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Hello again, it’s Mike Stewart with the Winter Wellness Podcast and I’m here with a nutrition expert, Ms Jeanne Winner, a nutritionist at the Winter Wellness Center. Today we’re going to be talking because it is April 2020 and of course we’re all in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve been quarantined for many, many weeks now. The thing is, is pandemics have been around since the history of man. There’s all kinds of things where the different viruses and bacteria diseases have ravaged the world. We’re in the midst of something that’s really common in history, so we really need to have more ideas and suggestions to prepare for the future. From your perspective as the expert nutritionist at Winter Wellness Center, Jeanne, I hope you can share some new ideas and suggestions that we all need to consider and implement in our lives. Welcome to the podcast, Jeanne.
Well, thank you very much Mike. I think the real pandemic here is the fact that we as a whole have been neglecting our body through working and throwing our nutritional needs by the wayside. You think about how often that you’re pressed to grab something to eat or not eat. Sometimes when you grab something to eat, it may not be quite the most nutritious food for you. Today I thought we would just talk about how the immune system works. We did talk about that in an earlier podcast, but I wanted to go into some things that you can do on a regular basis to offset the damage that’s being done by poor diet and also by allowing too much toxicity to build up in the body.
The wonderful thing about the body’s immune system that literally the whole body is involved with protecting itself from invaders. You think about your elimination system, your body eliminates toxins. Your liver neutralizes poisons and toxins and removes them from the body. You want to make sure you have a good elimination system and never allow yourself to become constipated for very long. You want to make sure that toxins are flowing out of your body and in a proper way. When we’re looking at the immune system that not only involves your body, but there are specific organs. We did talk about the bone marrow, how immune cells are actually created there from STEM cells and then they are transported to other glands and organs to mature and diversify as different cells. We’re not going to talk about that as much as we’re going to talk about the way the immune system functions.
Yes, you look at your immune system as your protection against disease and damage from foreign bodies that can invade such as viruses, bacteria, and parasites. Viruses aren’t the only things that can invade the body. You can also have bacterial invasion, bacteria infections. Parasites are also all things that your body can protect you from. The key is to have an immune system that works. Obviously what is bringing to our attention is that many people nowadays do not have an immune system that is working properly. It’s malfunctioning. They’re very high risk for infections that are viral in nature and otherwise. When your immune system is working properly, and we will talk about how to keep it working properly, that immune system is able to identify and detect viruses, bacteria, parasites and other foreign bodies that are threats, that can be threats and damage the body itself. These immune cells are able to distinguish these as threats and not as part of the body itself. That’s pretty amazing.
When these immune cells recognize this invader, immediately antibodies are created that are specific and target that threat. Let’s say it’s a specific virus such as COVID-19 then that virus, if that immune system is working properly, is recognized. Antibodies are created to target and destroy that particular virus and even more amazing once that virus is disposed of, your immune system remembers that virus or that other pathogen. If it gets back into your system, it is immediately recognized, attacked and destroyed. We do have this amazing defense system, but we want to understand it and we want to keep it working. Let’s talk a little bit about when it isn’t working and why that happens.
An immune system that isn’t working well is what we call malfunctioning. That is usually due to a deficiency of specific nutrients that has occurred over too long of a period of time. It can also be due to an overload of toxins, in the case of someone who has a very poor or very bad elimination system, or we are exposing our bodies or ingesting way too much chemical infiltration than our body can handle. The result of that is our immune system malfunctions and it doesn’t do the job that it could do. We become subject to infections and autoimmune disease. Infections that are reoccurring, if you get an infection, your body should be able to handle that. You may have to bring in extra help such as immune boosters in herbs that have the ability to help your defenses to handle an infection. In the case of serious infection, then you may have to take stronger steps and that would be through your medical and holistic practitioners. I would not suggest that you try to handle an infection on your own unless you are an expert at it.
When that immune system isn’t working correctly and it is malfunctioning, that’s when a person becomes high risk and eventually does get infections and autoimmune disease. What is an auto immune disease? I’ll give you some examples. If it involves the thyroid that is called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. If it involves your joints, that is called rheumatoid arthritis. If it involves your whole body, it’s called lupus. That is a spleen auto immune disease. When the immune system is malfunctioning due to deficiencies or overload of toxins, chemicals, and an inefficient elimination system, then what happens is this person can develop an auto immune disease. Before that even happens, the person can develop inflammatory challenges, joint inflammation, gut inflammation, skin inflammation. That often manifest as eczema, psoriasis, red patches, red breakouts on the skin, a host of signals that tell you that they’re your body is inflaming.
What can we do about this? How can we boost our own immune system? Now, obviously if you have an auto immune disease or are subject to inflammations and infections, then you definitely need the advice of an expert in that area. I wouldn’t suggest that you try that on your own, but things you can do on a daily basis to keep your immune system optimized. We’ll talk about number one would be optimizing your vitamin D level. Why is that important? It’s important because vitamin D is your transport for very important nutrients that are needed for immune function. The problem is that most people do not get enough sunlight and especially through the winter days and a lot of rainy days that we’ve had all and it’s cold outside, so most people do not get enough sunlight exposure unless they live in a more tropical area. The reason you want sunlight exposure is because that’s how your body makes vitamin D. Your body is able to make vitamin D which transports nutrients, specifically calcium and other nutrients to the bloodstream so that your cells can get it and utilize it. Specifically your immune cells need calcium and essential fatty acids in order to be able to move around and do the work that they need to do.
