Part Four: How to Take Care of Your Immune System and Reduce Your Risk of Disease

A healthy body is a hostile environment for pathogens

An impaired immune system weakens the body's ability to fend off infection and disease, but the immune system can also produce symptoms such as fever, muscle and joint pain, digestive problems and fatigue. Many of the symptoms of the colds and flus are caused by the immune system's response to the infection and are a normal part of a healthy, functioning immune system.

Some of the symptoms of a weakened or impaired Immune System are:
  •   2 or more colds / flus a year and slow recovery
  •    Allergies
  •    Poor wound healing
  •    Chronic infections
  •    Digestive disorders
  •    Insomnia
  •    Tumours
  •    Low energy and fatigue
  •    Depression
  •  Chronic fever, diarrhea, digestive disorders, pain, and swollen lymph glands
  •    Asthma and other respiratory disorders
  •    Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia
  •    Impaired organ function
  •    Arthritis
  •    Inflammation


Inflammation is normally a healthy response of the immune system to physical injury and pathogens that cause infection, damage and disease. When the inflammatory process fails to turn off, the immune system becomes compromised because it is simply overworked and overused. Once the immune system is compromised, all forms of chronic disease can occur, not just inflammatory diseases.

Chronic inflammation is the main contributing factor to all chronic degenerative disease including allergies, Alzheimer's, arthritis, asthma, cancer, chronic fatigue, diabetes, digestive disorders, fibromyalgia, heart disease, Lupus, MS, Parkinson's and stroke.

To detect chronic inflammation, which can be silent until a diseased state has been initiated, a health care professional can test for inflammatory biomarkers in the blood. Inflammatory markers are biochemical substances, or messengers the body sends out into the blood to signal to other cells how and where to act in response to a particular pathogen or injury. Inflammatory markers to watch out for include C-reactive protein, lipoprotein(a) or Lp(a), interleukin 6, homocysteine, and fibrinogen. In particular, high levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), an antibody-like blood protein, indicate chronic inflammation, and therefore risk of degenerative diseases such as cardiovascular disease.

Causes of Chronic Inflammation:
  •   Neglect of Basic Health Habits
  •   Oral bacteria
  •   Acidosis
  •   Chronic stress
  •   Medications
  •   Infection
  •   High levels of insulin in blood
  •   Oxygen free radicals
  •   Synthetic Chemicals
  •   Nano Particles loaded with synthetic chemicals
  •  Plant Allergens: Defense Proteins loaded with synthetic chemicals  


Your immune system health depends upon your basic health habits: Sleep, Digestive Health and Nutrition, Hydration, Physical Activity, Positive Mental Attitude, Breathing, Sweating, Sunshine, Rest and Relaxation, Meditation, Hygiene,  Life Skills, and Nature. Taking care of your basic health habits is the best way to prevent illness and disease and cannot be replaced with pill, cure or therapy. In Part Three we looked at the affect that sleep, nutrition and digestive health, physical activity, and hydration have on our immune system health. In Part Four we will look at breathing, positive mental attitude, sweating, sunshine (and Vitamin D) and immune system health.

Basic Health Habit No.5: 
BREATHING your way to health

Breathing allows our cells to be saturated with oxygen and expels wastes and toxins; one of the main ways our body eliminates toxins. 

Oxygen is necessary for cellular respiration: the biochemical process by which a cell converts nutrients into energy involving the oxidation of glucose to carbon dioxide and water; and the dysfunction of cellular respiration is the known cause of cancer and many other diseases. 

Oxygen aids in the building and repair of tissues. It reduces pain and helps the health of all of our tissues and joints. It also relieves fatigue and boosts our energy. Oxygen helps to improve blood sugar levels and to balance hormones. 

Breathing is essential to brain function and helps the movement of lymph, stimulates digestion, metabolism, and abdominal organ function. Breathing is like an internal massage for your body.

Oxygen depletion weakens our immune system, which leads to viral infections, damaged cells, growths, inflamed joints, heart and circulatory problems, toxic buildup in blood and premature aging. Low oxygen allows damaged cells to multiply and form growths in our bodies because our cells are oxygen deficient. If the cells in our bodies are rich in oxygen, mutated cells are less able to reproduce. Oxygen displaces harmful free radicals, neutralizes environmental toxins and destroys anaerobic (the inability to live in oxygen rich environments) infectious bacteria, parasites, microbes and viruses.

