Thursday, December 26, 2013
Healthy Living for Improved Immunity
Improved Immunity From the Outside
Many people don't think of skin as part of the immune system, but it is actually our first line of defense in protecting the body from pathogens and protecting against the damaging effects of free radicals. Having healthy skin is a two part process. What you put on the inside of your body and what you put on the outside both contribute. For the inside, a healthy diet, plenty of fresh water, and sufficient exercise are important. For the outside, protection from sun damage by wearing a hat and long sleeves when outside in the sun, using a good sunscreen and nourishing the skin are all important. When looking for a skin lotion, consider not just what is in it, but also what is not in it. I like this lotion that is full of food-grade nutrients my skin craves, like vitamin E, organic blue-green algae, and wholesome oils, all of which work together to minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, encourage skin cell renewal, stimulate the skin's immune system, and help protect against the effects of free radicals. Besides what it does have in it, it also does not have things that I don't want on my skin such as parabens, synthetics, and petrochemicals. This lotion has the added bonus of WGP Beta Glucan which is a powerful immunomodulator.
Improved Immunity From the Inside
Adding foods with antioxidants to your diet can give you a boost towards improved immunity. Antioxidants fight off free radicals that can damage healthy body cells. Since our bodies do not produce enough antioxidants naturally to deal sufficiently with free radicals we can get more of the antioxidant vitamins, minerals and enzymes we need through foods and dietary supplements. Foods that are high in antioxidants are bright colored vegetables and fruits like dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, broccoli and spinach, oranges, berries, red peppers, papayas, carrots, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes.
Go To Bed -
Americans in particular are notorious for not getting enough good quality sleep each night. This is another source that negatively affects the immune system. A study done at the University of Chicago reported men getting only 4 hours of sleep a night producing much less antibodies than those getting seven and a half to eight and a half hours. Making sure you get the proper amount of uninterrupted sleep every night is another way to work towards improved immunity.
Bluegreen Algae -
Nutrients that support immune function include Vitamin A, beta-carotene, zinc, iron, B-vitamins, amino acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids and nucleotides. An easy way to get all of these is by eating microalgae. Studies of school children report a significant decrease in sick days resulting in an increase in school attendance for participants that ate AFA blue-green algae. The carotenoids in AFA blue-green algae have also been shown to enhance immune function by giving protection to the thymus gland and antioxidant protection to white blood cells and other immune cells. Animal studies have found that those fed algae were the least likely to contract disease. (Jeffrey Bruno, Edible Microalgae)
For improved immunity, I like to include a supplement that combines pure ubiquinol, reishi and oyster mushrooms, polyphenols from olives, and bluegreen alage to my diet. This supplement was designed to activate cellular energy making it a support for a healthy cardiovascular system as well as improved immunity. Reishi mushrooms have been shown to have antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antifungal properites. It is also high in beta glucans, polysaccharides and triterpenoid compounds as well as being rich in proteins, enzymes, and minerals. Oyster mushrooms are not only rich in protein, but high in B vitamins and lovastatin which helps balance blood cholesterol levels. Ubiquinol is an active antioxidant form of coenzyme Q10 that supports cardiovascular, nervous system and immune system health. Adding all these ingredients in with bluegreen alage gives me a powerful tool for improved immunity.
Avoid Chronic Stress -
There has been quite a bit of research done on how stress negatively affects healthy living in many ways. In regards to the immune system, stress can affect the cells such as macrophages and T cells that protect us against the foreign invaders that make us sick. Marc Schoen, PhD, an assistant clinical professor at the UCLA School of Medicine, suggests that for improved immunity instead of going from high stress to a collapse state, it is better to let the body slide into relaxation at a slower pace. So for example, when coming off a high stress period include some exercise or some activities that require concentration. It is always a good idea for healthy living to find ways that work for you that are stress reducers. Many people think of yoga, meditation or relaxing in a bath with candles when they think of stress reducers. If that works for you then great, but if not consider other ways such as sports, hobbies, or some form of exercise.
Make Time for Friends-
Research has shown that healthy living is also linked to our relationships and activities with other people. Those who have relationships with other people at home, work, socially or are involved in community activities with others live longer and don't get sick as often. Laughter is often a component when we are involved in activities with other people and laugher has been shown to support immune cell function and be a stress reducer. Attitude may have some relationship to this as well since research has also shown that people who are more optimistic are less inclined to be stressed and have healthier immune systems than their more pessimistic counterparts. It is harder to get down in the dumps when surrounded by positive people, when staying active and involved with others and when having a good time, so making time in your busy schedule to go out with friends and for socializing is another step on the path to healthy living. If you start feeling guilty about being out having a good time when you feel you should be finishing a work project, just remember that it can actually be a step towards improved immunity which means you won't be taking sick time out later that will interfere with work.
In today's environments with lots of pollution, exposure to toxins, fast paced lives with stress, less than optimal food sources and lack of sleep, it takes work for healthy living and for improved immunity. The bottom line is start enjoying life more and you will stay healthier. Eat good food, support your diet with supplementation that gives you good nutrients, lighten up, have some fun and get enough sleep and you will find healthy living isn't all that hard to accomplish.
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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Jeffrey Bruno, Edible Microalgae