If you’re not able to get into the sunlight and you live in an area where it is dark most of the time, then you will need to supplement. If you’re taking vitamin D3 you need at least 1,000 to 5,000 IUs a day, but no more than that. It’s just as bad to take too much supplemental vitamin D than it is not to take enough so you don’t want to exceed the 1000 to 5,000 IUs daily. A happy medium would be somewhere in between there. Every chance you get, get some sunlight exposure. You don’t need to be in the sun for hours and hours and hours. Just 20 to 30 minutes is plenty of exposure on major parts of the body, like your legs and your arms.
The second thing I wanted to talk about and most people aren’t going to want to hear this, but it is an actual fact, limit or completely remove, resolve that you’re going to completely remove sugar from your diet. When we’re talking about sugar, we’re not just talking about the table sugar. We’re also talking about starches that turn quickly turn into sugar, so you may not like sweets and desserts, but you may love potato chips and other chips and lots of starches, so it’s the same difference. Look, if you do a sugar cleanse, which is good to do, I’m not saying if you cannot completely eliminate sugars forever, eliminate them periodically for at least 30 days and you will see a remarkable change being freed from blood sugar imbalances, sugar cravings and weight gain. Those are just side benefits, but your immune system is going to be boosted just by eliminating sugar from your diet because sugar decreases your immune function and it inhibits the activity of your immune cells.
You got to think about what that sugar is doing it. Number one, most people have what we call insulin resistance and so they’re not able to produce normal amounts of insulin. For example, if you eat an apple, which should be perfectly healthy to do in its natural state, your body should make just enough insulin to drive the sugar from the apple into your cells and then your cells will use that for energy. However, in the case of most of us who have eaten way too much sugar and carbs through our lifespan, we’ve created a problem called insulin resistance where the cells in our bodies no longer accept that insulin normally and convert it into energy, so the insulin just becomes higher and higher in the bloodstream. When that happens, this creates inflammation. Heart disease kills the immune response and so forth and so on.
Now that is a good thing to do. Wouldn’t you agree? How do you do that? Well, the keto diet, you can do a modified version. You don’t have to do a keto that where you have to check your ketones. People do that who are wanting to lose a lot of weight. In this case, we just want to activate our immune system and remove inflammation and get the insulin resistance resolved in our bloodstream. What is good to do is maybe a 30 day keto, a modified keto type diet. By that I don’t mean run out and buy a bunch of products that say keto and a bunch of candy that says keto or bars that say keto. I’m talking about focusing on intermittent fasting, increasing healthy fats, reducing sugars and eating protein adequate. Your focus would be on vegetables and proteins and healthy fats such as avocados, coconut oil, fish oil, and olive oil.
The third thing that I wanted to talk about is getting six to eight hours of good, deep, restful sleep every night. Now I know inability to sleep is a big problem right now. And so you may be thinking, “Okay, so how am I going to do this? I can’t sleep at all and I’m having to take not only medications to sleep, but other things on top of that and I still don’t sleep well.” Work on getting, you may not be able to get six to eight hours of good sleep, but you can start working on that, working with that being your goal. And if you are not able to sleep and you are on medication, then you want to consult your practitioners about how they can help you get sleep.
On your end, what you can do is eliminate electronic devices by your bedside. Do not sleep with your cell phone under your pillow or on your nightstand. Turn off your TV, cover it with a quilt or other blanket. Make sure it’s dark in the room and go to bed earlier. Don’t stay up till midnight or one o’clock working on your computer unless you work at night and then hoping that you will fall asleep. You have to allow your body’s circadian rhythm to relax in the evening. Give yourself some relaxed time in a darkened room. Then if you put your body in a routine, eventually you will be able to sleep. This is important because during that restful sleep, that is when your body is actually repairing the damage that was done to your cells during the day. It’s repairing the cells and it’s also repairing any damage that was done from stresses during the day. That sleep is when your body is actually healing itself. It’s extremely important.
The last thing I’m going to talk about is moderate exercise and by that we mean walking, bike cycling, some aerobic exercise. If you haven’t done this in a while, I suggest only doing this for as long as you can tolerate five minutes, two minutes if that’s it, but then work up to 10 minutes. Work up to 20 minutes and do that regularly, two or three times a week. Every day if you can. Make it a habit to be able to park a little further out from the grocery store. There are many ways that you can enlist to get exercise. Why do you want to get exercise?
Well, number one, it increases your circulation and it promotes the elimination of the toxins that enter your body every day from the food you eat, the air we breathe and the processes that our body is doing. Your body is filtering all these toxins out and removing those so when you move your body, you help this muscle function to optimize. Moderate exercise also reduces stress and of course this is our end goal, optimizes our immune system function. The key is to get the immune system working to keep it working, give it the support it needs and eat the foods that are conducive to a good, strong immune system.
Now if you’re speaking about foods, if you need to boost your immune system, then you can use the medicinal mushrooms such as the shiitake, the cordyceps, the reishi, the maitake mushrooms. The herbs that you can use are echinacea, goldenseal. Also your vitamins, vitamin C, a good whole food vitamin C rather than large doses of ascorbic acid are what are actually needed. Zinc in its pure form, in a food form, that is also needed. But these work only if you are taking the necessary steps on a regular basis to keep your body’s health and immune system optimized. I hope this has been some food for thought there for you.
Jeanne, I’ll tell you what, there have been so many great nuggets of information that everybody should have paid attention to this. This was enough information for five podcasts. It was great. I encourage everybody to listen to this podcast over and over again, implement the things Jeanne has recommended and go to winterwellness.com to learn more how you can work with these fabulously talented people in making you a better healthy person. And so more importantly, share us on social media, be sure to tell people about the podcast. Subscribe on Apple, Google, and Spotify. And Jeanne, we’ll see you next time on the Winter Wellness Podcast.