As we grow older we need to optimize all chances at improving our immune system. This is all the more important when resources are limited and access to health/disease care is expensive – there I show you my prejudices. I’m not that enthralled at our current models of so-called health care, especially for those of us with chronic conditions.
So if you have a chronic condition, or you just want to avoid getting one, what can you do?
- Spend some time in the sun to optimize your vitamin D. For years doctors have pushed the message about avoiding the sun to cut skin cancer levels. However now we also know that there is a strong evidence that low levels of vitamin D INCREASE the likelihood of cancer. So do be sensible and avoid getting sun burned, but do get some sun.
- Stabilize your blood sugar levels. This is a vastly unacknowledged factor in ill health. Yes, most of us know that unstable blood sugars are bad for people with diabetes, but they are also bad for everyone if they occur on a regular basis. For a comprehensive discussion on their importance read this article.
- Where possible eat herbs regularly. Bioflavenols and polyphenols are important to our general health as they provide important co-factors needed for good immune function. We need to stop thinking in terms of magic bullets to fix us when we are ill. Eat a range of fresh herbs and vegetables. What is easy to grow in your area will depend on your climate. Where I am I can grow garlic, parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano, lemon balm, lemon verbena, and a range of mints. Use herbs frequently in your cooking.
- Undertake some regular exercise. There are far too many of us whose greatest exercise is to walk from chair to car to shop to car to chair. How many people get down on their hands and knees and scrub their floors? Or climb a ladder to clean our their gutters, or walk to the local shop, or personally dig their gardens. I would like to think that preppers undertake regular incidental exercise such as these, but if you aren’t then start.
- Eat enough quality protein to keep you healthy and replenish your stores that heal and provide energy. The general advice is to eat 1-2 grams per kilo of lean body mass. However that becomes complicated to work out so think in terms of a palm sized quantity of grass fed protein or fish three times a day.
- Improve your omega 3/omega 6 ratios. What this means is that we eat too much of the wrong sort of fat. We need to eat fish, lots of fish and if that is not possible for budget reasons then have some krill oil (preferable) or ordinary fish oil. Avoid vegetable oils except for coconut oil and olive oils.
- Laugh lots and make time for play. Medical research has shown that laughter improves our immune system.
- Do something creative that you enjoy, that’s another activity shown to improve your immune system, though I’ve currently mislaid my list of references for this.
- Deal with your unfinished business. There is a lot of research to show that bad stuff from our past can haunt us, either literally through bad memories and PTSD or through repressing them so they are reflected in poor immune function. Holocaust survivors who told their stories were shown to have improved immune systems compared to those who chose not to.
- Prepare for your future. When we are comfortable we have done as much as we can to look after ourselves then we are much less worried than if we are just aware and yet do nothing.