In 1997, a Frenchwoman named Jeanne Calment died at the age of 122 years, 164 days. Although not verified, it was claimed that Mbah Gotho, a gentleman from Indonesia, was 146 years old at the time of his death in 2017, which would in theory make him the world’s oldest person. There is quite a long list of mostly women and some men who have lived (or are still living!) to be well over 100 years old. What’s their secret? How have they managed to beat the mortality odds?
Believe it or not our genes have the capability that would allow us all to live an average lifespan of 115 years. But it’s not enough just to age, which comes with many changes and challenges over time. We all strive to look and feel our best for our age, be it 35, 45, 75, or 105. To that end, we can’t help but wonder what we should be doing to slow down or reverse the effects of aging to remain productive and live longer lives. How can this be done? What should we do to prevent our skin and internal organs & functions from aging too rapidly? One of the most important elements is to heighten your immune system!
What is the immune system? Very often we are not even aware our immune system is working—and all the time. It is a complicated system of protective cells like lymphocytes and antibodies, and of organs like the spleen and certain parts of the lymph system, all of which attack infection and other foreign substances trying to invade the body. The immune system has several major roles: protect the brain from infection; regulate the nervous system; sustain gut health and support detoxification/elimination; defend against bacterial & viral infections, as well as injuries; and so much more. Immune cells can be found in our connective tissue and the whole lymph system (lymph nodes, etc.); they are also part of the heart as well as our hormonal glands.
To survive on Earth the human body has developed this internal protection against aggressive parasites, pathogenic bacteria, viruses and fungi. And the longer the person lives, the better the condition of his/her immune system. It truly is a key to longevity!
Threats to Immunity
Unfortunately, the immune system is not infallible. It has its vulnerabilities that compromise the overall health of your body. There are several factors—within or outside the body—that can be attributed to a weakened immune system:
The autonomic nervous system regulates several bodily functions in an automatic way. Continuous stress puts us on constant alert igniting a toxic inflammatory reaction in the cardiovascular system that can cause high blood pressure, and even heart disease, if allowed to progress.
Condition of the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is responsible for your metabolic rate, and affects the bones, brain function, muscle control, and heart rate. When it is underperforming, everything slows down, including the immune response to infection. Symptoms of concern include water retention, poor circulation, fatigue, sluggishness, and swollen eyelids or face.
Condition of the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands help us cope with stress—all kinds of stress, including environmental, like pollution, heavy metals, food additives, etc.; psychological, e.g., depression, anxiety, brain fog, memory loss, insomnia; and physiological, which includes chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, insomnia, digestive disorders, and weight loss or gain, just to name a few. Constantly elevated cortisol (stress hormone) levels also diminish the production of sexual hormones, which lead to menopausal symptoms, fertility issues and other sexual hormonal disorders.
Liver detoxification rate. The liver is responsible for detoxifying environmental & food toxins, as well as heavy metals. It works with the pancreas to maintain homeostasis (balance) and proper blood sugar levels. When the liver does not work efficiently, inflammatory disease can develop, which leads to low immunity, diabetes, vascular and eye problems. Migraine headaches, frown wrinkles, constant sense of frustration and anger are among the most common symptoms of a “sluggish liver.”
Health of the digestive tract. If the intestinal lining is compromised, it becomes permeable to foreign matter, also known as “leaky gut syndrome,” and it makes the body susceptible to spreading disease. Candida/yeast overgrowth can lead to food and pollen/ dust/mold sensitivities, bowel problems and chronic sinus infections. Allergies to foods and environment take away focus and resources from immune system tasks, and as a result frequent colds, flu, sore throats, bronchitis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other inflammatory autoimmune disorders can develop.
