Strengthening Your Immune System

We recently added a new educational page on the San Diego Cancer Research Institute website: Current Integrative Research & News. “With all the new and exciting Integrative Medicine research and news out there, SDCRI has decided to start sharing any relevant and interesting articles that we discover.” 

The first article we shared was Cancer Is Partly Caused By Bad Luck, Study FindsThis article is very important. “Cancer can be caused by tobacco smoke or by an inherited trait, but new research finds that most of the mutations that lead to cancer crop up naturally…. Science agrees that 40% of cancers are preventable. The rest, according to this study, are mutations of the cells that are caused by random error. “… 66 percent of the total mutations are random, about 29 percent are due to the environment and the remaining five percent are due to heredity.” 

Why am I sharing this on our nutrition site? Because the article suggests that 66% percent of cancers are not your fault, which is good to know, but it also says that there was nothing you could do to change the outcome. The article should give you some peace of mind knowing that the Snickers bar you succumbed to while pursuing the ultimate healthy lifestyle didn’t cause your cancer. It simply was not your fault. Does this mean that a healthy lifestyle doesn’t necessarily help? 

Every person is unique. Each of us has a medical history to some degree. This medical history has an impact on your immune system. A compromised immune system opens up your risk of other opportunistic diseases & maybe even that cell that went crazy & has become cancerous. Having a healthy lifestyle may not change the crazy cell mutation but it can prevent other medical issues & it can strengthen your immune system. 

We tend to think of medical terms as being one entity & having one definition. For example cancer. Cancer is an umbrella term for many kinds of cell mutations that act differently, effect different parts of the body & respond to different treatments. The same for immune system. The article below explains it very well. “Walk into a store, and you will find bottles of pills and herbal preparations that claim to “support immunity” or otherwise boost the health of your immune system. Although some preparations have been found to alter some components of immune function, thus far there is no evidence that they actually bolster immunity to the point where you are better protected against infection and disease. Demonstrating whether an herb — or any substance, for that matter — can enhance immunity is, as yet, a highly complicated matter. Scientists don’t know, for example, whether an herb that seems to raise the levels of antibodies in the blood is actually doing anything beneficial for overall immunity.” To understand how to strengthen your overall immune system the following article is a must read.

The Harvard Medical School Publication website published this comprehensive article: How to boost your immune system: Tips to fight disease and strengthen immunity Your first line of defense is to choose a healthy lifestyle. Following general good-health guidelines is the single best step you can take toward naturally keeping your immune system strong and healthy. Every part of your body, including your immune system, functions better when protected from environmental assaults and bolstered by healthy-living strategies such as these:

  • Don’t smoke.
  • Eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and low in saturated fat. Funny how this pops up on every list 🙂 I like what the author says under “What about diet”Like any fighting force, the immune system army marches on its stomach. Healthy immune system warriors need good, regular nourishment.”
  • Exercise regularly. For those of you in treatment experiencing fatigue, this could be walking to your mailbox once a day. 
  • Maintain a healthy weight. A healthy weight for you.
  • Control your blood pressure. Stress reduction therapies can help to lower your blood pressure: Yoga, mindfulness meditation, support groups & art for example.
  • If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
  • Get adequate sleep.
  • Take steps to avoid infection, such as washing your hands frequently and cooking meats thoroughly.
  • Get regular medical screening tests for people in your age group and risk category.

Continue reading the article, click here, for even more detailed information.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute: Eating Well During Cancer site has several links to helpful articles. Here are two of them that would enhance your healthy lifestyle goal.

  • The Cancer-Nutrition LinkEating a balanced diet means primarily choosing minimally processed and natural foods. In addition, drinking plenty of water and choosing plant-based or lean protein (fish, low-fat dairy, lean meats) is part of a balanced diet. A plant-based diet doesn’t have to be 100% plants or vegan, but it can be if you wish. The goal is for a majority of the foods you are eating to come from plants. These foods include bright, colorful fruits and vegetables. But they can also include other foods, such as spices, herbs and seasonings, nuts and seeds, whole grains, beans, and legumes.”
  • Why a Balanced, Plant-Based Diet Is Good for Your Health“Good nutrition also plays a critical role during cancer treatment and needs to be an important part of your overall treatment plan. The foods you eat have an impact on your health on a daily basis, from increasing your energy level to supporting your immune system. Eating a healthy, minimally processed, plant-based diet not only benefits your overall health, but can also help you manage symptoms during treatment and promote survivorship.”

An article in Time: Health, published 3 years ago, is relevant to our topic today.  Processed Food Hurts Your Immune System—And Your Kids’ Too Society’s over-indulgence on foods full of sugar, salt and fat may be ruining our immune systems, a new study says. A study published in Nutrition Journal  looked at the impact the Western diet and lifestyle has on people’s immune function. It found that the large number of calories in processed and fast food may lead to health problems such as increased inflammation, reduced control of infection, increased rates of cancer, and increased risk for allergic and auto-inflammatory disease.” 

Whether or not your particular cancer could have been avoided or not is no longer an issue at this point. What is an issue is your immunity. Rather than focusing on why you have cancer, focus on building a strong immune system. The solution to strengthening your immunity is to move towards a healthy lifestyle. 

As we have discussed in nearly every post; make one change at a time. Rather than trying to replace what you consider “bad habits”, add healthy habits. When you make & focus on positive changes you will find the “bad habits” disappearing on their own. Give it a try! 

Added Resources & Recipes:

For you smoothie lovers, here is an addition to my post, Cholesterol & Cholesterol Fighting Foods ; information about lowering your cholesterol & smoothie recipes to help in that endeavor: Lower Your Cholesterol With These 7 Smoothie Recipes  I want to thank Jennifer Pelegreen, editor of  Easy Healthy Smoothie , for bringing their site to my attention.

Another website brought to my attention by Natasha Goins, the content editor, is:  positivehealthwellness Check out their healthy recipes!

Passover begins Monday, April 10th. Here are some interesting recipes that were in a couple of newsletters I received: Healthy Paleo Passover Recipes & The Nosher website with Passover recipes that are also vegetarian.

Until next week…Mary 🙂