When it comes to survival, having a strong body is one big factor to count on.
A friend of mine – who wrote a great medical survival guide – told me a story once.
He was working at McDonald’s, and an obese woman came in and asked for 3 Big Macs, 2 dollar-menu McChickens, 3 large fries, “and one diet coke, please!” What irony! I hope this lady doesn’t end up in disaster situation, because her chances of survival would be inversely proportional to her weight and her eating habits.
What’s the point of this example? If you disregarded your health before the disaster happened, you can’t be mad because it’s entirely your fault. And you can’t really demand anything of fate at that point.
An ounce of prevention is most certainly worth a pound of cure. Unfortunately, Western medicine focuses on treating illnesses instead of preventing them, and we’re not doing any good by our way of living.
The problem with waiting until you’re already sick to worry about your health is that your body is already in a state of disrepair and your immune system is weak from battling the illness.
Now, everybody gets a cold every once in a while, especially if you have kids or work in environments where germs abound, such as in daycares or hospitals. If you have a strong immune system, your body can fight off most germs before they make you sick, and if you do get sick, your body will be better prepared to kick it faster before it can worsen.
So, you can see how important it is to keep your immune system strong. That’s what this article is about.
Seriously, you always hear how smoking contributes to cancer, heart disease, emphysema, and COPD, but those are just the illnesses that they are obviously related to. The fact is, there are very few other controllable factors that weaken your immune system more than smoking.
In addition to caking your lungs with tar and filling your body with poisonous chemicals that your immune system has to battle, smoking also causes free radicals, which are unstable molecules that are missing an electron. The problem is that all molecules seek to stabilize. To do so, free radicals attach to the electrons of healthy cells and cause damage or death, which causes illness. Free radicals also cause outward and inward signs of aging – wrinkles, poor skin, bad teeth, etc. – and just wreak havoc in general throughout your body.
Every time you suck in a puff, you’re putting your immune system to work, and the more it has to work, the weaker it becomes. Quit it.
I know, everybody says how awful it is, but in truth, it’s a case of ‘everything in moderation.’
The problem is that moderation is difficult because sugar is found in so many processed foods that you may not even realize how much you’re eating.
As a matter of fact, an American adult eats an average of 150 pounds of sugar a year!
Not only is sugar nutritionally empty of everything except carbs, refined sugar is an anti-nutrient – it leeches minerals such as zinc out of your body over time – and it’s a proven fact that it lowers your immunity for up to five hours after you consume it by decreasing your white blood cells’ ability to engulf and destroy bacteria. Many studies even show that cancer cells feed off of sugar.
These problems include all forms of sugar, even natural sugars such as honey and fruit, but natural sugars are accompanied by nutrients, and often fiber. Refined sugar is just garbage.
Keep refined sugar to an absolute minimum and moderate your intake of natural sugars. Eat the whole fruit instead of drinking the juice because you have the fiber to keep the sugar from rushing into your system all at one.
Though a glass of red wine or two daily is shown to have antioxidant effects and reduce the chance of heart disease and boost brain power, that’s about the only type of alcohol that has any health benefits whatsoever.
Alcohol diminished your immune system in three ways. First, it damages cells in your digestive tract so that you can’t absorb nutrients properly. It also interferes with the secretion of enzymes that aid in digestion and it can decrease your liver’s ability to store vitamins.
In short, it blocks proper absorption and storage of the nutrients that your immune system needs to do its thing.
All of those medications that the doctors are so eager to dole out by the fistful today may help with diabetes, high blood pressure, pain, nausea, high cholesterol or whatever other ague you may have, but there’s a good chance that their either leeching nutrients out of your body or preventing their absorption.
If you’re only on a medication for a short period of time, you’re probably OK, but if you’re on one (or more) long-term, your meds are probably weakening your immune system.
The best way to avoid this is to improve your health to the point that you don’t need medication, if that’s possible. It’s hard to admit, and it’s definitely easier to take a pill than to give up HoHos and start exercising, but many illnesses are often caused by a poor diet.
As a matter of fact, every condition that I listed in the first sentence, with the possible exception of pain, can usually be controlled by diet and exercise.
There are also many natural treatments that can help you treat the condition that you’re taking the medication for. I’m not saying that you should stop taking your medications, but I AM saying that if you can get your condition under control with diet and exercise, it would benefit you in many ways, to do so.
Pesticides, et al.
This isn’t supposition. There have been several different, credible research studies that show that pesticides suppress the immune system, especially in kids.
In the early 90s in the agricultural districts of the developing country of Moldova, 80 percent of otherwise-healthy kids had suppressed immunity. Adults who worked in the pesticide factories and on local farms had higher rates of infectious diseases of the respiratory, urinary, digestive, and female genital tracts.
It makes sense because your immune system is working overtime to carry these chemicals out of your body. Your white blood cells have to envelop them and carry them out. It also has to repair damage to tissues that are damaged and free radicals that are created. It’s no wonder that increased disease is found!
