|Four Habits that Weaken
the Immune System
Tips for Boosting the Immune System
Keeping your immune system strong is very important
if you want to stay healthy. Below find advice as to how to keep
or improve your immune system and thereby help your environmental
Every person can help their own immune system. There
are some easy ways of doing this. Make sure that the natural exits
from the body for toxins are kept open. This includes ensuring that
the bowels function daily, drinking adequate pure water so that
the urine flow is clear (at least five pints of water a day) and
cleaning the sweat from your body daily with a bath or clean cloths.
Remember, you need to sweat a few times a week whether its from
exercise, a sauna, sex or menopausal hot flashes, or just the hot
weather of summer. Breathing easily and deeply in an unrestricted
way is important - exercise can help you do that.
Herbs are commonly prescribed during a change of
season to help a person adapt to the changing weather. By planning
ahead and taking herbs accordingly, one can drastically reduce the
frequency and severity of catching the common cold or the flu.
Many herbs enhance the immune system. Herbs that
perform such functions include astragalus, ganoderma and cordyceps.
Astragalus is one of the most frequently used Chinese
herbs and has historically been used to tonify the lungs and indirectly
protects against external pathogenic factors.
Ganoderma has been traditionally used to tonify blood and vital
energy. It is thus essential in rebuilding a patient's constitution.
Ganoderma increases the number of white blood cells and inhibits
the growth of various viruses and bacteria associated with the flu.
It has been demonstrated to enhance the immune system in various
Cordyceps has traditionally been used in chronic
debilitated patients. It is an excellent herb to tonify the kidney
and improve overall bodily constitution. Cordyceps is another herb
which has marked immunomodulatory functions.
Keep in mind that while these herbs are effective
individually, they should be prescribed in the content of an herbal
formula to enhance synergistic action and minimize possible side-effects.
Contraindications of these herbs
Astragalus, ganoderma, cordyceps and herbs that boost the immune
system are contraindicated for patients taking immunosuppressants
such as imuran (azathioprine) or sandimmune (cyclosporin). These
drugs are commonly prescribed following organ transplant surgery
to suppress the immune system and prevent tissue rejection. Because
these herbs have potent immune enhancing effects, they should not
be prescribed for patients taking immunosuppresants following organ
transplant surgery. Despite their weak constitution, use of some
immune enhancing herbs can increase the risk of rejection and severely
compromise the patient's health.
Four Habits that Weaken the Immune System
Certain foods and environmental
influences can keep the immune system from doing a good job. Watch
out for these threats to your body's defences.
1. Overdosing on sugar
Eating or drinking 100 grams (8 tbsp.) of sugar, the equivalent
of one 12-ounce can of soda, can reduce the ability of white blood
cells to kill germs by forty percent. The immune-suppressing effect
of sugar starts less than thirty minutes after ingestion and may
last for five hours. In contrast, the ingestion of complex carbohydrates,
or starches, has no effect on the immune system.
2. Excess alcohol
Excessive alcohol intake can harm the body's immune system in two
ways. First, it produces an overall nutritional deficiency, depriving
the body of valuable immune- boosting nutrients. Second, alcohol,
like sugar, consumed in excess can reduce the ability of white cells
to kill germs. High doses of alcohol suppress the ability of the
white blood cells to multiply, inhibit the action of killer white
cells on cancer cells, and lessen the ability of macrophages to
produce tumour necrosis factors. One drink (the equivalent of 12
ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1 ounces of hard liquor) does
not appear to bother the immune system, but three or more drinks
do. Damage to the immune system increases in proportion to the quantity
of alcohol consumed. Amounts of alcohol that are enough to cause
intoxication are also enough to suppress immunity.
3. Food allergens
Due to a genetic quirk, some divisions of the immune army recognize
an otherwise harmless substance (such as milk) as a foreign invader
and attack it, causing an allergic reaction. Before the battle,
the intestinal lining was like a wall impenetrable to foreign invaders.
After many encounters with food allergens, the wall is damaged,
enabling invaders and other potentially toxic substances in the
food to get into the bloodstream and make the body feel miserable.
This condition is known as the leaky gut syndrome.
4. Too much fat
Obesity can lead to a depressed immune system. It can affect the
ability of white blood cells to multiply, produce antibodies, and
rush to the site of an infection.