|Specific Health Concerns|
Building the Immune System
The immune system is complex. It is a compilation of the work of several glands and bodily systems that result in the production of an army of white blood cells that perform protective functions. It is absolutely essential to good health to have an optimally functioning immune system. Many of our health issues that we encounter today are a direct result of an improperly functioning immune system. One of the biggest problems of a weak immune system is the occurrence of cancer. It is the immune system's responsibility to locate rogue cells (cancer cells) and eliminate those cells. Of course, frequent infections are also indicative of a poorly functioning immune system.
Being exposed to some disease-causing organism such as a virus or bacteria does NOT dictate whether or not you will get a specific disease. It is the immune system efficacy that will determine whether or not you will contract a disease. It should be your goal to build the immune system to its maximum capability which in turn will fight off cancer and infectious disease.
There is no drug or particular medical treatment that can build an immune system to its optimal level. However, there are lifestyle choices and nutritional approaches that CAN make your immune system the strongest that it can possibly be.
To optimize immune system function, there will have to be nutritional building blocks available to our bodies for the making of healthy white blood cells.
We must start in the bone marrow. There, stem cells are produced that will become either red or white blood cells. The stem cells that will become our immune system fighting force will migrate either to the thymus gland or the lymph tissue where they will mature (differentiate) into specific white blood cells. Those stem cells that migrate to the thymus gland will become T-cells (T after Thymus). Those that migrate to lymph tissue will become B cells.
During this maturation process, it is imperative that certain nutrients be available for the proper differentiation of these young cells. If sufficient quantities of these nutrients are not available, the cell will not develop correctly, and will be able to perform its function.
Consider this illustration: We know that when a baby is being formed in a human womb that it is necessary to have sufficient protein and other nutrients available to the growing fetus. If these nutrients are not available, growth will be stunted and there could possibly be defects that will occur. We know from countries with starvation problems that the infants born there do not survive as well, if at all, compared to infants born in countries where food supplies are abundant. Therefore, it behooves the pregnant mother to eat as well as she can in order to produce a healthy child.
It is the same with stem cells and the young immature white blood cells. They are to grow into mature, fighting-treacherous-disease, recognizing-friend-or-foe-agents, all-around burly, capable protectors of the human body. This is a big job. These mature white blood cells are capable of doing this job, IF they aren't born sick, lame, and lazy because they were raised on a nutrient-depleted diet. Sick, lame, and lazy white blood cells will not be able to optimally perform all the functions they were designed to perform.
It is our job to put into our bodies the raw nutrient material that these tender, growing, little white blood cells need to mature into the fully-capable, disease-squashing heroes that we must have. The following are my general recommendations for preventing and correcting immune system disorders.
1. Do NOT eat sugary foods. That means NO desserts. Sugar lowers the immune system function by 50% for approximately four hours due to the release of adrenalin as a consequence of sugar consumption. Repetitive and frequent release of amounts of adrenalin beyond what is needed for normal functioning lowers the immune system function. Eating desserts sweetened with honey, jam, jelly, syrup, molasses, or other natural sweeteners is NOT acceptable.
2. Do NOT consume caffeinated beverages or decaffeinated beverages (decaffeinated beverages are not caffeine-free as is commonly assumed. They have less caffeine, but they still have caffeine.)
3. Do NOT use artificial sweeteners (i.e. saccharin, aspartame), "natural-artificial" sweeteners such as sugar alcohols (i.e. xyitol, sorbitol, mannitol), or what is now being termed as "plant" sweeteners (i.e. stevia).
4. Limit intake of fruit (no more than one serving—at most—per day). The fruit sugars, in excess, will lower immune system function.
5. Eliminate the use of perfumes and fragrances (including fragranced products such as soaps and shampoos). Perfumes raise the hormonal levels which in turn suppress the immune system.
6. Eat three serving of efficient protein daily (eggs, meat, poultry, fish, seafood). A serving is a palm size portion.
7. Eat vegetables of color (leafy greens; red, orange, and yellow bell peppers; winter squash, etc.). A serving is ½ cup for an adult. Raw leafy green serving size is 1 and ½ cups.
8. Eat a serving of legumes with each meal (beans such as pinto, kidney, black, great northern, navy, garbanzo beans, black-eyed peas, lentils, etc.). One-half cup of cooked beans is the serving size for an adult.
9. Eat some nuts or seeds daily (almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, cashews, sunflower seeds, etc.). A minimum of ¼ cup is recommended.
10. Rest and relaxation—our high pressure, gotta-achieve society has interfered with this important health concept. Unfortunately, those who try to apply the principles of rest and relaxation are sometimes made out to be wimps. Do not allow this to be a part of your thinking. Rest and relaxation are critical to health. When we rest, we no longer have to produce the hormones that enable us to work at a frenzied pace or under pressure. These hormones (epinephrine and norepinephrine) are direct immuno-suppressants and disablers of the immune system. Over time, the constant washing of these high-level amounts of hormones throughout our body will incapacitate our immune systems to the point of severe disease.
11. Mental attitude—our outlook on life has everything to do with our stress levels. One person can be under a tremendous amount of pressure and not let it bother him. Another person can be under hardly any pressure and crumple. What's the difference? Attitude.
Building an immune system is not an overnight process. A minimum of three months to two years is needed. It will depend on your exposure to immune system suppressants and your stress levels. Also, age is an important factor. Children will respond much more quickly than elderly people.
Be encouraged that it is possible to make your immune system healthier. Even under the severest of situations, tremendous results can occur. Read The Green Dragon for the story of one little girl that had no hope of recovery from severe immuno-compromise, yet through the use of nutrition she lives a healthy and normal life today.
Please be aware that the recommendations that I make here are general. If you feel you have circumstances that don't fit into the "general" category and would like specific help regarding your situation, please feel free to contact my office to set up a consultation.