From the category archives:

Immune System

The Five Keys to Optimal Health

by Ed

Key #1 Nutrition

After spending billions of dollars, over the past thirty years, the American Cancer Society has begun to realize that searching for a cure may not be the answer. Now they are focusing more on prevention. And what is the best way to prevent cancer? Fruits and vegetables.

There has been a lot of controversy lately over the best diet: High protein? High carbohydrate? paleolithic? Mediterranean?

But one thing the experts agree on is that we need more fruits and vegetables in our diet. Dr. Bruce Ames, a leading cancer scientist has said that if you aren’t eating enough fresh fruits and vegetables, you might as well be standing in front of a low level X-ray machine, all day.

You may have seen the American Cancer Society’s ad campaign: “5 A DAY”. Actually, they recommend 9 servings a day of fresh fruits and vegetables, but they think five a day is easier to sell to
the American public.

The Framingham study looked at Stroke risks. They found a direct correlation between 3 servings a day and a 22% reduction in strokes. 6 servings a day; 44% reduction in stroke. 9 servings a day, 66% reduction in stroke. Now that’s pretty remarkable.

Let’s face it, most of us are not big fruit and vegetable eaters. But we should be. Fruits and vegetables are full of disease preventing phytochemicals, including the now famous antioxidants. We have
discovered hundreds, so far, but there are still many we don’t know about. And that’s one reason that taking vitamins is not the answer for a poor diet. I could go on for pages about other reasons. If you want more information on the research, let me know and I will send it to you.

Key #2: ExerciseEveryone knows we need more exercise. So, what’s your excuse?
Not enough time? Not enough energy? too boring?

In fact, once you get on a simple exercise program you create a spiral of success. More time, more energy, more joy in every area of your life

So how to start? Well, you need at least a little energy to get started. It may be that you need to improve your nutrition to get that energy. Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and less fat, especially saturated
and trans fat.

Ok, back to exercise: You should aim for an hour of exercise, almost every day. However, you can break it up into 6 ten minute chunks, throughout the day. During coffee break take a ten minute walk or
climb ten flights of stairs.

Buy one of those six foot rubber bands designed for exercising. They are great for mini work outs. Buy several. Keep one in your desk, one in the car and one or more at home. Buy a brand that comes with a video so you can learn the exercises. Then buy some cheaper ones for different places. Any time you have five to ten minutes pull it out. Learn a few different short routines and alternate them. One for strengthening the arms and upper back, one for the abs and lower back, and one for the legs. Plus one or two good stretching routines.

Once you start feeling healthier, you can sleep thirty minutes less and use that extra thirty minutes for a good aerobic workout, three days a week. On the other four days, you can meditate or read a good book
or enjoy a sunrise.

Obesity is becoming an American epidemic. One that leads to hypertension, heart disease and diabetes. The only healthy way to maintain a healthy weight is sensible eating and exercise.

Exercise improves our mood, our immune system, our stamina, our bone mass, and our ability to assimilate the nutrients from our food. So get up and have some fun.

Play with your kids.
Join a team.
Walk your dog.
Have fun!

Key #3 OxygenAre you breathing? Many people seem to barely breathe when under stress, sitting at a computer, and other times. Some people seem to barely breathe, all the time. Abundant oxygen is vital to our wellbeing. It is even more important today, than it was 30 years ago. Besides all of the toxins in our water, food and air, and our stress levels, all of which require more oxygen to healthfully process, we have a lot less oxygen in the air we breathe. You have heard about greenhouse gases and global warming, by now. Did you ever stop to think what all those greenhouse gases are replacing? Oxygen. Oxygen levels are getting dangerously low, about three percent lower than they were a few decades ago. Levels are within a couple of percent of being unable to sustain our lives, especially in cities with high smog levels.

We need to be breathing more deeply just to maintain normal levels of oxygen, let alone levels necessary to help us combat pollution and stress. Get more aerobic exercise and take several deep breathing breaks, throughout your day.
Key #4 CleansingIn the 21st Century it is impossible to escape toxicity. Our air, food
and water are all polluted. Not to mention all of the toxic ingredients
they put in our personal care products and packaged foods.
Regular internal cleansing has become essential to maintain good
health.

