How can I optimize my immune system in the face of Covid-19 outbreak?

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  “long-term or chronic stress, through too much wear and tear, can ravage the immune system.”Suzanne Segerstrom, PhD

5 WAYS to boost your immune system

  1. Understand, what is the immune system?
  2. Know if the immune system has been compromised?
  3. Understand, how viruses attack the immune system
  4. Be mindful; Viruses of greatest concern 
  5. Ask, How can I boost my immune system in the face of a COVID-19 outbreak?

Our human vessel has defense systems that protect us from harm. As we know, there are harmful microbes in all of the environment we live and dwell in, even our hospitals! However, we can live in healthier environments with less threats. We can also bolster our immune defenses to ensure they are not compromised. Better yet, we can make better lifestyle choices that keep harmful chemicals and elements out of our body. Regardless of our lifestyle choices, our human vessel will defend until the end.

What is the immune system?

All living things are subject to attack from disease-causing agents. Even bacteria, so small that more than a million could fit on the head of a pin, have systems to defend against infection by viruses. This kind of protection gets more sophisticated as organisms become more complex.

Multicellular animals have dedicated cells or tissues to deal with the threat of infection. Some of these responses happen immediately so that an infecting agent can be quickly contained. Other responses are slower but are more tailored to the infecting agent. Collectively, these protections are known as the immune system. The human immune system is essential for our survival in a world full of potentially dangerous microbes, and serious impairment of even one arm of this system can predispose to severe, even life-threatening infections.

How do you know if the immune system has been compromised?

The Mayo Clinic describes that these signs and symptoms differ depending on the type of primary immunodeficiency disorder, and they vary from person to person.

Signs and symptoms of primary immunodeficiency can include:

  • Frequent and recurrent pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections, ear infections, meningitis or skin infections
  • Inflammation and infection of internal organs
  • Blood disorders, such as low platelet counts or anemia
  • Digestive problems, such as cramping, loss of appetite, nausea and diarrhea
  • Delayed growth and development
  • Autoimmune disorders, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or type 1 diabetes

Generally speaking, if you are currently living with compromised health, your defenses are likely to be running in a sub optimal way. Any virus that enters your system when you’re already run down gets a much easier opportunity to spread, than if it was entering a human vessel that has its defenses in its highest performing functionality. Common sense right?

How viruses attack the immune system

One of our most urgent challenges in public health is to understand the evolution and natural history of pathogens and parasites and how a sudden shift in virulence or in targeted host population may occur without warning.

Latest with the outbreak of another corona virus, Covid-19, we know about the danger of viruses. A virus is a small infectious organism—much smaller than a fungus or bacterium—that must invade a living cell to reproduce (replicate). The virus attaches to a cell (called the host cell), enters the cell, and releases its DNA or RNA inside the cell. That’s how they manipulate other genes.

When a virus enters the body, a race begins between responding immune cells and the infecting pathogen. The pathogen replicates and finds a target cell or organ that will allow it to thrive.

So, the effectiveness of a response depends on the immune system winning the race to clear the pathogen before it causes irreversible damage to the body.

Although the increase in quality of antibodies can take weeks, there are two critical benefits. It means the pathogen is cleared and high-quality “memory” cells remain to provide us with immunity to future infections.

Therefore, memory cells can clear the infection much more rapidly than the initial infection. This means the pathogen doesn’t have time to damage the body.

In most responses to infection, this is critical to clear the infection. But in the case of some pathogens, such as dengue, the virus may have variant strains that can fool the immune memory response.

The best solution is to train our immune system to be more flexible and produce antibodies that can adapt when viruses try to evade the immune system.

Viruses of greatest concern to us include the following:

 Covid-19 This corona virus is part of a group of RNA viruses that cause respiratory tract infections in mammals and birds, ranging from from mild to lethal symptoms. The virus appeared first in November 2019 in China and caused a global pandemic. Thus far over 20 million people have been affected, out of which 750,000 people died.

Influenza A New strains of influenza A viruses appear every year. Influenza A is one of the deadliest infectious diseases of developed countries, causing 20,000 to 40,000 deaths each year in the USA. The combined deaths of the 2 world wars (with atomic bombs dropped on 2 cities) did not attain the mortality of the 1918 influenza epidemic.

