5 Key Strategies To Strengthen Your Immune System

Supporting your immune system can help you to fight off cancer, deal with the side effects of treatment and lower the risk of recurrence. 

But to do so effectively requires a comprehensive strategy that will provide your immune system with what it needs to function at its best.

Poor diet, stress, lack of sleep and too little exercise can negatively impact your immune system and impede its ability to defend against illness.

 

5 Key Strategies To Strengthen Your Immune System

 

  1. Eat a balanced diet to support the health of the immune system and the gut and to help lower inflammation

Add more nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables. Variety is the key as well as healthy proteins that provide amino acids, the building blocks of the immune system. Complex carbs like grains and legumes provide substantial energy that the body needs to function properly. Vitamins and minerals are catalysts for all body functions, especially the immune system.

      2. Take supplements that help the immune system fight pathogens

Supplements that support the immune system help to fight pathogenic bacteria and viruses. They do not harm good bacteria. Examples of immune-support supplements include elderberry, echinacea, astragalus, plant sterols, garlic and algae such as chlorella or spirulina.

As our gut houses a large part of our immunity, it is very important that we make sure we give it some love as well. Probiotics, glutamine products or formulas, plant sterols, antimicrobials such as oil of oregano, aloe vera or grapefruit seed extract, essential oils* such as clove, cinnamon, thyme or lavender all support gut health and can support our immune system.

*Note: If ingesting essential oils, make sure they are food grade and mix with a carrier oil such as coconut oil.

  1. Exercise. It improves circulation and allows cells and the immune system to function better

So get up and get moving.  Go for a walk.  Do some stretching.  Shimmy on the dance floor.  Do whatever you enjoy to get your muscles flexing and your heart pumping.

  1. Implement stress management techniques

Some stress can be helpful for the immune system. Too much stress can use up valuable nutrients that are needed to help the immune system function. So find ways to relax and calm the adrenal glands down and lower the stress hormone cortisol.

  1. Make sleep a priority

The immune system needs the time you sleep to repair and regenerate itself.

Here are some tips for you to help you improve your sleep:

  • Deal with your stress – it can keep you awake at night.
  • Go to bed at the same time every night and get at least 7–8 hours of sleep.
  • Sleep in a cool, dark room and no sound distraction. Our immune system loves the chill!
  • Avoid caffeine or eating a large meal close to bedtime.
  • Disconnect from electronics like computers, cell phones and even TV at least an hour before bedtime.

 

So with these strategies forming your template, design your plan and work each and every day to strengthen your immune system.

 

 

fasting insulin levels

Why Is It Important to Know Your Fasting Insulin Level?

Insulin is a hormone.  It is made and secreted by the pancreas.

Functions of Insulin

The functions of insulin include:

  • Regulation of fats, proteins and carbohydrate metabolism
  • Helping cells to absorb glucose from the bloodstream
  • Helping to regulate levels of glucose in the bloodstream. Insulin helps to remove the glucose from the blood and put it into fat and tissue cells where it can be stored for energy.

The production of insulin is stimulated by eating. When all is running tickety-boo, insulin rises when we consume food, does its job and then goes back to its resting levels.  Our bodies always need some circulating insulin, even when we are not eating.

When food has not been consumed for a period of time, usually between 12-20 hours, this level of insulin is called the fasting insulin level.

If our bodies stop responding well to insulin, in many cases due to poor diet and lifestyle choices, this can lead to a condition called insulin resistance.  In the earlier stages of insulin resistance, the pancreas will notch up its production of insulin to keep glucose levels normal.  So if your fasting glucose levels are tested within this paradigm, all may look well.  However you may not be getting an accurate picture of what is truly going on.  Because while your blood sugar level may be within normal range, it could be due to your body compensating for blood sugar issues by elevating your insulin levels.

Insulin resistance in its early stages does not often present with symptoms. Symptoms begin to appear once insulin resistance leads to secondary effects such as higher blood sugar levels. When this happens, the symptoms may include:

  • Lethargy
  • Hunger
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Weight gain around the middle (belly fat)
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol levels

Many diseases are linked to elevated fasting insulin levels including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Type II diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Migraine headaches
  • Increased risk of heart attack and stroke

A simple blood draw, testing for your fasting insulin level, could be a very important indicator of your health.

Ways to decrease insulin resistance

There are diet and lifestyle changes that can go a long way to decreasing insulin resistance:

  • Avoid simple carbohydrates. Eat a balanced whole foods diet with a focus on plant-based eating
  • Get regular exercisefasting insulin levels
  • Get consistent good quality sleep
  • Increase intake of daily fibre aiming for 30-40 grams per day

 

 

 

 


References

https://www.diabetes.co.uk/insulin-resistance.html

https://www.walkinlab.com/labcorp-insulin-fasting-blood-test.html

https://www.lifeextension.com/Magazine/2019/5/Overlooked-Danger-of-Excess-Insulin/Page-01

 

 

This Week On The Health Hub…The Power of Breath With James Nestor

James Nestor has written for OutsideScientific AmericanThe AtlanticDwellThe New York Times, and many other publications. His book Deep: Freediving, Renegade Science, and What the Ocean Tells Us about Ourselves was a finalist for the 2015 PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing, an Amazon Best Science Book of 2014, and more. Nestor has appeared on dozens of national television shows, including ABC’s Nightline and CBS’s Morning News, and on NPR. He lives and breathes in San Francisco.

