It’s Wellness Wednesdays! We’ll talk about the surprising connection between your immune system and your personality. You might think that boosting your immune system is all about taking vitamin pills and watching your blood pressure. The truth is that protecting yourself from illness depends on your mind as much as your body.
The Human Body is an incredible machine. It is amazing to think about the astounding diversity of the cells that make it up, and how they communicate with one another to create the entire system. They do this through chemical processes that allow our bodies to combat challenges, both internal and external, that threaten its survival.
The immune system is a crucial part of our wellbeing. Our immune systems fight off the millions of viruses and bacteria that invade our bodies every day. But what is it about personality that makes some people more susceptible to disease?
Our bodies’ immune systems are involved in just about every aspect of our lives: we depend on them to fight infection and viruses, and to regulate our moods and emotions.
In fact, there’s a growing field of science called psychoneuroimmunology that’s devoted to how your personality and mood affect your immune system. Discover what you can do to cultivate traits that help you stay healthy.
Stress and Your Immune System
Chronic stress may be responsible for as much as 90% of all doctor visits in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When stress hormones like cortisol remain present for too long, they can cause disruptions that lead to premature aging, heart conditions, and other issues.
1. Slow down.
Take a deep breath when you find yourself rushing around. Stretch out and release the tension.
2. Trim your to-do list.
Look for items that you can scratch off your agenda. Maybe you can do laundry only once a week.
3. Rest and relax.
Refresh your body and mind with high quality sleep and effective relaxation. Go to bed and rise at the same time each day. Take a walk or meditate when you need a break.
Loneliness and Your Immune System
Lack of social support can also undermine your immune system. Several studies have found higher levels of antibodies in participants who report being lonely, which suggests more viral activity.
1. Schedule get-togethers.
Prioritize time spent with friends. Set up a regular Tuesday morning coffee date or a Saturday afternoon tennis game.
2. Meet new friends.
Is your social circle shrinking? Take an accounting class or join a gardening club where you can find others who share your interests.
3. Leave home.
If you’re feeling isolated working at home, take your laptop to an internet cafe. Strike up a conversation with someone in line or just enjoy watching the crowd.
Anger and Your Immune System
A Harvard University study found that hostility can decrease lung capacity, possibly due to stress hormones inflaming airways. While angry outbursts or bottling up emotions can be hard on your heart and immune system, there are more constructive approaches.
1. Practice forgiveness.
Choose to let go of resentments. Cultivate compassion for yourself and others. Remember how much better you’ll feel when you release the past.
2. Count to ten.
Pause before you say or do something you may regret. A few seconds maybe all you need to prevent a conflict with your boss or spouse.
3. Laugh more.
There are some issues worth battling for, and many others that you can safely overlook. See your homeowner’s association as entertaining rather than annoying when they try to dictate how many flowers you can plant.
Altruism and Your Immune System
Helping others causes physiological changes in your brain that make you happier and calmer. Good deeds strengthen your immune system and enhance your wellbeing.
1. Volunteer your time.
Even if money is tight, you can be generous with your time. Run errands for an elderly relative or sign up for a charity race.
2. Share your wisdom.
Let others benefit from your expertise. If you’re a whiz at math, tutor school children who are struggling with fractions. Post your recipe for sourdough bread online.
3. Offer praise.
- Brighten someone’s day with a kind word.
- Tell your mail carrier how much you appreciate their services.
- Compliment a stranger on their attractive hairdo.
You may not be able to totally control your immune system, but you can control your response to the world around you. And you don’t need to be a doctor to understand that. What’s most important is to be happy. If you’re feeling stressed, find time for yourself to relax. And if you’re feeling down, remember that everybody wants to be around happy people. Maybe it’s time to change your outlook on life.
Recognizing the mind-body connection may help you to catch fewer colds and lower your risk for more serious illnesses. For a longer and healthier life, protect your immune system by managing stress and connecting with others.
In conclusion, the greater your reactiveness to stress, the higher your inflammation is. All of your body’s systems are interconnected and it’s time to bring a broader perspective to health. We might not be able to change our genes, but we do have a choice about how we use them. I challenge you to take a wider view of health and wellbeing.
