We all hear about how important it is to have a healthy immune system. For the most part, the assumption to keep this defence system ticking along is so that we can all do our best to fight and avoid colds and flu’s during the winter months. What many people may not realize however, is that your immune system is largely responsible for most aspects of how you feel, how you sleep, how you think, and, how long you live. So sick or healthy, here’s why your immune system matters:
Your immune system is the control center of your health
Whether you’re tired, stressed, energized or somewhere in between, it’s your immune system that plays a major role in orchestrating how you feel. To simplify how your internal health functions, there are a few major systems that are all at play. Think about it as a delicate interplay between your adrenal (stress) system, hormonal system, metabolism, and immune system. If your stress system becomes weak or overworked, then your immune system also responds by becoming suppressed (ever had a time where you’re the other side of a stressful event, and the minute you rest, you get sick?). If your immune system becomes weak, then your hormones compensate by pulling back and lessen their role in terms of doing what they need to do (when sick, the last thing your body cares about is ensuring its hormones are balanced and prioritized). And if you’re stressed or sick, the last thing your body is concerned about is ensuring your metabolism is focused on losing weight. Think of it like this: if you were to walk down the street and someone popped out to surprise you, your body shifts into what’s called a ‘fight or flight’ mode, meaning all it wants to do is get you out of the moments danger. And for that moment, your stress hormones are at their max, and immunity, hormonal priority, and metabolism really don’t matter. This is all good and even necessary in the short term, however the harsh reality is that most people are walking around in a chronically stressed, immune compromised state.
Your immune system and chronic disease
So isn’t it just genetic if you happen to take on a chronic illness or disease such as a cardiovascular condition, diabetes or cancer? The answer to this is definitely a hard no. Although you may be genetically predisposed to a certain illness or disease passed on from one generation to another, it’s all about ensuring you maximize your health potential in order to minimize the chance that these disease sensitive genes are either turned on or remain switched off. So what determines whether a gene is switched on or not? Well, of course, a lot is based on lifestyle and environmental factors, and with central involvement on how well your immune system functions. It’s been proven that the lower your immune system health becomes, the less protected these genetic predisposition become. It’s your immune system that ultimately surveys your body to ensure the stresses of life don’t negatively impact your genes. With a potent and robust immune system, your body’s susceptibility to viruses, stress, toxins and other health diminishing attributes will become much less. Without a strong immune system, your body essentially becomes an open target to the ever increasing insults that western life poses on your health.
So what do I do to ensure I maintain a strong healthy immune system?
As you’ve gathered by now, supporting a healthy, long term immune system is all about simply knowing how to balance each individual health system that we’ve spoken about up to this point. Stress management, hormone modulation, metabolism support (exercise, yoga, heathy diet, etc), and of course direct immune support, will all ensure your risk of insults to your health remain at bay and as minimal as can be. As a naturopathic doctor here at Cornerstone Naturopathic Inc., the focus is on realistically and reasonably creating the most fluid balance between each of these systems that ultimately impact immune health. And as an extra step, which is highly ignored by most in general, optimal health is is maintained by ensuring your immune system is directly taken care of over both the short and long term (think prevention).
We do all kinds of things for people within naturopathic medical care (enter IV therapies, herbal and nutrition support, lifestyle modification, and self care). And with the extensive array of what can be done, one thing is for sure, we easily help manage and support each and every health related system in your body and ensure immune system health is a central part of your long term plan.