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Why a Good Immune System is Vital for Your Health

Immune system superheroes

How is your immune system? If you came through the cold and flu season without coming down with anything, you would assume that it is pretty good. But preventing colds is only a small part of what the immune system does. And looking after it can make a huge difference to your future health. Imagine how our streets would end up if we had no police force and no rubbish removal system!

Your immune system is designed to maintain your body by

1. Dealing with any attack

  • Preventing invasion of your body by bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungi, and other pathogens, and destroying these when they get in
  • Making sure you have the right bacteria in your guts

2. Repairing any damage

  • Repairing damaged tissues and get rid of debris
  • Creating and controlling inflammation

3. Controlling your own cells

  • Destroying cancer cells
  • Getting rid of cells growing in the wrong areas (such as in endometriosis)
  • Removing worn-out cells

4. Helping your body adapt to changes in temperature and climate

There are far more microbes living in our body than you would think- around 100 trillion of them! So our immune system is constantly fighting to keep the right balance of good and bad bugs in and on our bodies.

If your immune system is not strong, it won’t help your body cope well with changes in temperature, season or climate. This is why many people get colds and flus after they are exposed to a cold wind or draft (get a ‘chill’), or during the cold and flu ‘seasons’, when the temperatures are fluctuating as the seasons change (especially around the start of winter or spring).

What HAPPENS IF IT ALL GOES WRONG?

If your immune system isn’t working well, you can end up with

  • Focal Infections- Sometimes you can get an infection somewhere, such as in your sinuses, and not even know that you have it, yet it sends off bacteria or their toxins to other parts of the body. This causes various diseases in those areas or throughout the body, such as arthritis, atherosclerosis, cancer, or mental illness. Focal infections are also a common cause of chronic fatigue.
  • Poor healing
  • Chronic inflammation, which can cause a huge variety of chronic illnesses
  • Increased risk of cancer
  • Allergies or food intolerances
  • Digestive problems
  • Ongoing infections
  • Accelerated aging
  • Autoimmune diseases

Allergies and food intolerances occur when you immune system is overstimulated and reacts to something that has come into your body or on your skin. The number of people with allergies is increasing rapidly, with 1 in 4 children now suffering from them. Autoimmune conditions happen when your immune system is so overstimulated that it starts attacking parts of your own body. It is thought that one of the main reasons for all three conditions is because we have made our environments and our bodies too clean and sterile. We have removed many of the evolutionarily protective microbes (bacteria, viruses, parasites) we have evolved to have in our bodies, under the assumption that all such bugs are harmful[1]. So your immune system cannot behave and act in the way it was designed to. Biologists used to think that the human body is capable of doing all it needs to on its own to exist. However, recent research shows that the right bacteria in our bodies provides vital help with many of the body’s basic functions, including growth, digestion, and self-defence[2]. And upsetting the balanced ecosystem between the correct bacteria in our bodies and our own cells could be causing unprecedented numbers of children to develop autism, ADHD, food allergies, asthma and many other chronic problems.

leaky gut progressionAnother very common cause of food intolerances and allergies is ‘leaky gut syndrome’. Under normal circumstances, the epithelial cells that line your small intestine are joined tightly to each other. This makes the lining of your intestine nearly leak-proof, and only fully digested food molecules are allowed to pass through. If there are strong stresses on these delicate structures, these tight joins may start to separate, creating gaps between the cells. These gaps make your gut ‘leaky’, and then large, undigested food molecules can pass through into the body, where they are collected by the bloodstream and lymph vessels of your intestine.

When your immune system spots these large molecules, it decides that they are too big to be digested food, so it must be a foreign invader into the body, such as a virus or bacteria, and it attacks them. Your immune system attacking these food molecules in your blood can cause a very broad range of problems. (For more details, please see Food Intolerance Testing Now Available.)

WHAT WEAKENS YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM?

  • Stress
  • Lack of energy
  • Incorrect diet
  • Low nutrition
  • Build-up of toxins in the body
  • Incorrect bacteria in the guts
  • Lack of water, fresh air, sunlight and exercise
  • Chronic illnesses
  • Not enough sleep
  • Flu vaccinations (see The Flu – To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate?)
  • Antibiotics

RESTORING YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM

Getting your immune system in good shape involves five things.

1. Getting rid of any focal infections
The sinuses are the most common area for focal infections, so these need to be carefully checked and treated if needed.

2. Strengthen your nutrient levels
Vitamin C and Zinc are the most important, but other nutrients, such as vitamin D, are also essential. (Vitamin D is necessary for the ‘killer T-cells’ to hunt down and destroy cells that are infected with germs or that have become cancerous.)

3. Improve any lifestyle factors
Low energy and stress both drag your immune system down. If it is not possible to change your lifestyle factors, naturopathy and acupuncture can help compensate. Sunlight is the best source of vitamin D, but not too much!

4. Getting your bacterial ecosystem right
Since 70- 80% of your body’s immune cells are in your digestive system[3], it is crucial to have the right bacterial balance in your gut to have a good immune system. If your diet isn’t right, you will end up with bad gut bacteria, and these bugs send the wrong messages to the immune system, creating illnesses in the body. (For more details see our article How Bad Gut Bacteria Can Cause Diabetes, Asthma, Ulcerative Colitis, Multiple Sclerosis, Autism, Allergies & Autoimmune Diseases.) Probiotics can provide the good bacteria we need, however since our internal ecosystems are so complex, there is no one probiotic that can sort out everyone’s systems. For example, we supply ten different probiotics for different purposes. (These are Practitioner Prescribing Only products, so a trained therapist has to determine which is the correct one for you.)

5. Address any allergies or food intolerances
We can check the health of your digestive system, and also perform a Food Intolerance Test. Treatments for leaky gut syndrome, overactive immune systems, food intolerances and allergies are available.

If you want to take care of your immune system, or if you have any immune issues or weaknesses, please book in for a Comprehensive Assessment at our clinic. We can then have an in-depth look at what is happening in your body, what is causing the problem, and what can be done to sort it out. These Assessments are very thorough, and you will learn a lot about how your body is working. Our clients find them very helpful, interesting and informative. We currently have a limited number of free Assessments available, so please contact the Clinic soon if you would like to book in for one.

 

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2841828/
[2] http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/ultimate-social-network-bacteria-protects-health/
[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10564096