Naturally Building Your Immune System

bacteria

photo credit: ricephotos

 

Last week we talked about antibiotics and how they are often over prescribed and some of the side effects associated with them. Today we’ll focus on building your immune system to decrease your chances of getting sick in the first place.

The Germ Theory

In the early 1800’s Mr. Louis Pasteur was credited with discovering the germ and along with it came the germ theory. He believed that germs were the cause of all disease and if germs could be eradicated, then disease would naturally be eliminated. This theory has taken hold in the medical community and has launched the development of antibiotics, vaccines and many of drugs aimed at eradicating germs. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy and it’s obvious that just eliminating germs has not eliminated disease. If germs are all around us, and are truly the cause of disease, then why are we not always sick? Why does one person in a family get sick and the others don’t? This is where the immune system comes in. When our bodies are healthy and strong we are able to fight off these foreign invaders and not succumb to the illnesses they cause.

 

Building Your Immune System

Breastfeeding – Beginning immediately after birth mothers can start building their child’s immune system by breastfeeding. Human breast milk contains protective antibodies that pass from mother to baby and shield them from infection early on. These antibodies are an important piece of the puzzle that will help build a strong immune system later in life.

Diet – Starting early on focusing on real, whole food will give you and your family the best chance at becoming and staying healthy. A diet high in vegetables, fruits, good fats and probiotic containing foods is going to literally ‘feed’ your immune system and help keep you healthy. Compare this to a diet high in processed foods full of man made flavors, chemicals and sugar, which causes increased stress to your body and a decrease in immunity. Sugar is a major immune suppressor and studies have shown that your immune system is less effective starting 30 minutes and lasting up to 5 hrs after you consume it. Therefore, if you are consuming a steady stream of sugar all day, your immune system will be in a constant state of suppression.

Stress Reduction – When your body is stressed it is in a state of what we call fight or flight. This keeps all systems on high alert and is helpful if you are really in danger, but when it is prolonged you end up with a weakened or compromised immune system. Stress reduction techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, and exercise have all showed positive effects on overall health. Eliminating stressful situations for you and your children as often as possible will go a long way in helping you stay healthy.

Rest – Sleep is crucial to good health and lack of sleep can negatively impact your overall health and well being. Sleep is a restorative time for our bodies and without sufficient amounts our bodies do not get that crucial recovery needed to continue to thrive. Striving for 7-9 hours per night for adults and 10-13 hours total for children (depending on their age) are the recommended minimums for getting the full restorative benefits of sleep.

Supplements – Though focusing on a whole food diet goes a long way, most of us are still not getting all the nutrients we need. Vitamins C and D, along with fish oil for essential fatty acids and a good probiotic are top on our list for keeping ourselves healthy. These are especially important in the winter months where sunlight and fresh produce are scarce. There are many other immune building supplements available which may also be beneficial. When choosing supplements I like to make sure that they are derived from whole foods and as minimally processed as possible.

Chiropractic Care – The nervous system affects the immune system and plays an important role in the immune response. Chiropractic focuses on removing interference from the nervous system and therefore has positive effects on immune function. Because of this many patients report fewer or less severe illnesses after starting chiropractic care.

Taking these steps to build a healthy immune system will go a long way in preventing illness, though they are not a guarantee. Its virtually impossible to always eat right, reduce stress, get good rest, remember to take our supplements and get adjusted regularly, but we can hope that by doing these things as consistently as possible we can give our bodies their best chance at fighting off illness in spite of the presence of germs all around us.

What do you do to keep your immune system strong?

Comments

  1. Just moved and I SO need a new Chiropractor! Ah! I can’t believe it’s been over a month since my last adjustment!

  2. Jennifer says:

    Great article Amy… I love all the great suggestions on how to build your immune system naturally and especially how chiropractic care can help build your immune system, along with it’s many other benefits. Keep on writing.

  3. I know I don’t get enough sleep. It’s wearing me down, but luckily that is something that I can remedy on my own!

    • Donielle says:

      @Jenny, I definitely have to make myself sleep sometimes when I “feel” like I should be doing something else…..

  4. I am getting bombarded with info telling me that sugar is bad… (which I know, as a PCOS/insulin resistance fighter) but its so incredible hard to cut out! My husband is addicted to sugar, and has allergies and gets colds and flu all the time, as do I now. How can I get us BOTH off of it – because I can get off, but he keeps eating it, which is really unhelpful … I mean its hard to resist a chocolate when its in front of you… being eaten. With a 5 month old breastfed baby, its super hard to get enough sleep, so I must do the things I can. Any suggestions welcome.

    • Donielle says:

      @Lizanne, The biggest tip I have is to simply not buy it and have it in the house. Maybe if your husband understands how important it is for you to be off of sugar, he’ll at least consume his outside the house? I also have a sugar detox challenge on my other blog (www.naturallyknockedup.com) that you can sign up for in the righthand sidebar. Each week you’ll get a new challenge and a food to cut out so that over 8 weeks time you should be sugar free.

      One of the other big things for me is that I have to start my morning out with a great meal – meaning some type of protein and no sugar or coffee (for me coffee stimulates a major sugar craving!!). Getting in enough protein throughout the day is also helpful as is consuming enough good fats – both will help curb cravings.

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