Immunity: Too Much of a Good Thing
By Michael Wald, MS, DC, CDN, CNS – Director of Nutrition at Integrated Medicine of Mount Kisco, 914-242-8844 (Ext. 1)
LISTEN TO THIS TOPIC PRESENTED BY DR. MICHAEL WALD - THE BLOOD DETECTIVE
There is little doubt that the immune system if fundamental for our overall health and wellbeing. To begin with, we actually have several immune systems including white blood cells and immunoglobulins. Too much immunity results in tissue breakdown, inflammation and disease. Too little immunity results in an increased risk of contracting all manner of viruses, bacteria, fungi (yeast) and parasites. Although not all diseases are caused by immune problems, most health problems result in immune problems - either way, paying careful attention to the immune system can go a long way towards preventing and beating illness and disease. Either way, a little knowledge about the immune system and how it works can reduce your risk of premature disease and early death. I have personally focused my clinical nutrition practice upon the immune system as the “base” from which I develop individualized health plans. Below I have provided some of the most common questions and concerns that my patients have asked me about the immune “systems”.
“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.
- Eat only free range animal meats (if you choose to eat meat at all).
- Take at least a multivitamin (without iron unless you are found to be anemic on blood testing).
- Drink a super-food supplement that contains dozens of fruits and vegetables in 1 or 2 scoops. Almost none of my patients can meet the new guidelines outline by Harvard Medical School stating that we need a minimum of 10 combined pieces of fruits and vegetables per day to lower our disease potential.
- Have longevity blood tests performed a few times a year, or as recommended by your longevity practitioner, and tailor all of these suggestions – but more importantly, personalize your diet and nutritional supplements and lifestyle to your exact biochemical (nutritional) needs.
- Wash you hands thoroughly.
- Do not smoke.
- Do not drink alcohol in excess.
- Develop powerful coping skills that allow for you to act rationally and “de-fuse” misinterpretations of external events. In other words, rather than have life determine how you behave, choose your behavior in response to your positive interpretations of external life events.
Nutritional Supports for the winter and for immunity in general:
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 visitIntMedNY.com. Twitter DrMichaelWald (BloodDetective).