The two main areas that require cleansing are the digestive tract
and the Liver/ Gall Bladder. For most people, I recommend an
intestinal cleanse and a Liver cleanse, as well as a Gall Bladder
flush, every Spring. Many people with allergies, for instance, find
that a regular Spring cleaning brings a lot of relief, through out the
year.

Because cleansing can release toxins into the body, it is important
to be careful. I always recommend a gentle cleansing. Eating lightly
with an even greater emphasis on fruits and vegetables
(I suggest 5 servings of each during non cleansing times),
is always a great way to reduce our toxic burden and begin a
cleanse.

It’s important to cleanse your digestive tract gently so as not to shock your system or release excess toxins into the body. An herbal fiber supplement makes a great colon cleanse because herbal fiber can work slowly to thoroughly sweep the colon clear of impacted waste and toxins without disrupting daily life. When combined with herbs to soothe and stimulate the digestive tract, a fiber supplement can make a great spring cleanse. 

Click here to see my other posts on cleansing.

Key #5 State of mindCheck out my many posts on the importance of our state of mind, particularly this one. Positive states of mind keep our immune systems robust, and help us ward of diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. A positive state of mind makes it easier to maintain the other four keys. See this post for tips on staying happy.

Tapping Into Health

by Ed

For thousands of years, people in the orient have been tapping acupuncture points to relieve headaches, improve their immune systems,and treat a variety of health complaints. In the past thirty years or so, several Western energy therapies have been developed, based on the acupuncture system. Many of these therapies also use tapping on the points for healing.

One of those methods, EFT, is great for dealing with post traumatic stress, allergies, phobias, and many stress related symptoms. You can learn the self-help basics of EFT here. If you are interested in EFT and find that you need more than self-help, contact me. I am happy to provide consultations, by phone or email. See my About page for my email address.

Beating Heaven’s Drum is a traditional technique for relieving headaches, dizziness, and waking up the brain. Cover your ears with your palms and tap the muscles at the base of the skull. Tap gently for about one minute.

Knocking at the Gate of Life is another traditional Chinese technique. The gate of life is the area where, according to Chinese Medicine, our basic vital energy is stored. Tapping the points associated with it helps to increase the flow of energy and gives a feeling of vitality. There are two points. The first one is about two inches below the navel and the other is on the spine, directly opposite the navel.
Stand with your feet a little wider than the width of your shoulders and place one fist just below the other and the other on your back opposite your navel. Then begin to turn your body, at the waist from side to side. As you turn, let your arms swing around. As you turn left your left hand should tap your back and your right hand should tap your belly. As you turn right your right hand should tap your back and your left hand should tap your belly. The arms should be very relaxed. Let the turning of the waist swing them around, without using any arm strength to tap your body. Do this exercise for a couple of minutes, every day.

Taping to boost the immune system. This is a modern technique, as far as I know. There are three points to tap. The first point is the last point on the Kidney channel. The Kidney channel is also associated with the Gate of Life. The point is just under the collar bone, in the depression just outside of where the collar bone meets the breast bone. The second point is on the breast bone, about two inches below the top. The thymus gland, an important immune system organ, is directly below this point. The last point is near the bottom of the rib cage. It is about level with the bottom of the little bone that sticks down from the bottom of the breast bone and about three inches from the midline. You will notice a little dip in the rib cage in that area. Tap between the ribs. These points stimulate the Spleen and the Liver, both of which influence the Immune system.

Tap each point, in order, about twelve times. The first and last points can be tapped on both sides at the same time. Breathe slowly and deeply while tapping the points. You can do this once or twice a day.

Tai Chi Boosts Immunity

by Ed

A recent study shows that tai chi boosts immunity to shingles. Shingles is a nasty condition that causes pain, usually in the rib cage area. It is caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox. Anyone who has had chicken pox has the dormant virus in their body, and it could flare up into shingles at any time.

In a randomized controlled trial, researchers found that after a 16 week program of tai chi practice, that participants had greatly increased their immunity to the virus. In fact their immunity was double that of the control group. In addition, they reported significant improvements in physical functioning, bodily pain, vitality and mental health.

See other posts on the benefits of tai chi here.

