Here is another blog post from Cass on the monthly intensive from she's taking in her Functional Nutrition certification. We hope you enjoy!
Phew! Another Intensive in the books with Functional Nutrition Lab, and boy, am I grateful not only for its timing, but its in-depth information and insight into the multi-faceted complexity of how incredible our bodies are! Friends, I'm talking the IMMUNE SYSTEM. Your immune system is an intricate network of cells, tissues and organs that work together to protect the body against foreign invaders, such as viruses, pathogens, bacteria, parasites, etc. To do this, it has to identify the foreign invader, generate a series of communications throughout the entire body and then launch an attack. You have three layers of defense related to the immune system:
Physical Barrier: this includes your outer skin, as well as your "inner skin" which makes up your digestive, respiratory and reproductive systems (these skins are a critical part of your natural immunity)
Innate Immune System: which is the immune system you were born with and is comprised of a variety of fast acting cells, provides immediate defense against infection, and is found in all classes of plant and animal life (this includes your Lymphatic System)
Adaptive Immune System: which acts as a secondary immune system that adapts overtime based on environmental and lifestyle exposures, and is composed of highly specialized, systemic cells and processes that eliminate or prevent pathogen growth
But Cass, you just listed two different types of immune systems....?
That I did! These systems work together but your Adaptive Immune System has cells that turn into Memory Cells when they encounter a foreign invader to remember it and know how to fight it if its encountered again in the future! How amazing is that!!! You also have 5 different categories of white blood cells that uniquely fight foreign invaders so as to attack, kill and remove them from the body. Your Lymphatic System is your body's passive drainage system, which helps to remove waste, debris and disease from the body. You must keep lymph moving to keep your blood clean and clear so garbage doesn't accumulate in your cells! Here are a few ways to do just that:
Deep breathing: Take a few minutes out of your day to intentionally take big, even breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth.
Rebounding: This can include jumping on a mini-trampoline or jump roping
Massage & movement: Walking daily, dry brushing, scheduling a monthly massage and generally moving the body helps to keep lymph moving
Topical application of castor oil, which rehydrates the skin, promotes growth of new tissue, helps to reduce pain and inflammation, reduces bacteria and soothes irritated skin and more.
Inflammation is a key way to identify an immune response (be that from an injury or a pathogen invasion) in the body, consisting of four reactions: heat, redness, swelling and pain. This can include a splinter in your foot, rolling an ankle, catching the flu, an allergic reaction and/or sensitivity, etc. Where we run into problems with the immune system is when there are long-term imbalances, sensitivities, or reactions (chronic inflammations) that have been ignored or masked by symptom-focused medications, etc. These include:
There is too much information to go into specifics in these areas, but here are some general areas focus on and things to avoid:
avoid gluten, sugar, dairy
See? This is A LOT of information to take in, but there are ways you can symbiotically work together with your body and its immune system to build and support it to keep you healthy going forward. In addition to the areas listed above, here are some other areas to focus on:
pre and probiotics
vitamin A, B6, C, D, E
echinacea (avoid if you have an autoimmune disease)
medicinal mushrooms such as turkey tail, reishi, shiitake, chaga
If you have questions or want to dive a little deeper with me, please feel free to reach out. I also highly suggest that you check out the 15-Minute Matrix podcast, which is the sister-podcast to the certification I'm taking. I also invite you to start learning - research, ask questions, experiment, listen to your body, - take back ownership of your health. This is to be used for informational or educational purposes only, and does not substitute professional medical advice or consultations with healthcare professionals. Everyone is unique, and so your health should be customized to your body and its needs.
(Photo Credit: Atypical Nutrition)