Spices

Now’s the Time to Tune-Up Your Immune System

With Fall being here rather suddenly with the latest record-breaking snow arrival, the need to build our immunity through various ways can help us keep balanced. If we do catch a cold or a flu of some kind, the symptoms can be usually reduced by good preparation.

Personally, since my husband Jim and I have been maintaining a modified immunotherapy program from his treatment at the Hope4Cancer in Cancún, we have added practices to help reinforce our immune system.

Nori is left, and Maddie is right in the chair. I couldn’t get them to pose together, they are still getting to know one another!

We are moving more, as in walking Nori, our Bichon and her new suite mate, Maddie, a miniature Schnauzer we just adopted so Nori would have a pet to play with of course!  Companionship for all of us, including our fur babies, is particularly important for maintaining our social world as well. 

I have mentioned through social media our discovery of two forms of exercise which Jim and I both find great fun and immune boosting as well:  online classes of Qi Gong and going to Pilates classes 4-5 times a week. Through this movement with focused breath, we are getting stronger and more flexible. If it’s not fun, a person generally won’t stick with exercise, so it’s important no matter where you are in your ability to move and stay flexible to support your everyday tasks, that it be meaningful and fun.

We follow Lee Holden’s “5-Day, 7 Minutes a Day” Qi Gong classes online.

We have been exposed to the various forms of breathing through these two forms of movement which improves the autonomic nervous system which helps greatly with stress. Stress is literally a killer! Stress manifests itself in the body as disease.

Even simple movement and gradually increasing to a bit more challenge from week to week helps the body fight depression, anxiety, and illness. When our whole-body system of organs is working together cohesively, our chances for maintaining our health and our love of life increases and we can be our best selves. Our bodies were given to us to take care of while we are here on earth and regular movement with focused breathing is our privilege and a required responsibility. 

Other ways to improve immunity include eating seasonally of the Fall foods grown in rich nutrient-dense soil to nurture our bodies on a cellular level. That is why it is important to eat real foods grown in healthy soil and as close to home as possible at least 80 percent of the time. 

Andrea Beaman

Andrea Beaman (noted holistic health coach, educator, speaker, and bestselling author) has a wonderful way of explaining how eating seasonally keeps us in tune with the rhythms of the earth as prescribed in Chinese medicine.   A list of the foods includes beets, carrots, garlic, ginger, radishes, parsnips, pumpkins, squash, sweet potatoes, and turnips. 

The soup recipes we included in this newsletter might inspire you to try some vegetables you might never have tried before.  Tip:  sheet pan roasting is a simple and delicious method of incorporating these vegetables in your menu. Roasting caramelizes the natural sugars present in the vegetables to bring on a umami satisfying flavor profile and to further add a bit of interest, adding some apple chunks to the mix with some of the garlic and ginger along with our Land & SEAsoning spice mix further enhances the flavors and nutritional profile. Adding a couple teaspoons of various seaweed powders add even more vitamins and minerals to the mix. (Check out our recipes, we have several with roasted veggies).

When we are eating conventionally grown and even some organic vegetables, the soils may vary in their nutrient density. If there happens to be some unknown undesirable glyphosates, the kelp and other seaweeds help to detoxify the gut and keep things more balanced. Adding herbs such as rosemary and garlic can help with toxins or undesirable bacteria that will help negate those contaminants even the ones that are naturally occurring.

Another practice which addresses energy, which is what our bodies and the earth are made of, is meditation and acupuncture. Make time for one or the other or best of all, BOTH!  Jim and I have found a practitioner who sets up family memberships to make it more affordable to get regular treatments for energy balancing and to build immunity. Do some research about the wide variety of issues acupuncture surprisingly can assist with balancing. It is amazing, from skin issues like scars to high blood pressure and even muscular weakness. 

As one of the final detoxifiers, staying away from toxic relationships or people who create harmful discord, need to be curtailed as much as possible. There will always be people who just cause pain, either physically or emotionally, and that can wear the body down as well.

