Most of the modern illness that plagues western societies, and many in developed countries, result from weaknesses in the immune system. Diseases such as, Cancer, Ulcers, AIDS, Colitis, Candidiasis, Heart disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Colds, Flus and infectious diseases are examples of some of the problems caused by years of immune system weakness.
There are natural approaches that boost our immunity. Utilizing these methods will help us to avoid many of these illnesses that are all too common.
The immune system is the most complex and fascinating system in the human body. Its primary functions are to protect us from infections and repair damage to the body cells, tissues, and organs. If functioning well, the immune system keeps us free of the above diseases and slows down the aging process.
Here are the 7 top things that you can do to strengthen your immune system.
1. Eat a healthy diet. There is much confusion about this. Around the world, the basic healthy diets are, and always were, macrobiotic in principle; that is they all followed the ancient principles of balance in the selection of daily foods. They centered on grains and vegetables with regular and moderate amounts of natural animal foods, beans, legumes, natural fats, seasonings, seasonal fruits, nuts, seeds and mild herbal teas. This way of eating, along with the proper cooking of the foods, ensures a base of healthy nutrients to bolster the immune function. The principles of balance show up in the awareness of the specific effects of foods on the functions of our body and mind. Certain foods cool down the body or metabolism in modern terms. Other foods heat up or stimulate the metabolism. For example, foods with lots of water slow the metabolism. Nature supplies watery foods in hot climates to make balance.
2. Avoid or limit white flour products, refined sugar, and other nutrient deficient foods. After eating a large amount of refined sugar, the white blood cell count is lowered for the next 5 hours. White blood cells are the pillars of the immune system. White flour products such as bagels and pasta have similar effects. Avoid chemicals, additives and preservatives in foods. Be careful of the packaged foods you eat, and as much as possible, avoid poor quality food at fast food restaurants.
3. Avoid or limit factory farmed meats and poultry. These products contain high amounts of fats, pesticides and antibiotics which weaken the immune system. Consume naturally raised animal foods such as fish, lamb, beef, chicken and eggs. Eat them weekly or daily in moderation. Many Americans eat too many animal products. Overeating protein slows your metabolism and interferes with digestion. Instead of being digested, it may rot in the intestines causing a patch of glands in the lower abdomen to produce white blood cells to counteract the bad bacteria. Since 70% of your immune cells are in the gut, these cells are diverted from repairing the sores in your arteries that lead to heart disease and from repairing damage to the DNA that can lead to cancer.
4. Supplement your diet with vitamins, minerals and herbs. For years, the medical establishment and some natural food diet promoters have told people that supplements are not needed; just eat a balanced diet we are told while more people get sick every year. For most people, the extreme stresses and toxins of modern living can’t be offset by healthy eating and lifestyle alone. Supplementing with Vitamin C has been proven to lower the incidence of both cancer and heart disease. Vitamin E has been shown to slow the effects of aging and boost the immune system. B vitamin supplementation counters the stresses of modern living on our nervous system. Selenium supplementation lowers the incidence of prostate cancer and heart disease. Learn about the benefits of supplements from reliable sources such as Linus Pauling, Abram Hoffer, Ewan Cameron, Wilfred and Evan Shute, Roger J Williams and Andrew Saul.
5. Do stress reducing exercises. Because of our modern lifestyle, many of us run in the stress mode where the sympathetic nervous system is running in overdrive. Over time, this will break down your immune function leading to disease. Certain types of exercises, originally from the East, will switch your mode from the excessive burnout mode of the sympathetic nervous system to the restorative function of the parasympathetic nervous system. Learn and practice any of these exercises regularly for stress relief; gentle yoga, yogic or qigong breathing, qigong or tai chi exercises. Over time, by practicing these exercises, you train your mind and body to handle stress better.
6. Get enough sleep. Sleep is the greatest balancer. In modern lifestyles, we value activity, but too much activity leads to imbalance in the body and mind. The greatest restorative practice is getting adequate sleep. If we don’t sleep at least 7 hours per night, our body operates in the stress mode. This mode eventually knocks down the immune system.
7. Learn about current, progressive and integrated natural and macrobiotic health approaches. Not those that are a rehash in modern books of what was thought to be good for your health in the 1960’s and 70’s natural health movement. There have been many cases of people diagnosed with nutritional deficiencies, stokes, alcoholism and other debilitating diseases among those stringently adhering to restricted natural diet dogmas. Some have lost their lives to cancer, the very disease the restricted natural diets were supposed to prevent or heal. Learn from real experts what has been proven to work and what has not. An expert is defined as having a minimum of 10,000 hours of a certain kind of deliberate practice in his or her field by Forbes senior editor Geoff Colvin in Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else. Modern diet and lifestyle experts, and traditional cultures, follow diets, lifestyles, and healing practices according to the principles of balance, not dietary dogma.
Traditional wisdom about the principles of balance still holds true. In order to stay healthy, we have to create a state of balance between tension and relaxation, under or over activity, strength and flexibility, and other opposites in our bodies and mind,
Times have changed. We are dealing with circumstances that the ancients never dreamed of, but the principle of balance doesn’t change. Because of changing times our food, lifestyle, and remedies have to be adapted to today’s world as new information is coming to light through modern research or findings. Interpreting new information can help us to update outdated ideas that seemed to be true in the past, but are found to be obsolete in the light of greater knowledge.
Read widely about natural health practices, but I would encourage you to evaluate them according to the principle of balance. The above suggestions will get you started in the right direction. The discovery of the truth of anything begins with our desire to learn the answers. I suggest that you don’t accept easy answers, but delve deeper into the truths of health.
*This article was written by John Kozinski. He has been a pioneer natural health teacher, author, and researcher since 1976. Education and diagnostic techniques are rooted in his clinical experience with 40,000+ students and clients. John resigned in 2013 from the Kushi Institute faculty after 27 years. To address catastrophic illness that developed in those following restrictive natural diets John reveals in a new training program his clinical experience and research into what was really working and why for people following popular diets. This education gives teachers, health practitioners, and students new skills to help evaluate and treat a wide variety of health conditions both naturally and complementary to medical treatments. www.macrobiotic.comSign up for our free 5 day mini course