• Tracy Southwick

How-To: Optimize Your Immune Function

Updated: Apr 28

For many, this viral pandemic has focused attention on basic health and how one’s own body might be at its healthiest during this time. Most who come to us with questions about strengthening their immune system are confused about where to start. Therefore, for the next few articles, we will be walking you through methods to support the health of several body systems that you may not have considered as essential to your health and wellbeing.

This month we will start with some tips about how to support digestive health. We have all heard the adage: ‘You are what you eat’. The truth is, however, that you are what you DIGEST and ASSIMILATE. If you cannot break your food down and absorb it, you will be missing out on many nutrients vital to immune health. This repeated cycle, where your food is not fully broken down or absorbed, meal after meal, also increases inflammation in your body. How might you know if your body is failing to digest and assimilate the food you are eating?

Some typical symptoms of poor digestion are heartburn/reflux/indigestion, bloating, burping, gas, fatigue after meals, nausea, feeling like a lump is in your stomach, and frequent infections. The low immune function comes from a lack of nutrients and/or low stomach acid, a first line of immune defense against invaders.

Here are some tips to support digestive health:

  1. Be mindful of your mental and emotional states when you are eating. If you are in a stressed condition while you eat, your body’s digestion is compromised. Take several deep breaths before you start eating and don’t watch the news or work. Be present at your meal and make it a time of peace and joy. Check out our resources page on our website for a demonstration on 4-7-8 Breathing to help you move into a “Rest and Digest” mode for meals.

  2. Chew every bite until it is a paste. Digestion starts in the mouth with enzymes in the saliva. These enzymes need to be well mixed with your food to break carbohydrates down properly, as well as help transport vital nutrients through the digestive tract to be absorbed.

  3. Slow down. Most of us are in the habit of eating very quickly as if a meal is taking us away from more important things in our lives. Our meals provide the fuel for all the other things in life, so make the most of them. Try to set a timer to spread your meal out to at least 20 minutes. It will force you to chew your food well and be more present….and help your digestion, too.