Presence of parasites or other pathogens. There are parasites beneficial to the host like “good bacteria” in the gut. There are also neutral parasites; however, these can become aggressive when the immune system is down. A good example is H. Pylori (helicobacter), which is present in our digestive tract but can cause gastritis and ulcers when growth is out of proportion, usually after long-term antibiotic use, overusing laxatives, or eating a “junk food” diet. Finally, there are true parasites that can cause great harm and even death if misdiagnosed. It can be bacterial, such as Borrellia, which causes Lyme disease; viral, such as Epstein Barr, which can be dormant for decades then later in life cause chronic fatigue syndrome; or worms, such as tapeworm, hookworm and more.
In the absence of a Fountain of Youth, we need to take other realistic steps to boost our immune systems thereby giving a long quality of life a chance. The following measures will go a long way to improving our immunity and ensuring our longevity. However, any concerns you have about the health of your immune system should be discussed with a health care professional, who can best guide you on these and other wellness approaches.
Acupuncture. It is amazing what acupuncture can do for us! Many thousands of years ago Chinese doctors were aware of Wei Chi, or the immune system defense mechanism, and how to address it. There are several powerful acupuncture points on the body to improve immune response and expel pathogens. Acupuncture will also help to detoxify the body and bring psychological balance and stress relief. Regular monthly acupuncture sessions can strengthen immunity. Scientific research shows that acupuncture increases the white blood cells in the body and moderates the immune system, allowing it to react fast and strong to threats. Facial rejuvenation with acupuncture and microcurrent will also support your body’s restoration and anti-aging.
Herbal and nutritional supplements. Beta glucan helps to increase immune response and is effective for colds, flu, diabetes, high cholesterol, and fungal infections without overstimulating the system. Cordiceps mushroom is another powerful remedy from Traditional Chinese Medicine to increase immunity to various chronic and acute infectious diseases. Depending on each individual patient, other herbal remedies a practitioner might use include colostrum, ashwaganda, rodiola, Siberian ginseng, and astragalus. It is always important to consult a professional to find out the root cause of the condition and provide proper supplementation.
Stress reduction. The body’s response to stress is very important. The hypothalamus in the brain is a command center. When it receives stress signals, it communicates with the sympathetic nervous system to activate cortisol—the body’s fight or flight hormone. During this time, other metabolic functions considered to be non-essential are either stopped or decreased until the situation resolves; eventually all functions return to normal. However, constant stress leads to the constant production of cortisol and a suppressed immune system. The results can include adrenal fatigue with a wide range of symptoms such as low energy, allergies & sensitivities, blood pressure fluctuations, weight gain, brain fog, dizziness, blood sugar problems, inflammation, anxiety, and depression.
Reduction of inflammation in the body. Inflammation is a process started by your own body as part of its response to stress, whether physical or emotional. Even though it is a natural protective reaction, long-term low-grade inflammation can slowly destroy natural body balance, immunity and decrease one’s life span. Illnesses such as fibromyalgia, GERD, thyroiditis, lupus, asthma, allergies, Celiac disease, and Crohn’s disease can occur because of chronic inflammation. Other conditions include: visible signs of aging like wrinkles; susceptibility to bacterial, fungal and viral infections; arthritis; bronchitis; chronic pain; diabetes; hypertension; and candidiasis & urinary tract infections. Turmeric, boswelia, ginger, essential fatty acids, Vitamins A, E & D, certain minerals and more (depending on the symptoms) are all components of anti-inflammatory treatments.
Overall, your immunity will be healthiest and happiest if you follow a few nutritional and lifestyle tips:
Resolve gut imbalances, reduce pathogenic candida, and introduce prebiotics and probiotics into your diet.
Avoid environmental toxins such as heavy metals, smog, mold, and preservatives.
Be active! Increase circulation and endorphins by enjoying movement and exercise. Avoid a sedentary lifestyle
Switch to an anti-inflammatory diet with no processed foods, and with no simple sugars or major sensitivities triggers like gluten or dairy.
Avoid psychological or physiological chronic stress, which drives up cortisol production, creates inflammation and reduces immunity.
Finally, it is extremely important to have a positive outlook on life. Take time to laugh, meet friends, meditate, and engage in sport activities. All of these events reduce cortisol levels and consequently boost your immune system, making you look younger and prolonging your life.
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