A Checklist for Optimal Immune Performance
By now you know it’s in your best interest to make sure your immune system is happy and strong. So in this blog post, we’ll be sharing how to make sure that it’s healthy and operating the way it’s supposed to operate!
Here’s a helpful metaphor to get started with:
Imagine we were going to get in a car together and we were going to drive from New York to Los Angeles. It’s quite a long drive so it’ll probably take us up to five days. So we’re going to want to make sure that we do certain things with the car before we take off.
We’re going to check that the car has good oil in it, that the levels are right, and that it’s been changed recently. We’re going to check that the brake fluid is good, that the battery is in good health, that it has windshield washer fluid and antifreeze in the radiator, that the tires are at the right pressure — you get the picture. We’re going to run through a list of the car’s wants and needs and make sure that they’re each being met so that the car can operate optimally.
Of course this doesn’t mean that the car won’t break down or that the trip will be entirely smooth. But it makes it 100% more likely.
Now we’re going to do the exact same thing.
Unlike the car, the journey in your body will be much longer than 3-5 days, hopefully one that’s for decades to come, so let’s take a look at the body’s needs.
Our body needs air. That may seem like a redundant thing to tell you because you’ve never forgotten to breathe, but it’s not simply that we breathe, it’s that we breathe the best quality air that we can from time to time.
Sure, many of us live in cities and we can’t control it every minute of every day, but we want to make sure that on a regular basis we’re breathing the best quality air that we can. We also want to make sure that we’re breathing properly, because there are two different types of breathing.
One of them being stress breathing. Another way to think of it might be prey breathing. Imagine that you are in the forest, and you suddenly realize that a grizzly bear is following you. How do you think you would breathe?
When you breathe very shallow at the top of your lungs, you’re telling your body that you’re in danger. Do you know what’s really crazy? Most of us sit at our computers, crunch up our diaphragm and breathe like there’s a grizzly breathing down our neck all the time. Which as you now know, stress suppresses immune function.
So we want to make sure that at least several times a day we do some really good deep breathing exercises that can effectively work to make sure we tell our body, “Hey, we’re in a safe environment, okay”.
Your body is almost all water, so when you’re running low on water, you’re running low on you. It’s incredibly important that you keep yourself hydrated with the best quality water you can. We recognize that not all of us have access to the very best mineral water, glacial runoff water, or spring water, so whatever your case may be, do the very best you can.
What we really want to be clear about is coffee is not water. Milk is not water. Coca Cola is not water. There may be infinitesimal amounts of water in those things, but most of them are set up to burn through that water pretty darn quickly. Thus, they do not count as hydration.
You know what does count as water? Water. Water counts as water. So make sure you keep yourself well hydrated, because that’s one of the best gifts that you can give your body and therefore your immune system.
If you don’t know how key sleep is personally, you’re probably a man or a woman who’s never had children, because any woman who’s had a child and had to wake up every hour and a half to breastfeed them knows what jelly head feels like. Jelly head is when your brain can no longer function properly due to lack of sleep. You can’t remember anything, you can’t find the car keys, you can’t find your fridge, your wallet, your bed — it’s like your brain goes soft when you don’t get enough sleep.
Think of it this way, the brain is the most important organ in the body, and so if your body has started down regulating energy to the brain, what else is down regulating is the energy to your immune system.
Sleep is imperative, so here are a couple of tips to help you ensure you get a good one:
- Keep your room a little bit colder
- Turn off your electronic devices 2/3/4 hours before you go to bed
- Don’t eat for 3 hours before you go to bed
- Get clear and excited about the day ahead [i.e., meditate]
The next need of the body is sunlight. Even if you live in a country with sunlight suppression like the United Kingdom, what I want to suggest to you is to remember that if it is light outside, that is sunlight. It doesn’t have to be the direct sun immediately on your skin. If the sun is shining through the clouds, you are getting sunlight. If it’s not very strong, you’ll need to be out there for longer, but you can still get some healthy natural sunlight.
