The key to longevity and optimal health is a healthy immune system. If our immune system is not in the optimal shape we are at risk for infections, autoimmune diseases, and even cancers. There are simple steps to take every day to keep your immune system healthy so that it can keep aggressors at bay. Read on to find out more.
1 – Sleep
Everyone knows that you need 7-8 hours of good quality sleep at night, but why? Your brain is the most metabolically active organ in the body. All that activity generates a lot of cellular waste products that need to be removed to keep our brains in optimal health. The glymphatic system is the brain’s specialized waste disposal system and it is most active during slow wave sleep at night. A healthy brain is essential for a healthy immune system.
Three quick hacks:
- Keep a regular bedtime and waking time. Varying your bedtime impairs the normal restorative cycle of the brain and actually increases inflammation.
- 1-3 mg of melatonin at night can improve sleep and help reduce brain inflammation.
- Eat a lighter meal at dinner time and do not eat anything for 3 hours before bedtime, this allows the brain to optimally regenerate itself.
2 – Intermittent Fasting
Chronic or intermittent food restriction has a profound life-enhancing effect on the health of your brain and immune system. Unless there are medical reasons for not doing intermittent fasting doing a 1 or two day water-only fast a week or compressing your eating time to 6-8 hours a day while of course eating a healthy diet can help protect you from a number of neuroinflammatory diseases including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
3 – Keep Your Mitochondria Happy and Healthy
The mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell and are also essential for a healthy immune system. Exercise, proper sleep and nutrition are again essential. A nutritional hack is NAD. NAD is essential for optimal energy and metabolism. There are several NAD supplements on the market but NAD is also available as an IV supplement in some centers. As we age or burn the candle at both ends we deplete NAD and keeping our NAD tank full is essential to healthy aging and optimal health.
4 – Emotional Traumas and Stress
Emotional traumas and stress injure the immune system. Unaddressed childhood emotional traumas, PTSD weakens the immune system and make you more susceptible to autoimmune diseases, chronic pain, cardiovascular disease and a host of other life diminishing and life-shortening diseases. Don’t just live with it, get help. Seeing a therapist who specializes in the treatment of trauma is important. Techniques such as EMDR and medications such as ketamine can help.
5 – A Defensive Lifestyle
Our environment is literally killing us. Air and water pollution. Lead in our water systems Mercury in our fish. Pesticides and herbicides in our food. Water damage to buildings results in mold growth in the walls that produce toxins that can cause brain and immune damage when breathed. Removing yourself from a toxic building is the first step. Regular detox with saunas, taking activated charcoal and chlorella periodically can help but you need to be careful because these can also interfere with the absorption of medications and other supplements. Testing the indoor air for mold toxins with an ERMI kit that can be ordered online and of course eating clean is a great start. There are tests available to help you understand your toxic burden. Some can be ordered online but working with a physician who specializes in functional medicine can also get you on the right path.
6 – Last Word From Doctor
If our immune systems are weak then when infections occur they can literally break the immune system and cause chronic disease. Post-acute COVID Syndrome (Long COVID), Chronic fatigue syndrome, Chronic Lyme disease, Chronic anxiety and Depression, Fibromyalgia, PANS/PANDAS, and more. These are diseases of a broken immune system. We now understand so much more about how we get sick. Why do we stay sick, and most importantly how we can recover and maintain optimal health for life.
Written by Dr. Gary Kaplan for Eat This, Not That, May 13, 2022