Author Sidebar: You may be wondering: What does strengthening or boosting your immune system have to do with diabetes? When I was diabetic, I didn't realize how my diabetes negatively affected my immune system.
Most people are aware that boosting the immune system helps to protect us from bacteria and other invading pathogens during the cold and flu season. Consequently, most people understand that the primary function of the immune system is to defend and protect the body from bacteria, viruses and other pathogens.
However, most people are not aware that there is another primary function of the immune system. Do you have any idea what it is?
As depicted in the following diagram from my training program, the immune system has two primary responsibilities:
- To protect us from invading bacteria and other pathogens
- To initiate the cell repair and healing processes.
But, when you're diabetic, the high glucose levels weaken your immune cells, which fail to protect us you from bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens. As a result, you become more susceptible to things like the cold and the flu.
In addition, the high glucose levels prevent the immune system from being able to repair and heal your cells and tissues. As a result, you become more susceptible to slow healing bruises, and leg ulcers.
The main function of the immune system is to protect the human body against disease, bacteria, viruses and other foreign bodies.
The immune system is a complex system that identifies threats to your health, distinguish those threats from your body’s own healthy tissues and eradicate those threats to keep your body healthy.
The immune system is a complex, interactive collection of cells, tissues, organs and processes within the body. When functioning properly, the immune system identifies and destroys a variety of threats, including viruses, bacteria and parasites.
The major components of the immune system include the following:
Lymph nodes: Small, bean-shaped structures that produce and store cells that fight infection and disease and are part of the lymphatic system — which consists of bone marrow, spleen, thymus and lymph nodes. Lymph nodes also contain lymph, the clear fluid that carries those cells to different parts of the body. When the body is fighting infection, lymph nodes can become enlarged and feel sore.
Spleen: The largest lymphatic organ in the body, which is on your left side, under your ribs and above your stomach, contains white blood cells that fight infection or disease. The spleen also helps control the amount of blood in the body and disposes of old or damaged blood cells.
Bone marrow: The yellow tissue in the center of the bones produces white blood cells. This spongy tissue inside some bones, such as the hip and thigh bones, contains immature cells, called stem cells. Stem cells, especially embryonic stem cells, which are derived from eggs fertilized in vitro (outside of the body), are recognized for their flexibility in being able to morph into any human cell.
Lymphocytes: These small white blood cells play a large role in defending the body against disease. The two types of lymphocytes are B-cells, which make antibodies that attack bacteria and toxins; and, T-cells, which help destroy infected or cancerous cells. Killer T-cells are a subgroup of T-cells that kill cells that are infected with viruses and other pathogens or are otherwise damaged. Helper T-cells help determine which immune responses the body makes to a particular pathogen.
Thymus: This small organ is where T-cells mature. This often-overlooked part of the immune system, which is situated beneath the breastbone (and is shaped like a thyme leaf, hence the name), can trigger or maintain the production of antibodies that can result in muscle weakness. Interestingly, the thymus is somewhat large in infants, grows until puberty, then starts to slowly shrink and become replaced by fat with age, (which may contribute to certain disease disorders).
Leukocytes: These disease-fighting white blood cells identify and eliminate pathogens and are the second arm of the innate immune system. The innate leukocytes include phagocytes (macrophages, neutrophils and dendritic cells), mast cells, eosinophils and basophils.
How the Immune System Works
The immune system functions by attacking and destroying disease-causing organisms (e.g. bacteria, viruses, parasites, cancer cells) through a sequence of steps referred to as the immune response.
When foreign particles or antigens invade the body, the various types of immune system cells work in combination to recognize and destroy them. The B lymphocytes are triggered in the process producing antibodies, which are specialized proteins that block specific antigens.
Once these antibodies are produced, they remain in the body and if the same antigen invades the body again, they are already present to block the antigen. Hence, if a person gets a specific disease, that person will not get sick with that disease again. This is the principle used behind immunizations used to prevent diseases.
After an antigen is locked by an antibody, the T cells come into action and destroy the antigens tagged by a particular antibody. T cells are therefore, sometimes referred to as killer cells.
Antibodies can also help in neutralizing toxins secreted by the microorganisms. They also help in activating a specialized group of proteins referred to as complement that helps in destroying viruses, bacteria and other infected cells.
The body is thus protected against diseases by these specialized cells of the immune system and this protection is referred to as immunity.
However, there is another function that the immune system performs that most experts tend to overlook.
When a part of the body is damaged from harmful processes such as inflammation, oxidation, hyperglycemia, glycation, and toxic overload, it is the responsibility of the immune system to initiate the body's cell repair and healing processes.
As previously mentioned, the immune system is a collaboration between various immune cells and proteins that work together to initiate and promote the cell repair and healing processes.
One of these types of cells (monocytes) are converted to macrophages, which digest and kill bacterial pathogens. These macrophages secrete a variety of chemotactic and growth factors that stimulate blood clotting, scab formation, cell migration, proliferation, and the formation of new collagen and new tissue.
