9th October, 2013
By Sharon Jane
Walk into a store, and you will find bottles of pills and herbal preparations that claim to “support immunity” or otherwise boost the health of your immune system.
Although some preparations have been found to alter some components of immune function, thus far there is no evidence that they actually bolster immunity to the point where you are better protected against infection and disease.
Demonstrating whether a herb —or any substance, for that matter— can enhance immunity is, as yet, a highly complicated matter. Scientists don’t know, for example, whether a herb that seems to raise the levels of antibodies in the blood is actually doing anything beneficial for overall immunity.
But that doesn’t mean we should discount the benefits of all herbal preparations. Everyone’s immune system is unique. Each person’s physiology responds to active substances differently. So if your grandmother says she’s been using a herbal preparation that protects her from illnesses for years, who’s to say that it doesn’t? The problem arises when scientists try to study the effects of such a preparation on a large number of people. The fact that it works for one person won’t show up in the research data if it’s not doing the same for a larger group.
Your immune system is the guardian of your health and well-being. When the immune system goes haywire, a person can suffer from myriad of ailments . From colds to cancer. Building strong immune performance is the most important function of the Body Confidence Fitness plan, crucial to robust living. Most people are born with stable immune systems. Through the years, problems develop to burden the body: natural deficiencies due to poor diet, lack of exercise, exposure to chemicals, pollutants and allergens (like moulds), food, inhalants and chemical allergies, smoking and other detrimental habits, overuse of antibiotics, overgrowth of yeast and other parasites, stress, and others.
When the system is overloaded, it begins to break down.
In his book Viral Immunity, J.E Williams, O.M.D., lists the stages of immune system compromise:
Level One: Frequent bouts with fatigue, headaches, and pains, recurrent colds and viruses, frequent allergies.
Level Two: The symptoms of level one increased in severity, longevity, and frequency. Constant fatigue. Sleep disturbances. Memory and thinking also affected.
Level Three: Infections from fungus and bacteria agents (candida albicans, sinusitis), shingles and other herpes virus infections. Nervous system symptoms develop, causing unusual conditions (like weakness in extremities, loss of balance, inflammation, numbness, tingling), severe memory and cognitive impairment, depression and anxiety disorders and inability to handle stress.
Level Four: At this stage diseases develop (chronic nervous disorder and AIDS). All symptoms of level one through level three worsen. Fatigue is disabling.
Level Five: Complete immune failure. Death from opportunistic infections and cancer.
This sounds scary, we know. But the good news is that you can turn these stages around. I hope to catch you back at level one or two. But even the other stages can be reversed through the Body Confidence Fitness Plan. The root of the problem is an imbalanced lifestyle —a junk diet, no exercise, little time to rest and renew, stress at home or work, and neglect of one’s spiritual life. Change these foundational factors and you change your life!
Crucial components to good immune functions are:
Healthy Diet And Supplements: Eat the ripe fruits and fresh vegetables, lean meats, grains and legumes, non fat dairy, and healthy oils suggested in the Body Confidence Diet Plan. But don’t over-eat, even these good foods. Eat wisely, in moderation. Take a multivitamin and mineral supplement to ensure daily requirements are met. Vitamins that are especially important for strong immunity are Vitamin A (the anti-infection vitamin; raises IGA levels, the antibodies that protects your mucus membranes, your immune system first defence), Vitamin C (most important for immunity), Vitamin E (builds the body defence), and zinc (a mineral that boosts the immune system’s response).
Eat all you want of whole foods (not packaged). poor food habits have been shown to be associated with fatigue, physical inefficiency and decreased work output
Exercise: Regular exercise is one of the pillars of healthy living. It improves cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure, helps control body weight, and protects against a variety of diseases. But does it help maintain a healthy immune system? Just like a healthy diet, exercise can contribute to general good health and therefore to a healthy immune system. It may contribute even more directly by promoting good circulation, which allows the cells and substances of the immune system to move through the body freely and do their jobs efficiently.
Although some scientists are trying to take the next step to determine whether exercise directly affects a person’s susceptibility to infection. For example, some researchers are looking at whether extreme amounts of intensive exercise can cause athletes to get sick more often or somehow impairs their immune function. To do this sort of research, exercise scientists typically ask athletes to exercise intensively; the scientists test their blood and urine before and after the exercise to detect any changes in immune system components such as cytokines (one of various proteins secreted by cells of the immune system that serve to regulate the immune system), white blood cells, and certain antibodies. While some changes have been recorded, immunologists do not yet know what these changes mean in terms of human immune response. No one yet knows, for example, whether an increase in cytokines is helpful or has any true effect on immune response. Similarly, no one knows whether a general increase in white cell count is a good thing or a bad thing.
Natural killer cells that attack infection and other immune system fighters increase with exercise and as do levels of hormones specific for good immune function. In addition, physical activity regulates all functions of the body, which in turn improves immunity. Ninety per cent of Nigerians agree that exercise is a key factor in good health. But only 25 per cent get the exercise they need. Over 65 per cent neglect to do even one lively activity per week. Yet certain per cent will die of preventable diseases. Get moving! Moderation in all things is however advised. Research also demonstrates that excessive traumatic workouts tear down the immune system.
Sleep: The hours that you are asleep in bed are the restorative part of your day. Most individuals require eight hours of sleep; those suffering from infections of any kind need nine or ten ours of sleep. Lack of sleep causes vulnerability to virus and bacteria and decrease the level of natural killer cells.
Pure Clean Water And Air: Milk may do a body good. But, with apologies to the dairy industry, there is a beverage we need even more. Pure clean water. Drink plenty of it —eight or more glasses a day to keep lymph fluids moving, along with the other benefits that we discussed earlier. Studies have also shown that higher oxygen levels destroy bacteria, fungus and viruses, so inhale completely when you exercise and practice deep breathing when you relax.
Deal With Stress
A few minutes of practice per day can help ease anxiety. “Research suggests that daily meditation may alter the brain’s neural pathways, making you more resilient to stress,” says psychologist Robbie Maller Hartman, PhD, a Chicago health and wellness coach.
The process can be simple. Sit up straight with both feet on the floor. Close your eyes. Focus your attention on reciting — out loud or silently — a positive mantra such as “I feel at peace” or “I love myself.” Place one hand on your belly to synch the mantra with your breaths. Let any distracting thoughts float by like clouds.
2. Breathe Deeply
Give yourself a 5-minute break from whatever is bothering you and focus instead on your breathing. Sit up straight, eyes closed, with a hand on your belly. Slowly inhale through your nose, feeling the breath start in your abdomen and work its way to the top of your head. Reverse the process as you exhale through your mouth.
I also believe in the power of prayer. Medical research has even proved it works! We also need a positive mental attitude, continually telling ourselves how great we feel. I try to inspire my clients to “take charge of their health,” and when they do so, many of their physical and emotional problems improve and even disappear.
Make a decision today that you are going to strive for optimal health-the best health you can possibly have, and that you are going to become healthy through natural and nutritional means. You can enjoy greater health at any age, so let’s make you healthy! You can take charge of your health….and slow down the aging….process… Beginning now!