There are easy natural interventions that can help prevent and heal the diseases that plague people in today’s Western world. Each of these interventions addresses one or more of the primary strategies for becoming disease-free. These strategies are
- Reducing body inflammation
- Supporting the immune system
- Establishing a healthy lifestyle
Reducing body inflammation
Inflammation is a normal, healthy response to injury or infection, displayed as localized heat, redness, swelling, and pain. The inflammation process increases nourishment and immunity in the area where infection needs to be healed.
However inflammation does have destructive potential. In autoimmune diseases, the immune system mistakenly targets the body’s own tissues. When whole body inflammation develops, it is chronic, low-level inflammation. Research suggests chronic inflammation sets the foundation for such diseases as heart disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative conditions.
Chronic inflammation is influenced by epigenetics and the habits of a sedentary lifestyle, stress, food choices, and exposure to environmental toxins. Many people in Western societies live life in a pro-inflammatory state resulting from the lifestyle choices they make.
Supporting the immune system
Research has identified several factors that suppress the immune system. Those who became most seriously ill with swine flu displayed a weakened immune system and shared a common characteristic — their body mass index was over 40, which is considered morbidly obese. Excess weight can cause hormonal imbalances and inflammation, impairing the immune system’s ability to fight infection and cancer.
Drinking water plays a role in whether or not you get sick. About 25 million Americans drink well water, which may contain more than the EPA recommended safe levels of arsenic. Arsenic affects the immune response and is linked to several different cancers and the swine flu. Researchers at Dartmouth Medical School found that a group of mice that spent 5 weeks drinking arsenic-tainted water developed suppressed immune systems and many died from swine flu. Mice that didn’t drink tainted water got the flu but recovered completely.
According to the American Psychological Association, long-term stress weakens the immune system’s ability to respond. Philip Tierno, director of clinical microbiology and immunology at New York University and author of The Secret Life of Germs, tells us if you become stressed while you have the flu, your symptoms can get worse.
Tierno says the average adult picks up one to three colds each season that typically last 3 or 4 days. If you get more colds, your resistance is probably low and your immunity weakened. He recommends getting more sleep, regular exercise, and including lots of healthy veggies and other immune boosting foods in your diet.
About 70% of our immune system centers in the digestive system. The immune system starts in the mouth. This immune factor known as sIGa awaits germs or microbes that are not welcome in the body. When activated it contacts other immune mediators and attacks the invader or microbe.
Signs of a stressed and inflamed digestive track include stomach bloating, itchy skin, body rashes, mouth ulcers, and white-coated tongue. Inflammation results from many rounds of antibiotics, limited amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables, smoking, and stress.
Gut flora is an important immune factor found in the digestive system. Gut flora helps digest food and maintains the digestive environmental system. There is more gut flora in the digestive system than cells in the body.
Inflammation of the intestinal tract may create a leaky, permeable gut leading to malnutrition. Approximately 60 million Americans are experiencing intestinal inflammation resulting in a variety of digestive diseases. To improve the immune system and the integrity of the gut add live probiotics to the diet, and avoid stress, chemicals, processed foods, food additives, sugar, contraceptives, antibiotics, and pain pills.
Digestive inflammation and imbalances in intestinal bacteria are related to arthritis, diarrhea, B12 deficiency, chronic fatigue syndrome, cystic acne, breast cancer, eczema, food allergy or sensitivity, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, psoriasis, heartburn, indigestion, constipation, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis.
Gluten intolerance causes inflammation throughout the body and manifests in migraines, anxiety attacks, brain fog, and poor concentration. Research shows inflammation triggered by food sensitivities contributes to chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. When intestinal balance is restored, inflammation and symptoms may resolve.
A taxed liver can’t process toxins and fat efficiently, contributing to systemic inflammation and weight gain. Many foods help clean the liver by stimulating its natural ability to cleanse toxic waste from the body. To support liver function add these foods to the diet: spinach, steamed broccoli, hemp oil, wild caught salmon, tart cherries, walnuts, onions and garlic, pineapple, and fermented foods like kefir.
To counter chronic inflammation
- Avoid refined, processed and manufactured food
- Avoid snack and fast foods. They provide too much omega-6 fatty acids which are pro-inflammatory
- Increase intake of omega-3 fatty acids from oily ocean fish, walnuts, flax and hemp
To support the immune system
- Drink enough water and other liquids to make your urine a pale yellow
- Have your water tested. If it is high in arsenic, invest in a remediation system
- Detoxify your liver and colon
- Eat at least two servings of fruits, three servings of vegetables, and add probiotics such as kefir to your diet
Anti-inflammatory and cleansing foods
- Garlic – activates liver enzymes that help flush out toxins. Garlic has high amounts of allicin and selenium, two natural compounds that aid in liver cleansing.
- Grapefruit – is high in vitamin C and antioxidants, and helps boost the production of liver detoxification enzymes.
- Beets and carrots – are high in flavonoids and beta-carotene which helps stimulate and improve liver function.
- Green tea – contains antioxidants known as catechins, which assist liver function.
- Leafy green vegetables – eaten raw, cooked or juiced. These are high in chlorophyll that removes environmental toxins from the bloodstream and neutralizes heavy metals, chemicals, and pesticides.
- Avocados – are nutrient-dense and help produce glutathione (an endogenous antioxidant).
- Apples – contain pectin which cleanses and releases toxins from the digestive tract.
- Olive oil – and cold-pressed organic oils such as olive, hemp, and flaxseed provide a lipid base which bonds to harmful toxins for easy elimination.
- Alternative grains – such as quinoa, millet, and buckwheat (avoid wheat and other grains containing gluten).
- Cruciferous vegetables – such as broccoli and cauliflower increase liver glucosinolates that help flush out carcinogens and other toxins, and may significantly lower the risk of some cancers.
- Lemons and limes – are high in vitamin C, and aid detoxification.
- Walnuts – have high amounts of the amino acid arginine, which helps detoxify ammonia.
- Cabbage – stimulates activation of liver detoxifying enzymes (kimchi, coleslaw, cabbage, sauerkraut).
- Turmeric – this spice helps detoxification and flushes out dietary carcinogens.
Lifestyle Immunity Boosting Tips
- Take up meditation
- Practice Qigong (Chinese mind-body exercise)
- Exercise at least five days a week
- Get at least seven hours of sleep each night
- Take a 5-10 minute walk shortly after each meal
- Spend time in the sunshine without the use of sunscreen
- Do not exceed two alcoholic drinks per day, and make at least one of them red wine
- Use Astragalus, an herbal supplement that fights viruses
- Use herbs and spices when cooking and with raw foods
- Add shiitake, reishi and maitake mushrooms to your diet
- Reduce the consumption of sweets and foods made with white flour