The Immune System

“The right raw materials can double or triple
the protective power of the immune system.”
Joel Fuhrman (doctor and nutritionist)

Definition

The integrated body system of organs, tissues, cells, and cell products such as antibodies that differentiate between self and non-self and neutralize potential pathogenic organisms or substances.


Organs involved

  • Lymph vessels 
  • Lymph nodes 
  • Spleen 
  • Thymus
  • Intestine
  • Bone marrow 
  • Skin
  • Glymphatic system 

Lymphatic System

You have three times more lymphatic fluid than you do blood. The lymphatic system is like the interstate for your white blood cells. It’s your body’s main detoxification system. Your cardiovascular system takes nutrients to all your cells, and your lymphatic system is responsible for removing metabolic waste and toxins from your body. Here’s the dilemma, your lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump like your cardiovascular system does, so the only way to move it is through muscle contractions. When you get out of bed or walk to your car, any muscle movement you make through the day is encouraging your lymphatic fluid to move along in your lymphatic system This is why exercise is so important!

Spleen

The spleen is actually part of the lymphatic system and is about the size of a fist. In fact, it’s the largest lymph node in the body. It’s tucked between stomach, pancreas, and left kidney and is located on the upper left side of the abdomen.

Essentially the spleen is a storage container and filter for blood, though it’s part of the lymphatic system. The spleen is responsive to any injury or disease that affects the blood supply.

Intestine

The intestine represents the largest compartment of the immune system. It is continually exposed to antigens and immunomodulating agents from diet and the The commensal microbiota, and it is the port of entry for many clinically important pathogens. Intestinal immune processes are also increasingly implicated in controlling disease development elsewhere in the body.

Bone Marrow

Bone marrow is the spongy tissue inside our bones. Our bone marrow produces blood cells, called red blood cells, platelets, and white blood cells. The red blood cells get rid of carbon dioxide, which leaves your body through the lungs when you breathe out. White blood cells help the body fight infection.

Skin

The integumentary system works to waterproof, cushion and protects the body from infection. Skin excretes waste, regulates temperature, and is the body’s initial defense against bacteria, viruses, and other microbes.

Glymphatic System

The glymphatic system, also known as the glymphatic clearance pathway, is a functional waste clearance pathway for our central nervous system. This pathway consists of a clearance mechanism for the removal of interstitial fluid and other solutes from the brain and spinal cord. This is driven by arterial pulsation and regulated during sleep by the expansion and contraction of brain extracellular space. The glia is the brain’s housekeeping cells that essentially “take out the garbage”. Understanding how the brain copes with waste is critical. In every organ, waste clearance is as basic an issue as how nutrients are delivered. In the brain, it’s an especially interesting subject, because in essentially all neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, protein waste accumulates and eventually suffocates and kills the neuronal network of the brain. This is why SLEEP is of paramount importance because it’s during sleep that this process takes place.

Other systems intrinsically connected 

The nervous system, the cardiovascular system, and all organs are inter-connected. 

COLOR ASSOCIATED WITH THE IMMUNE SYSTEM: WHITE

Some of the most powerful white foods are: garlic, onions, leeks shallots, scallions, and chives. 

  • ALLICIN: Garlic in particular when crushed releases allicin, a powerful antibacterial and anti-fungal ingredient. It has been inversely associated with various forms of cancer, cardiovascular disease, hypercholesterolemia (an excess of cholesterol in the blood), and various other conditions. 
  • LIGNANS: Are found in the greatest abundance in flax seeds, next sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, cashews, and white poppy seeds. They support liver enzymes that deactivate toxins.
  • SESAMIN:  The active compound found in sesame seeds. These tiny healthy seeds are regarded in the East as symbols of immortality. They are packed with protein, zinc, iron, copper, manganese, magnesium and calcium, all nutrients needed for detoxification. Manganese & copper are needed for the body’s own antioxidant system.

    They also contain sesamin and sesmolin, lignans which help the body to burn fat and to lower cholesterol. Sesamin helps to protect the liver from oxidative damage which can happen during the detox process.

Spices good for the digestive system: Turmeric, oregano, basil, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, thyme, saffron, nutmeg, rosemary, cloves, etc.

Essential oils: Thieves, Oregano, Ginger, RC, Purification, Eucalyptus, Immupower, Frankincenses, Melaleuca (Tee Tree), Peppermint

Teas/Herbs: Echinacea, Astragalus, Picrorrhiza, Glycyrrhiza glabra (Licorice), Ginseng, Reishi, Shiitake, Maitake, Cat’s Claw, Oregano grape, Goldenseal, Marigold, Pokeroot, Redroot, St. John’s wort, Aloe vera, BoswelliaTeas

Class of botanicals good for digestion: Chaga tea, Matcha, Green tea, Black tea, White tea


Functional Foods

Aids For The Immune System

Garlic, Ginger, Onions, Mushrooms, Cabbage, Yogurt, Probiotics, Red Bell Peppers, Broccoli, Spinach, local honey, Manuka honey, Propolis, Whey protein, Fermented foods, Kefir, Grass-fed beef and Organ meats, Coconuts and Coconut oil, Blueberries, and Raspberries.

