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A robust immune system is our best defense against all illness. More than half of our immune systems are located in the small intestine! The proper function of this part of our immune system depends upon a healthy balance of the proper bacteria there.
Joseph Mercola, MD, explains that “Beneficial bacteria have a lifelong, powerful effect on your gut’s immune system and your systemic immune system as well. The bacteria play a crucial role in the development and operation of the mucosal immune system in your digestive tract. They also aid in the production of antibodies to pathogens.” So, how do we support this colony of good bacteria?
Take a good probiotic:
- whenever you are on antibiotics (they can kill off the good bacteria right along with the disease bacteria)
- if you are traveling to foreign lands
- if you are eating high amounts of sugary foods
- if you are highly stressed
- if you are eating lots of processed foods
Mark Hyman, MD, also explains approaches to supporting our immune systems.
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Avoid simple sugars as much as possible! Studies have shown that refined sugars can suppress your immune system for hours after ingested.
- Have protein with each meal. Proteins are the building blocks of the body. This includes your immune and detoxification systems.
- Add garlic, onions, ginger, and lots of spices (oregano, turmeric) to your meals
- Eat multiple servings of colorful fruits and vegetables high in vitamins C, A, and phytonutrients that support the immune system. Choose more leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussel sprouts, and cauliflower), peppers, sweet potatoes, and squashes.
- Get sufficient sleep! We all know sleep restores and heals the body. Without adequate sleep, optimal immune function is next to impossible
- Get regular exercise. Mild to moderate exercise (for approximately 30-45 minutes) helps boost the immune system.
- Supplements for Adult Immune Support
Here is an overview of the vitamins, minerals, and herbs Dr. Hyman recommends and why they are important:
- Multivitamin/Mineral: This is the foundation for any health support regimen. Look for a high-quality, broad-spectrum multivitamin and mineral.
- Vitamin D3: Adequate vitamin D status is critical for optimal immune function and this cannot be achieved without supplementation during the winter months. It is best to get your levels of 25 OH vitamin D checked for accurate dosing. Blood levels should be above 30 ng/dl. However, optimal levels are probably closer to 50 ng/dl for most. Many need 5,000 IU or more of vitamin D3 a day in the winter. Start with 2,000 IU for adults, 1,000 IU for children.
- Buffered Vitamin C: The role of vitamin C in supporting the immune system has long been known. Take 500-1,000 mg throughout the day with meals and snacks.
- Zinc citrate: You can take an additional supplement or consume more foods high in this powerful immune supporting nutrient. Seafood—especially oysters—red meat, and pumpkin seeds are the best food sources. Take 30 mg per day.
- Fish Oil (Artic Cod Liver Oil): This old time remedy for good health and robust immunity still stands true! In addition to the good fats, cod liver oil contains additional vitamin A and D for added immune protection.
You can click on the links above to learn more…
Acid reflux? GERD? Taking the little purple pill? More than 25% of Americans have this problem. Is there another answer?ShareThis
Mark Hyman, MD, (drhyman.com) a leading clinician in Functional Medicine recently addressed this issue. 44% of Americans have heartburn at least once a month. The acid blocking medications – Prevacid, Prilosec, Nexium – are the third most commonly prescribed medications! Reflux causes many problems and so we need to ask “WHY”. Why do you have reflux?
Some common triggers:
- Fried or spicy foods
- Citrus or tomato based foods
- Processed foods
- Alcohol or caffeine
What else might be the cause of your discomfort?
- Eating right before bed or eating with a stomach that is already full
- Being overweight and having a big belly – this pushes your stomach up
- Chronic stress – this affects the nerves in your stomach making digestion very difficult – Relax when you eat! Breathe!
- Low magnesium – this can be caused both by stress as well as the acid blocking medications; magnesium relaxes the muscles that let the food pass out of the stomach; when the magnesium is low, that function is impaired
- Food sensitivities such as dairy or gluten – so often unrecognized culprits in gastric conditions
- Bad bacteria or yeast growing in your stomach: this might be the result of taking hormones or antibiotics, eating lots of sugar and processed foods (taking probiotics can reverse this problem)
- H. Pylori – if there is too much of this bacteria in your stomach, this can cause reflux as well (simple breath test can diagnose this problem)
How can we correct this acid reflux?
