By Michael Wald, MD, DC, CDN, CNS - Director of Nutrition at Integrated Medicine of Mount Kisco, 914-242-8844 (Ext. 1)
“Dr. Wald, I would like your help to increase my immune system.” This is a common request made by many of my patients. The problem is, the premise behind it is often dead wrong!
Immune Deficiency—Or Excess?
More often than not, health problems are associated with autoimmunity, or too much immunity, rather than immune deficiency, or too little. Too much or too little immunity have much in common. Tissue breakdown involving oxidative stress, inflammation and nutritional issues are common to both extremes of immune imbalance. So how do you tell which immune problem, or combination of problems, you might be suffering from? Yup, you can have both immune deficiency and immune excess simultaneously—further confusing many health-care providers and sufferers alike. The answer is that there is no way, based on symptoms alone, to tell if those particular symptoms are the result of immune suppression or immune excess (autoimmunity).
Symptoms May Not Be What They Seem
Bruising easily, cold sores, constipation, diarrhea, dry eyes and mouth, fatigue, recurrent infections, hair loss, memory loss, feeling cold and poor healing are just a few symptoms of immune imbalance, or “dysfunction,” that require careful questioning, personalized lab tests and trial and error with various natural/nutritional products.
If you do not respond by feeling markedly better when using vitamin C, zinc, echinacea, astragalus, goldenseal, germanium, lysine or other so-called immune boosters, consider that your immune system may not need boosting, but the reverse: immune regulation. The right nutritional program, tailored to your needs, will bring both high and low immune problems back to baseline.
In general however, you can’t go wrong doing the following in preparation for the winter.
- Drink plenty of water; your urine should be clear or nearly clear.
- Sleep at least nine hours—and it must be restorative sleep.
- Eat organic fruits and vegetables, and drink freshly prepared juices.
- Take nutritional supplements based on your blood work.
- Keep warm in order to reduce stress on the immune system.
- Wash your hands frequently to avoid transmission of infectious agents.
- Exercise regularly, but don’t overdo it.
Dr. Michael Wald is director of nutrition at Integrated Medicine of Mount Kisco and the author of more than 10 books on health. His newest book, The Blood Detective’s Longevity Secrets, is scheduled for release in 2013. Contact him at 914.242.8844, ext. 1, or Info@IntMedNY.com. For more information visit IntMedNY.com.