I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of a time in history where we were more worried about getting sick than we have been over the last two years. Recent events have left us wondering just how vulnerable we are. We feel fearful, unsure, perhaps even helpless or powerless. Ironically, those stressful, negative feelings are, in fact, contributing to our vulnerability in very real ways - both physically and as a 'nocebo' (the opposite of a placebo, which you've likely heard of as the positive effect of our thoughts on our physical body) . So what can we do about it? How can we change our feelings of powerlessness to feeling strong and resilient? We can't change what diseases and illnesses exist in the world. And while it might seem logical to accept our fate that we are at the mercy of how Life happens to us, we must remember that we are the only ones with the ability to change our own experience of life. Though we may not be able to change outward or worldly circumstances right now, today, it is always true that we can change ourselves. To that end, I want to offer you the tools you need to take action in creating a more resilient body to live in. This is the first in a four-part series, where I will share with you real, actionable things you can do to improve your baseline health and balance your immune system. You might ask why I say “balance,” and not simply “strengthen.” Let me explain.
What is a healthy immune response? Your immune system is really a detective, defender, AND repairman and its primary job is to tolerate. When it accurately identifies a real threat, it should respond with an appropriate intensity of countering and defense. It’s not widely realized by your average person, but when you feel “sick” it isn’t actually the virus or bacteria that is causing the symptoms, but the result of your body’s immune response. For example, your fever is the body making conditions unlivable for the invader, literally burning up the bad guys. We get into trouble when this aggressive attack (via inflammatory molecules called cytokines) is not appropriately countered with the requisite anti-inflammatory response (you’ve very likely heard about a ‘cytokine storm’). There are many factors in our modern lives that can contribute to a dysregulated immune system:
What we eat (are we getting enough fat to absorb fat soluble vitamins like A & D?)
How we digest the food we eat (do we have enough stomach acid to access minerals like zinc?)
Medications (what nutrients are depleted via the medications we take?)
Toxin exposure (out-gassing from mercury fillings, furniture, carpets, cleaning & personal care products)
Inability to detoxify (is there constipation? insufficient B vitamins?)
Stress (stress hormones shut down immune response on purpose!)
A lot of opportunity exists to improve your health and therefore your immune function! In the next email, we’ll dig in and talk about the importance of the types of food you eat, essential digestive function, and our microbial friends living in our gut!