Taking the acid blockers provides only symptomatic relief, but does not solve the problem. They can increase your risk of pneumonia, cause bloating, lead to more bad bacteria in your stomach. They block your absorption of certain nutrients as well – such as vitamin B12, zinc, and magnesium. Low B12 levels can cause depression and memory problems. Long term use of these medications can lead to osteoporosis.
You need some acid in your stomach to digest your food!
Simple steps to correct the problem:
- Correct your diet – cut out sugars and processed foods, fried foods and citrus or tomato foods
- Get rid of possible food allergens like dairy and/or gluten (have a short trial period to see if this is a problem for you)
- Try a short period with triggers like alcohol, smoking, caffeine
- Eat earlier – don’t eat 3 hours before bed
- Reduce stress when you eat – take five deep breaths – hold your breath to the count of five before exhaling
- Try certain supplements:
Deglycerized licorice (DGL) – coats the stomach, reduces reflux
Probiotics like Acidophyllus and Bifidobacteria
Digestive enzymes actually help you digest your food so you can absorb all the nutrients (as we age, the decreased amount of acid in our stomachs can lead to reduced nutrient uptake)
Magnesium (as dimagnesium malate)
Get tested: Ask your physician to test you for H. Pylori, gluten and dairy sensitivity
Ever wonder what lab tests might really help to protect you? There are 8 predictive biomarkers you should ask your physician about.ShareThis
Russell Jaffe, MD, founder of ELISA/ACT Biotechnologies (national lab for testing immune functions and allergy systems) has published a report of great value to all who seek to best preserve and protect their health and well being: The Power of Predictive Biomarkers – 8 Predictors of Life and Death.
Because an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, spotting potential problems before they worsen can save your life! Let’s take a look at what these labs are and why they are important:
- Hemoglobin A1c (HgbA1c): measures the average blood sugar level for the previous 3 months (instead of just the past 12-18 hours). This can predict the risk for diabetes and insulin resistance
- High sensitivity C-Reactive Protein: this is a marker of systemic inflammation which could be associated with increased risk of pre-diabetes or diabetes, insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome (Syndrome X) –all connected to increased cardiovascular risk
- Homocysteine: high homocysteine is a widely recognized marker of cardiovascular risk, cancer, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s disease. *High homocysteine can be corrected through diet and proper supplementation
- Oxidized LDL/HDL: oxidized LDL is a measure of the health of the DNA in your cells and is a highly accurate predictor of cardiovascular risk. Research studies using oxidized LDL/HDL show a 90% accuracy rate for cardiovascular risk vs only a 50% accuracy rate for cholesterol testing
- 8- oxoguanine: this is an important marker for systemic inflammation and its effects on your DNA; this focuses on the acceleration of aging due to potential DNA damage – a factor underlying most chronic illness
- Vitamin D: with low Vitamin D levels (less than 50) there is increased risk of cancer, heart disease, autoimmune disorders, psychiatric and mood disorders; according to the National Institute of Health, Vitamin D may play a role in the prevention and treatment of both Type I and Type II diabetes, high blood pressure, and MS (multiple sclerosis)
- First morning pH (measurement of acid/base balance): the pH level in your urine after 6+ hours of rest reflects the pH throughout your body which is an indicator of your metabolic status. Low pH can lead to osteoporosis and other metabolic effects while high pH can lead to breakdown of tissues. Balance is the key here. Optimal range is 6.5-7.5. Most of us on the standard American diet including processed foods and high red meat intake will fall in the low pH range. Dietary changes can alter this balance easily. If you are in the low range, simply investigate “alkaline diet” on the internet
- LRA by ELISA/ACT: this is the Lymphocyte Response Assay and it examines the general health of your immune system by monitoring delayed hypersensitivity responses to more than 490 substances. You need not break out in a rash to be “allergic” to something. Low levels of allergic responses lead to raised levels of systemic inflammation and increased risks to a wide range of chronic illnesses
The full report from Dr. Jaffe and PERQUE Integrative Health is available here. . .