Blog

10 ways to support your immune system and improve autoimmune disease symptoms

I'm Anindita!

I am a Functional Medicine certified Health Coach and AFMC Practitioner. I help women with autoimmune conditions I help women with autoimmune conditions reverse their symptoms with their body as their guide

hey there

Get the free
shopping guide for groceries and snacks

I want it

TOp categories

Reading Time: 5 minutes

 You need to stop trying to “boost” your immune system and do this instead.

Modern immune systems face unprecedented challenges. Factors like calorie rich and nutrient poor diets, exposure to high levels of toxins, chronic stress to name a few. If you also take into account a pandemic, pathogenic microbes, and infectious diseases, our preoccupation with “boosting” our immune system is quite understandable.

Our focus actually needs to make sure that our immune system is healthy and balanced by being appropriately tolerant. However, anything that needs to be brought back into balance will take time.

I delve into these important topics in greater details to help you understand the importance of focusing on supporting and rejuvenating your immune system.

Immune system dysregulation is at the heart of chronic health issues

Modern science has discovered that almost all personal health issues arise from some sort of immune system dysregulation. This is certainly true in the case of chronic illnesses like autoimmune diseases.

Your immune system includes a group of cells that act like armed forces. It has different branches that work together to protect you and keep you safe. Each type of immune system comprises the innate and adaptive immune systems.

When faced with an invader the innate arm of our immune system produces cytokines or inflammatory chemicals. The threat can be in the form of cancer cells, parasites, bacteria, viruses or even dietary proteins and chemicals (including medications). The function of these cytokines is to recognise and destroy whatever they find threatening.

If this is not enough, the adaptive immune system takes over to create and launch targeted antibodies. This complex biologic system works 24/7 without mostly without any awareness on our part.

Our evolutionary mismatch

In today’s world, our immune system has to work really hard to protect us. There are major stressors that overwhelm our immune system and lead to disease progression.

Our bodies have not changed much over millions of human history, but our environment has changed rapidly.

This is how Pilar Geranimo describes this evolutionary mismatch in her excellent book “The Healthy Deviant”

“If 2.5 million years of human history were shrunk down to the equivalent of a single year, the span of the last ten thousand years would represent just 1.46 days- about thirty five hours. Relatively speaking, that is not a lot of time. And that’s a big part of the problem(s) we are facing . Our bodies have no idea how to make sense of the circumstances in which they are enmeshed.”

For most of the 2.5 million years of evolution we lived a nomadic life of hunter gatherers. We lived in small tribes in very close proximity to nature. All that has changed drastically in just a few thousand years with rapid shifts in diet, culture and way of life. This has left very little time for our bodies to adapt to these changes.

This evolutionary mismatch is the reason why the challenges that we face now are not limited to only diet and exercise. I have written more about this topic here.

What is “healthy immunity”?

Healthy immunity is where your immune system is constantly surveilling the status of your world and then responding to what could be a threat. Your immune system is both a detective as well as a defensive agent. It should be able to respond appropriately to something that is legitimately a threat. 

But not to your own tissues. However, in the case of autoimmune diseases, this is exactly what ends up happening. In this case, the multiple overlapping mechanisms that are supposed to regulate it fails to work properly. 

The most important aspect of immune function is about tolerance. A healthy and balanced immune system should be constantly surveillance and choosing not to respond a majority of the time. 

However, repeated exposure to stressors can skew our immune function. This can create an imbalance between our immune system’s ability to play offense and defense. You can learn more about this here

“The human body has a limited number of response systems available to respond to an unlimited number of threats”

Mark Houston

When “boosting” the immune system is not helpful

The immune system is also about repairing damage. It has to make sure that damaged or dysfunctional cells are broken down and disposed of so that our glands, organs and tissues can work properly. We naturally accumulate damaged and dysfunctional cells over over time as we age.

Boosting the immune system means that we are boosting the action of these immune cells. If  these cells are unhealthy or damaged, then we will end up boosting immune dysfunction. 

Instead, we need to focus on supporting immune function and bringing about balance and tolerance. This is way more foundational and health creating. This will help our immune system to be well regulated and tolerant to our everyday environment.

Promoting autophagy and rejuvenating the immune system

Autophagy is a process by which our bodies perform deep spring cleaning.

It is a form of cellular cleansing where cellular components are broken down and recycled when there isn’t enough energy to sustain them. 

Recent studies have shown that autophagy significantly controls immune responses. It does this by modulating the functions of immune cells and the production of cytokines or inflammatory chemicals. This includes removal of both dysfunctional immune cells as well as mitochondrial cells and replacing them with more resilient ones.

New tissues and cells are built to replace the ones destroyed so that our body can renew itself. But the process of renewal works only if autophagy is working properly. Mitophagy, a rejuvenation process for renewing damaged mitochondria is also important for optimal immune function

Putting all of this together for you, I have listed below 10 ways that you can rejuvenate your immune system and improve your disease symptoms.

healthy eating, food, diet

Here are 10 ways that you can support your immune system 

  1. Avoid overeating and late-night eating
  2. Have dinner early and keep a gap of at least 12 hours between 2 meals
  3. Stay physically active and move your body on a regular basis throughout the day
  4. Focus on a nutrient dense, unprocessed diet 
  5. Focus on foods high in omega-3 fats from sustainable fish and supplements
  6. Ensure you are taking prebiotic (onions, garlic, asparagus, raw bananas) and probiotic (fermented foods) to feed your gut microbes regularly
  7. Get at least 7 to 8 hours of good quality sleep regularly
  8. Avoid unhealthy, overly-processed, fried, highly-sweetened, and junk foods
  9. Ensure adequate protein intake
  10.  Ensure High intake of phytochemicals ( found in a variety of different coloured vegetables and fruits)

I have discussed these in more details in a facebook live I had done recently, you can watch it below


“AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE 101”

A carefully curated and comprehensive collection of carefully selected books, podcasts, websites, blogs, and other resources from the field of Functional Medicine with a focus on autoimmune diseases

If have been looking to get ANSWERS to questions like

-Why do I have this disease?
-Will I get any better?
-Can anyone help me? Nothing is working
-Is there any hope for me to get my life back?
-I am still waiting for a diagnosis, which direction do I need to move towards?

 then this GUIDE would a game changer for you!

“Autoimmune Disease 101” is a carefully curated and comprehensive collection of carefully selected books, podcasts, websites, blogs, and other resources from the field of Functional Medicine with a focus on autoimmune diseases.

The Functional Medicine model of care for chronic diseases seeks to answer the question “Why do you have this disease” so that you can get personalised and effective care for your unique condition.

+ show Comments

- Hide Comments

add a comment

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Health Coach, author, blogger, podcaster, mom of two and avid reader

Before you get any further....
Hi, I'm Anindita!

I am a Functional Medicine certified Health Coach and AFMC practitioner. I help women with autoimmune conditions reverse their symptoms with their body as their guide

I work with women who want to go beyond symptom management, reconnect with their bodies and learn how to get well and stay well by tuning into their body's wisdom 

Learn more

FREE DOWNLOAD

Making time for what matter most

Learn how to get started on focusing on what is important to you in your life.
It starts by making the right choices on how you spend your time, getting your priorities right and knowing that you are worthy of taking out time for.

PAPER PLANE

@PAPERPLANE

© Paper Plane 2020. All rights reserved. | Legal | Design by TONIC

0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x