Most people know that the immune system is what keeps us protected from getting sick. It is also responsible for controlling inflammation and protecting us from cancer. What you might not know is that there are many things that can be done to improve your immune system response. By optimizing your immune system, you increase your health and reduce the likelihood of becoming sick. Below are a few tips to improve your immune function and restore your health and vitality.
Dr Troy mentioned his popular immune system video. Click here to watch that video.
It is amazing how few people drink enough water throughout the day. Drinking water and staying hydrated is a critical component of immune function. This is because our immune cells swim in water in order to get where they need to go. Without water, the immune system cannot get to the area of infection quickly to remove potential invaders. At Synapse, we measure hydration through a technology called Bio-Electrical Impedance Analysis (BIA). Someone with poor BIA results will generally have poorer immune function. We track improvements in BIA over time to measure progress for our treatments. An improved BIA leads to a healthy, well hydrated body.
Hydrations isn’t just about drinking water. Retaining that water is critical. Many people drink water and have it go right through them. This can be a sign that you’re not retaining your water properly. Poor water retention might be from low electrolytes or a diet low in protein. We often use functional analysis of routine blood testing to determine the cause of the poor water retention. We often see improvements in BIA once an individual improves the deficient factors found on routine blood testing.
Everyone loves sleep, but not everyone gets the sleep that they need. Some people try sleeping more, but cannot, while others function on low levels of sleep because of their jobs or by playing too many video games. It’s easy to underestimate the importance of sleep, but many critical body functions happen only during certain stages of sleep. The body prioritizes repair and recovery during sleep, much of which is performed by different parts of the immune system. The immune system not only kills germs but it also assists in garbage cleanup and rebuilding structures within the body. Without sleep, the body cannot perform these vital functions.
Poor sleep so common that up to 80% of the US population has been estimated to suffer from one of the 100 recognized sleep disorders. At Synapse, we identify many patients, even a majority, that have sleep disorders that can be improved with physical interventions like chiropractic adjustments and neurological retraining of muscle tone. With these techniques, we see a high number of our patients improve their sleep in as little as a few weeks. This is a huge boost to those individual’s wellbeing and immune function.
Stress is a common experience for most people and we all know we need to take time to destress. But why is stress so hard on the body? It’s not just all in our heads. Stress of many kinds impact how many parts of our body work, including the immune system. The chemicals and brain signals produced during stress decrease the effectiveness of the immune system, increasing the risks of infections and cancers. Lowering stress can have a huge impact on both immune system function and on overall wellness.
We generally associate stress with only mental or emotional stressors. But there are many other things that cause stress, including physical injury, inflammation, lack of sleep and more. In all of these situations, the body prioritizes the removal of the stress above other functions from the immune system, reproductive system and digestive systems. You may have heard of the Fight or Flight Response – this response is a stress response that shuts down important body systems in order to get out of the stressful environment. If we can’t get rid of the stress, those other systems, like the immune system, cannot function optimally.
Our diets can be sources of healing or sources of inflammation. The inflammation that can come from an inadequate diet negatively impacts the immune system’s function. As we’ve mentioned already, the immune system is responsible for controlling inflammation. If our diet is a constant source of inflammation, the immune system is constantly trying to reduce and control it. Prolonged inflammation from diet is a common cause of autoimmune disease, which is essentially a dysfunctional immune system attacking your own body.
By improving our diets, we reduce inflammation, which calms down the immune system. We also provide the critical building blocks that our body needs to heal and recover from the inflammation. As this healing progresses, our immune system becomes stronger and in balance, reducing autoimmunity and restoring proper function.
Sometimes we don’t get the optimal amount of nutrients from our diet. Whether it’s due to a dietary restriction or because of the quality of our foods, nutritional supplementation can provide the nutrients that we may lack in our diets. The immune system depends on these nutrients to perform optimally. Certain common nutrients play key roles in regulating the immune system, while allowing it to kill off pathogens as quickly as possible.
We often recommend nutritional supplementation to support our patients that have signs of low nutrient status or suboptimal diets. The recommendations for patients to achieve optimal immune function differ by the individual, but vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin A, magnesium, zinc, selenium and others play key roles and are often found to be deficient in our patients.
Last but not least is physical movement and exercise. Not only does exercise improve muscle strength and flexibility, it also plays a role in improving blood and lymph circulation. Both of these need to be functioning optimally in order for the immune system to function. Much of our immune cells live and work within lymph nodes, which are connected to each other by lymphatic vessels. These vessels are similar to blood vessels, but they are not pumped by the heart. Lymph flow increases during muscle contraction and diaphragm movement. Both of these occur during exercise.
Blood circulation is also important in immune function. For those with poor circulation, which can often be due to stress or inadequate nutrition, the lack of blood flowing into an area decreases the number of immune cells that can reach an infected or damaged area. Improving circulation can be done through many means, but exercise is a great way to do it.
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