by Dr. David Minkoff October 27, 2022 5 min read
As we head towards Winter, I wanted to provide a little information on how our immune system works and how you can prepare your body to stay as healthy as possible over the coming months.
Getting sick is never fun, but even more, is often unneeded.
Yes, we may occasionally get a cold, the flu, or some other illness, but if our immune system was in proper health? Then we get sick less often.
Our immune system is our body’s defense system against harmful viruses, bacteria, and even parasites and toxins.
It’s also heavily involved in the healing process, including recovery from exercise, or working out.
But as far as seasonal illness goes, it’s quite simple.
When harmful viruses and bacteria enter our body, our immune system releases immune cells (white blood cells) that find and surround these invaders, destroy them one by one, and prevent them from multiplying.
When our immune system is in good health and fully functioning, our body remains healthy even when we come into contact with others who may be ill. Or, if we do get ill, we swiftly recover.
But when our Immune System is weak, bacteria and viruses have a better chance to take hold and harm us.
And that’s what we want to prevent.
So let’s look at this.
While I can’t claim making specific changes will prevent or destroy any illnesses, I can give insight about what lowers our immune system’s effectiveness which can result in the body becoming ill or taking longer to recover.
The first thing is our diet.
We have billions of immune cells in our body – at least we’re supposed to.
But, like any cells, they need to be created in the first place. And they need to have exact nutrients and vitamins to function and do their jobs.
So, if we’re not consuming enough amino acids from our foods, then our bodies simply can’t produce the immune cells necessary to fend off disease.
The cells also need key nutrients and vitamins to function and do their job. If they’re not getting these, or enough of these, they can’t. At least not to the level they should be.
Now, all of this would normally come from a diet high in protein, vegetables, and fruits. But our diets are mainly grain these days.
Almost all processed foods have a base of corn or soy or both, and key vitamins and minerals are removed in the processing.
Beyond that, many vegetables are now grown from nutrient-bare soil that doesn’t provide the vitamins they used to pass on to us.
It’s very important to supplement our protein needs with amino acids, if we’re not getting enough protein, so our body has what it needs to build new immune cells.
And we need to make sure we’re taking our vitamins, so these cells have what they need to function.
And we definitely need to get off diets high in grain foods which are mainly used for energy in our body, not cell building.
Now let’s discuss the things we eat that weaken our immune system.
Sugar is the enemy of our immune system, especially processed sugars.
If you were to place immune cells under a microscope with a virus, you would see the immune cells surround it and attack.
However, if you then added a little bit of sugar, you would see the immune cells suddenly slow down, become sluggish, and not attack the virus.
Sugar weakens the immune cells.
And if we’re talking about harmful bacteria, sugar not only weakens the immune cells, it also feeds the harmful bacteria, causing them to multiply faster.
So if you’re sick, stay away from the sugars. If you’re heading into the winter, work to keep sugar levels low and protein high.
Also realize that grains and breads are sugars. High amounts of these will act the same as straight table sugar.
But even more, as most processed foods are chiefly corn and soy, they do something else.
There is a fatty acid known as Omega 6. Its opposite is Omega 3.
In the body, Omega 6 plays a large role in raising Cortisol levels (Cortisol is the stress hormone). And Omega 3 lowers it.
We should have a ratio of about 1 to 1, Omega 6 to Omega 3.
However, corn and soy are very high in Omega 6, while Omega 3 is almost non-existent.
As most of our meats are fed on corn and soy now, instead of their natural diets, they are also high in Omega 6 and low in Omega 3, passing this imbalance on to you.
So instead of a 1 to 1 ratio, most people these days have a 20 or even 40 to 1 ratio
This imbalance leads to high Cortisol levels, which is the last thing we want for a healthy immune system.
When we’re stressed out our Cortisol level rises.
When we consume high amounts of Omega 6, without balancing Omega 3, Cortisol levels rise.
Sugars, grains, processed sugars, lack of exercise, lack of sleep — also raise Cortisol levels.
And what does Cortisol do?
It suppresses your immune system's effectiveness in fighting off invaders.
It does this by lowering the number of lymphocytes (immune cells) present in the blood, as well as interfering with normal communication between white blood cells.
So if you’re low on sleep, high on Omega 6 from processed foods, and consuming large amounts of sugar, you’re raising your cortisol levels which then lowers your immune systems effectiveness.
The sugar then makes it even less effective.
And now it’s cold, so your body is already working harder to create heat.
… And now a virus comes in.
We’re now much more likely to get sick and have a slower recovery.
Now, I can’t say we’ll never get sick if we always eat right. No one can.
But if your protein/amino acid levels are high, you’re eating nutrient-rich foods and taking your vitamins, staying away from processed foods and sugar, and getting good sleep and daily exercise… your immune system will be in much better shape to take care of you.
And if you do get sick, chances are it may be lighter and fade away faster.
Getting proper nutrition and taking care of our body is always key.
Because when we fuel our bodies with the highest level of nutrition, no matter what comes our way, we’ll always be ready to tackle it.
I hope this helps.
by Dr. David Minkoff
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