If you do a google search on the term, “how to boost immune system naturally” you will get over 29 million results, all in .99 seconds!! There are resources on foods to boost your immune system, supplements to boost your immune system, exercise to boost your immune system, etc., etc.!! How can you evaluate any of these ideas that you might be considering trying out? I mean, we ALL want to stay well, right?
In this blog post, I want to start a mini-series that will break down the principles to consider if you truly want to do your immune system a favor. We will use a framework that helps to illustrate the principles I will be covering.
It’s as if our immunity was designed to function as a well-oiled machine. This framework that I call The Immune Optimizer Machine (TM) will illustrate graphically the different components we must consider and how they work together As we build it out together, this framework will make it clear how we can actually enable our immune system to work at an optimal level for us. By utilizing the principles discussed in this series we can understand how to best become our own Immunity Executives – truly in charge of our own immune functions.
Here is the first point we will discuss – The Circulation Principle.
You will see this illustrated by the vertical pink line. At the top is a state of perfect circulation, while at the bottom is a state of poor circulation. This axis represents a continuum, and on any given moment you are at some point along this continuum. It is not static – you can improve or depress the function of your circulatory system by any number of choices you make.
You see, one of the most important components of anything that promotes health is its impact on the circulatory system. There is axiom that states,
Perfect Health depends upon Perfect Circulation.
That is one worth memorizing. As the Bible puts it, “for the life is in the blood”. That is a literally true statement. It is our blood that provides nutrients and removes waste and delivers immune system components to all the tissues of the body. When the circulation is allowed to function without impairment of any kind, we experience optimal health of all our cells, which compose our body tissues, which compose our organs, which keep the whole kit and caboodle alive and well.
This means that any intervention proposed to boost your immune system needs to evaluated according to its impact on circulation. If it improves circulation, that is a good thing, but if it decreases circulation by slowing it down, constricting blood flow through the arteries, or impairing delivery of blood to any body part, you can KNOW that it is not something that will improve your health.
What are common things that impact circulatory function?
- Exercise – While lack of movement slows down circulation, movement of any kind quickens it. The more regularly the body is moved, and the more vigorous the movement, the greater the impact on circulation.
- Hydration – When we are dehydrated, our blood volume is depleted and our circulation suffers. Blood thickens, making it more difficult to circulate through the smallest capillaries as it should. Common dehydrating factors are lack of drinking adequate quantities of water, use of caffeinated beverages, and diuretic medications. When well hydrated, our blood is thinner, allowing for more effective circulation and the freer flow of blood throughout the body.
- Food Choices – This is probably one of the most powerful factors affecting the circulation after hydration. Biggest culprits here are high fat and high sugar foods. Both thicken the blood, sometimes greatly impairing its ability to reach body tissues. Blood components like red blood cells get sticky and clump together, making it impossible for them to pass through the finest capillaries. A good example are those capillaries at the back of the eye where red blood cells must pass single file to get through. Clumps of cells can’t get through those areas, depriving the cells of nutrients and allowing toxic waste materials to build up and damage them over time.
- Clothing choices – Believe it or not, even clothing affects circulation! For example, in the cooler seasons, it is important to clothe the extremities, arms and legs just as well as the torso area for equalized circulation. If the limbs are left bare or under-clothed, the blood is forced away from the skin due to the vasoconstrictive effect of the chilling and the torso area suffers increased congestion. Clothing that fits tightly, like badly fitted undergarments, also puts pressure on the superficial channels of the lymph system and peripheral blood vessels, impairing circulation.
- Medications and drugs – Medications that constrict the blood vessels have a direct effect of impairing circulation, such as those often used to treat migraines. Nicotine is a potent vasoconstrictor, and it’s chronic use causes many users to suffer deterioration of the spine. This is due to chronic lack of blood flow through the very small blood vessels that feed and nourish the spinal column.
- Some supplements – especially those designed to increase energy, often contain caffeine or other stimulants that are vasoconstrictors, thus impeding circulation.
Because each of the above items has an impact on your circulation, they also have a direct effect on the effectiveness of your immune system. Many of the parts and pieces of the immune system responsible for fighting invading microbes get to their needed destinations by way of the blood’s circulation. If they can’t reach their destination, they can’t do their jobs.
I hope you can see now why this axis of the framework is so important to good immune system functioning.
Why not be intentional about doing something today that will increase your circulation and improve your immunity? The power is in YOUR choice! The 7 Days to Boosting Your Immune System online course includes a deep dive into how to maximize your circulation. You can access it RIGHT HERE . . .
In part 2, we will look at the horizontal axis of this framework, which is how we promote the function of the bits and pieces of the complex network which constitutes our immune system components. Stay tuned!