Why You Don’t Want to Boost Your Immune System… Balance is Key!
BySarah Axtell, ND •October 9, 2022
Though we all want a strong immune system, boosting your immune system can be problematic. If you are in a state of chronic inflammation, boosting your immune system could exacerbate that inflammatory state. With autoimmune diseases, boosting your immune system can trigger a flare. In cases of chronic inflammation and/or autoimmunity, the immune system is already on high alert, so boosting or enhancing this state can worsen symptoms. Immune modulation or immune balance is the goal in cases of autoimmune diseases and chronic inflammation.
Balance is key when it comes to immune rejuvenation. Within our immune system are aged or old cells- zombie cells. They produce inflammatory substances, such as Interleukin 6, and can contribute to inflammaging. The goal is to remove these cells through autophagy. Autophagy is the body’s “cleaning house” mechanism- the process by which your body detoxifies, repairs, and regenerates itself. In recent years, defective autophagy has been linked to age-related diseases such as cancer, neurodegeneration and heart disease. Autophagy selectively kills damaged cells that carry detrimental epigenetic messages. This process allows cells that are not predestined to be on high alert take over, resulting in less inflammation and a more balanced immune system.
Ways to balance or support your immune system:
-Intermittent fasting- induces autophagy
-Phytochemicals (substances that plants make to provide color, flavor, and nutrition)- flavonoids, polyphenols- blueberries, green tea, purple sweet potatoes, turmeric, and ginger. Eat the rainbow.
-Vitamin D- Test, don’t guess! To determine the best dose of vitamin D supplementation, lab testing is advised. The goal is between 60-80.
-Fermented foods and/or probiotics
-Sleep- 7-9 hours is the goal
-Avoidance of sugar and other pro-inflammatory foods (I often test people for individualized food sensitivities that are contributing to inflammation)
-Avoid exposure to pesticides, pollutants, and heavy metals
Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health practitioners with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.