In deep, abdominal breathing, the downward and upward movements of the diaphragm, combined with the outward and inward movements of the belly, ribcage, and lower back, help to massage and detoxify our inner organs, promote blood flow and peristalsis, and move the lymph more efficiently through our lymphatic system. The lymphatic system, which is an essential part of our immune system, has no force other than muscular movements to help move it, including the movements of breathing.

The average person takes in approximately 12 breaths per minute. 

The ideal intake of oxygen is three to six deep breaths per minute. Slower and deeper breaths alert the physiological systems to function optimally because there is so little stress on the body. The autonomic nervous system receives alerts from rapid shallow breathing and kicks the adrenaline and nervous system into high gear, placing unneeded stress on the body.

Breathing through the mouth is associated with a number of respiratory disorders including asthma, heart disease and high blood pressure. The nose is equipped with mucus to regulate the nerves that control breathing, and filter and warm the air as it enters the lungs. The sense of smell located in the nose also alerts the body to dangerous air qualities. Additionally, oxygen levels are decreased as mouth breathing creates an imbalance in the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels required for optimum health.

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Improper breathing negatively affects the immune system, which is the body's internal protection against disease, bacteria, harmful chemicals and cancer. Cardiovascular health achieved through regular aerobic exercise maintains lung health and supports a strong immune system. Deep breathing exercises, combined with mind calming activities such as yoga or meditation, control stress levels that also adversely affect the immune system.

Please visit:
HEALTH COACH: Breathing: Life is About Breathing. The Rest is Detail for more helpful information. 

Basic Health Habit No. 6:
Positive Mental Attitude

A positive attitude can help you to deal with stress more effectively, maintain better interpersonal relationships and lead to improved health. A positive attitude can lead to reduced levels of stress. According to the Mayo Clinic, a positive attitude and thinking optimistically can help you to deal with life's stressful situations by reducing the effects of stress on the body. 

Positive thinking can increase the production of endorphins, which are the feel-good chemicals in the brain. People with a positive attitude typically tend to focus on solutions, and not the problem, which leads to greater feelings of productivity and, consequently, higher levels of happiness. 

A positive attitude can help to keep your heart healthy and lower your risk for heart disease. Researchers found that people who have a positive attitude during stressful events are 22 percent less likely to have a fatal or nonfatal heart attack than those who have negative attitudes, according to a WebMD article.

The mind-body connection is powerful, and thoughts and patterns of thinking can dramatically influence what happens to the body. A study on the mind-body connection found clear evidence that the brain has the ability to send signals to immune-system cells. Studies have shown that people who maintain a positive attitude tend to make healthier lifestyle choices. Evidence suggests that having a positive attitude and longevity are also linked. A healthy mental attitude is a chosen set of thoughts and emotions that are energetic, vital, positive and strong enough to result in an outward or physical achievement.


The immune system is the master key of health and a weakened immune system exposes us to infection and disease. 

Scientific research by Dr. Lee Berk from Loma Linda University, California proved that laughter strengthens the immune system by increasing the number of white blood cells, natural killer cells and antibodies. Stress and depression are two major components of ill health. 

With Laughter Yoga exercises, the health benefits come from managing physical, mental and emotional stress. When stress levels are reduced, the immune system becomes stronger automatically. Laughter has aerobic benefits. Dr. William Fry, a well-known research scientist from Stanford University scientifically proved that 10 minutes of healthy laughter is equal to 30 minutes on the rowing machine. As a physical activity, laughter it is similar to other aerobic activities like jogging, swimming and cycling.

Laughter Yoga combines laughter exercises and breathing from yoga and brings more oxygen to the body and brain. A good supply of oxygen is the key for maintaining good health as well as healing a variety of illnesses. It is also important for people suffering from cancer and chronic respiratory diseases like bronchitis and asthma. 

Dr. Lee Berk and fellow researcher Dr. Stanley Tan of Loma Linda University in California have shown that laughter lowers epinephrine levels (which lowers blood pressure), reduces cortisol levels (stress hormones), and boosts immune function by raising levels of infection-fighting T-cells, disease-fighting proteins called Gamma-interferon, and B-cells, which produce disease-destroying antibodies. Laughter also triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, and produces a general sense of well-being.

Please visit:
HEALTH COACH: Positive Mental Attitude: Happiness is an Attitude, Cultivate It for more helpful information.