Learning Points:

  • How have we evolved to breathe wrong?
  • How is our breath connected to our health?
  • Can we learn to breathe correctly?
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Diabetes, Mitochondria & Cancer

Type 2 Diabetes is a known precursor for many different cancers.

Type 2 Diabetes also appears to confer a significantly greater risk in women than men for cancers of the mouth, stomach, kidney and for leukaemia.

With the knowledge that chronic inflammation fuels complications of Type 2 Diabetes, including cardiovascular and kidney issues, determining the underlying causes of inflammation in Type 2 Diabetes is very important for the development of treatments.  The prevailing assumption has held glucose to be the main determinant.

However, new research from scientists at the University of Kentucky has shown that changes to mitochondria drive chronic inflammation from cells exposed to certain types of fats.  This new finding does not disprove glucose as a mechanism for inflammation but it does shed light on the puzzling situation of people with tight glucose control still seeing disease progression.

What Are Mitochondria?

Mitochondria are organelles found in every human cell except for red blood cells. The more energy a cell needs the more mitochondria it will have.  Mitochondria take in nutrients, break them down and create energy for a vast number of cellular functions.

Improving Mitochondrial Health

With the results of this study in mind, improving the health mitochondria is a logical piece of the puzzle for cancer prevention.

Let’s look at some ways to do this.

Exercise

Mitochondria are essential providers of energy for cellular survival.  They are also key to the function of apoptosis, or programmed cellular death.  Exercise is key to increasing mitochondrial health and biogenesis.

Intermittent Fasting

 Intermittent fasting has been shown to remove damaged mitochondria from the body through a process known as mitophagy. It also improves mitochondria homeostasis leading to more optimal functioning.

As well, by avoiding over consumption you reduce the amount of fuel that your mitochondria is required to burn.  This serves to limit free radicals, a by-product of mitochondrial function.

Toxins

The deleterious effects of environmental toxins on mitochondrial function has been studied extensively in humans.  Doing your best to avoid environmental toxins, improving the environmental health of your home and workplace and supporting your natural detoxification pathways to aid your system in the elimination of acquired toxins are vital for supporting your mitochondrial health.

Diet

Poor diet can lead to excessive free radicals and inflammation.  Your mitochondria also produce free radicals.  Eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables provides needed antioxidants to counteract harmful effects of these free radicals.

________________

 

 

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2890380/

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00125-018-4664-5

https://www.cell.com/cell-metabolism/fulltext/S1550-4131(19)30377-8?_returnURL=https%3A%2F%2Flinkinghub.elsevier.com%2Fretrieve%2Fpii%2FS1550413119303778%3Fshowall%3Dtrue

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31674658

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19448716

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6078194/

 

 

 

 

 

White Noise is My Colour of Choice

In my blog entitled Health Care Trends I Am Watching in the New Decade from my February 2020 Newsletter, I mentioned that I believe that one of the greatest health trends to continue in to this new decade will be the ongoing study of both the quality and quantity of sleep and its impact on our overall health.

To reiterate from earlier writings, beneficial habits to incorporate when working towards good sleep hygiene include:

  • Maintaining a consistent bedtime routine
  • Turning all electronics off 1 hour before bedtime
  • Not eating 3 hours before bedtime
  • Sleeping in a cool room
  • Sleeping in darkness
  • Removing electronics from your bedroom, or at the very least, keeping them 2 feet away from your bed
  • Trying to get to be around 10pm

 

Something New!

I wanted to let you in on another tool that I have added to my arsenal of sleep strategies.

White noise.

Let’s set the stage here of my reality.

My hearing seems to be the only one of my senses that continues to increase in sensitivity as time goes by.

I wake to children roaming, doors closing and dogs snoring.  Darkness, coolness and time of retiring to my room just don’t stand up to the sound challenges that I face nightly.

I needed another bullet so I gave listening to white noise a try and it works like a charm.

What is white noise you ask?

White noise is a fuzzy sound. It’s like all of possible the sounds that you could hear melding in to one peaceful sssssss.  To be a bit more scientific though, white noise is a combination of all of the different frequencies of sound.

And this beautiful consistent noise masks other sounds that cause me anxiety at night.

 

Different Colour Noises  

White noise isn’t the only ‘colour’ noise.

There is pink noise, brown noise, blue noise and green noise just to name a few.

Basically each differs in frequencies.

Additional Benefits of White Noise

Using white noise for achieving better sleep is only one of the many benefits that people like me have noted by listening to it.

Other benefits reported include:

  1. Better concentration
  2. Better meditation
  3. Lessening of anxiety
  4. Reducing tinnitus
  5. Better sleep for babies

White noise has been a godsend for me.

“Alexa play white noise” is my new night time mantra.