How Can We Stay Healthy Through the Flu Season?
As the days get shorter and colder we are often reminded that flu season is upon us. It is time to build up our immune system. A healthy diet, exercise and a good night’s sleep all really help with this. I would also include adding some nutritional supplements. Knowing that our immune system begins in our gut, I really enjoyed learning about “microbiomes” from Dr. Frank Lipman.
His article on the subject of the microbiome and our immune system really helped me understand the importance of prevention. He describes our microbiome as a microscopic community that lives on and in us, playing such a vital role in our health and well-being that it encompasses our weight, our mental state, and even our moods. The primary task of this microbiome is to enable us to digest our food and metabolize nutrients. Scary to think about this bacterial community being out of balance because that results in us not being able to absorb enough nutrients.
Dr. Lipman tells us that our “microbiome” is filled with bacteria – trillions of them. And they are all busy breaking down food and extracting nutrients, protecting us from disease and literally completing the essentials in helping our system function at its best. So what damages this amazing process? Apparently, that list includes drugs, antibiotics, of course, the inevitable junk food (which include those factory farmed meats), and even GMOs. I would also have to add chronic stress to that list.
We have all heard of “leaky gut” (when nutrient absorption is compromised), but what does that have to do with a problem with our microbiome? Basically, if the microbiome gets damaged for the reasons explained above, it cannot nourish the gut wall which in turn creates “leaky gut”. Our one-cell thick, tightly woven net of cells which are lining the gut begins to loosen. Spaces are then created that allow bacteria, toxins, and pieces of the partially digested food to “leak” through. Inflammation then goes almost anywhere in the body which can lead to your body’s immune system attacking the body itself…and may be the root cause of many chronic illnesses today.
Basically, our immune system can work as it should only if it is cared for properly. This, of course, means getting all the right nutrients and providing the right environment, plus avoiding those things that tend to depress immunity including chemicals in our household cleaners, overuse of drugs and antibiotics, and staying clear of foods that have antibiotics, pesticides, and myriad additives present.
Stress adversely affects the immune system as well by creating chronic inflammatory conditions and lowering the immunity of those who otherwise might have a healthy immune system. According to Dr. Mary Meagher, “People exposed to chronic social conflict experience high levels of stress and consequent dysregulation of the immune system, thereby increasing vulnerability to infectious and autoimmune disease.”
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In conclusion, let us return to Dr. Frank Lipman’s article, “17 Ways to Protect Our Microbiome.” These tips are a great way to stay healthy during this winter season.