Anger, laughter and your immune system

 

anxiety-1337383__340

It has been said that one minute of anger weakens your immune system for four to five hours, while one minute of laughter boosts your immune system for over twenty-four hours.   I’ve read these statements several different places recently; I believe scientists are on to something.

defense-1403072__340

Think about it for a minute.  When something or someone angers you, your blood pressure rises, your heart races, and you get a sick feeling in your stomach.  I know I do.  But did you realize that the sick feeling you get can manifest into something more sinister if it persists?  The sick feeling spreads throughout your body, causing stress on all of your organs.  It has been scientifically proven that stress has been linked to many health conditions and disease states.

Conversely, after a good laugh, you feel great and stress or tension is relieved, improving your mood, your outlook, and even your physical appearance!  I posted an article about the scientific benefits of laughter a while back.  Yesterday, when chatting with a dear friend,  I was reminded how anger can cause stress; inspiration for today’s post.

If you find yourself in any relationship that evokes prolonged and unresolvable anger, angst, tension, stress, or sadness, move on and let it go before you cause any permanent damage to your health!

smile-1539196__340

 

Advertisements

Living with Food Allergies

hqdefault

Food allergies can be a pain (literally) to live with.  Some are much more severe than others, with the most severe allergies, called anaphylactic, potentially fatal.  Allergic reactions vary from mild skin rash, slight cough, or itchy throat, to stomach cramps and diarrhea, to heart failure, complete throat/airway obstruction, or unconsciousness.

Common to all allergic reactions is the fact that our immune systems treat the allergen as a foreign substance.  Our immune systems are designed to protect us, so when such a foreign and potentially dangerous substance (called an allergen)is identified, the body goes into attack mode.

In the case of an anaphylactic reaction, the immune system produces massive amounts of histamines which cause the muscles in the lungs to contract, blood vessels to dilate and heart muscle to overwork to a point of heart failure.

A non-anaphylactic, but potentially just as painful, reaction results when the allergen results in the production of antibodies that are deposited in many organs throughout the body.   This is called a CHRONIC reaction, meaning not acute.  This buildup of anibodies takes years to accumulate, so reactions are often hard to diagnose and identify.  Symptoms can mimic asthma, arthritis, high cholesterol and more.  My WHEAT allergy is this chronic, yet painful and unhealthy type of food allergy.

There are many misconceptions of wheat and gluten allergies as well as other gastrointestinal disorders.  Here are some of the important facts:

  • People allegic to wheat and or gluten can and do have anaphylactic reactions as described above.
  • It is a protein in the wheat that is the culprit in wheat allergies.  Gluten is one of, but not the only protein found in wheat that can cause allergic reactions.  So if you are allergic to wheat you do not have to be allergic to gluten, but if you are allergic to gluten, you are allergic to wheat.
  • Gluten is present in wheat, barley and rye.  Semolina, spelt and kamut are less common types of wheat that contain gluten.
  • Oats do not contain gluten, but most products that contain oats have the possiblity of cross contamination from gluten within the grains listed above.  For this reason, people that suffer from celiac disease or a gluten allergy often avoid oats too.
  • Celiac disease results when the allergic reaction to gluten happens within the small intestine.  Most people are aware that celiac disease causes digstive problems such as bloating, gas and diarrhea, but are unaware that edema, fatigue and anemia are common symptoms as well.  Diagnosis is made from a biopsy of the small intestine.
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) causes similar symptoms to celiac disease and chronic food allergies but affects the large intestine.  It is often caused by a bacterial imbalance within the digestive system, and can often be treated with a probiotic.
  • Crohn’s disease causes intermittent patches of inflammation between normal patches within the whole gastrointestinal (GI) tract, but predominantly the lower small intestine and upper large intestine (colon).  The inflammation can extend through the layers of the intestines into surrounding mesentery (tissue)  The cause of Crohn’s disease is suspected to be related to an overactive immune system.
  • Ulcerative Colitis usually starts in the rectum and extends upward into the large intestine.  It only involves the inner lining of the intestine and is more localized (not patchy) than Crohns.  Although diet and stress aggravate UC, the exact cause is still unknown, but also thought to be linked to the immune system of its victims.

 

 

Many people not diagnosed with a gluten or wheat allergy have chosen to eliminate those substances from their diets because they believe that fewer carbohydrates in their diet can result in a  healthier lifestyle.   As suspected by many doubters, this decision may turn out to be temporary  like many other fad diets that have come and gone.

Probiotics are also an option for those concerned with their digestive health.  Check out the research within this guide on probiotic supplements for more information.

If you suffer from the symptoms common to the conditions listed above and cannot control them with your diet, seek advice from your doctor.  Why people choose to eliminate wheat and gluten from their diets does not matter if their lives are improved.

Unfortunately, for many of us, it is not an option.

Foods that Boost our Immune Systems

immune-system-viruses-parasites

To ensure optimal health, everyone, especially pregnant women, should look to proper nutrition and exercise.   To do so, we must be aware of what foods we eat as many are better than others at promoting a healthy immune system to ward off possible pathogens that may affect us.   As well as drinking eight to ten glasses of water per day, we can add the following foods to our daily diets to promote a healthy immune system.

Sweet Potatoes

Like other orange-colored vegetables, sweet potatoes contain beta carotene which is turned into vitamin A in our bodies.  Vitamin A is important in the production of connective tissue which is primarily what our skin is made up of.  Since our skin is the first line of defense protecting the rest of our bodies from viruses and bacteria that could harm us, the vitamin A derived from sweet potatoes keeps our skin healthy.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms are known to increase the production and activity of our white blood cells.  Since our white blood cells are what fights off infection in our bodies, more aggressive white cells and an increased production of them means less chance of bacterial or viral infections.  Shitake, reishi and maitake mushrooms are considered the best at producing white blood cells.  Add them to pizza, pasta sauces, eggs, soups and more.

Beef

The mineral zinc is found in large quantities in beef.  Zinc is necessary in the development of our white blood cells, an important component in our immune systems that recognizes and destroys pathogens like viruses and bacteria from our bodies.  Even a mild zinc deficiency can increase the risk of infection drastically.

Yogurt

The active but harmless bacterial cultures in yogurt called probiotics keep germs that we do get exposed to from settling in our stomachs and intestines.   These germs do not get a chance to settle and grow stronger because the probiotics in yogurt cause our food to move through our bodies faster.  Any infections we may encounter will therefore be much less severe with fewer symptoms and a quicker recovery.

Oats and Barley

These well-known grains contain beta glucan fiber which has anti-microbial and anti-oxidant roles in boosting our immune systems.  The increased fiber in our diet from these grains also helps move food, as well as any pathogens encountered, through our systems faster, resulting in fewer infections.  Oats and barley are present in many cereals and breads.

Tea

Both black and green teas are known to contain L-thianine, an amino acid that produces interferon which in turn fights viruses.  Since these teas are made with water, they also provide an increased boost to the immune systems because adequate water consumption is essential to flushing our systems of viral and bacterial pathogens.

Keeping our immune systems working well is crucial for everyone, but especially important for pregnant women.  In the third trimester of pregnancy a woman’s immune system is naturally suppressed so that the fetus will not be recognized as a foreign object and rejected.  It is therefore imperative that a pregnant woman keep her immune system in peak condition by eating the proper foods throughout the pregnancy.

copyscape picture