Basic Health Habit No.7: 

The skin is the largest organ in the body and through the pores it plays a major role in the detoxifying process alongside the lungs, kidneys, bowels, liver and the lymphatic and immune systems. Sweating is the body's safe and natural way to heal. Sweat refreshes the skin, kills viruses, and boosts the immune system. It also has the ability to transform toxins from lipid-soluble or oil-based, into easier to eliminate water soluble forms. 

If you are suffering from chronic health conditions, you may not have the stamina to exercise hard or long enough to work up a good sweat. Another method to induce sweat is a steam bath. Steam baths, like Far Infrared Saunas, provide an alternative to exercise enabling you to incorporate sweating, and therefore detoxification, into your normal routine. Time spent in a steam bath is comparable to brisk walking or jogging. However, time in the steam bath should not replace physical activity entirely. 


Benefits of Sweating:
  • Toxic Waste Removal  While relaxing in a steam bath, amazing things are taking place inside the body. The capillaries dilate, the pulse speeds up, and the blood pressure drops slightly as the blood rushes to the skin and away from the organs to draw the heat away from the skin. Impurities in the liver, kidneys, stomach, muscles, brain, and most other organs are flushed out by the increased flow of juices as their metabolic processes speed up. In only 15 minutes of steam bath use, it is typical to lose nearly a quart of sweat. Although 99% of the sweat is water, the other 1% is waste products that would have otherwise taken 24 hours to be removed, if at all, by the kidneys.
  • Immune System Boost  A steam bath induces a fever-like state in the body. The temperature of your skin may rise up to 10 degrees, but your inner temperature will only raise a maximum of three degrees. Most viruses and harmful bacteria cannot survive these increased temperatures and are thus destroyed. The heat also increases the number of white blood cells in the blood which are beneficial to the immune system. It is also thought that damaged cells repair themselves more quickly under these fever-like conditions.
  • Hormone Stimulation The rise in the body’s temperature from sweating also affects the function of the hormonal system. The pituitary gland is known as the “master gland” because its hormones regulate both metabolism and the activity of other glands. When the temperature rises, the pituitary accelerates the body's metabolism which is especially beneficial for those who have sluggish hormone production.

Our modern lifestyle makes most people's skin inactive. Many of us don't sweat, especially during the winter months. Modern synthetic fibres or tight clothing that don't allow the skin to breathe, can damage our skin and our natural ability for elimination, as does excessive prolonged sun exposure. A sedentary lifestyle also inactivates the skin.

Benefits of the steam bath include:

  • Improved blood circulation: The steam bath increases and improves the rate of blood circulation and breathing.
  • Weight loss: Steam bathing is similar to mild exercise, it burns about 300 calories per average session. Regular steam bath sessions combined with a healthy diet and moderate exercise will help you lose weight and stay fit and healthy.
  • Skin cleansing: A profuse steam bath induced sweat followed by a shower cleanses your skin far more thoroughly than just taking a shower. It makes it soft and healthy with immediately noticeable effects. 
  • Body relaxation: Stress build-up creates tension in the body manifesting in various aches and pains. The heat and humidity of the steam bath diffuses the pain and relaxes tired muscles. A steam bath in the evening will leave tense muscles and sore limbs totally relaxed. Steam bathing also helps to relieves arthritic pain. 
  • Mind relaxation: The steam bath is essentially a place to relax. Regular steam bathing adepts all agree that it effectively helps relieve physical and mental fatigue and stress. Deep relaxation increases healing alpha brain wave activity.
  • The steam bath enhances circulation and oxygenates the cells, tissues and organs. It increases the body's ability to produce energy, which promotes healing. At the same time, heating the tissues speeds up the metabolism and destroys pathogenic microbes including bacteria and viruses. Your cells are gradually capable of eliminating toxins much more effectively. 
  • The release of steam in the steam bath creates negative ions which increases healing. Negative Ion Therapy is used  to used to treat burn victims, cure respiratory diseases, to rid the body of general infection and to prevent the spread of cancer.


Basic Health Habit No. 8

Exposure to sunlight causes vitamin D to be produced in your skin. But only a portion of the solar spectrum, known as ultraviolet B (UVB), has this effect. Other parts of the solar spectrum can have very different  and even harmful effects. UVA can cause cancerous mutations, and can also break down the vitamin D formed in your skin after outdoor UVB exposure. And vitamin D is a potent defense against melanoma. Melanoma cells convert it to calcitriol, which causes tumour growth inhibition and apoptotic cell death in vitro and in vivo. New research shows that increased UVA exposures and inadequately maintained cutaneous levels of vitamin D promote melanoma.

