And while some folks make health a priority everyday, there are many who wait until something happens before making any changes. And still others are doing things they think are beneficial, but really aren't doing much. Regardless which one you identify with, there's always something more you can do to improve and restore health. At any age.
Fact; your health is either improving or declining. Even though you may feel like you're health is constant, it actually fluctuates based on what you do to, and for your body on a daily basis. Think of your car. It may be running just fine today. No breakdowns or weird noises, but you know that every kilometre you drive without proper maintenance, will wear it out faster. Same with our bodies.
Fact; billions of cells in our body die off everyday and must be replaced with new ones in order for us to continue living. When we were young, the old cells were replaced with new ones that were equal to or better than the ones that died. As we get older, the quality of those replacement cells diminishes. This causes the body to age, heal more slowly and potentially give way to disease. Although we cannot stop the aging process entirely, there is much we can do to slow it down. By keeping the quality and integrity of our cells elevated, we can effectively slow down the aging process, which in turn lowers the risk of disease, giving us a better quality of life, longer. Stick with me while I unpack four immune boosters and busters that can help you get a better handle on your health.
The first big immune buster is stress. A lot of stuff happens inside your body when stress hits. Cortisol and adrenaline are released into the body, blood sugar is elevated, insulin spikes, heart rate goes up, digestion slows down, blood flow is directed away from the organs and out to the extremities, all to help you fight off hostile natives or run from the tiger lurking at the edge of your village. I'll go out on a limb here and say it's highly unlikely you'll be chased by a tiger when you walk out your front door, but regardless the source of your stress, your body responds the same. For those living high stress lives, their bodies remain on high alert with all of these things happening, all the time. It's the same as driving your car top speed, revs maxed, every single time you drive. Your car wouldn't last long if you treated it that way, and frankly neither would you.
Sugar (and processed foods as they are converted to sugar when digested) is our second big immune buster. According to pediatrician, Dr. William Sears, “Simple sugars, including glucose, table sugar, fructose, and honey caused a fifty- percent drop in the ability of white blood cells to engulf bacteria.” I'd like to add any and all sweeteners to the buster list. At a fifty percent drop in immune function, you may want to reconsider those little indulgences for the time being or consider using green, organic stevia instead.
Big buster number three is excessive alcohol. Dr. Sears defines “excess” as three or more drinks and says that amount will deprive the body of essential nutrients, creating an overall nutritional deficiency. “....like sugar, consumed in excess (alcohol) can reduce the ability of white cells to kill germs.”
Dieting is fourth on my immune buster list as it truly is something that can do your body more harm than good. Diets require restricting calories, giving up certain food groups, exercising like a fiend in order to lose weight. You can absolutely lose weight on a diet, but at what cost? Without enough of the right calories and proper, balanced nutrition to nourish your cells, the body becomes stressed and once again immune health is put at risk. There are more busters out there, but now let's focus on we can do daily to boost our immune systems and protect our health.
Big booster number one is sleep. A good night's sleep allows the body to restore, repair and improve immune cells called T cells. Dr. Stoyan Dmitrov, PhD from the University of Tubingen, reported, “T cells are a type of… immune cells that fight against intracellular pathogens, for example virus-infected cells such as flu, HIV, herpes, and cancer cells,” Keeping those T cells working is a good reason to turn in early.
Stay hydrated. Booster number two, water, is needed for every function your body and brain does. Picture your cells like grapes. On the vine supplied with water, they are nice and plump and juicy. Pick them, and after a while they become raisins. Healthy cells means a healthy immune system. So be grape.
Booster number three is exercise. Getting regular exercise not only strengthens your heart and lungs, and helps maintain mobility, it also encourages white blood cells to move about the body more quickly, possibly detecting illness sooner.
And the last big booster is nutrition. Choose hormone-free, grass-fed proteins whenever possible, healthy fats, and eat more antioxidant-rich fruits and veg. And when you put them together in a way that stabilizes blood sugar and balances the body, stored fat is released and weight drops off, cholesterol and blood pressure normalize, hormones are balanced, overall internal inflammation is reduced and immune function is increased.
There are many things in life we can't control. But what we can control is how we take care of our health. Join the 8 Weeks is All it Takes group on Facebook for information and support in achieving your health and weight loss goals.
Kelowna Nutritionist STOP dieting, start living! Lose the Bloat, Melt your Belly, Love Your Life!! Last thing, last time, believe it! Sign up to receive my bi-weekly FIT Nutrition blog, and get started today.