Our bodies are composed of trillions of cells in organ units. Each cell is attempting to live as healthily as it can, for as long as it can—just like you and me. The outcome of their cellular health and longevity is mostly dependent on the homoeostasis of the body environment in which they live. This homoeostasis involves the modulation of the variables that affect these environments so that the conditions remain stable and relatively constant over time. Thus your immune system underpins all of your organ functions—your digestion, hormonal production and regulation, brain development, bone density, blood pressure, your aches and pains—in fact your body’s ability to live a long healthy life.
Few people really understand the ecology and functioning of the immune system. It is super complex. Most health practitioners focus on the organs or the symptoms of illness arising from organ dysfunction. Few have the ability to focus on balancing the ecology of the immune system to promote proper organ function and thus eliminate the symptoms of illness. While mainstream medicine uses vaccinations to assist immune focus, doctors are mostly focused on addressing symptoms of ill-health.
You may have heard some people claim that nutrition can boost your immune system. I look at it this way: Nutrition to your immune system is like petrol to your car. Petrol is necessary to make your car go, but does it improve the way it drives around corners? No. When your doctor wants your immune system to change direction and tackle a new pathogen such as a new bird-flu virus, does he give you nutrition? No. He gives you a vaccination (immunisation) to alert and code your immune system to the impending danger. The vaccination does not have any nutrition—it has information in the form of an antigen made from the virus. Nutrition just powers your immune cells like all cells in your body and it is rare for there to be such a deficiency in nutrition that your immune system will suffer. (Except for low vitamin D levels due to people not spending enough time in the sun). Don’t be conned by hype about nutrition being necessary for immune health.
There are certain plant chemicals that can assist immune communication—certain herbs such as astragalus, barberry, burdock, cat’s claw, cleavers, chaparral, echinacea, fenugreek, mistletoe, pau’arco, red clover, thuja, tumeric, violet leaves, and others that are medicines used in minute doses—that are not classed as nutrients. On the other hand however, there are many plant chemicals that can and do disrupt the efficiency of our immune system. Defence chemicals such as agglutenins (like lectins), alkaloids (like nicotine, caffeine, morphine, strychnine, and quinine), glucosinolates and terpenoids, (such as steroids, sterols, glycosides and saponins), phenolics (such as tannins and flavonoids), and others.
All of our plant foods have some of these and while our plant foods supply nutrition they potentially can have a major weakening effect on immune communication efficiency and reduce the contact and capture ability of immune cells. They are considered anti-nutrients. For example, all types of grains, including rice and corn, have potent lectins, of which gluten is one. The nightshades and legumes also present us with a cost when we eat them—how much nutrition can we get when we eat them, balanced against our immune system’s ability to neutralise their warfare chemicals? Plants do not want to be eaten.
The strength and efficiency of your immune system depends on three things:
• The number of immune cells, combined with red blood cells.
• The efficiency of communication to transfer information between these cells.
• The ability of immune cells to attach to, engulf and produce chemical warfare against unwanted cells, pathogens and chemicals.
If you look after these, through your lifestyle and use of medicinal herbs, be careful which plant foods you eat, use cooking effectively, and consistently spend adequate time in sunlight, you will have more chance to live a healthy life as you age.