The immune system is comprised of many structures and processes that help protect us from bacteria and viruses. The regulation of the immune system is incredibly important. Disorders of our immune system can manifest as immunodeficiency (not having one or more components of the immune system active), autoimmunity (an overactive immune response) and hypersensitivity (an immune response that damages the body’s own tissues). Immune system dysregulation plays a large role in autoimmune diseases, inflammatory conditions and cancer. At the Center for Natural and Integrative Medicine, we strive to optimize and support your body’s immune system. In this week’s update, we focus on some of the basic and vital components of a healthy immune system.
Sleep is crucial to a healthy immune system, and helps restore and regulate the orchestra of hormones that contribute to the system. Cells that respond to infections are regulated during non-REM sleep. Without sleep, immunizations have lower efficacy, and do not produce the antibodies needed to fight infection. Disruptions in sleep can lead to chronic conditions, such as heart disease, chronic pain and asthma. During sleep, the complex array of hormones and immune modulating cells contribute to long-lasting immune memory, which helps the body fight against infections that it has seen before.
Nutrition and Diet
In conditions such as diabetes and obesity, over nutrition is associated with a decrease in immune function. At the same time, undernourishment can impair the immune system, due to the lack of specific trace mineral and nutrient deficiencies. The best foods to eat for the immune system include those that are high in Vitamin C, such as citrus fruits and leafy green vegetables. Vitamin E can be a powerful antioxident, and can be found in spinach, broccoli and nuts such as almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts and sunflower seeds. Vitamin B6 is part of nearly 200 biochemical reactions, and can be found in bananas, lean chicken breast and cold water fish. Vitamin A is found in our colorful foods, such as carrots, sweet potatoes and pumpkin, and has great properties to fight against infections. Vitamin D is usually found in sunlight, but can be in fatty fish and some fortified foods such as milk and orange juice. We encourage checking Vitamin D levels and supplementing with liquid Vitamin D, if necessary. Other important minerals for regular immune function include folate, iron,, selenium, and zinc.
Your Past History
Through regular day to day living, our immune system can be altered by the food we eat, the toxins we encounter, and the medications that we have taken. Medications can alter the gut flora, which can contribute to a change in the immune response. Glucocorticoids are powerful anti-inflammatory medications, and are commonly prescribed for a variety of medical conditions. While they can be helpful, long term use of glucocorticoids can dysregulate the immune system.
How Can We Help?
At the Center for Natural and Integrative Medicine, we strive to help support you, your body’s natural healing, and your nutrition. In addition to extensive lab testing, we offer supplements and intravenous therapies for additional support.
Join us on November 18th, 2015 at 6 pm, where we will discuss the immune system in greater detail. Call our office (404) 355-9246 and RSVP for this FREE SEMINAR today!