Heal your immune system!
Your immune system is one of the key regulating system of your body. When this system is out of balance it will be virtually impossible to restore your health. Sometimes this system is “weak” and this leads to frequent illness and prolonged periods of recovery. More frequently however, it is out of balance and doing more harm to your body than good!
Your immune system has 2 major functions:
Protection: this means that is finds and destroys anything that can harm you. This includes yeast, bacteria, viruses, parasites and even unhealthy cell produced by your body (i.e. cancer cells).
Healing: your immune system is also the key system for healing in your body. When you damage any part of your body, the immune system sets off a series of reactions that remove damaged tissue and initiates the healing process. You will notice that Level #4 of the Functional Medicine Pyramid that I created is Stress/ Inflammation. Inflammation is part of the healing process but when inflammation is out of balance it causes more damage than good.
Lets say for example you are eating foods that are causing inflammation in your body; that means inflammation and your immune system are “fighting” a false enemy. The food itself will not hurt you like a virus or parasite would; so that is why I call it a “false” enemy; the result however is the same…inflammation and a burden on your immune system.
You will notice I have paired Stress with Inflammation at Level #4; this is because excessive stress will also lead to poor immune function and regulation. If you are overworked, not getting enough rest or under considerable emotional stress, you are more likely to get sick and more likely to trigger inappropriate immune reactions. Stress is can even cause autoimmune conditions to flare up or lead to additional autoimmune diseases.
Most of your immune system is located in and around your digestive tract; which you will find at Level 1 of the Pyramid. You can see how the lower levels of the Functional Medicine Pyramid must be addressed if you hope your heal your immune system and experience appropriate immune responses. What is appropriate you ask? The immune system only attacking true dangers and not your body. When your immune system starts to mistake your own body as an enemy, we call that autoimmunity. One of the most common organs that is attacked by the immune system is the thyroid gland. This can result in Grave’s disease or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. The first causes hyperthyroidism and the second ultimately results in hypothyroidism. This is one of reasons I have placed Thyroid at level #6 of the Pyramid.
There is not much point in trying to “heal” your immune system if your Digestive system is unhealthy. If your Digestive system is not healthy then your ability to Detoxify and keep your body and cells clean will not work properly. If you Blood Sugar is not balanced, this will put Stress on your body and can lead to Inflammation. When this occurs your immune system is now burdened by all of the levels below it; so it either becomes overworked and exhausted or it starts to make “mistakes” and attacks your own body (autoimmunity) or it fails to identify and destroy unhealthy cells (cancer).
Based on the “Physio-LOGICAL” Functional Medicine Pyramid, you would start with your Digestive System (Level #1). This will immediately begin to take pressure off of your Immune System and also make sure you are getting the nutrients required by your immune system to function properly.
I don’t claim this Pyramid is “perfect” but it does provide a very reliable and logical approach to restoring your health. This Pyramid is backed by almost 20 years of clinical experience and thousands of patients I have worked with. The bottom line is that is works when applied properly.
Your body is a complex web of related systems. An experienced functional medicine doctor understands this. With all of the information out there today, it is easy for people to become confused and become uncertain about where they should begin. How do I get healthy? Where do I start? Do I need more bone broth or spinach smoothies? Must I have vitamin K added to my vitamin D supplement? Is intermittent fasting the answer to all of my problems? Is my microbiome healthy and how would I know? The list goes on and on!
I want to make functional medicine simple for you, not complicated. It has always been my belief that a true expert makes complicated subjects easy to understand, not more difficult. When I was in school, I had the privilege of having a nuclear physicist as my instructor. I must admit I did not like physics much, but he sure made what could have been a complicated subject easy to understand. Why? Because who better to teach “basic” physics than a nuclear physicist! He was an expert in physics!
In my next article I will be covering Thyroid which I have placed at Level #6 of the FMHP.
I hope you have found value in this information.
I wish you health, happiness and a better quality of life!
If you would like more information about functional medicine and integrative medicine or Dr. Sexton go to www.napervilleintegratedwellness.com
Do your own research, inform yourself and ask lots of questions. When collecting information, you MUST consider the source. There is no shortage of false, misleading, outdated, profit-driven and utterly biased information in healthcare today; even from the most respected sources and organizations.
This approach to healthcare is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, mitigate, or prevent any disease. Why? The FDA enforces its position that these words can only be used with drugs. This approach does not use drugs.