It is important when starting to learn tai chi that you find a good teacher. If they are not teaching according to the principles, you may not be getting all of the benefits. Watch a class and pay attention to what the teacher focuses on. They should talk a lot about relaxation and being centered and grounded. They should be adjusting the students postures to ensure their bodies are properly aligned. If the teacher is not focusing on the principles and correcting the students’ form, I would keep looking. Once you’ve studied with a good teacher for a year or so, you’ll have a foundation for good health for the rest of your life.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

by Ed

Health, like wealth, is not much use without happiness. And happiness gives us a stronger immune system and less stress.

What do you enjoy eating? If it is only junk food, then you might be in trouble. If you enjoy eating a fairly reasonable diet, yet you stress out trying to eat a totally healthy diet you are being counter productive. One study a few years back compared two groups of people, one could eat what they want, the other was given a specific healthy diet. The healthy diet people actually did more poorly in that particular study. After some research, they decided it was because the people on the diet were more stressed and felt more out of control of their own lives.

Here’s another downer: If you want to lose weight and you are stressing out about your diet all the time, you may be increasing your production of cortisol, which will cause you to gain weight.

How to be happy

  • Don’t take your thoughts so seriously. If you have a thought like “I screwed up”, “I’m not good enough”, or “How come I never get it right”, just let the thought go. It’s just a thought. Everyone does good things and dumb things, that’s just the way we are. You are still a lovable human being that deserves to be happy.
  • Make other people’s happiness a priority. When we focus outside of ourselves we tend to be happier. Generally, unhappy people spend most of their time thinking about themselves.
  • Don’t become a slave to others desires. There are needy people out there who stick themselves to people who are always willing to help. Those people will soon burn you out. So, help others, but recognize your own limits and stick to them.
  • Don’t try to change others. People do that to their spouses, and it is a losing battle. Let each other be who they are. If you really can’t stand them, leave them. However, our lives become richer by enjoying the company of people not like ourselves. That’s probably what attracted you to that person you can’t stand in the first place.
  • Pamper yourself regularly. What do you love to do? Every day spend some time doing things you love to do, and every week take time out to really pamper yourself.
  • Recognize that your moods are always changing. Sometimes you are up, sometimes you are down. Don’t dwell on the down times, let them pass. Those can be good opportunities for pampering yourself. Sometimes when I am in a down mood I like to listen to sad music or watch a sad movie. That allows me to enjoy the mood, without dwelling on myself or making my mood about me. Sometimes I’ll do the opposite, listen to happy music or watch a comedy. If I’m lucky it brings me up again.
  • Have purpose in your life. Figure out what you want to achieve or discover or learn or create. Go out and start working towards those goals. And keep coming up with new ones. Some people set a fairly lofty goal, then if they actually reach it, they get depressed because they lived their whole life for that one goal. There are limitless possible goals on this earth.

Don’t peel away your health

by Ed

When you peel your fruits and vegetables you are removing some of the most nutritious part of your food. Many of the vitamins, minerals, and cancer fighting phytonutrients are most concentrated in the skins of fruits and vegetables. Skins and peels are also high in fiber. Eating your peels improves your immune system, helps control allergy symptoms, and helps protect your body against cancer and heart disease.

  • Apple peels are a good source of pectin, a fiber that helps control cholesterol and blood sugar. They are also much more concentrated in antioxidants than the rest of the apple, and research has found that they have anti-cancer effects.

  • Potato peels are richer in iron and B vitamins than the flesh of the potato. The peel is also rich in antioxidants, fiber, and potassium.

  • Citrus peels are high in several antioxidant chemicals. The white part of the peel is high in bioflavonoids, which have anti-inflammatory and antihistamine actions. They alsostrengthen the blood vessels and improve the effectiveness of vitamin C. According to Chinese medicine, citrus peels improve digestion.

  • Tomato peels enhance the ability of the body to use the lycopene in the rest of the tomatoes. Lycopene is a well known anti-oxidant that helps to prevent cancer and heart disease.

If you are eating the peels, it is even more important to buy only organic fruits and vegetables. The pesticide residues are not easily washed off.

For more on the benefits of organic produce, see this post.