Mushrooms strengthen your immune system because they are rich in protein, fiber, vitamin C, B vitamins, calcium and other minerals. Mushrooms make up a large part of the fabric of the earth. Mushrooms also contain powerful compounds called beta-glucans, which have been long known for their immune enhancing properties. The beta-glucans in medicinal mushrooms (Reishi, Shiitake, and Maitake) are notable for their ability to active/modulate your immune system. Beta-glucans enhance immunity through a variety of mechanisms; many of those are similar to those of Echinacea or astragalus root. For example, it binds to macrophages and other scavenger while blood cells, activating their anti-infection activities.

Vitamins/Minerals - A, C, D, B, Zinc, Selenium, Essential fatty acids, adequate protein intake, Arabinogalactan, Lactoferrin, Lysine, Orango-germanium.


Movement + Exercise

Thymus Reset -  your thymus gland is a soft, flat tissue located in the upper chest under the breastbone, and it plays a big part in your immune and hormonal systems. If you feel a cold coming on, have some congestion, or feel sluggish or anxious, give the thymus reset a try. Better yet, do this exercise every day as a preventative measure or to wake your thymus for a burst of energy.

You can do this exercise anywhere and in any position. It should help you feel more energized, balanced, and calm. First, place your hand on the center of your breastbone, just below the notch on your collarbones. Then, make a fist and firmly pound on this spot for about 20 seconds while breathing in and out deeply. That’s it!

K-27 Energy Buttons - K-27 stands for kidney meridian number 27 and relates to acupressure points along what Chinese medicine calls the kidney meridian. To understand what the meridians are, Petrucci says, think of them as a transportation system. You have 12 of these transportation systems throughout your body, and each one carries energy (called chi, or qi).

Follow these steps to stimulate the K-27 points: Place your index fingers on the U-shaped notch at the top of the breastbone, right where a man knots his tie. With your fingers, follow down over your collarbone out to each side about an inch into the soft tissue to the left and right of the breastbone. The depressions you find here are your K-27 points. Massage both K-27 points for 20 seconds, either simultaneously or separately, and take deep breaths, in through the nose and out through the mouth.

Spleen Thump - The spleen is central to the immune system. By thumping the spleen point, you can bolster your immune system, lift your energy, and even help balance your blood sugar. Even better, it takes only a minute.

Follow these steps to perform the spleen thump:

  • Move your fingers under the center of each breast (under where a woman’s bra would end).
  • Go down a rib and out about an inch or so to each side.
  • Find the depression between the seventh and eighth rib.
  • Bunch your fingertips together and tap both sides 30 times while breathing deeply.

Rebounding- Rebounding is one of the best movements you can do for your immune system. The reason being is you’re using G-forces. When you jump on a rebounder you’re defying gravity, so every cell, every muscle in your body is expanding and contracting when you jump. It helps keep your lymphatic system, which protects the body against germs, bacteria, and viruses, healthy and in order.

Rebounding also nourishes and cleanses all your cells for that extra dose of healing. The increased oxygen through deeper breathing also helps you relax, so it’s great for stress management as well. To do this exercise, you need a rebounder. Rebounders look like mini trampolines and measure about 38 to 48 inches in diameter. Most of them fold up for easy storage and can be found at most sporting goods stores.

Start by doing this exercise three times a week for five minutes, and then increase the frequency. You can even do it while listening to music or watching TV! Simply bounce gently on the trampoline’s surface. As you get accustomed to jumping and building coordination, balance, and stability, progress to lifting both feet off of the surface at the same time and lifting your knees up high or kicking your feet toward your bottom for a more intense workout.

Jumping Rope, Jumping Jacks, Hopping in Place Walking - Walking may seem like an overly simple exercise, but the value it adds to your health is often surprising. Consider this: walking helps move fluid through your lymphatic system, so your body carries healthier cells. It helps your body release white blood cells at a faster speed, helping you to have more healing power quicker. You also get increased blood flow, all of which helps stimulate your immune system.

This is a Qigong exercise. Qigong is a martial art that teaches practitioners to sense the qi (chi) moving in their bodies. Qigong exercises can help you to relax and feel a sense of balance and focus.

Shaking Tree - The shaking tree movement helps to gently loosen your joints, muscles, and internal organs. It’s a great way to release tension and awaken the body at the start of the day. Be sure to breathe through the nose, calm your mind, and sense your body, breath, and qi. Keep your shoulders soft, never fully exert yourself, and keep the crown of your head straight up.

