How-To: Optimize Your Immune Function (Don’t wait for illness or disease!)
Because of the viral pandemic, we began a series of articles last month for those asking how they might substantially strengthen their immune system. In the last article, we discussed the importance of good digestion in relation to immune function and how to achieve success in building that first cornerstone for the immune system. If you missed that important article, please visit our website for several helpful tips. We are moving on to the next building block in the creation of strong immune function as we focus on the importance of Intestinal Health.
We have all been hearing about how important the balance of bacteria (the microbiome) of your gut is, in relation to your immune health – about 70% of your immune system actually resides there. So, logic dictates that this is an area we should support for optimal health. Diarrhea or constipation, gas, bloating, gurgling, belching, allergies, brain fog, sugar cravings, auto-immune conditions, weight concerns, skin issues, anxiety, and depression can all point to suboptimal intestinal health. Yes, the list is certainly varied, but it highlights how many areas of the body are connected to gut health.
Remember from the last article that digestive health feeds into intestinal health, so don’t forget that digestive health is the first important building block as you build your immune system. Next, we have the tips for the second building block: intestinal health. These methods will not only help improve your immune system but likely other body systems, so use these tactics as you focus on building your intestinal health:
1) Avoid/Reduce the Destroyers: foods and drinks that harm the microbiome such as sugar and processed foods; artificial sweeteners; chlorinated water; alcohol; and meats, poultry, eggs, and dairy products raised with antibiotics or hormones.
2) Eat Prebiotics: foods that feed good bacteria, for example, apples, bananas, chia seeds, chicory, Jerusalem artichokes, jicama, onions, garlic, and leeks.
3) Check Your Meds: talk to your doctor about potential alternatives or extra microbiome support if you are taking the following medications: antibiotics, steroids, oral contraceptives, acid-blockers (PPI’s), NSAID’s, chemotherapeutics, or antipsychotics.
4) Eat Fermented: include probiotic-rich/fermented foods in your diet like kimchi, raw sauerkraut, unsweetened and organic yogurt, kefir.
5) Supplement with a Probiotic: looking for a stable one with high potency and multiple strains of good bacteria.
Hopefully, by adding these lifestyle habits to your routine, you will begin to see improvement in your symptoms of poor intestinal health, which should, in turn, improve your immune function and overall health. If you are still having problems after you try these hacks, consider seeing one of our Holistic Health Practitioners at Heights of Health to receive more individualized help in this area. We are offering virtual and in-clinic appointments for our services and we are happy to ship or deliver supplements as needed.