The function of the immune system is to recognize, attack and destroy foreign invaders while not attacking what normally belongs to the body. In order for the immune system to function normally it cannot be over stimulated or suppressed. The goal of obtaining a healthy immune system is to normalize the immune system. The organs involved in immune function are the spleen, thymus, tonsils, and lymph glands. There are essentially three primary causes of over stimulation or suppression of the immune system. The first primary cause can be related to emotional and lifestyle stress. When the body is stressed, whether physically or emotionally, the body thinks it is being attacked. It will stimulate the immune system to prepare for the invasion. If this perceived attack continues for an abnormal length of time, the immune system may begin to attack the body itself. The body responds in a similar way whether the stress is real or perceived. Long term emotional stress will cause the body to over stimulate the immune system and if there is no true invader, the immune system will have nothing to attack so it will attack the body, and this can lead to autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Long term overstimulation of the nervous system can burn out the immune system which will, in turn, suppress its normal functions. The solution to this cause is to identify the problem and correct it. This sounds simple but oftentimes is a very involved process. Major stresses in someone’s life include, but are not limited to a family member’s or a friend’s death, a move, a new job, family problems, divorce, money problems, or drug abuse. It may take some soul-searching before you can identify the cause of your stress. If you feel you are under stress and cannot determine the cause or have determined the cause and cannot figure out a way to correct the problem, professional counseling may be necessary. If financing professional counseling is a problem, contact your local mental health society for advice on assistance that will fit into your budget. Most cities or counties have this service available. Exercise and yoga have been shown to greatly reduce stress and help to normalize the immune system. A second cause of over stimulation or suppression of the immune system is chemical stress. Chemical stress can come in several forms. The most common and the one we have the most control over is nutrition or lack thereof. One step that is easy and can be implemented immediately is to clean out your colon. Constipation of the colon as well as of the organs in the body, will adversely affect your immune system. Most people have consumed toxic foods over their lifetime. It is important to clean up the colon because the colon is the place where nutrients are absorbed and toxins are passed out of the body. If the colon is clogged up or constipated, nutrients cannot be absorbed and waste products cannot be passed out. This means nutrients may be passed out of the body and cannot be absorbed, and waste products, which should be passed out of the body, get reabsorbed back into the body. Now the immune system begins to attack these waste products and this puts unnecessary stress on the immune system. The seven major foods that will clog up your system are alcohol, meat, sugar, dairy, coffee, soda, and artificial sweeteners. Other clogging or constipating foods and habits are smoking, over eating, consumption of large amounts of cooked foods, wheat, eggs, additives, dyes, hydrogenated oils, chemicals and free radicals. The solution to this problem is to drink plenty of distilled or filtered water. A general rule is that if you are not urinating at least eight times per day, you are not drinking enough water. In addition to water, your diet must consist of at least 60% to 70% raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. There are certain supplements and herbs that will help with normalizing the immune system. A supplement should be made with whole foods. This means that the supplement must contain concentrated fruits, vegetables and herbs. Nutrients work best when in their natural whole state and not extracted and processed. There are also nutrients that are in whole foods that we have not discovered yet, but are essential to good health. If we consume whole foods, we get all the nutrients we need in a form that we can best utilize. Echinacea, goldenseal, and other herbs can be helpful in normalizing the immune system when used short-term. The last and perhaps most overlooked cause of immune system malfunction is biomechanical stress. The immune organs, as well as all organs in the body are controlled by the nervous system. The brain sends messages down the spinal cord, out the nerves to every part of your body. If there is any interference between the brain, spinal cord and parts of the body, the body cannot function properly. The most common interference is a bone in the spine moving out of alignment and pinching a nerve. If you have a pinched nerve that goes to a part of the body related to immune function, the immune system will be compromised. If you are having pain in your back, you most likely have a pinched nerve. However, only about 10% of the nerves feel pain and 90% of the nerves do not feel pain. You may have a pinched nerve and not be aware of it. This is why it is so important that everyone get their spine checked to be sure there are no pinched nerves. Just like you get your car tuned up and maintain the heating and air conditioning unit in your house, it is imperative that you get your nervous system checked. A qualified chiropractor will be able to do this evaluation and determine if your nervous system is functioning at the highest level possible. Your nervous system controls everything and if it malfunctions, it will cause serious health problems. As much as mental health and good nutrition are important, without a normally functioning nervous system, you can never obtain a high level of good health. You might also want to check out our Immune Booster. Please call my office at 770-427-7387 or you can send us a message in the live chat. Ask Dr. Joe – World Health News Dr. Joe Esposito is a nutritionist, chiropractor, national lecturer and author with 30 years experience as a health professional. Q: I am concerned that I am not getting enough protein since I have changed to a plant-based diet. Can I get the protein that I need if I eat no animal products?A: There are no required nutrients, including protein, which you cannot get from a plant-based diet. Simply, all proteins are made of amino acids. Your body makes all the necessary amino acids. Most meats contain these essential amino acids. However, meat has so many negative effects on the body that it is a much better idea to get your amino acids from plants. The only plant source that contains all essential amino acids is soy beans. Other plants contain some, but not all, of the “big eight.” Whole grains, legumes, vegetables, nuts and seeds contain both essential and nonessential amino acids. Eating a good variety of fruits, seeds, vegetables and nuts, and eating enough food to maintain your energy level should give you the amount of protein you need. Q: Where do we get calcium if we don’t drink cow’s milk or eat dairy products/ Was my mother wrong when she said to drink all my milk?A: Many plant sources of calcium are absorbed as well or better than cow’s milk. The less protein you eat, within reason, will decrease the amount of calcium excreted in your urine. So, you need to take in less calcium. Calcium deficiency in vegetarians is rare. If you consume below the RDA calcium (within reason), there is little evidence that major health problems will occur. With all the negative attention that dairy products are getting, mom was wrong when she said to drink all your milk, especially when there are so many better choices to consider, (Broccoli, green leafy vegetables especially; Kale, Watercress, Collards, Mustard and Dandelion greens, Legumes, Sesame seeds, Wakame, Hiziki, Dulse). Q: Most people want to lose weight but I want to gain weight. How can I do this, and still eat well?A: I usually recommend fruit and water for breakfast, and nothing else. In your case, eat this but add nuts. A delicious way to do this is to have bananas with almond or cashew butter. Peanut butter works well, if you do not have an allergy to peanuts. Use sunflower seeds mixed into salad dressings. Eat 1 or 2 avocados per day in your sandwiches, salads or by themselves. Foods that contain lots of good fats will help you gain weight and not poison your body. Dried fruit without sulfites and trail mix are also good to eat. To set up an appointment please call my office at 770-427-7387 or you can send us a message in the live chat.