Now, if you really can’t top up on sun, and even if you are topping up on sun, one of the things that you need as a result of that sun is vitamin D. It’s incredibly important for your immune system, for calcium absorption and for a variety of other body functions. So make sure that you are topping up on your vitamin D, especially if you’re not really able to top up on your sunlight.
Remember what we’re doing here is going through a checklist of items just like we did with the car; things that your body needs to operate optimally.
So next on the list is movement, and it might not be for the reason you think. Sure, you should keep your flexibility, you should do your strength training, you should keep your cardiovascular health, all of those things are true, but that’s not the type of movement we’re going to talk about today.
We’re going to talk about a different function of movement that you may not have considered for a long time or maybe ever at all: your lymphatic system.
We all have this fluid in our system called lymph, and we have lymph nodes. There’s no pump for the lymph system, so your body makes lymph, and then the lymph needs to move around. What does it do? It cleanses. Now isn’t that a basic fundamental aspect of your immune system? It’s cleaning you out, taking out all the toxicity and keeping you healthy and clean and strong.
But there’s no pump. Why not? It seems like however humans got created — whether it was evolution or aliens or God or whatever it was — they were very smart when they designed us, but why is there no pump for this lymphatic system? Well, the reason there’s no pump for the lymphatic system is because it’s important, but not urgent. You don’t need lymph every three minutes, but you need it every day.
Our lymphatic system co-opted our muscular system as a pump. So when you use your muscles, when you pump and contract your muscles, it moves lymph around. If you don’t move enough, you don’t move the lymph around. So you have to be able to move 10,000 steps a day. And if right now you’re only doing 2000 or you don’t even know how many, then simply start measuring and work your way up as far as you can; move your legs, move your body, stretch your body, make sure your muscles are moving the lymph around.
Now we can talk about food. First of all, food is not urgent, but it’s important. You can literally go months without food (we’re not recommending it). The truth is, your body doesn’t start to go awry until you’ve gone three plus weeks without food. So food is not urgent. But food is unbelievably important.
We know that we need minerals — 16 certain minerals to be exact, and 13 vitamins. We also know that we need certain healthy fats because they’re imperative to us. Our brain is made of fat. Fat is not evil. We also need amino acids.
What we do not need are incomplete proteins.
So when somebody says to you, “Well, if you go on that diet you won’t get enough protein”, that is a blanket statement of truth that is covering up a larger discussion. And that is that what you really need are the building blocks of proteins, which are amino acids. There are 20 of them — you make 11 of them, but there are nine that you cannot make, you must eat.
If you’re running low on any of these nutrients, your body is not going to be able to run optimally, and of course, your immune system is going to suffer.
Here are some ways you can ensure you get those nutrients in your diet, even if you’re a vegetarian…
You could eat a diet that matches our ancestral history. We know what our ancestors have been eating for millions of years, so let’s not overcomplicate this.
This diet would look like eating a variety of seasonally available fruits and vegetables, meat, fish and eggs, maybe some seeds and nuts from time to time. And that’s pretty much it.
Now, you might be a vegetarian so you might want to take a slightly different approach. By not having animal products in your diet, you’re going to need to do a little bit of research about all the different plants that you need to take in to make sure that each of those nutritional constituents are being met.
It’s slightly harder work if you’re a vegetarian, but possible.
So the key thing here is to make sure that your nutritional needs are being met.
If you do this with this entire list — sit down on a monthly basis with this list and give yourself an honest appraisal — you will be in the top 1% of healthy people, because most people do not have that level of consciousness around their health. They don’t care that much.
These days more than ever before. We need to care that much.
Your immune system is your last line of defense when some new pathogen comes along, so it’s up to you to protect it. Strengthen it. Listen to it. And if you want to move forward with doing exactly that, then register to receive our free video training series directly to your inbox, Keeping Your Immunity System Strong. Register below now!