Immunity is the ability to resist or be protected from something, be it philosophical, mental or physical. Being immune to criticism is good. Granted immunity in a legal process is good. Being immune to other opinions is not. Let’s talk about immunity with respect to health. And that can be a tricky topic, too. The idea of building immunity is a bit of a misnomer. You are looking for a balanced immune system, not the building of some kind of fortress. Balanced means it does what it’s supposed to do when exposed to risk.
Immunity is something that is developed like anything in terms of health. There is no quick fix. But our bodies are remarkably adaptable and have a built-in regenerative system that allows better choices to repair the effects of past choices. And immunity is affected by a host of things in the body. Taking a Vitamin C pill when you feel a cold coming on may be helpful, but your immune system is affected by internal and external factors over a long period of time.
Immunity is not a Barrier
Let’s start with the simple facts. In the body, the immune system is a complex network of white blood cells, the lymph system, and bone marrow. The effectiveness of responding to a potential illness is in the reaction of the immune system. That doesn’t always mean you don’t get sick. It means the body responds with the appropriate reaction in defense. A runny nose is a natural mucus build-up by the immune system to drain an infection from the sinus cavity. Immunity isn’t a wall of defense that doesn’t let anything in. It’s more like a row of soldiers on the wall that fire back against the invaders causing a fast retreat.
Immunity can also be wiped out pretty quickly. Simple things like sleep, depression, a diet rich in acidic foods, and even taking antibiotics or natural remedies, like oil of oregano, wipe out the healthy bacteria in your gut flora where immunity begins. As simple as it is to throw off balance, it is just as simple to set it back in place. Here are some widely accepted tips on immune defense.
Drink Plenty of Water
A glass of water first thing every day is an excellent way to start your day. In cooler months when you are attracted to warmer drinks, try noncaffeinated teas as caffeine counts against your water intake. Alcohol doesn’t count as water either. Water does a few things, like carrying nutrients through the bloodstream throughout the body, and then emptying your bladder and bowels to flush out toxins, and it relieves fatigue (since your brain is mostly fat and water).
Get Lots of Rest
Sleep is one of those things people tend to dismiss when they get busy. Sleep allows for full body cell regeneration, it reduces stress and produces antibodies to fight infection. Studies show people are more susceptible to get sick after exposure to a virus and take longer to recover when they aren’t well-rested.
This doesn’t mean a full-on sweaty workout (unless that’s your thing). What it does mean is moving every day. Movement circulates fluids in your lymph and circulatory systems. This delivers nutrients to all parts of your body. It releases chemicals that control stress. And it provides clean air to your lungs. Simple things like walking to the post box, or parking a little further from the store entrance give you an excuse to breathe.
Eat Right for a Healthy Gut
Fruits and vegetables provide the body with the nutrients that fight free radicals and disease. The alkalinity and availability of vitamins and minerals work together to create an environment free from inflammation. The fibre is also key to a healthy gut biome. And a healthy gut is key to immunity. A full 70-80% of immunity resides in the tissue in the gut area. Adding fermented foods, or probiotics maintains a high level of good bacteria that is key to gut health. Read more on happy tummies here. Eating healthy fats like olive oil, chia, and avocado also reduces inflammation which can suppress your immune system.
Manage your Stress
The long-overdue studies regarding stress and mental health are showing connections to so many other health complications. Gut health, as mentioned above, has a direct connection to mood and depression. Many things listed here, in response to immunity, also hold true for stress. Exercise, eating right, and getting sleep help to control the stress hormone cortisol. But so does spending time with friends and family. Chemicals called endorphins are released when you are in good company. Studies show when we are lonely our immune response is lower. Stress imbalances and suppresses immune cell function. I read recently this fun overview of hugs:
- 4 a day for survival
- 8 a day for maintenance
- 12 a day for growth
That works for me. I’m a hugger! Hugs do lower stress, lower your heart rate, and exchange positive energy between people.
Antigens Remember Like a Bad Relationship
Just a little on Vaccines
When you are looking at immunity a vaccine is like throwing a dart with your eyes closed. And that’s because the shape of the dartboard is different for everyone. Everyone responds differently to medicine. We are bio-individual. That’s why one weight loss system isn’t effective for all, or one type of skincare, or even one flavour of ice cream.
A vaccine exposes the body to the harmful pathogen to set up a memory response in the immune system. Antigens are produced to fight a low-level threat, and increased antigens are produced when the threat is remembered, like a bad relationship. Sometimes the introduction of the pathogen is too much, and an immediate illness occurs. Sometimes the body doesn’t remember and the pathogen is still a threat on future exposure. And there can be other side effects. There are many more variables with vaccines, and other ingredients you should research before you decide if a vaccine is right for you.
The current question on vaccinations is in response to seasonal flu and the Corona Virus Covid-19. From April 2020 a statement by the WHO Indicates, “There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection.” This makes me skeptical of the effectiveness of a vaccine based on the previous information on how antigens work. But we each have to do our own research and determine what is best for ourselves and our families.
Do Your Research
I am a proponent of finding your own path. Eating healthy for one looks different than another. The amount of sleep needed varies by the individual. Time with friends can satisfy some with a phone call where others need an enduring hug. It’s all about taking steps in the right direction for you. I believe in prevention, and finding a lifestyle that optimizes your health and lowers your stress in a way that works for you. Are you immune to change? Or is preventative health something you could employ in your life?