Vitamin D, calciferol, is a fat-soluble vitamin. It is found in food, but it can also be made in your body after exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun. Vitamin D exists in several forms, each with a different activity. Some forms are relatively inactive in the body, and have limited ability to function as a vitamin. The liver and kidney help convert vitamin D to its active hormone form.

Today, it is well established that besides playing a crucial role in the establishment and maintenance of the calcium in the body, the active form of vitamin D also acts an effective regulator of cell growth and differentiation in a number of different cell types, including cancer cells. The major biologic function of vitamin D is to maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus. Vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium, helping to form and maintainstrong bones. It promotes bone mineralization in concert with a number of other vitamins, minerals, and hormones. Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with insulin deficiency and insulin resistance.

Deficiency or insufficiency has been associated with:
  • adrenal insufficiency
  • Alzheimer's
  • allergies
  • autoimmune disorders including multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis
  • cancers of the colon, breast, skin and prostate
  • depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
  • diabetes, Type 1 and 2
  • gluten intolerance, lectin intolerance
  • heart disease, hypertension, Syndrome X
  • infertility, sexual dysfunction
  • learning and behavior disorders
  • misaligned teeth and cavities
  • myopia
  • obesity
  • osteopenia, osteoporosis, rickets, osteomalacia (adult rickets)
  • Parkinson's
  • PMS
  • psoriasis
  • use of corticosteroids

Vitamin D is not a vitamin. It is more appropriately classified as a pro-hormone. Not only is it a pro-hormone, it is a sunlight derived pro-hormone. The active hormone D, calcitriol, controls calcium in vertebrates. Calcium controls innumerable processes in the human body including specific responses in muscles, bones and glands. Calcitriol is a major player in genomic actions determining how our cells express themselves and regulating production of numerous substances including enzymes, hormones and neurotransmitters

Just one example of an important gene that vitamin D up-regulates is your ability to fight infections. It produces over 200 anti-microbial peptides, the most important of which is cathelicidin, a naturally occurring broad-spectrum antibiotic.  Vitamin D can decrease your risk for common respiratory infections as well. At least five studies show an inverse association between lower respiratory tract infections and D levels.  That is, the higher your vitamin D level, the lower your risk of contracting colds, flu, and other respiratory tract infections. A 2007 study suggests higher vitamin D status enhances your immunity to microbial infections. When produced in the skin or ingested, it is a vitamin or prehormone and essential for life. Just as cholesterol is metabolized into testosterone, precholesterol is turned into cholecalciferol (vitamin D), which is metabolized into what now is looking more and more like a hormone 25(OH)D. In turn, this is metabolized in the kidneys or other organs into an even more potent hormone 1, 25(OH)2D.

Vitamin D is an essential part of the endocrine system as it controls several of the adrenal hormones, growth of cells, production of enzymes and has other direct genomic functions. The key difference in definition is that hormones have DNA receptor sites, and vitamin A is in that family as well as vitamin D, and vitamins are parts of coenzyme systems (not genomic). In a way, vitamins A and D are both vitamins and hormones. Vitamin D is also produced in plants such as algae, as well as mushrooms (which are neither animals nor plants) exposed to ultraviolet-B (UVB) radiation.

Serum 25(OH)D levels should be in the 30 to 40 ng/ml (75-100 nmol/L) range for cancer prevention and optimal health. The only way to determine 25(OH)D levels is with a blood test which can be ordered through a physician or nutritionist. However, care should be exercised in choice of a laboratory since the testing methods and quality of the tests may vary. In addition, since 25(OH)D and parathyroid hormone (PTH) are inversely correlated and have opposite effects on calcium in bones, one could also have PTH levels measured.

Exposure to sunlight is an important source of vitamin D. Ultraviolet (UV) rays from sunlight trigger vitamin D synthesis in the skin. 

First, note that the 15 to 30 minutes per day generally applies to fair-skinned, thin, younger individuals, with the more of the body exposed, the better. Darker-skinned individuals may require several hours per day. For those unable to derive sufficient vitamin D from solar UVB, artificial UVB lamps are a viable option, as are vitamin D supplements.

The two viable options are artificial UVB and supplements. If visiting an indoor tanning salon, be sure to ask for the booth with the highest UVB (280-315 nm) to UVA (315-400 nm) ratio since only UVB produces vitamin D. UVA is useful in producing a browner tan.

