Cancer & Heart Disease
Which cells should you boost, and to what number? But that doesn't mean the effects of lifestyle on the immune system aren't intriguing and shouldn't be studied. Choose from walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, macadamias, Brazil nuts, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. The Fat Flush Plan author Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, estimates that 80 percent of women have sluggish lymphatic systems and that getting them flowing smoothly is the key to easy weight loss and improved feelings of well-being. Take steps to avoid infection , such as washing your hands frequently and cooking meats thoroughly. Get your copy of Vitamins and Minerals.
But it is hard to perform what scientists call "controlled experiments" in human beings. In a controlled experiment, the scientist can change one and only one factor, such as the amount of a particular chemical, and then measure the effect of that change on some other measurable phenomenon, such as the amount of antibodies produced by a particular type of immune system cell when it is exposed to the chemical.
In a living animal, and especially in a human being, that kind of control is just not possible, since there are so many other things happening to the animal or person at the time that measurements are being taken.
Despite these inevitable difficulties in measuring the relationship of stress to immunity, scientists are making progress.
Almost every mother has said it: So far, researchers who are studying this question think that normal exposure to moderate cold doesn't increase your susceptibility to infection. Most health experts agree that the reason winter is "cold and flu season" is not that people are cold, but that they spend more time indoors, in closer contact with other people who can pass on their germs.
But researchers remain interested in this question in different populations. Some experiments with mice suggest that cold exposure might reduce the ability to cope with infection. But what about humans? Scientists have dunked people in cold water and made others sit nude in subfreezing temperatures.
They've studied people who lived in Antarctica and those on expeditions in the Canadian Rockies. The results have been mixed. For example, researchers documented an increase in upper respiratory infections in competitive cross-country skiers who exercise vigorously in the cold, but whether these infections are due to the cold or other factors — such as the intense exercise or the dryness of the air — is not known. A group of Canadian researchers that has reviewed hundreds of medical studies on the subject and conducted some of its own research concludes that there's no need to worry about moderate cold exposure — it has no detrimental effect on the human immune system.
Should you bundle up when it's cold outside? The answer is "yes" if you're uncomfortable, or if you're going to be outdoors for an extended period where such problems as frostbite and hypothermia are a risk. But don't worry about immunity. Regular exercise is one of the pillars of healthy living.
It improves cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure, helps control body weight, and protects against a variety of diseases. But does it help to boost your immune system naturally and keep it healthy? Just like a healthy diet, exercise can contribute to general good health and therefore to a healthy immune system.
It may contribute even more directly by promoting good circulation, which allows the cells and substances of the immune system to move through the body freely and do their job efficiently. Some scientists are trying to take the next step to determine whether exercise directly affects a person's susceptibility to infection.
For example, some researchers are looking at whether extreme amounts of intensive exercise can cause athletes to get sick more often or somehow impairs their immune function. To do this sort of research, exercise scientists typically ask athletes to exercise intensively; the scientists test their blood and urine before and after the exercise to detect any changes in immune system components.
While some changes have been recorded, immunologists do not yet know what these changes mean in terms of human immune response.
But these subjects are elite athletes undergoing intense physical exertion. What about moderate exercise for average people? Does it help keep the immune system healthy? For now, even though a direct beneficial link hasn't been established, it's reasonable to consider moderate regular exercise to be a beneficial arrow in the quiver of healthy living, a potentially important means for keeping your immune system healthy along with the rest of your body.
One approach that could help researchers get more complete answers about whether lifestyle factors such as exercise help improve immunity takes advantage of the sequencing of the human genome. This opportunity for research based on updated biomedical technology can be employed to give a more complete answer to this and similar questions about the immune system. For example, microarrays or "gene chips" based on the human genome allow scientists to look simultaneously at how thousands of gene sequences are turned on or off in response to specific physiological conditions — for example, blood cells from athletes before and after exercise.
Researchers hope to use these tools to analyze patterns in order to better understand how the many pathways involved act at once. How to boost your immune system Helpful ways to strengthen your immune system and fight off disease Updated: July 16, Published: Photos courtesy of Michael N.
Get your copy of Starting to Exercise. In addition, at the same time, try to reduce consumption of lymph-clogging dairy, sugar, gluten and processed foods. As the lymphatic system is 95 percent water, it is important to avoid becoming dehydrated.
Experts advise drinking half your weight, in ounces, of water a day. Remember, not all water is created equal — so if possible drink pure spring water or purified water to reduce your toxic burden. Use an inversion table, which allows you to be suspended upside down while strapped in by the feet.
Being in this unusual position can help promote free-flowing lymph. Use a quality inversion table with a safety strap to control the angle of inversion and safety locks to hold it in place. Herbal substances can enhance the lymphatic system by improving lymphatic flow and drainage and facilitating removal of toxins. Goosegrass, or Galium aparnine — also known as cleavers — is a time-honored lymphatic tonic, valued for removing and draining trapped bacteria from lymph glands.
Using a brush with coarse bristles, gently brush the skin in the direction of the heart. Although you may feel silly doing this, experts say it stimulates circulation and encourages the movement of lymph. By the way, dry brushing can be particularly helpful in breaking down deposits of cellulite caused by a sluggish lymphatic system.
Utilized in the body to break down proteins and aid in digestion and metabolism, enzymes can help dissolve and clear away toxic accumulations in both the lymph and the blood, promoting lymphatic drainage and stimulating the immune system. You can take them as a supplement — or obtain them through diet by eating papaya, which contains the enzyme papain, and pineapple, which contains bromelain.
Designed to stimulate the flow of lymph and drainage of toxins, specialized lymphatic massage uses gentle pressure and rhythmic circular motions.
You can also perform a do-it-yourself version by gently massaging the lymph nodes under your jaw. According to a review published in The Journal of Manual Manipulative Therapy , lymphatic drainage massage facilitated removal of waste products in the lymphatic system and helped to reduce edema.
This applies particularly to underwire bras , which can significantly interfere with lymphatic flow and drainage from lymph nodes located in the armpit and upper chest. Possible consequences of long-term use of constrictive clothing could include impairment of lymphatic function, fibrocystic breast tissue and even breast cancer. Get a gentle massage. Studies show that a gentle massage can push up to 78 percent of stagnant lymph back into circulation.
Massage frees trapped toxins. You can also try a lymph drainage massage. It is a special form of massage that specifically targets lymph flow in the body. Whatever type of massage you choose, make sure it is gentle. There are countless benefits of getting your lymphatic system moving more efficiently, including more energy, less pain, and improved detoxification. Follow me on Twitter mschoffrocook and Facebook. Share it with your friends tweet email.
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