For an example of the repair and healing process: When you cut your finger, it is the cells associated with the immune system (e.g. macrophages, neutrophils, other white blood cells) that trigger the initial inflammation (redness). These cells also create the clotting factors that stop the bleeding and create a scab to cover the cut so that it can heal.
Similar repair and healing processes go on inside the body when cells and tissues associated with the arteries, eyes, kidneys, liver, etc. are damaged from a disease such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease or cancer.
However, because of the high blood glucose levels associated with Type 2 diabetes, the macrophages and other white blood cells are lethargic and not as active in repairing the body. In some cases, these cells become damaged from the constant inflammation and excess oxidation, further impairing the healing and repair processes.
Consequently, a diabetic's body takes longer to heal from bruises, infections, and other health problems due to cell/tissue damage. And, because it takes longer to heal, it makes the diabetic more susceptible to other complications.
As a result, it is imperative to not only lower and stabilize blood glucose levels but strengthen and boost the immune system so that it can help in the cell repair and healing processes.
Why is this two-fold strategy so important? Because if you only focus on lowering blood glucose levels, the body's overall health will still continue to deteriorate and the diabetes will continue to progress.
This is one of the reasons why Type 2 diabetes is called a progressive disease! Controlling the blood glucose while the disease progresses is like bailing water out of a sinking rowboat with holes in it without addressing how to plug up the holes.
How to Boost Your Immune System
The functioning of the immune system, like most systems in the body, is dependent on good nutrition, exercise, and other lifestyle changes (e.g. meditation).
Consequently, in order to strengthen and rebalance your immune system, you need to address the following areas:
- Other Lifestyle Changes
Fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs, and foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids help to strengthen the immune system.
Key vegetables include broccoli, cabbage, yams, carrots, onions; and, unprocessed fermented foods. Key fruits include blueberries and apples.
Key herbs include echinacea, licorice, ginseng, astragalus, sage, and garlic. In addition, some mushrooms such as shiitake, resihi, and maitake have shown some evidence in regulating the immune system.
Key fats include monounsaturated fats from extra virgin olive oil; Omega-3 fatty acids from cold-water fish such as wild salmon, calamari (squid) and unprocessed cod liver oil; and, medium-chain fatty acids from extra virgin coconut oil.
The following is an overview of the key steps to help strengthen your immune system so that it can defend your body against further damage and initiate the repair processes.
First, you have to educate yourself about disease, drugs, and nutrition.
- Start with a book like "Death to Diabetes" to acquire the knowledge.
- Get the Power of Raw Juicing and Raw Food Diet ebooks to help implement at least a partial raw food diet program.
- Get the Cleanse & Detox ebook to prevent your immune system from becoming weak, especially during flu season.
Next, you have to stop poisoning your body and stop weakening your immune system!
- It is imperative that you stop eating all "dead" processed foods.
- Don’t eat cooked meat, or processed foods at all.
- Avoid all processed foods, especially those containing flour, sugar, HFCS, PHO, soy, or processed vinegar.
- Avoid all dairy products except raw (unpasteurized, unhomogenized) goat’s milk, and yogurt made from the same.
- Avoid traditional toothpaste and tap water, which contain fluoride and may inhibit the functioning of the thyroid gland.
- Avoid tobacco, alcohol, caffeine, OTC drugs, prescription drugs, and recreational drugs.
Then, you need to nourish your body's cells and tissues to strengthen your immune system and initiate your body's cellular repair processes and healing mechanisms.
- Follow a well-balanced and macronutrient-dense nutritional program such as the Death to Diabetes Super Meal Model (Chapters 5-7 of the Death to Diabetes book). Get the 3-in-1 Death to Diabetes Cookbook for lots of healthy recipes and structured meal planning.
- Eat lots of raw or lightly-steamed vegetables, some whole fruits, and as many of the top disease-fighting foods and antioxidant-rich foods as possible to strengthen your immune system.
- Use plant oils, especially first-pressed extra virgin olive oil and extra virgin coconut oil; also, evening primrose oil (GLA). Avoid all vegetable oils, including canola oil.
- Strengthen your immune system with the raw foods, medicinal mushrooms, organic soups/broths, detox, and raw juicing.
- Use the Raw Juicing ebook to implement raw vegetable juicing, and drink raw vegetable juice at least 2-4 times a day, preferably 25-30 minutes before meals.
- Cleanse/detox periodically -- at least every 3 months. Use high-quality organic herbs and herbal tinctures. Get the Cleanse & Detox ebook to strengthen your immune system.
- Use medicinal mushrooms (i.e. cordyceps, reishi, maitake and shiitake) and wholefood supplements (i.e. Vitamin D, echinacea; organic herbs, herbal tinctures) to nourish your cells and rev up your immune system to produce more NKs. Get the Nutritional Supplements ebook for a list of the top wholefood supplements and herbal tinctures that boost the immune system.
- Use raw garlic (or aged garlic extract), onions, bright-colored peppers, herbs, and organic spices to season your food.
Use nutritional supplementation,to help strengthen your immune system but, only after you have made some dietary changes.
- Key vitamin/mineral supplements include: Vitamin B-Complex, Vitamin D3 (unprocessed cod liver oil), selenium. magnesium.