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I really wanted to talk about this topic today because your natural health and wellness is important. You can adopt healthy lifestyle practices that improve your health and enrich your life, which can in turn improve the lives of those close to you. You have the power to break the cycle of poor health, including chronic disease, so that you can leave a legacy of health to your loved ones.
I use functional medicine and lifestyle medicine as the first line of treatment, before medications, to treat lifestyle-related chronic diseases. Lifestyle-related chronic diseases include diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and some cancers, just to name a few. Lifestyle practices, such as eating a whole-food plant-based diet and regular physical activity, can help you lose weight, and maybe reverse some chronic diseases (if you suffer from them). In certain cases, these approaches may even outperform pharmaceutical therapy. But I always tell my patients that conventional medications may be appropriate at this time to prevent catastrophic illness, but over time, you can work to make the necessary lifestyle changes to possibly reduce and/or eliminate medications. Please remember to always consult your physician for your particular needs and circumstances prior to making any decisions whatsoever.
Is Dietary Supplementation Right For You?
For some people, vitamin and mineral supplements offer important health benefits. Supplements are designed to fight deficiencies found in our diet and complement the food we eat regularly. Supplements are basically “helping hands” to our daily food.
If you suspect that you aren’t getting the nutrients you need, consider shifting your focus from supplements to eating better.
But it is very important to note that we are not eating the same foods we ate years ago because the soils have been depleted of critical nutrients through current industrial farming practices. And because the soil is not as good as it used to be, the food supply (grown from the depleted soil) is not as good as it used to be. For example, you are not getting the same levels of magnesium as you would have gotten 30 or even 50 years ago.
Second, much of the food has been genetically altered, which can impact the inherent and unique nutritional composition that each food possess. For example, ancient einkorn wheat has less gluten, more protein, more Vitamin A, and more beta carotene, than modern genetically modified wheat.
Third, the toxic load in the environment today is much higher than 100 years ago. We can see this with global warming, toxic landfills, polluted oceans and waterways, etc. Toxicity levels interfere with nutrient assimilation and absorption not just into the foods, but into our bodies as well.
So… if you are unable to eat better, the supplements in my MaxHealth Total Wellness Bundle may provide the extra boost you need.
These are my favorite Wellness and Immune-Boosting Supplements to use! This MaxHealth Total Wellness Bundle will ensure you have the intake of the important vitamins, minerals, and probiotics to decrease inflammation and boost your innate wellness day and night. Taken together, it’s a solid plan for increasing your body’s natural resiliency.
For best results make sure you use the supplements with dietary changes including a whole food plant-based diet, regular exercise (at least 2-3x per week), regular sleep (8 hours per night), and intermittent fasting (at least 1-3x per week).
Since weight management is very important in combatting chronic diseases, I recommend that you be mindful of your weight and its fluctuations, and that you monitor your weight AT LEAST on a weekly basis. I recommend a scale that includes a body composition monitor (*this scale cannot be used with a pacemaker or other implanted devices).
Physical activity (or exercise) can improve your health and reduce the risk of developing several chronic diseases like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and cancer, just to name a few. Physical activity can improve your mood, boost your immune system, and even help you maintain a healthy weight.
I often recommend yoga and resistance training for physical activity, but as you are aware, there are plenty of forms of “movement” that you can do! But for the basics, especially if you’re just getting started, yoga and resistance training are where I would start.
Yoga can be a great way to improve your strength and flexibility, manage your stress, improve your heart health, and lose weight! I recommend using a grounded yoga mat to connect yourself with the earth and reduce inflammation.
Resistance training is the mainstay for overall health. It not only has beneficial effects on reducing body fat, it also increases muscle size and strength. Check out some basic dumbbells/free weights that I recommend to everyone.
Another alternative for dumbbells/free weights are resistance bands. They are great for physical therapy, yoga, strength training, and excellent for traveling.
Remember, living a healthy lifestyle including eating a whole foods plant-based diet, regular physical activity, and reducing stress are the best ways to maintain a healthy weight. Let me know what you think in the comment section below.
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