Building a Strong Immune System
By Rosie Funderburk • Rosie Health Consulting
Perhaps one of the good things we have learned from the COVID-19 pandemic is how important it is to have a strong immune system. But how do we build it and keep it strong? Basic principles like eating a healthy diet, drinking enough pure water, getting enough sleep, exercising, and learning to deal with stress are essential to good health. However, in these stressful times, to be really healthy requires more attention.
As our foods become more processed and laden with preservatives and chemicals, much of what we eat may actually be harmful to our good health. It’s essential to learn what to eat and what not to eat. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) puts out two lists of fruits and vegetables labeled “The Dirty Dozen” and “The Clean Fifteen”. The Dirty Dozen are the twelve most pesticide/fungicide-laden foods, with strawberries topping the list of most contaminated. The EWG highly recommends consuming only organically grown varieties of these items. The Clean Fifteen are foods where organic consumption is not as necessary.
The Dirty Dozen
The Clean Fifteen
In the US, most adults are deficient in Vitamin D3. We naturally get Vitamin D from sun exposure without sunscreen. We need about 15 minutes a day of midday sun several times a week; darker skin needs more. Vitamin D3 is extremely important for a strong immune system. Supplementation for most people is necessary.
Also, most Americans are deficient in magnesium. Magnesium, a mineral, is responsible for more than 300 enzymatic actions in the body. It helps lower blood pressure, keeps heart rhythm regular, relaxes cramping muscles, and can help us fall asleep. If you are fatigued or have muscle aches, take a hot Epsom Salts bath and feel the tension go down the drain! It is also a powerful detoxifier.
About 80% of our immune system resides in our digestive track – our gut – in the form of “friendly” bacteria. But our gut is also home to unfriendly, pathogenic yeast. When our immune system is in balance, the ‘bad yeast’ is held in check by the ‘good bacteria’. As many as 400 trillion bacteria can live in the digestive system. In a healthy Microbiome, as the ecosystem of bacteria is called, there can be over 1000 species. But this ecosystem is a delicate balance that must be preserved. Antibiotics are a real threat to this balance. Even one prescription of a broad-spectrum antibiotic can wipe out all the good bacteria in our gut. Antibiotics should be used in life-saving measures, but the overuse of these drugs can be devastating to our health.
Another threat to our good health is the amount and type of meat we consume in this country. All non-organic meats have been treated with antibiotics. When we consume these non-organic meats, we consume antibiotics that kill the good bacteria in our gut.
But don’t despair! While many things we take into our bodies wreak havoc on our gut bacteria (including steroids, many medications, and even artificial sweeteners), there is good news. Your body has an amazing ability to heal itself if given what it needs.
The great physician Hippocrates said, “Let food be your medicine, and medicine your food.” A simple plan can get you on the road to excellent health. Fixing the gut is a great place to start.
Rosie Funderburk is a professional health coach and founder of Rosie Health Consulting