In short – they’re bad for you! They make you sick! Don’t eat them! Seriously, though, the Environmental Working Group release two annual lists called the dirty dozen and the clean fifteen. The organization tests thousands of samples of a wide variety of produce and compiles lists of the top fruits and vegetable that had the most and least traces of pesticides.
The 2017 Dirty Dozen List
- Sweet bell peppers
One sample of strawberries had TWENTY different pesticides, 98 percent of the samples from the top seven had residue from at least one pesticide, and spinach had twice as much residue by weight than any other crop.
If you can, buy the organic versions of any of these fruits or veggies, especially if you’re going to eat the peel. If you don’t buy organic, wash them thoroughly with a vinegar water spritz and peel them if appropriate.
The 2017 Clean 15 List
- Sweet Corn
- Frozen sweet peas
None of these tested positive for more than 4 pesticides. Only 1 percent of the samples of avocados and sweet corn showed any detectable pesticides, and more than 80 percent of pineapples, papayas, asparagus, onions, and cabbage had no residues at all.
This list doesn’t change a whole lot year to year, so what you see on this one will probably still be pretty accurate for at least the next few years, barring any significant changes.
The single most effective way to avoid pesticides that cause disease and suppress your immune system is to grow your own food. If you can’t do that, then buy organic, at least if you’re buying anything from the top list. If you can’t do that, then scrub well and peel when possible.
Bleached white flour, chemicals, preservatives, artificial colors and flavors – all of them suppress your immune system in much the same way that sugar does. They also cause an immune response in many people due to allergic reactions to one fake ingredient or another.
Now your immune system is constantly running in the background while you continue to eat processed foods that exacerbate the problem, but not eating anything healthy that can give it a boost. This constant wear and tear on your immune system may cause autoimmune conditions such as asthma, skin conditions, and multiple sclerosis.
The solution goes back to changing your diet. Avoid processed foods and shoot for fresh produce and real meat. Remember though that pesticides and herbicides can diminish your immune system, so try to buy organic when you can. Find a local farmers market if you can. Often, the food is both cheaper and better for you than the produce in a grocery store
Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D plays a huge role in bone health, but another important role that it plays is keeping your immune system working in top form.
All of your immune cells express a vitamin D receptor – that means that they can synthesize vitamin D, which acts to stimulate your immune system. It’s a bit more complicated than that, but the bottom line is that you need vitamin D in order for your immune system to function properly, and if you’re deficient, you’re more susceptible to infections and autoimmune diseases.
Vitamin D comes from the sun. Your body absorbs the UVB rays from the sun and converts it to sunshine. There are a few foods that contain it, including fatty fish like tuna, mackerel, and salmon (which are also rich in essential omega three fats), beef liver, cheese and egg yolks. The easiest way to get your daily dose is to be in the sun for just 30 minutes.
Your body is made up mostly of water and you use a ton of it every day by breathing, sweating, digesting, and lubricating body parts such as your eyes and nose.
One of the primary ways that your body flushes out toxins is via voiding, either through urination or defecation. Sneezing is another way. Regardless of the method it uses, your body needs plenty of water to give the germs the boot.
You need to drink at least 64 ounces a day, but a good rule of thumb is to drink half of your body weight in ounces daily. In other words, if you weigh 180 pounds, you should drink around 90 ounces of water.
Stress, Anxiety, and Fear
Your body thrives on small bursts of stress or the adrenaline and other chemicals released by temporary anxiety and fear, but if it becomes a chronic condition, it can drag you down in several different ways, including suppressing your immune system.
In this case, you are literally thinking yourself sick. Stress or fear in our daily lives whether it’s real (somebody is sick in your family, you have a child overseas in the military, your job or house is threatened, etc.) or imagined (political fears, blurry societal fears, etc.) it has a negative effect on your immune system.
When you live in a state of constant anxiety or fear, which many of us do – it stimulates your sympathetic system, which incorrectly signals to your body that there’s an infection or pathogen, and your immune system kicks in.
Your body strives to be in perfect balance and your immune system is the main rudder that steers the ship. You’re going to be exposed to illnesses, and you may even be genetically disposed to some conditions, but if you have a strong immune system, then your odds of survival increase exponentially.
The problem is that most people don’t pay attention to their immune system until they need it, but by then, it’s too late.
You may have noticed that an underlying theme here is practicing healthy food and exercise habits. Eat well, exercise, calm your mind, and drink plenty of water. It’s a simple recipe, yet it may not be as easy to follow as it is to preach.
Your body is an investment and you only get one, so you may want to consider taking care of it if you want to live to be a happy, healthy old man or old woman, able to survive in time of need. Best of health to you!
Keep this in mind: knowledge is the only doctor that can save you when there is no medical help around you.
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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.