The Immune System: Your Body’s SUPERHERO
By Sheree Trask
Let’s face it, we all get a cold or get sick every once in a while. For most people, rest, fluids and a little extra Vitamin C may do the trick. Unfortunately, not everyone has the SUPERHERO ability of a well-functioning immune system to fight these foreign invaders, turning a simple cold into something much worse.
What is the role of your Immune System?
The immune system, which is made up of special cells, proteins, tissues and organs, defends people against germs and microorganisms every day. In most cases, the immune system does a great job of keeping people healthy and preventing infections.
What are Autoimmune Diseases?
Autoimmune diseases are conditions where the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues, rather than a foreign molecule, like bacteria. This happens when something confuses the immune system. Increasingly, that “something” appears to be the enormous load of environmental toxins to which we are all exposed.
In 2010, Mark Hyman, M.D. wrote an article called: Autoimmune Disease: Stop Your Body’s Self-Attack, which explains how environmental toxins are aiding in the increase of AI diseases over the last few decades. The good news is, IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY!
Time to clean out those TOXINS
Toxins are chemicals found in the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat every day. When people have an autoimmune disease, the immune systems ability to clean up these toxins is compromised.
Our immune system is just that, a system. It works together with the rest of our cells, organs etc. to help us function at optimal levels. It’s already working hard to keep us healthy, why not make things easier on this amazing – yet complicated – system?
“You are what you EAT!”
I’m sure you heard it over and over again as a kid, I know I did! As it turns out, that little voice reminding you of this on a regular basis was totally right! (gasp)
Did you know that most allergies can be traced to an impaired digestive system, which is the result of a toxic buildup within the intestines? When known allergens are eliminated, we then allow our immune systems to heal thus increasing immune function. Seems simple enough, right? Well, I have good news for you – there are tests you can have done to see what you’re allergic to.
That’s right! They are simple, painless and boy oh boy can they make a huge difference.
The most common test is what’s called the IgE Food Sensitivity Test. And while these tests are great, they don’t tell us everything (note: a true food allergy requires the presence of Immunoglobulin E (or IgE) antibodies against the food, whereas a food intolerance does not).
An IgE test shows which foods your body has an immediate response to. For instance, in some this may mean eating peanuts and going into Anaphylactic Shock. Clearly, peanuts should be avoided. But what about the foods that are damaging internally which we don’t necessarily notice a reaction to? Now we’re talkin’…
An IgG Food Sensitivity Test tests your bodies internal immune response to certain foods. The foods that show up on the IgG test are damaging and should be avoided, regardless of if you see or feel a negative reaction. The IgE and IgG results will not always be the same. It will depend on your body’s specific response to these foods. As an example: my IgE test showed 11 immediate response food allergies and my IgG test showed 17 – only 2 of those foods were present on both lists (wheat and dairy).
** Immunoglobulin (Ig) levels are also used as part of an evaluation for autoimmune conditions, such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus and Celiac Disease. A SIgA test shows your bodies immune response (commonly between 25-60 in healthy immunity).
*** Because most insurance doesn’t cover extensive testing, basic IgE, IgG and IgA are typically done. A naturopath or functional medicine doctor can order more extensive tests if your primary care physician cannot, but often times these tests are paid for out of pocket. Speak with your insurance company and healthcare provider for more info.
Steps To Improve Your IMMUNE SYSTEM Function
- Check for hidden infections – yeast, viruses, bacteria, Lyme, SIBO, etc. – with the help of a doctor and treat them immediately.
- Check for hidden food allergens with IgG food testing (note: if you have leaky gut, food allergy testing becomes moot as false-positives are more than likely given your compromised lining, which allows food particles to seep into your bloodstream… if you think you may have leaky gut, heal that first and then move forward with testing).
- Get tested for celiac disease – any doctor can do this, some use blood only, while others require a biopsy.
- Get checked for heavy metal toxicity – Mercury and other metals can cause autoimmunity, but the good news is… they can be cleared! (I did this with my naturopath and it took about 4 months).
- Fix your gut – remove common allergens (wheat, corn, soy, dairy) as well as sugar and caffeine. Focus on fermented foods and eating from the Earth. Supplementing with a quality probiotic and l-glutamine are great options to speed up the process as well.
- Use nutrients such as fish oil, vitamin D and probiotics to help calm your immune response naturally.
- Exercise regularly – it’s a natural anti-inflammatory, plus it boosts serotonin (the “feel good” hormone).
- Practice deep relaxation like yoga, deep breathing, biofeedback, or massage, because stress worsens the immune response, making us sick and tired
- Eat plenty of SUPER FOODS like goji berries, acai, cacao, maca, or the more familiar foods such as: kale, avocados, apples, blueberries, cabbage, fish (and fish oil), garlic, mushrooms, almonds, flax seeds, pomegranates or my personal faves – red wine and dark chocolate (in moderation of course…)
There are at home methods you can use as well to test food allergies such as a Food Elimination Diet or the Coca Pulse Test. Listen to your body and honor what its telling you. It’s amazing what can happen when we take the time to do so.
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