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, arms at your sides.
  • Start the movement from the bottom of your feet.
  • Shake in an up-and-down motion.
  • You can shake your arms in motion with the rest of the body or let them hang loosely at your sides.
  • Breathe fully and shake for about two minutes, making the motions smaller and smaller until you stand completely still.
  • Feel the continued vibrations throughout your body as your body opens and increases its blood flow.

Rag-doll Twist - The rag-doll twist is another Qigong exercise that will improve your physical, mental, and energetic focus. This gentle movement moves qi through your body to relax and loosens it, helping you strengthen your health and immunity.

  • Stand with your feet parallel, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Turn your torso to the right, and at the same time, swing your arms to the right, allowing them to stay relaxed so they “flop.”
  • Let your right-hand tap over your kidney (lower back) as your left hand taps over your liver and gallbladder (upper right side, just under your breast).
  • As you twist to the right, pivot your left foot inward on the ball of your foot.
  • Repeat the same on the left side, going from right to left for about two minutes.

Yoga Poses 

  1. Legs Up The Wall - this should be our go to pose to ground the nervous system, this one will boost in unity and keep stress at bay. You’ll feel a sense of calm and well-being, as your body pumps oxygenated blood to your legs reviving tired muscles from hours of sitting too much. If your hamstrings are tight, bend your knees and bring your seat away from the wall to allow your body to relax into this pose.
  2. Cobra Pose - The cobra posture is a common Yoga back bend. When you perform the cobra, you stretch the front of the torso and the spine. Take a deep inhalation and notice how your torso and spine naturally extend during this opening phase of the breathing cycle, inviting you to bend backwards. The cobra posture increases the flexibility and strength of the muscles of the arms, chest, shoulders, and back. Cobra I especially emphasizes the upper back. The cobra opens the chest, increases lung capacity, and stimulates the kidneys and the adrenals
    1. Lie on your abdomen with your legs spread at hip width and the tops of your feet on the floor.
    2. Rest your forehead on the floor and relax your shoulders; bend your elbows and place your forearms on the floor with your palms turned down and positioned near the sides of your head (see Figure A).

    3. As you inhale, engage your back muscles, press your forearms against the floor, and raise your chest and head.

    4. Look straight ahead, as shown in Figure B. Keep your forearms and the front of your pelvis on the floor, being mindful of relaxing your shoulders.

    5. As you exhale, lower your torso and head slowly back to the floor.

  3. Downward Dog – A block under your forehead adds to a feeling of calm and restoration. This pose increases your circulation yet still provides grounded energy. Bonus: It allows congested sinuses to drain. Press down through all of your knuckles and spread your fingers to create a firm base of support.  To create stability, access the strength of your arms and legs and encourage them to hug towards your midline. Soften between your shoulder blades to encourage the shoulders down and back. Tight hamstrings? Reach your seat high toward the sky, and put a slight bend in your knees. Take 5-10 deep breaths, allow your mood to shift and notice the day melt away.

The Perfect Trilogy for Immune Detoxifying

  1. Get plenty of sleep
  2. Drink plenty of good, clean water
  3. Enjoy lots of exercise

Day 1 Focus: Stress

It is no secret stress wreaks havoc on a lot of things. It affects ourselves, our relationships, not to mention our health. There have been some very interesting meta-analysis studies that have been done on the effect of stress on our immune system. One in particular called, “Psychological Stress and the Human Immune System: A Meta-analytic Study of 30 Years Inquiry” points out that there is direct evidence that stress-related   immunosuppression can increase vulnerability to disease. Our immune response basically shuts down in the face of stress. -Stress, Energy, and Immunity, Suzanne C. Segerstrom, Curr Dir Psychol Sci. 2007

Day 2 Focus: Energy

Our bodies are basically electrical beings. Everything from our heartbeat to neurons firing in the brain is all generated by electrical charges. Every food we eat has an electrical charge. The closer the food to its natural state, the higher the charge.  

Day 3 Focus: Auto-immunity

Autoimmune diseases are illnesses that occur when the body tissues are attacked by its own immune system. The immune system is a complex organization within the body that is designed normally to "seek and destroy" invaders of the body, including infectious agents. Patients with autoimmune diseases frequently have unusual antibodies circulating in their blood that target their own body tissues. Examples of autoimmune diseases include


Affirmations for a healthy iMMUNe System

  1. I am sending positive thoughts to my immune system. 
  2. My body has a built-in capacity to maintain its own integrity and renew its strength.
  3. I send a message to every cell in my body of renewal and rejuvenation.

Meditations

Meditate on your lymphatic system as you move and exercise, imagining and visualizing a cleansing and draining of all waste matter and a vibrant purification taking place.

Meditate on all your immune cells and think about how healthy they are. 

Meditate on you glymphatic system and visualize while you sleep the glial cells busy cleaning up the debris in the brain.