Melanoma rates are rising as sun exposure and vitamin D status is decreasing dramatically. When you stay out of the sun entirely, you effectively avoid the system nature created to help prevent skin cancer naturally, because the key to unlocking this mechanism is vitamin D. Vitamin D is formed in your skin from exposure to sunlight. The vitamin D then goes directly to the genes in your skin where it helps prevent the types of abnormalities that ultraviolet light causes. When you avoid the sun entirely, or slather on sun block whenever you go out, your skin is not making any vitamin D, and you’re left without this built-in cancer protection.  

Dietary sources of vitamin D are generally insufficient to produce optimal serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D 25(OH)D since milk contains only 400 I.U. of vitamin D3 and 800 to 1000 I.U. per day are probably required. Fish oil with vitamin D can be consumed, but one should see whether and how much vitamin A is included. Vitamins A and D interact and you need the proper balance of  vitamin A. Vitamin D is stored in the blood for a few weeks and in the fat for a few months. Vitamin D comes from two sources: food and sunlight. Some of the best food sources are mushrooms, liver, egg yolks, and fish.

Sun exposure benefits your health by stimulating your skin to produce vitamin D. Vitamin D is a hormone-like substance critical for the vast majority of your biological functions, including:

  • Cardiovascular health
  • Cognition
  • Sleep
  • Immunity
  • Metabolism
  • Bone health and strength
  • Digestion

Vitamin D is the superhero of nutrients, and the best way to get it is from appropriate sun exposure, which causes your skin to manufacture it. Vitamin D levels have been tied to cancer risk: the lower your levels, the higher your risk. Every cell and tissue in your body needs vitamin D to function properly.  But it does more than just that. Vitamin D is different from other vitamins in that it influences your entire body. Receptors that respond to the vitamin have been found in almost every type of human cell, from your brain to your bones. This is why researchers are finding health benefits from vitamin D in virtually every area they look. For example, optimizing your vitamin D levels can help you to prevent as many as 16 different types of cancer including pancreatic, lung, breast, ovarian, prostate, and colon cancers. 

When you get your vitamin D from appropriate sun exposure, your body can self-regulate and reduce vitamin D production if you don't need it, which makes it very difficult to overdose on vitamin D from sun exposure.

D2 and D3
Supplemental vitamin D comes in two forms: ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) and cholecalciferol (vitamin D3). Recent studies have shown that vitamin D3 is a more potent form of vitamin D. Vitamin D2 has a shorter shelf life, and its metabolites bind with protein poorly, making it less effective. 

One unit of cod liver oil (containing vitamin D3) has been shown to be as effective as four units of Viosterol (a medicinal preparation of vitamin D2). 

Basically there are two types of oral vitamin D supplements. The natural ones are D3, and they contain the same vitamin D your body makes when exposed to sunshine. The synthetic ones are vitamin D2, which are sometimes called ergocalciferol. 

Once either form of the vitamin is in your body, it needs to be converted to a more active form. Vitamin D3 is converted 500 percent faster than vitamin D2. Interestingly, it was previously thought that the kidney exclusively performed this function,  However, in 1998 Dr. Michael Hollick, the person who discovered activated vitamin D, showed that many other cells in your body can make this conversion, but they use it themselves, and it is only the kidney that makes enough to distribute to the rest of your body.

However, nearly all the prescription-based supplements contain synthetic vitamin D2, which was first produced in the 1920s through ultraviolet exposure of foods. The process was patented and licensed to drug companies for use in prescription vitamins. The vitamin D that is added to milk is not D3 but the inferior vitamin D2.

Hypercalcemia: Vitamin D Toxicity
When you take large amounts of vitamin D, your liver produces too much of a chemical called 25(OH)D.

When your 25(OH)D levels are too high, this can cause high levels of calcium to develop in your blood. High blood calcium is a condition called hypercalcemia.

The symptoms of hypercalcemia include:

  • feeling sick or being sick
  • poor appetite or loss of appetite
  • feeling very thirsty
  • passing urine often
  • constipation or diarrhea
  • abdominal pain
  • muscle weakness or pain
  • feeling confused
  • feeling tired

In some rare diseases, you may be at risk of hypercalcemia even if you have low vitamin D levels and haven’t taken much vitamin D. These diseases include primary hyperparathyroidism, sarcoidosis and a few other rare diseases.

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