As spring approaches, we begin to renew and rejuvenate, along with Mother Nature.
The weather gets warmer, days longer and buds bloom! The spring equinox represents the beginning of rebirth and is celebrated as a time for restoration and cleaning in many cultures. May it be the time for us to renew our strength and move forward.
This last year of COVID-19 - a long and unprecedented pandemic which affected our lives on many different levels. We are over the hump and things are improving daily.
As we move from the yin of winter towards the yang of summer, so do we move from isolation and hibernation to socializing and connecting - IN PERSON! In the depths of winter we naturally tend towards isolation and hibernation - energetically it's a time to recover and repair - just like when we sleep. This is healthy, for a time. But remember the Chinese Medicine decree: everything in moderation. It is now time to get out and about! Exercise more, socialize more, eat less and move more.
The last year put the emphasis on sanitizing and cleaning and wearing masks to protect ourselves from germs and viruses. This was all good advice. But now it is time now to boost our immune systems. We cannot sanitize the whole world, but we can work on our own health and boosting our immune systems. This is the number one thing ACUPUNCTURE does: it BOOSTS YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM! Here are some other ways to get healthy.
Our immune system is pretty amazing. It's an extended network of proteins, organs, and
cells that work synergistically to keep us protected, healthy, and thriving. However, when our
immune system is compromised, we get sick. The major organs of the immune system include the thymus, liver, bone marrow, tonsils, lymph nodes, spleen, and blood—all of which play a role in immune cell function.
Millions of immune cells flow through our lymphatic system and patrol our bloodstream, looking for atypical molecular structures of pathogens. When we get an external invasion of a pathogen and our immune system is compromised, we get sick. At this stage, fever, inflammation, and other symptoms begin to manifest depending on the pathogen. These symptoms are defensive strategies triggered by the immune system to up regulate the body’s defenses.
Natural Ways to Strengthen Your Immune System
To strengthen the immune system, focus on incorporating lifestyle practices and essential nutrients that improve the function and formation of immune cells.
Focus on the Pillars of Good Health: EAT, SLEEP, MOVE, CONNECT.
Strong immunity is a function of good health. Our immune system is only as strong as we are healthy.
CONNECT (Stress Management)
The best way to support your immune system with your diet is to get enough micronutrients from a whole foods diet, and shore up any deficiencies with supplements. A “whole foods diet” is simply a diet based on real, unprocessed foods close to their natural state. Whole foods will often have more nutrients, vitamins, and minerals than ultra-processed foods, and so they are beneficial for the immune system.
In addition certain supplements (Vit C, Vit D, Zinc) and CHINESE HERBS are great to combat the pathogens and boost our systems. My favorites are Cold Away and Yin Qiao Jin.
Our immune system loves sleep! So many essential processes that support the formation and function of immune cells occur while we sleep. A lack of sleep and poor sleep quality severely impairs immune function (slows activity and inhibits cellular reproduction) and increases susceptibility to infection. (Even a single night of bad sleep can reduce immune cell activity by 70%.). 7-9 hours of high quality sleep is required for optimal health and immune function.
Avoid Stress!! Learn to manage your stress. While acute stress can up-regulate the immune system, chronic stress imparts immune function, increases susceptibility to infection and extends the amount of time it takes to recover from illness. Chronic stress can also lead to depression and anxiety and is a major contributor to poor sleep. Moreover, finding ways to calm the nervous system while adopting new coping strategies can help increase overall health and improve immune system function. Breath work, meditation, good talk with a friend, or my favorite way to COMBAT STRESS:
or exercise. You get an added bonus of Vitamin D if you go OUTSIDE to move! Any kind of movement is good movement. Tai chi, yoga, walks, hikes, biking - spring is in the air, it's time to move! New season, new buds, new beginnings, it's time to enjoy life again. When we nourish ourselves with goodness, we feel good and then give that goodness to our neighbor. It's the cycle of life. Happy Spring!