I heard a wise tip from a long-ago friend who passed after 9-11.  She said to imagine the person who causes such pain and discord, through the power of imagination, be put in a mirrored box away from harming others. In this box, the negative energy that person puts out is only reverberated within the box addressed only to him or herself. This directed healthy karma does not boomerang back!

Here are a few more tips for improving the immune system:

  • Your skin, the largest organ of the body can indicate inflammation through scaliness, eczema and other skin problems when the condition of your skin, especially hands and extremities are not in peak healthy condition. Sometimes it takes a lot of detective work to get to the cause of skin issues. These issues probably reflect a poor immune system. The usual treatment by a dermatologist is to treat topically. That can help, but it does not usually address the cause.
  • Again, as we have been reading in the news, the gut health plays a huge role in the immune system. The cells of the gut and the skin are made of similar cells, epithelial cells. These cells act as protectors for external elements. The gut is actually the brain for your other brain in order to have all your systems function in-balance for overall systems flow of energy and health.
  • That barrier layer of cells in the gut is less than paper thin. If that protective cell wall is damaged, the immune system fights back with pathogens to protect the body. That inflammation shows up in your skin as a warning to find out what the cause is.

Relief can be found from many modalities combined especially when assisted by herbal and food assistance. I have mentioned a few of the food resources for healing, so I want to briefly touch on some food related herbal and nutritional healing resources. To fully implement these, a visit to a professional healer/physician who is educated in functional medicine, naturopathic, and other integrative holistic approaches is needed.

  • Glutamine, an amino acid heals that gut lining (I referred to it above). Glutamine is missing from processed foods. 
  • High quality protein and collagen for the brain and heart is a top priority. If you are a vegan, glycine, another amino acid can be substituted.
  • Improper digestion, including high blood sugar shows up in the skin and ages the skin faster. 
  • Certain foods cause inflammation in varying degrees like gluten or dairy. This upsets the body’s balance of systems for protection by the immune system. Harmful bacteria in the gut itself can contribute to inflammation.
  • Vitamin D calms the immune system, and most people lack the required levels. 
  • Fish oil, berberine, herbs such as astragalus used BEFORE, not after symptoms of a virus or cold, can assist in building up the immune system.
  • A few others are gotu kola, oregano oil, and curcumin which all can aid in assisting the immune system by first addressing supportive systems of the body.

I just mentioned a few common herbs and there are many, many more in each ecosystem around the world. This is ancient knowledge now needed today to maintain health and prevent the immune system from becoming weak. It is important for us to each learn about these herbs and find educated professionals who take their time and do not prescribe more than 5 ingredients at a time to explore your own particular biome. These herbs generally are used when the body has been exposed to stress and toxins over time. Eating more natural real foods with a seasonal approach is not quite enough to heal when the body has been greatly stressed and needs extra support. That’s why herbs both dried and fresh can help over time.

Look for functional medicine practitioners of various backgrounds and study for yourself, taking the time to “digest” what seems applicable for your body and constitution.  It is truly a wellness journey to live life fully as was intended when given the gift of life. Love yourself enough to learn more, knowing that your body changes continually as we are all able to live longer and hopefully more fully. 

What worked for you twenty years, or two months ago may not be what you need now. Take time to meditate, breathe in focused meditation and fun body movement every day for a few minutes (at minimum) and enjoy your own companionship to discover what you need to thrive. It is better than “ok” to be your own best friend. Then you can share yourself with good friends and family who only want the best for you and to share love. 

P.S.  I did not even get around to mentioning any of the Chinese and herbal ingredients such as, selenium, zinc, vitamin C, quercetin, epicor, wellmune, boswellia (frankincense) and echinacea.  Along with the much-advised hygiene practices of washing hands, not touching the face, etc., there is also nasal irrigation to assist in maintaining the immune system. The Chinese medicine philosophy of daily tonics for gentle assistance of keeping “all body systems running” smoothly, like getting tune-up on your car and checking the tires and water levels can be implemented with the advice of a Chinese trained practitioner or sometimes a functional medicine practitioner. 

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