- Possible herbal supplements may include: ashwagandha, cayenne pepper, ginseng, ginger, licorice, turmeric.
- Other key supplements, depending on your health issues may include: CoQ10, lipoic acid, beta glucan, garlic, raw honey (manuka), systemic enzymes.
Use exercise to help build your immune system.
- Exercise consistently. Physical activities like walking, cycling, swimming, gardening, dancing, etc. helps keep one's immune system strong. Read Chapter 10 of the Death to Diabetes book.
- Note: It is believed that moderate exercises strengthen the body's immune system, whereas, intense exercises suppress the immune system's function. Regular exercises can help get rid of airborne bacteria and viruses from the lungs, that can otherwise lead to upper respiratory tract infections. Stretching exercises also help relieve mental tension, anxiety and stress, thereby lowering one's blood pressure and contributing to good sleep.
Make other lifestyle changes to help your immune system.
- Use sleep, meditation, prayer, socializing, etc. to reduce the stress in your life.
- Use your inner spirit to self-motivate, and obtain emotional support -- read Chapter 13 of the Death to Diabetes book. If necessary, get the Motivation & Will Power or Stress Reduction ebook.
- Wash hands frequently, avoid touching/rubbing the eyes.
- Avoid OTC and prescriptions drugs like the plague! If you're taking medications, get the Drug Weaning ebook.
Some of the best natural alternatives to antibiotics include the following.
Virgin Coconut Oil: is full of powerful medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), including lauric acid. It has the ability to kill harmful bacteria like H. pylori. Research shows it’s also effective at fighting C. difficile—a strain of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and one of the leading causes of diarrhea in hospitals worldwide.
Olive Leaf Extract: helps defend against a wide variety of viruses and bacteria. And it can do things that most prescription drugs can’t. It can even cut off the amino acid supply to viruses to keep them from spreading. One study found that exposing E. coli to just a 6% olive leaf extract completely destroyed it. You can find natural olive leaf extract supplements in most health food stores and online.
Garlic: kills bacteria and fights disease. Russian soldiers used it as a natural antibiotic during World War II after running out of penicillin. Recent research found that it may even help protect against the common cold. Allicin—a powerful compound in garlic—can fight the “superbugs” that prescription drugs can’t. These include VRE and MRSA
Colloidal Silver: While most antibiotic drugs are effective against only a few germs, silver has been reported to kill well over 600 different strains. Moreover, infections that can become resistant to pharmaceutical antibiotics cannot develop the same defense against silver.
In recent laboratory tests, scientists found colloidal silver to be effective even against many of the more insidious organisms including Staphylococcus Aureus, Salmonella Typhi, and Candida Globata.
Colloidal silver can be used in many ways. For example, ear infections can be treated using a dropper bottle (available from chemists), and sinus infections by spraying the solution into the nasal cavities three times each day. Any nasal spray can be pressed into service for this purpose by emptying the original contents, washing, and then refilling with the silver solution.
Colloidal silver consists of ultra-fine silver particles suspended in purified water, and it is completely safe to use both externally. For internal use, check with a naturopath or biochemist to ensure that it's safe andreally colloidal silver!
The best results are obtained by using a product with the smallest possible particle size, e.g. colloidal silver with a particle size of 0.0006 to 0.005 microns; but, make sure that it's colloidal silver not ionic silver.
Herbs: The following herbs contain antibiotic properties: aloe, burdock, cayenne, chaparral, cloves, echinacea, eucalyptus, garlic, ginger, goldenseal, grapefruit seed extract, holy thistle, horseradish, juniper, liquorice, lobelia, mullein, myrrh, oregano, red clover, sage, thyme, turmeric, and wormwood.
Raw Honey: such as manuka honey has been shown in studies to be as effective as commercial topical antibiotics but, unlike pharmaceutical antibiotics, raw honey is essentially immune to resistance because it fights bacteria in several different ways.
Raw honey's acidic pH, low water content (which effectively dehydrates bacteria), and the hydrogen peroxide secreted by its naturally occurring enzymes, all make it ideal for combating organisms that have developed resistance to standard antibiotics.
Raw honey has proven to be effective with healing wounds and leg ulcers. The raw honey will envelop the bacteria and eventually kill the bacteria. But, make sure that the raw honey is the authentic manuka honey.
Note: If you take an antibiotic, make sure that you take a probiotic supplement to help replenish the good bacteria in your gastrointestinal system.
Obtain one or more of the following Death to Diabetes books that will help to strengthen and boost your immune system:
- Natural Treatment Strategies for the Immune System book
- Death to Diabetes book
- Power of Juicing book
- The Raw Food Diet book
- Cleanse-Detox book
- Nutritional Supplementation book
- Drug Weaning book
Note: If you have an autoimmune disease, allergies, PCOS, or if you have issues with your thyroid, refer to the Autoimmune Diseases web page and get the How to Treat Autoimmune Diseases, PCOS & Thyroid Issues Naturally ebook. This ebook explains how to treat the more common autoimmune diseases as well as how to optimize the health of your thyroid.
Disclaimer: This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
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