Friday, June 19, 2009

Your Immune System: Some Common Misunderstandings About Allergies

To the millions of Americans who suffer from allergies, getting through a day can be exhausting. Allergies are exaggerated reactions of the immune system to substances that don't cause symptoms in most people. Allergies affect the lungs, constricting airways, and can be life threatening. There are many misunderstandings relating to allergies and the immune system, which is why many people suffer unnecessarily.

Symptoms are signals indicating that the body is stressed due to injury, environment, etc. Toxic environmental symptoms can be eliminated when we take proper precautions protect ourselves from them. 

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

- Benjamin Franklin

Our immune system is designed to protect from true natural environmental factors - sun, wind, air...even insect bites. As societies have evolved and nations have become industrialized over the centuries, human immune function has taken on the additional task of defending against modern toxic environmental burdens. Our immune function has become more susceptible, challenged and depleted, working harder than ever to protect us, as our environment continues to become increasingly toxic with man-created chemical substances. Some people are more affected by these factors than others, largely due to their lifestyle choices. 

Here are some easy things you can do to de-stress your immune system and improve your overall well being:

• Dr Mehmet Oz recommends avoidance to allergens that you are aware of that trigger symptoms. This is a "no-brainer", but some people are unable to avoid allergenic challenges due to work environment. When this is the case, there are other ways to defend yourself:

• Replace chemical household cleaners with a solution of vinegar and water (as a glass/surface cleaner), baking soda (as a scrub-type cleaner), hydrogen peroxide to remove laundry stains, etc. They're far less expensive than commercial cleaners and are non-toxic.

• If you can't get around using chemicals, wear gloves when handling any and all chemicals - even household cleaning products.  After years of 'a spray here and a spray there', the immune system can become compromised. The skin is the largest organ, and an avenue of elimination with 2 lanes -- one in and one out. Toxins can pass through the skin and enter the bloodstream. We suggest, if you wouldn't put it in your mouth, don't put it on your skin.

• Wear a mask when working in or cleaning dusty and moldy areas to protect your sinus and respiratory functions. We've heard the excuses - especially from people with the biggest sinus and respiratory issues. You'll know what they are from our responses:  

- It's not an inconvenience when you have some handy, so keep a supply on hand! 

- There are many styles available on the market that are easy to wear, disposable and light weight.

- No, you won't suffocate.  

- Yes, you perspire when you work. So, go outside and take the mask off when you get hot. You probably need the break anyway -- and that would be the perfect opportunity to take a few minutes and rehydrate -- remember to drink half your body weight in ounces of water per day. For example, if you weigh 100 lbs, drink 50 oz (approximately 1.5 liters) per day. Do the math to calculate your suggested water intake. Add more to compensate for perspiration factor.

- Who cares if you don't look 'cool'? Your neighbors and passers-by will probably not be the ones taking care of you when you're sick. And you don't want the people who will be there for you saying, "I told you so".

- They're certainly not as uncomfortable or life changing as being hooked up to an oxygen tank.

• Use a neti pot to relieve/eliminate sinus issues. Neti pots are very easy to use, safe, inexpensive and can be purchased in your local health food store or online.

• One man's 'moderation' is another mans allergy. As close as you are to your friends and family, they are not YOU. Learn about and know your body, and do what's best for your health and well being.

• Unload toxic people from your life (you know, the 'energy vampires' who drain your happiness and energy).

• Laugh.

• Get outside - walk, hike, swim, commune with nature, sit on the beach....just get out there and --

• Breathe!  Oxygenating the body is one of the most important things you can do to restore and rejuvenate healthy cells.  Healthy cells equals healthy body. A healthy body makes it easier to be happy about your life. Your lungs are an avenue of elimination for the body.  They take in air and pollutants, so it's important to detoxify them frequently. Practice 8-10 deep connected breaths (it just takes a minute) -- breathe in and completely fill the whole chest and belly, using the "root/tail bone area" as your focal point, exhale and repeat. Doing this several times throughout the day helps relieve stress, too! Some people find it particularly helpful when they start to feel anxious or frustrated. Integrate connecting breathing 15 minutes twice a day into your daily routine - upon waking and when retiring in the evening. This could improve your sleep quality, too.

• Do something to nurture your spirit - pray, meditate, read...and do it every day for 15-20 minutes. Many people have found that keeping a Gratitude Journal, jotting down things they are grateful for that have happened each day, is helpful to remain in a positive mindset. Living in gratitude is a great place to be.

Enjoy a peaceful weekend. Happy Father's Day, Dad!


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