HOW DOES THE IMMUNE SYSTEM WORK?
© Dr. Deb Baker 2006-2012
Page 1 of Dr. Deb's Immune System Pages
What does the immune system do?
The immune system's main "job" is to protect your body against infection, disease or heal after trauma. Enhancement of the immune system has become a very "hot" topic because of the obvious declining state of the immune system, even in young children. More and more people are ill with colds, influenza, cancers, and a general existance of low energy, lack of vigour..and plain just not feeling well.
What has happened? Why do we as practitioners see more and more chronic illness in younger and younger patients? Even in pets..they are getting "human" diseases at an alamingly rapid rate..and again..far too young.
Well, the story is long and complicated but in my opinion it comes down to a number of things..no surprise...there is rarely ONE thing causing health problems..its mostly an accummulation of many factors.
The Main Assaults to Our Immune System..What Can Cause The Immune System to be Weak?
The problem starts way back, when a pregnant mother eats a standard North American Diet ( referred to as "SAD" and believe me..it is)..which leads to nutrient depletion in the growing baby..and yes most are born with defiencies. See my Newsletter 6-5 for details on the every growing number of obese babies...so what chance do they have of a healthy life when they start out health issues??
Have you noticed that after each birth of your children your PMS or menstrual symptoms have worsened? Has Post Partum Depression been a consequence of child-brithing for you? Has it seemed that you gain weight more easily, or your skin/hair is more dry with each child delivered?
Well, I have some answers for you!!
DHA is the most abundant fatty acid in the brain and supplementation during pregnancy supports the development of the fetal nervous system and retina. DHA also helps to support the nervous system of the mother. In a study soon to appear in Biological Psychiatry, researchers uncovered a 21% reduction of maternal brain DHA levels during animal gestation when dietary supply is low. This is the first time research has shown that inadequate DHA supply during a period of increased demand may lead to changes in DHA fatty acid profiles in the brain. Previous studies had demonstrated that women with lower blood or breast milk DHA content were more likely to suffer from postpartum depression. However, it had previously been thought that brain DHA levels did not fluctuate because the nutrient is eagerly preserved. The authors concluded that the high ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids in the Western diet might be a risk factor for postpartum depression.
What I'm finding in my patients is that each pregnancy takes more and more of your essential omega 3 fatty acids..primarily to make the nervous system for the baby and with today's diet already being too high in omega 6 fatty acids..this whole process cause an even worsened relationship between one's omega 6 and 3's. should be about 1:1 or at the most 2:1.
People with chronic problems such as asthma are found to have ratios as high as 10:1...way out of line.
I use an excellent EPA/DHA blend..EPA/DHA 720 from Metagenics (2-3 per day) and add a little extra DHA with their DHA Lemon Softgels (2 at supper..away from the EPA/DHA 720's)..a boon to any hoistic depression therapy.
Back to Nutrition:
In today's society in North America, most children are inundated with advertisements for sugary foods, fast food, soda pop, candy, etc. All of these are nutrient poor and sugar/fat/chemical laden. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to tell you what kind of health a small body can be in when this is its chief source of nutrition.
This whole process starts with parents not offering enough good quality food..fruits, vegetables, unprocessed meats, whole grains and legumes...and allowing "junk" food to be substituted when little Johnny or Susie puts up a fuss. The other strong factor in this case is ease of putting food on the table. People are far too busy..schedules are just nuts and dinner often needs to be quick..so prepared food is chosen over fresh...a HUGE mistake!!
We are talking about growing bodies here...they of all people on the planet need the best food they can get...they are laying the foundation for their health for the rest of their lives.
In the teen years, kids are even less controllable in terms of their food choices. Many meals are had away from the home and influenzed by now established tastes and also their peers.
Young adults often suffer due to financial constraints of living as college students or starting new jobs which pay lower than those attainable after experience has accrued....and so eat cheaply and often don't cook their own food.
Then we marry, have children and the whole cycle begins again.
With the aging, our ability to produce enzymes to digest and absorb food is lessened every decade. We use up any storage of antioxidants and nutrients we may have had and now our bodies begin to break down from the decades of neglect and under-nourishment.
Its for these reasons that the aged and very young are so susceptible to acute bacterial/viral attack not to mention other diseases.
Your food is your fuel and right from the start in a majority of people in North America are in a state of depletion.
And I tell you..every generation is getting sicker and sicker...never in my nearly 3 decades of practise have I seen so many unwell children..who are really the barameter of our society. They, of all people should be well the majority of the time.
Look around you and see how many children suffer from chronic allergy, asthma, recurring colds and flu, autism and all the behavioural disorders. Its ridiculous!
I will list actual nutrients, herbs, homeopathics to use on my Immune System Buildup page.
2) How Stress Affects Overall Health and The Immune System
The subject of stress is HUGE and how stress affects overall health...and the immune system. There are a cascade of events which occur to change our normal biochemistry to a very undesirable state, which in turn leads to cellular and bodily sub-function.
In a nutshell...under conditions of stress, your adrenal glands are instructed to secrete cortisol..to prepare your body for the natural response of "fight or flight". This is the way we were developed to fight or run from the chasing T. Rex.
Today most people, particularly in North America/Europe/UK live their lives in chronic stress. Everyday is filled with untold schedules, financial distress, job pressures, raising children with all of today's concerns, aging parents and the list goes on.
This results in our bodies constantly secreting coritsol and the long term effect of this is that the chemistry orginally in place to help us..becomes our undoing.
How stress affects the immune system is a decrease in the production of blood cells, gamma globulins (which are protein based molecules..and there are different forms..) also called antibodies and an inhibition of the inflammation cycle..(which you need to fight daily exposures to things like chemicals, virus and bacteria).
Basically your body's biochemistry shifts from daily maintenance and repair to "defense" all the time and this wear's out some vital functions..resulting in chronic immune deficiencies and degenerative disease. (heart, diabetes, arthritis, etc.)
3) What is Psychoneuroimmunology?
Here is something "new" for the more conservative medical types..now being looked at very seriously...just how one feels or their emotional status and the effect it has on your immune system.
The exact translation would be the mind's state and its effect on the nervous and immune system. More and more science is recognizing the power of the mind on the immune system and how that mental attitude can affect healing.
In the 1970's, Dr. Candace Pert when working at the National Institutes of Health, discovered binding sites for specific proteins on the surfaces of white blood cells (very immportant immune system cells). These sites bound with endorphins..the substances known to produce a positive or "happy" effect on the brain and mood.
This gave us the connection between brain chemistry and immunity. Hence was born the field of mind/body science..or psychoneuroimmunology.
Dr. Pert wrote about this in her excellent book Molecules of Emotion
A positive attitude picture carried around with you at all times can be far more healing then we once thought. Now it can be shown scientifically what the positive reponse by the immune system is.
What is the Immune System...What is it Made of? ...Click here to the next page....
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