Continued from last month -A strong immune system starts with a healthy lifestyle. But it is also important to understand what weakens your immune system too and to avoid those things. Here are 12 healthy ways to a stronger immune system.
- TAKE SUPPLEMENTS
OK So they are the long-term fixes. What can you do in the short-term? You have approximately 20 different types of white cell. You are unlikely to boost all the different types with just one supplement. We suggest a spectrum – for example, curcumin, grape seed extract/pine bark extract, herbs such as echinacea or astragalus or cat’s claw, beta-glucans, and astaxanthin. That should cover pretty well everything.
Beta-glucans – naturally occurring polysaccharides from pathogenic bacteria and fungi (like ’medicinal’ mushrooms’). They have a strong effect on the immune system (1) by causing a positive reaction, and enhancing natural killer and macrophage action. You can eat mushrooms, and buy extracts. Immiflex, PSP and PSK are the ’in’ ones at the moment.
In a world of Coronavirus three supplements are worth extra consideration.
VITAMIN C – There is research that mega-doses (4-10 gm) of vitamin C can reduce colds – in terms of severity and time – by up to 85%. In the Northwell Group of Hospitals in New York, they are giving Covid-19 patients 1.5 gm on arrival at the Hospital and then the same dose 4 times per day. Apparently, when the Covid virus starts to cause severe respiratory problems it icrashes Vitamin C levels in the body.
ZINC – There is research from the World Health Organisation that children who develop respiratory problems have low zinc levels; and that zinc supplementation can prevent pneumonia. There is research on zinc and vitamin C reducing the risk of respiratory problems.
SELENIUM – a known anti-viral; it attacks the walls of viruses. Low selenium levels have been shown to promote the growth of influenza and even its mutation into more aggressive strains.
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- HAVE UNINTERRUPTED SLEEP IN A DARKENED, EMF-free ROOM
Sleep is healing. A lack of sleep also weakens your immune system and makes you more prone to infection – for example, you are four times more likely to develop a cold if there’s one around.
Always sleep in a fully darkened room with no EMFs around you – Electromagnetic Fields include WiFi, computers, cell phones, masts and aerials and more. About one hour after you fall asleep your pineal gland makes Melatonin and it pushes you into a deeper sleep. People who have disturbed sleep develop more hormonally-driven cancers.
What few people seem to know is that melatonin is the biggest antioxidant we animals make and is also a strong anti-inflammatory – add these together and it is why sleep is so healing.
Melatonin also regulates oestrogen and growth hormone in the body. We make less and less of it as we pass the age of 50 years.
Your gut bacteria have circadian rhythms – if you cannot get to sleep, the problem lies with how much melatonin you make. If you constantly wake up early, the problem lies with how little melatonin they make!
You can supplement about 30 minutes before going to bed. It was thought that supplements above 10 mgs could cause vivid dreams and even hallucinations but there is clear research on the benefits of 20 mg supplements of melatonin to fight cancer. Available in supermarkets in the USA, you can only obtain it on prescription in Europe.
As we age, our white cells start to lose their ability to ‘see clearly’ and we develop more auto-immune diseases, which are highly inflammatory. Our white immune cells have melatonin receptors and it aids their function to see and attack pathogens rather than attack our own bodies; and being an anti-inflammatory, it helps reduce any damage caused by the faulty immune response.
The age-related fall in immune function starts around age 60; and research is very clear that melatonin supplementation boosts immune function in the elderly.
- LAUGH, BE HAPPY
Remember what you enjoyed doing a decade ago? Playing tennis, watching comedy shows? People who laugh a lot have stronger immune systems, so go and buy some old funny videos. People who have good sex lives have stronger immune systems – no comment. People who meditate have stronger immune systems – find a meditation class to go with the yoga. UCLA has produced several studies showing those who meditate survive significantly longer! People who are in awe of a wonderful view – they have a boost in their immune system too.
Be Happy – Conversely, cut out the things (and people) who make you feel inadequate, worthless, guilty or cause you stress.
- AVOID STRESS
UCLA has a Stress Management Laboratory – it specializes in cancer. They say that “Actively managing your stress improves survival times significantly.” They also say that this is the most ignored area of cancer treatment. Well it would be – especially as charities such as Cancer Research refuse to accept that stress has anything to do with cancer!
Stress flattens the microbiome; stress flattens the immune system; stress (adrenalin and cortisol) turns on an enzyme COX-2 in every cell of the body and causes inflammation throughout the body.
Exercise and yoga produce endorphins which neutralize cortisol; prayer and meditation increase levels of opioids in the body which neutralize adrenaline.
UCLA says that you can manage your stress through counselling and other management techniques such as EFT; and you can reduce stress hormones through
* A colorful Mediterranean Diet
* Fish oils
People who cannot do exercise should look at the adaptogen Ashwagandha which reduces cortisol and is anti-inflammatory.
- DON’T SMOKE
Hardly a surprise really. The main reason is that it reduces blood oxygen levels and alters hormone levels; it also alters the natural acidity in the blood and damages the gut microbiome. The first directly down-grades the immune system; the second stops your commensal gut bacteria from doing their immune boosting job.
- DON’T DRINK TOO MUCH ALCOHOL
Latest government advice is for a maximum of 15 units a week. Alcohol reduces your magnesium and B vitamin levels, poisons your liver and depresses the immune system.
However, a little (2-5 glasses of red wine per week) does help reduce stress and inflammation, promoting well-being. It can also lower LDL cholesterol.
Chris Woollams is the Founder of CANCERactive. For more information, visit https://www.canceractive.com.