Seeking Immune Balance
By Jordan Rubin, N.D., Founder of Garden of Life
stress, lack of sleep, poor diet, financial strain, packed schedules, a
possible mutating H1N1 virus (and other seasonal viruses), antibiotic
resistant bacteria and more—all of these can wear you down. They can
also compromise your immune system. Fortunately, your immune system is
always on guard and the cells of your immune system are constantly
circulating in your bloodstream or in your lymph nodes so they can move
quickly to minimize invaders’ entrance into the body.
A strong immune system is not something to take for
granted, though, and it needs to be as strong as it can be—especially
when life’s demands and rogue viruses and bacteria are ever present.
Start with your diet because a healthy diet can support immune
health. To ensure a balanced immune system with healthy immune cells and
molecules, include healthy proteins, antioxidants, probiotics, enzymes,
essential fatty acids and certain vitamins and minerals.
Healthy proteins, for example, are required for
adequate numbers of immune cells and for those cells to function
properly by making antibodies and other immune system components.
Vitamins A, C, D, E, K and the B vitamins are all essential for healthy
immune cells as are the minerals zinc, folic acid, iron, copper,
selenium and manganese. Vitamin D, for example, is a powerful immune
system supporter and inhibits negative autoimmune responses by
modulating cell responses. When vitamin D is in short supply, cells can
attack the body instead of fighting off unwanted invaders.
And processed foods? They’re problematic for
your immune system, so avoid them—especially sugary foods. We simply
don’t have immune capacity for much sugar. Ingesting even 100 grams of
sugar (about 8 tablespoons, equivalent to one or two cans of
soda—depending in the brand) reduces our white blood cells’ ability to
kill germs by 40%, an effect that starts less than 30 minutes after
ingestion and lasts up to five hours. Being overweight can put a strain
on your immune system, too, so be sure to stay at a healthy weight.
Be sure you include regular exercise, stress
management, positive thinking and proper sleep in your
immune-supporting regimen. Exercise is essential to immune function
because regular activity increases the circulation of nutrients as well
as cellular immune components.
Additionally, muscle activity is necessary to
circulate lymph fluid. Just one session of vigorous exercise can
increase circulation, which, in turn, can boost white blood cell
count—thereby boosting immunity. Christiane Northrup, M.D., author of
Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom says, “Whenever circulation is increased,
you get far more white blood cells, so they check for foreign germs and
are far more apt to be able to gobble them up.”
walking—a 45-minute walk five times a week—may be helpful, too,
according to Alice Domar, Ph.D., assistant professor at Harvard Medical
School. Walking increases natural killer (NK) cells that fight
infections and may diminish “down time,” since exercise helps move lymph
fluid and white blood cells through the body.
Manage your stress, too. Excess stress causes
hormones to be released that can adversely affect the thymus gland,
reducing immune activity. Also, think good thoughts. Why? Every thought
sets off a chain of biochemical reactions in the body, so a good
attitude can increase your levels of nitric oxide, which helps to
balance neurotransmitters, improve immunity and increase circulation.
Constant worry, however, causes the stress hormones cortisol and
epinephrine levels to rise, and this can weaken overall immunity.
A good night’s sleep is in order, too. Adequate
sleep helps the immune system. While you sleep, the body gets a
chance to restore itself. For instance, when you sleep, melatonin levels
rise, and that can help support immunity.
So, if you’re seeking
immune balance from life’s pressures and whatever bugs are
circulating this season, tune up your diet, get plenty of exercise and
rest. It can help give your immune system a fighting chance.
Notes from Christine:
In addition to a healthy lifestyle, healthy
nutritional supplementation is also helpful for supporting and
maintaining a healthy immune system.
Immune Balance formulas by
Garden of Life combine ancient wisdom with modern science to provide
an effective and multidimensional support for your immune health.
Immune Balance Formulas Include: