The Essentials for a Healthy Immune System
By Dr. Molly Casey
What a time it is in the world right now. Life and health are fluid, a journey and not a destination. I’ve written time and again that health is a process of which we choose to engage with -- or choose not to engage with. If you’re reading this, likely it’s a process you’re actively working. Because the state of health in the world has been at the forefront of our existence, I’ve written about the basics of your personal immune system army and its battle against germs – how and why you get sick. I’ve written about boosting immune system function and performance through improving communication and inducing relaxation, proper recovery, and rest. The wrap-up to the foundation today is fuel and movement.
Fuel and Move
Eat clean food, support through supplementation, and move. These are important elements in the journey of health. If you put watered down gas into your car and don’t change the oil or perform the recommended maintenance, the car performs much less efficiently. If you continue to do this, the working lifespan of the machine will decrease as well: it won’t last as long. Most folks get that -- a car lasts longer when gassed and maintained properly. Your body is a machine. It is the most important machine that you will ever have because everything you do is done in, through, and with, this machine. There is no greater investment.
Clean gas and clean fuel are equivalent to clean food -- think natural state, minimal processing. Watered down gas and old, gooey oil is equivalent to highly processed/packaged and artificial. Clean foods are going to be as close to the natural state as possible -- fruits, vegetables, grains, rice, beans, nuts and anything on the outside of the grocery aisles. If you eat meat, they should be meats that have no nitrites, no added hormones, and have been raised as close to their natural habitat as possible.
At this particular time in which folks have been stocking up, it’s important to know that fresh fruits and vegetables go bad more quickly than frozen packaged foods; that’s an easy excuse to overreact and abandon the principles of eating as cleanly as possible. You can get the frozen organic vegetables. You can get fresh veggies and cook them, then freeze them -- or add them to a soup or stew and then freeze the soup or stew. While this may seem a bit extensive, it’s not like you don’t have the time and it’s a good practice to get into. In this world of instant gratification and chaos, we can still abide by what is healthiest for our bodies if we simply think outside the box, get a bit creative, and be willing to do the work that requires the extra step. Clean fuel will provide the immune system and your army of warriors the best fighting chance against germs.
Sometimes the truth is that we do need a little extra boost, a little extra gas. When stress is high and longer or harder performances are required, extra support from supplements can be beneficial. Vitamin C plays an important role in immune system function, Vitamin E helps fight off infection. Vitamin D is largely absorbed by spending a moderate amount of time in the sun, but with most Americans not spending enough time outside and many suffering with chronic health issues, Vitamin D is often depleted in Americans. Vitamin D is essential for optimal gut health and health overall. Zinc and iron are also imperative for immune system function. Remember, I am suggesting this as overall support and building up the immune system over time and, with consistency to improve immune system performance; I’m not suggesting this is the only go-to if you are suffering and not well. There are times for increased interventions. This is about support prior to, and possibly even during, illness.
To live is to move. Death ensues when movement stops. Exercise is crucial. Stop using a muscle and it literally withers away. If we are not growing we are dying. Movement is life and it promotes detoxification. Time in physical/social distancing does not mean you can’t go outside for isolated walks, do at-home workouts, or challenge your body to move and have stretch sessions. Fear shuts us down, movement opens us up. There are many gyms and fitness studios that are offering their services online because of the closures and physical distancing. Get creative. Stay moving. Heck, for some of you this is a chance to be moving more. Your immune system and your body require the movement to fight the greatest fight.
Life has felt very uncertain and scary for many in the past month or so -- not for everyone, but for many. One thing for certain is this: allowing fear and hysteria to consume our thoughts or actions never has been helpful -- and it never will be helpful.
Another truth is that the stability and health of one’s systems in life and in the body are largely affected by how well and how consistently we include the foundational components of support and nourishment. This includes knowing the basics of how our system functions and what it needs, promoting clear communication, operating in a calm and relaxed state of being, proper hydration and sleep, and clean food and supplements along with consistent movement. The basics cannot be overlooked. No one will ever continue to engage with the highest degree of health and life possible if we are not consistently working with these tenets of operation and health. These are the cornerstones in the foundation of your life.
The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this page are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this post is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics, including but not limited to the benefits of chiropractic care, exercise and nutrition. It is not intended to provide or be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your chiropractor, physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this page.