These are testing times for our civilization with no extraordinary improvement expected in the foreseeable future. My heart goes out to all the affected individuals by the recent events occurring globally. Being a father, a husband, a son, a grandson, I am petrified for the safety of my family. In these tough times the only thing we have in our control is how rigidly we are with preventive measures to tackle this virus. Being a bariatric surgeon, I have a pestering desire to share some knowledge on the immune system, hoping to help some post bariatric patient or some obese individuals wanting to take some extra precautionary measures to strengthen their immune systems.
A working immune system is like your personal army against disease causing organisms. It works admirably in keeping infections away, which is why the most of the people are able to fight off most infections. A weak immune system, however, is an open invitation for a viral party. How does the immune system get impaired? General aging, stress, increased weight, substance abuse, liquor consumption, poor eating habits, micronutrient deficiencies, and under-exercising plays a role. Certain drugs like, corticosteroids, glucocorticoids, certain antibiotics and other immunosuppressant medications can definitely leave immune system vulnerable. Also, sadly, autoimmunity and other chronic disease conditions can weaken the immune system. But there is good news. There are numerous basic ways that you can support your immune system strength quickly and from the comfort of your own home.
One: I cannot stress enough the importance of including vegetables and fruits the biggest part of your diet. This implies avoiding foods that are processed and high in caloric content (i.e. chips, pasta, noodles, snack foods, breads). By focusing on whole foods, you’re eating foods rich in nutrients as well as essential pre-biotic fibres to help a healthy gut. My biggest tip here is to expand your fruit and vegetable intake as they all have different nutrient content. Eat colourful, try to get different colours every time you shop. Just eating capsicum and carrot will not get the job done.
Two: MANAGE YOUR STRESS LEVELS. I realise that you all think that since lockdown all you are doing is relaxation, but I also know that you don’t know the correct significance of relaxation and how to apply that into your life. Push more!! Yoga, meditation, reading, concentrating on your breathing, pursuing hobbies like gardening, music, organising your home , can all induce weight loss and affect the strength of your immune system. A powerful way to release endorphins (happy hormones) is through simple breathing meditations where our intake of oxygen and release of CO2 is greater than normal (deep breathing through the nose and mouth). Few conscious breaths is enough to boost immune function.
Three: Create a healthy environment for your microbiome to flourish and grow. Most of your immune system is in your gut. Yes, THE MAJORITY OF YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM EXISTS RIGHT IN YOUR GUT. A healthy microbiome also plays a role after gastric bypass surgery in weight reduction. By removing sugar, removing liquor consumption, consuming plenty of pre-biotic fibre, AND taking a quality probiotic with different strains of bacteria in it you are giving your immune system all the necessary ammunition.
Four: We now know that exercise makes our body stronger, builds blood flow and helps the body flush toxins and deliver nutrients to every cell. Including more exercise into your daily schedule will not only assist weight loss but also help your immune system and shield you from sickness. During workout your body also releases endorphins (happy hormones) which will improve energy level and overall mood. When you feel happy, your immune system will instantly perform better!
Five: Drink Enough Water. Water keeps you hydrated, and additionally carries oxygen to every single one of your cells. Oxygenated cells are optimized cells! Water is also needed in removing toxins from the body, so drinking a good amount of it could help prevent toxins from building up and hampering your immune system. One tip here is to drink couple of glasses of water after you wake up and before consuming any other foods !
Six: No Tobacco, No Alcohol. Tobacco contains more than 6,000 chemicals. At least 46 are known cancer causing agents. Your body attempts to fight each and every chemical as foreign bodies. This happens each time you smoke, snuff or chew tobacco and leaves your immune system tired and unfit to battle against illnesses.
There is strong proof that alcohol disrupts immune pathways and affect the body’s ability to shield against infection.
Seven: Enjoy Life Fully. Invest in time with family, laughing together and doing daily chores together can significantly lower stress hormones, increases immune health and infection-fighting agents. When we laugh, our bodies release endorphin ( happy hormones).
And lastly, botanicals and pharmaceuticals usually a part of your post gastric sleeve or gastric bypass can come in handy for an extra boost. Here, quality and quantity can make or break their effectiveness. Below are my few in this category:
Vitamin C 1000-4000mg daily
Vitamin B complex
Omega-3 Fatty Acids & ALA
Nuts specially Almond
Your immunity depends on a close interplay between various factors of your body’s innate mechanism all of which are affected by an increase in weight. Thus, all the factors promoting a healthy body and mind will boost your immunity and may help you manage your health in these tough conditions.