HSV-1 (herpes simplex virus type 1). Infection with HSV-1 is almost universal. Virtually 100% of adults have antibodies to this virus. Sheltered from immune surveillance, herpes simplex viruses cause a latent infection of neurons for the life of the host.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) Sixty percent of female students at Rutgers University were found to be infected with human papillomavirus, according to a 3-year study completed in 1998. papillomavirus is a known causative agent in genital warts and cervical cancer.

What we find interesting is that 100% of adults have the antibodies for herpes in their body, 60% of women carry the papillomavirus yet not all get cervical cancer, and we have all experienced influenza at some stage in our lives, but rarely does someone in a developed country die from it unless their immune system is already suppressed.

Perhaps we do not need to fear the onslaught of viruses from the external world (they have always been there), but rather we should shift our attention into building healthy humans, healthy environments and healthy immune systems that keep us in a healthy balance as we dance through our lifespan.

 How to boost your immune system

What if rather than trying to cure and fix the disease, we simply found ways to bolster the bodies natural defense mechanisms so that they can get on top of any threat?

1. Combat stress:

Stress is part of our every day lives. It is also the number one causer that suppresses immune functions because of an overproduction of adrenalin and cortisol. These hormones that get activated when we are in ‘fight, flight or freeze mode’, temporary set the immune system on pause. If the body produces these hormones over long periods of time, our immune system is compromised. To combat stress, it is useful to primarily look at the mind-activity that causes the stress in the first place and try to take a step back from what causes stress. If you are in an unhealthy, stressful relationship or work environment – do not hesitate anymore to press pause. If you are stressed because of some frequently occurring thought patterns, stop being obsessed with finding an answer and don’t allow yourself to think about it for some time. Thinking on the same level that created the problem is not going to solve anything! Change your state, relax and make better choices.

2. Change your beliefs about pain:

Research shows that pain is actually in the brain, not in the body. As unbelievable as that may sound – it is the best news for your immune system. If you have a healthy mind then you can change your fear of pain. Instead of getting more stressed and trying to stop the pain in your body, you stop it in your thoughts.

3. Change your environment:

If we want this human vessel is to heal and regain its normal function, then like a plant, before we look to “fix the damaged” area we need to ensure that the human vessel is in a nourishing environment that enables, empowers and permits it to grow, heal and regenerate. For humans to heal they need to be living in a nourishing environment, surrounded and connected to people and all that is living to have access to the healing energies of this world. Before we look internally, let’s ensure that the external environment supports the natural healing and regenerative processes, minimizing harm, stress and collateral damage. This applies to healing from a small cut to the complex nature of cancer.

4. Support self-healing by making better life-style choices every day

Everything heals and regenerates. 50 million cells in our body are replaced every second. Even the 4 areas that don’t regenerate well or at all (brain, eyes, heart, teeth) still show an ability to adapt or at worst be replaced with organ donation. That means with every life-style choice you make, you change the status of the new cells that are produced in your body.

Here are the most important changes that you need make if you want a healthier immune system. They are simple and yet effective – you know them already. It’s never too late to do that. Your body is a miraculous self-healing vessel.

  • Don’t smoke. Find a solution as soon as possible.
  • Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables, reduce meat to once a week or less. Step away from processed food as much as possible.
  • Move regularly.
  • Drink green juices, with ginger and turmeric.
  • If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
  • Get adequate sleep.

Summary

The most important thing to remember is that stress decreases your immune system. So the more stressed you are about getting infected by corona, the less it is serving your immune activity.

Call to embodiment

The best thing that you can do during these times is to look after yourself like you have never looked after yourself before and enjoy yourself doing so.

What can you do right now to strengthen your ‘mental shield’ – your focus from worry to taking daily actions that improve your immune system? It’s never too late to change your life and thus impact the lives of those around you.

Every single action will inevitably influence others to want to be healthier, too.

Evidence based research

What is your immune system

Harvad’s publications on how to boost your immune system

Mayo Clinic’s evidence for compromised health

Mayo Clinic’s publication on Covid risks

Notable Experts cited

P. Dempsey, S. Vaidya, G. Cheng on “Innate and adaptive immune responses”

Ronald Glaser and Janice Kiecolt-Glaser on “How stress damages immune system and health”

Louise Hay’s Research on Keeping Your Thoughts Healthy

Kerry Laing on Immune responses to viruses

 

 

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