Author: Tammy Dupuy, MD, IFMCP and Nia’Ja Mack, NP
A super powered immune system can protect your body against many viruses and diseases. So how do you get your body in shape to fight from the inside out?
Let’s start with the gut. The great news is that you have complete control over what you eat. The foods that you eat can either contribute to a healthy immune system or weaken it. Your body requires essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients to function properly. If it doesn’t get what it needs, it retaliates with inflammation and oxidative stress.
The nutrients and fiber that your gut microbes need are found in foods in their most natural forms. Unfortunately, processed “foods” constitute a large portion of the Western diet. They contain chemicals or have been raised un-naturally which causes an imbalance of their nutrients which are important to our health. Therefore, it is ideal to seek organic food grown or raised in their most natural forms.
Your gut isn’t the only part of your body that needs nutrients. Antioxidants remove waste products and help to detoxify our bodies. Phytonutrients signal the cells in our bodies to turn enzymes and genes on and off. Vitamins and minerals support your body’s metabolic processes. One example is Vitamin D which helps controls white blood cells and can prevent infections by building strong barriers both inside your body and on your skin. A blood level between 50-80ng/mL of Vitamin D is recommended for immune support and prevention of cancer. Always consult your healthcare provider for proper dosing as taking too much Vitamin D can be toxic.
Simply moving more can maintain a healthy immune system. Aerobic exercise burns more than just calories, it also reduces inflammation, detoxification, increases energy production, reduces chronic stress and improves sleep. 150 minutes per week of aerobic exercise is recommended as a minimum.
We live in a world full of stress, and the effects on the immune system can be profound. Healthy ways to deal with chronic stress include incorporating breathing, movement and mental processes. These help reduce inflammation and chronic stress and improve emotional well-being and immune function. Try activities such as yoga, meditation and Tai Chi.
Finally, getting enough shut-eye allows your body to flush toxins from the body and mind. During sleep, toxins which accumulate throughout the day from metabolic processes are removed from your brain. You may be sleeping but your brain and neurological system are wide awake, communicating with your immune system to enhance proper functioning. Since your body’s internal clock affects so many of your body’s functions give it between 7-8 hours of sleep each night to do its job.