Introduction | Part 2 - Cell Food | Part 3 - Cell Food (cont'd)
Part 4 - Cell Exercise | Part 5 - Cell Environment

Healthy Cell Concept

Part 6 - Cell Protection / The Immune System

Cell Protection

Cell Protection

A major factor in having healthy cells and a healthy life is the condition of the immune system. This system, a miracle inside our bodies, works to keep us well. It fights disease-that is, it fights the viruses, bacteria, fungi, and other microbes that cause disease. When our systems are not working well, we can come down with common illnesses, such as colds, more easily; can run a greater risk of contracting more serious illnesses; and can take a long time to recover from health problems. It pays, then, to keep the immune system in tip- top shape.

A Brief Introduction

One of the reasons that we fall ill is because the body's defense system-the immune system-is breached by a pathogen. A pathogen is simply an organism that causes disease. Three examples of pathogens are viruses (colds, AIDS), bacteria (strep throat, pneumonia), and fungi (athlete's foot, candida).

The immune system fights pathogens by first refusing them entry: the skin and mucous membranes at body openings act as guardians. If a pathogen does make it inside the body, different types of white blood cells engulf and destroy it. (For information on the components of the immune system, see the "Cell Protection" sections of the Healthy Cell Concept softcover or pocket books.)

Protecting Cell Protection

We can enhance our immune systems through lifestyle. In improving your immunity, you should focus on diet, exercise, and attitude. Note that these are three components of the Healthy Cell Concept- and a great example of how its individual components work together to form a greater whole, in this case cell protection.

Diet

Diet

You can use diet to aid your immune system in two ways: by eating the right foods and by avoiding the wrong foods. What are the right foods? As we learned in the Cell Food section of the Healthy Cell Concept, fruits, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates such as grains and whole wheat breads are great. Keep fat intake low, and get plenty of fiber. Certain vitamins and minerals are especially good for the immune system. These include the B vitamins and vitamins A, C, and E, and the minerals potassium, copper, iron, and zinc.

Certain foods should be avoided. These include foods with simple sugars. When you digest sugar, the activity of a type of disease-fighting white blood cell slows down. Remember: if you eat sugar throughout the day, you slow down your immune system throughout the day.

Nancy Appleton, Ph.D., in her book, "Lick the Sugar Habit" documents some 77 consequences of sugar. These include hyperactivity in children, kidney damage, mineral deficiency and imbalance, weakened eyesight, arthritis, asthma, candida, and hormonal imbalance. Supplements may help boost your immunity. Echinacea and garlic are proven immune enhancers. A study conducted at Ball State University, Muncie Center for Medical Education, showed that green barley extract may increase leukocytes- white blood cells important in immunity.

Exercise

Exercise

Exercising also helps bolster the immune system. With exercise, some of the white blood cell components of the immune system circulate throughout the body more quickly, which means they have more opportunities to combat viruses and bacteria.

Don't be fooled into thinking that you have to become an athlete and exert maximum energy everyday to use exercise as an immune booster. Researchers in Minnesota found that one exercise session a week was effective in reducing the risk of death from a variety of causes.

Regular exercise also reduces the risk of dying prematurely, of dying from heart disease, of developing diabetes, of developing high blood pressure, and of developing colon cancer; helps reduce blood pressure in people who already have high blood pressure; reduces feelings of depression and anxiety; promotes psychological well-being; helps control weight; helps build and maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints; and helps older adults become stronger and better able to move about without falling.

Attitude

Attitude

Another component in helping the immune system should be easy: relaxation. This means sleep, low stress, and a good attitude. When we sleep, our bodies recharge themselves: this means repairing tissue, healing, and fueling cells and organs. Sleep may be the single most important thing we can do to help our immune systems.

Stress hurts the immune system. Indirectly, when we worry about family, jobs, friends, or school, we often lose sleep and cannot relax. This takes valuable recharge time away from our immune systems. On a more technical level, recent studies have shown that stressful arguments change the level of hormones that promote or reduce immune system functions. A 1993 study demonstrated that immune function markers showed significant changes after newlywed couples had words on a sensitive topic. Finally, feeling good about things makes a difference. Although there have long been reports of laughter helping people through illness, they were often dismissed as "testimonial." Now, however, research is discovering why a healthy mental attitude bolsters the immune system. Studies have shown that components of the immune system can respond to chemical secretions by the central nervous system.

White blood cells, for example, become less active in fighting infection when exposed to a neurochemical released in response to stress. David Spiegel of the University of California-San Francisco led a study showing that women with advanced breast cancer survived nearly twice as long if they participated in a weekly support group. Other researchers have found the same results in patients with melanoma, leukemia, and lymphoma.

Aim Products

The AIM Products

Many AIM products are "cell protectors." AIM Barleygreen, AIM Just Carrots, and AIM Bear Paw Garlic contain nutrients that are beneficial to a healthy immune system. Antioxidants, such as those found in AIM Super-Zymes/WheatZymes and AIM Proancynol, provide protection against free radical damage, which can hurt immunity. Finally, AIM Silver Plus is often used to maintain a healthy immune system.

With autumn in full swing, cold season is starting. This is a good time to educate people on keeping the immune system healthy and on the role of AIM products in doing so. An autumn "Fight the Flu" home meeting might be a great attention- getter. Invite people over to discuss how lifestyle can help them get through the cold season.

Eating for your immune system

Eat a variety of foods, not just "immune system foods."
The immune system is varied and, thus, needs many different nutrients. If you stick with only a few foods, you may deprive the body of its nutritional needs.

Eat generous amounts of fruits and vegetables.
Fruits and vegetables contain important vitamins as well as phytochemicals that can help the body fight disease.

Eat foods that contain minerals, especially zinc, iron and copper.
Don't overdo it; too much of these is as bad as not enough. (Which is why you should eat foods, not take supplements.)

Eat complex carbohydrates such as grains and legumes.
This results in longer- lasting energy. If you do not get enough carbohydrates, your body will draw on protein, robbing immunological cells of important foods.

Eat foods high in fiber.
Try to consume 30-40 grams of fiber a day. Eat before or during times of stress. This way you make sure you get adequate energy for your "normal" functions and the extra energy needed during times of stress.

Don't eat fat.
Try not to make fats any more than 20 percent of your daily caloric intake.

Don't eat sweets.
They suppress the immune system.

Medication can hurt as it "helps"

The pharmaceutical industry produces many over-the-counter products for "routine" illnesses such as colds, fevers, and so on. Unfortunately, in the long run many of these do you more harm than good. What a cold medicine does is suppress the cold's symptoms-and doing this actually suppresses the immune system. When you take these remedies to "feel better," what you actually do is prolong your illness and weaken your immune system.

For example, antihistamines, found in many popular cold-relief products, interfere with the components of the immune system that fight allergies. Decongestant sprays suppress signals to the nose and throat that do little to promote natural defenses against invaders.

In other words, if you have a cold, the best thing you can do is eat well and rest. Stay home if you can; don't go to work and tire yourself, or spread your cold. It may mean a few days of uncomfortable symptoms, but this beats a lifetime of a weakened immune system.

The article "The Healthy Cell Concept" is reproduced with the permission of AIM International
© 1997 - 2005 by AIM International.


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