A low-fat, high-fiber diet without salt or sugar, combined with regular daily exercise, vitamins, minerals and supplements may be as powerful as some medications in improving your immune system, but you should always consult with your doctor about what’s best for you.
We are not against any kind of medication; rather, we look at health through holistic eyes. When it comes to your immune system, there are countless medications you could take depending upon your symptoms, and there is no consensus on the medicines. Therefore, unlike our other health sections, we are not going to outline them here. You need to consult a professional.
Immune System – Sleep
Who doesn’t like sleep? Sleep replenishes your energy, releases valuable hormones, affects your mood and relaxes your body. Approximately 70 million people suffer from sleep deprivation. Lack of sleep can have a major effect on your immune system.
If you are tired, stressed or depressed, your body is weakened, your metabolism is impaired, and invading bacteria or viruses can enter your body, because your body’s defense mechanisms are down. Studies have shown that lack of sleep can lead to:
Most people need between seven and eight hours of sleep per night, but sleep varies with every person based on lifestyle, diet, heredity and health issues. The key is to reduce your stress.
melsSleepSteps to getting a good night’s sleep:
- Make sure your bedroom is comfortable and your bed is even more comfortable. Find the right sheets, pillows and blankets for you. The atmosphere in your room is critical. You need to feel comfortable and free of life’s clutter. No computers, books, magazines, or any kind of work. Your room should be cool, dark and quiet. If not, listen to music and put on eye shades (to block out any light). Your body needs to calm down and decompress.
- Shower or bathe just before bedtime
- Wear whatever is comfortable for you. Some people wear nothing at all
- Stick to a sleep schedule – changing sleep schedules or sleeping late throws your body’s rhythms out of sync
- Don’t have any caffeinated drinks after late morning
- Exercise a minimum of between five and six hours before bedtime
- Avoid alcohol – initially, it’s a good stress reliever, but once the sedating effects have passed, you will be wide awake (and probably have to go to the bathroom)
- Avoid nicotine – any kind of smoking or chewing tobacco
- Don’t eat or drink at least 3 hours before bedtime – a meal can cause indigestion and fluids will affect your bladder
- If you sleep near a noisy person, get ear plugs
I’m not a big fan of sleeping pills, but more than 40 million people use prescription insomnia drugs to assist them in getting a good night’s sleep. Consult your doctor and understand the benefits and risks of taking this kind of medication.
Immune System – Humor
I know it sounds silly, but there is a therapy called “laugh therapy,” which helps to reduce stress, and studies have shown laugh therapy to improve our immune system. By definition, laugh therapy is the art of using laughter to help heal people with physical or mental illness.
There have been many studies that have shown that laughter relaxes muscles, improves our mood, releases tension in our diaphragm and pressure on our liver and other body organs, stimulates our immune system by raising levels of T-cells, gamma-interferon proteins, and B-cells, and triggers the release of endorphins.
When we are stressed, our bodies release stress hormones like epinephrine and dopamine, which are associated with elevated blood pressure and constriction of blood vessels. Our adrenal glands secrete a hormone known as cortisol. When our bodies have too, much cortisol, our immune system then begins to secrete interleukin 6 (IL-6), which can cause inflammation. In short, stress causes a suppression of immune activity, and laughter releases stress.
Laughing is like an aerobic exercise too, because it increases our body’s ability to use oxygen and strengthens our diaphragm. Another positive effect of laughing is respiration, which is like a lung cleansing.
Laughing just a few minutes per day can change your life. Happy people tend to live longer.
Immune System – Spiritual Well-being (click to read)