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.
Harriet, Good article and Great advice……
Thanks, Suni. Glad you found it helpful.
#1 – check. Thank you garden, flying, sailing and skiing!
#2 – need improvement. Never met a chocolate I didn’t like.
#3 – need improvement. Most of my herbs are dried.
#4 – On average not bad – but need seasonal improvements
#5 – I have to track it a few days to make sure.
#6 – I have to research to know what is needed and where I am
#7 thru 12 – check
Harriet, thank you for posting the link to Dr. Rosedale’s article. That is the first article that I could actually read and understand the processes. Is there a fish oil supplement that you take to increase Omegas?
I have been on all the diets. If there is a diet book, I buy it at Christmas, start the process on January 1 – but am back on the couch with my chocolate ice cream by May 1. It would be nice to find a healthy lifestyle that works fo rme rather than “a diet.”
MsKY, I agree about the diets. The worst one I went on was the dietitician recommended low calorie, low fat, one. It was worst because I tried it for so long that it left me with deficiencies and I could put weight on at only 1350 cals per day. My new lifestyle is a paleo based one which I modify for my auto-immune disease and its keeping me relatively disease free and although I’m no longer losing weight, I’m not putting it on either. But then I eat an average of over 1800 calories, which is so much better than on the low fat diet. A calorie isn’t a calorie – different types of calories do different jobs. Fish calories help take off weight. Grain calories (especially flour) put on weight overnight – half a kilo for a mouthful of cake. Over a kilo if I have it 3 times a day. It changes my metabolism completely and sets off my autoimmune disease.
My favourite lifestyle dietary advice comes from http://www.marksdailyapple.com.
My favourite lifestyle forum that explores health options for the metabolically challenged is http://www.optimalhealthcave.com/index.php.
I no longer take a fish oil supplement as I eat fish daily. When I do eat fish once or twice a day I actually feel better than if I don’t, which is interesting. I didn’t expect that.
Diet? Paleo. Google it…..look it up. It is not easy to follow super strict – but I am 100% Paleo 85% of the time. :Overjoy:
Combined with exercise pounds can be shed weekly.
100%, 85% of the time – that sounds like you’re doing well with it. Now, as I recall I did see a video of a muscled macho studmuffin climbing a rope to the gym ceiling.
Thanks for sharing, I’ll research it
“Studmuffin” – I might need a shirt with that on the back. Should get some “interesting” comments!
Only if Wivey lets you out of the house wearing it.
(old, old joke, popular with larger-size cooks) “I once applied for a job doing porn movies, but there was a typo in the ad.. They didn’t really want a spudmuffin… :( “
Yes, Rourke, paleo is the way to go. I’m 100% paleo 98% of the time. Pounds are likely to come off weekly if you are young, if this is the first time you do it and until you lose about two thirds to 3/4 of your excess. That is, young people can often get back to their desired weight by paleo alone. Men lose more or a greater proportion than women do. Fat, female and over 40 may not get quite as good a result as youngsters or as men – it depends on how metabolically challenged one has become.
In my case I’ve lost 20 kilos (44 pounds) that stays off as long as I stay paleo. I would like to lose another 10 kilos but now my focus is on staying healthy. It is good to have an immune system which stops me from getting coughs, colds and the flu when nearly everyone else gets them. I am hoping by improving my immune system that my autoimmune disease will become completely dormant, that I will avoid the heart disease that my sister has and avoid the cancer that killed my Dad.
Harriet, that is so inspiring. Thanks for sharing. I’m glad this works well for you. I cleaned out the fridge last night and am on the way to the grocery today for Paleo-stuff!