The human body is more robust than most folks realize...
Our immune system doesn't get enough credit... Each year, I see more and more folks act like our bodies can't protect us from disease. It's one reason why antibacterial soaps are so popular. People would rather slather their hands with a harmful chemical to destroy bacteria than count on their immune systems to handle the job.
Your immune system is designed to take care of illness and disease. And as long as you're relatively healthy and don't have a compromised immune system (from cancer, for example), your body can defend itself against almost anything.
For most of us, practicing usual measures during cold and flu season – like washing our hands and not sharing utensils – is enough to protect us. And our immune systems fight off anything that slips through those basic defenses. You may have some rough days... but your body will almost always win the fight.
But with the ongoing pandemic, people are more worried than ever about disease and our immune system's capabilities.
So today, we're sharing three simple ways to give your immune system an extra boost..
1) Breathe deep.
This year, my favorite book – and a repeated gift item to friends and family – was James Nestor's Breath. It explores the power of the breath... how the mind and the body's connection to oxygen, carbon dioxide, and health is critical to optimal health and immune system function.
Regular rhythmic deep-breathing exercises increase the body's number of natural killer cells. That's a type of white blood cell that destroys tumors and cells infected with a virus. This killing system is the likely reason that most people clear COVID-19, and why most young people don't get symptoms or react poorly to the virus.
And we know that mindful breathing also has been shown to fight the progression of autoimmune diseases. Recall that virtually all the deaths associated with COVID-19 (along with other viruses) are related to autoimmune disease and dysfunction – issues like Type 2 diabetes. It's one of the reasons steroids work so well in COVID-19 treatment... Steroids reduce immune system activity. Do what I do and practice slow deep nasal breaths when writing or reading. You may be surprised to realize how shallow your breath often is.
2) Get your move on.
Physical activity is a fantastic way to flush foreign bodies out of your airways and circulate white blood cells more rapidly. By circulating white blood cells rapidly, your body can detect an oncoming illness sooner and take the necessary steps to neutralize the threat. It's almost as if you have patrolling guards walking the perimeter to protect from invaders. Sit on a couch all day, and the guards walk that much more slowly. Get up and walk or jog... and the guards move at double and triple time. Then they can check out more areas more frequently throughout the day.
Exercise also increases your core body temperature, which prevents bacterial and viral growth and helps repel infections. And it slows the release of stress hormones that would otherwise leave your body vulnerable to illness. Do what I do... Get up and walk around the block (or bike) for at least 15 to 20 minutes, every day.
3) Cut the white sugar and sugar substitutes out of your diet.
Sugar not only causes glucose levels to spike in the body, but it also causes our serotonin and dopamine levels to spike quickly. While these are generally beneficial hormones... rapid spikes lead to mood swings and energy crashes.
Additionally, sugar – and carbohydrates that metabolize as sugar – inhibit your body's ability to fight off bacteria. Dicarbonyls, a product of broken-down glucose, change the structure of beta-defensin-2 peptides in the body, inhibiting their ability to fight inflammation and infection. So eating sugary foods and having sugary drinks literally changes your body chemistry to allow harmful bacteria to overtake your immune system.
Reducing sugar doesn't mean you can't ever have a nice dessert, though. I like to make whipped cream without sugar (I just throw some heavy cream in a blender). And for some chocolate cake to go along with that whipped cream, I only use a third of the sugar the recipe calls for.
2020 was the year that caused many of us to question the strength of our natural immune systems. Let's allow 2021 to be the year where we reclaim our immunity... own our responsibility for keeping ourselves healthy... and ready ourselves to take on a life well-lived.
In a recent issue of my monthly advisory, Retirement Millionaire, we shared 10 more immune-boosting tips. Subscribers can find them all here. If you're not a subscriber yet, click here to get started now.
Editor's note: Our offices are closed for Good Friday tomorrow. Expect your next Health & Wealth Bulletin issue on Monday, April 5.
What We're Reading...
- Did you miss our update on the COVID-19 vaccines and variants?
- Something different: The history behind April Fools' Day.
Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,
Dr. David Eifrig and the Health & Wealth Bulletin Research Team
April 1, 2021