and Definitely Not Getting Enough Sleep
We get it, getting good sleep this year has been a challenge. But – and this is a big but – sleep is a key part of protecting your immune system and is your first line of defense to staying healthy. In fact, a recent research study found a strong relationship between sleep and your ability to fight off viruses. Unfortunately, there is no way to make up for lack of sleep. If you are not sleeping well or have gotten into the habit staying up late, your sleep bank is definitely going to be running low. But don’t worry, all you need to do is make some small changes and your sleep bank will be full again in no time!
Step 1 – Mind the Time: Are you waking up sometime between 2-4am? This is your liver’s most active time and if it is working extra hard to detoxify your body, there is a chance that it can jolt you awake. Too much alcohol, or a food intolerance are the usual suspects when you wake up during this time frame.
** We recommend: Try cutting out alcohol to see if this makes a difference. If nothing changes, it is time to dive deeper into potential food intolerances. Check out our MRT LEAP testing, a food sensitivity test that pinpoints reactions to 170 foods and food chemicals
Step 2 – Pay Attention to Your Breath: Are you a mouth breather or a nose breather? Breathing through the mouth is less efficient at oxygenating your body when compared to nasal breathing. Mouth breathing can raise your blood pressure, cause dryness of the mouth, bad breath, and even increase your susceptibility to tooth decay and gum disease. When we breathe through the nose, we inhale more of the gas known as nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is produced in your paranasal sinuses. Nitric oxide kills bacteria. On top of that, breathing through your nose will also warm and filter any incoming air. For all these reasons, nasal breathing reduces your chances of getting sick via airborne germs. In terms of spreading sickness to others, we exhale many fewer “respiratory droplets” through the nose than through the mouth. Some doctors propose that nasal breathing is an easy intervention to reduce your risk of contracting COVID-19.
** We recommend: For most mouth breathers, switching to nasal breathing is mainly just a matter of remembering to do it. But there are times it can be trickier – including while sleeping. For this reason we love Somnifix Sleep Strips, gentle mouth tape for better nose breathing at night!
Step 3 – Ditch the sleeping pills: Did you know that natural sleep is a powerful immune booster and that those taking sleeping pills tend to have higher rates of infection? It’s possible that medication-induced sleep doesn’t provide the same restorative immune benefits as natural sleep. But it gets even worse – in a recent study done by Dr. Daniel Kripke, a physician at the University of California, San Diego, he found that people using prescription sleep medications are 4.6 times more likely to die over the span of 2.5 years, as well as be 30-40% more likely to develop cancer in the same 2.5-year period. On top of that, some users of sleeping pills end up with a groggy “hangover” like feeling the next day, leading to an increased risk of fatal car accidents.
** We recommend: Staying away from the sleeping pills completely. Use one of the other tips we recommend here first and give us a call to discuss specific options based on your needs and health.
Step 4 – Check Your Mind: What are you not dealing with during the waking hours of the day that your subconscious mind starts working on at night? Do you have things on your mind that you start thinking about and find that your head starts spinning once the lights go off?
** We recommend: Taking time to journal about your worries, to-do lists, or anything else on your mind as a tool to help process and take stock of your life.
Step 5 – Check Your Environment: Do you need to make your room warmer or colder? Do you need to take a hot shower before getting into a cold bed to help regulate your temperature? Do you have a nighttime wind down routine? Are the lights off? Is the room dark and quiet? Take a minute to set up our sleep environment so that it makes you comfortable. Once you do this, you may be surprised how much quicker and better your sleep starts to become!
** We recommend: Spending time to set up your environment right. Doing this will make a big difference in getting a good night’s sleep.
Need Extra Help?
Give us a call for sleeping tips that are custom tailored to your individual needs!
You Aren’t Taking Any Vitamins or Herbs to Support Your Immune System Because They ‘Don’t Really Work!’ If you’ve been under the impression that vitamins and herbs don’t make a difference in your immunity, then it’s time for you to get informed. Research has shown that specific, targeted supplementation has influenced other coronavirus strains in the past. We’ve pulled together primary research to understand and calculate what we think is going to be the most impactful for you. Do you have an autoimmune disease? If so, YOU ARE OUR PEOPLE! We are highly skilled at supporting individuals with one or more autoimmune diseases. Be sure to use extra caution when choosing a supplement. In fact, you shouldn’t choose one at all! CALL US TODAY so that we can be sure to help you choose the right one that doesn’t contraindicate with your disease!
Plants/Herbs based immune support:
There are many different plants and herbs that have some very healthy benefits on your body when you are able to incorporate them into your regular diet.
With that being said, some of the best plant and herbs that support the immune system include Elderberry:
Elderberry is special because it has certain properties that help to boost your immune system and make it much stronger. Moreover, Elderberry can correct the imbalances of your metabolic processes including your cytokines. This means it will upregulate your cytokines when necessary, as well as downregulate them when necessary.
Another plant-derived compound that we recommend is Quercetin. Quercetin is commonly found in fruits, vegetables, and roots—such as berries, Brassica (cruciferous vegetables; cabbage, Chinese napa, mustard plants, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, turnips, radish, kale, collards, etc.), capers, grapes, onions, shallots, tea, tomatoes and many nuts, seeds, leaves and in red wine. The highest levels of Quercetin and the accompanying metabolites can be found in your lungs and liver. This is good as most viruses are going to settle in these organs. Quercetin is anti-inflammatory, and it quenches cytokines caused by viruses. Quercetin has a wide range broad-spectrum action as it appears to inhibit many strains of Influenza and coronaviruses and stops different infectious viral proteins. Quercetin is better absorbed when taken with Vitamin C. It can also be taken with Vitamin E supplements for an added benefit.
Resveratrol is another plant-derived antioxidant that is contained in many different plants, some of which include grapes, Huzhang, and cranberries. It has been shown to significantly inhibit the MERS-CoV infection and enhance the prolonged survival of the cells after they have been infected by a virus.
The root of Stinging Nettles is a special herb that possesses a compound which is known to be a very potent anti-viral.
Previous data suggests the compounds from this herb inhibit Sarss Green Tea Extract:
Several studies have shown that a major compound in green tea extract called EGCg (epigallocatechin-3-gallate), is known to have broad anti-viral benefits when it comes to viruses like the influenza virus. It works by posing a protective effect against this infection and many others like it. Not sure how to put all of this together in order to have the biggest impact on your health and immune system? Not to worry, we’ve got you covered! First, a little insider tip, studies have shown that most grocery store/online supplements don’t have the actual ingredients that they claim to have. In order to work properly supplements need to have the nutrients on the label in therapeutic doses, and be free of contaminants. We have the perfect supplement package that includes all of the scientifically researched plants and herbs that have been mentioned here, plus more. The main goal with these supplements is to support your immune system and help you get your body into optimal health. This package of products has been shown to stimulate immune function, support your gut health, inhibit viral replication, and support a balanced inflammatory response.