Health 3: Immune and Respiratory Health
In our current climate, immune and respiratory health are essential.
The immune system is necessary for our survival and is the body’s natural defence system. It is a complex system that defends from invaders, such as pathogens, bacteria, parasites and viruses that have been inhaled, consumed, or absorbed by the skin. More than 70% of the immune system resides in the gut and is mostly controlled by the bacteria that occupy it. When gut health is compromised, it affects the immune system and other bodily systems. Therefore, the health of the digestive and intestinal systems is fundamental for the health of the entire body.
The respiratory system is responsible for supplying blood with oxygen. Oxygen supports the growth, repair, and maintenance of cells, while also providing fuel for all bodily functions. Breathing is an important part of how your body regulates itself. When breathing improves, anxiety and stress levels decrease, energy levels increase, and the sense of well-being improves. The respiratory system also helps eliminate toxic waste, regulate temperature, and maintain the body’s acid-alkaline balance. The gut-respiratory connection is linked by the cardiovascular system and activated by the immune system. When digestion is impaired and the intestinal system becomes permeable, toxins, food particles, and pathogens enter the blood stream, where they are carried throughout the body. In response, the immune system is triggered to attack foreign invaders, creating inflammation. Our airways are covered by mucosal layers, much like the GI tract and these provide a filtration mechanism that defends the body. Bacteria, microbes, and pollutants are captured by mucus in the lungs and transported upwards to be eliminated via excretion through the mouth, nose, or GI system.
Many factors can affect our immune and respiratory health, such as pollution, cigarette smoke, poor gut health, poor diet, stress, inflammation, hormonal imbalances, and allergies. There are a variety of health issues that might arise when both the immune and respiratory systems are compromised:
1) Upper Respiratory Tract Infections (URTIs): any infection that affects nasal passages, pharynx and bronchi; it is commonly referred to as the common cold. These infections are often viral in nature with secondary bacterial components. Common symptoms include congestion, a runny nose, cough, fatigue, postnasal drainage, and sometimes a fever. These viruses are often contagious and spread by sneezing or direct contact with nasal secretions.
2) Bronchitis: inflammation of the bronchial tubes, which are responsible for carrying air between your windpipe and your lungs. Acute bronchitis is usually caused by a viral infection. In rare cases, it can be caused by a bacterial infection or be a reaction to tobacco smoke or chemicals in the air. It can be painful and can last a couple of weeks to a month, although often the cough lingers and can be a cause of discomfort. Chronic bronchitis is more severe and includes a cough with mucus that is experienced almost daily for at least three months. It’s usually a result of smoking. Those with chronic bronchitis may also have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
3) Pneumonia: an infection of the lung alveoli (tiny air sacs in the lungs). In normal instances, the alveoli fill with air when a healthy person breathes, but in the instance of pneumonia the alveoli fill with pus and fluid instead, limiting oxygen intake and making breathing painful. It is caused by viruses, bacteria and fungi, most notably Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, and Respiratory syncytial virus. Common symptoms include the sudden onset of fever, shaking, chills, coughing and pain with inhalation. Pneumonia most commonly affects those with a compromised immune system and can be fatal.
A high-quality whole food diet, rich in enzymes and nutrients is essential for proper functioning of the body. Food indirectly affects the respiratory system through the cardiovascular system and by providing antioxidants to the body. Of course, eating well goes hand in hand with proper digestion and absorption, as well as lifestyle habits, such as stress reduction, sleep and exercise. Exercise is important to maintain and improve the efficiency of oxygen transportation and metabolism. Any improvement on the cardiovascular system will directly contribute to the maintenance and improvement of the lungs.
Antioxidant vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C, E, selenium and zinc boost immune function and reduce the frequency of common infections. The combination of these nutrients provides direct and potent anti-viral action, which is why I love A.C.E.S. + Zinc by Cyto-matrix. It limits the number of products you need to take and provides all the nutrients needed to protect yourself from infection.
Gut health is also a necessary component since over 70% of the immune system is in the gut, which is why I also highly recommend a good quality probiotic, like HMF Immune by Genestra. It contains over 30 billion CFU, vitamins C and D, and helps to reduce the risk of developing upper respiratory tract illness.
Bio – Julie Ann Harris MA, CHC, RHN
Julie Ann Harris is a Certified Health Coach, Registered Holistic Nutritionist, and Women's Hormonal Health expert, who empowers women to take charge of their health and lives by naturally balancing their hormones.
After suffering from hormonal imbalances for most of her life and not getting results from specialists, Julie decided to take matters into her own hands and study nutrition and women's hormonal health. After resolving many of her own issues, she knew it was her mission to share her wisdom with other women.
Julie works with women to help them feel like their vibrant selves once again and combat issues, such as bloating, weight gain, ovarian cysts, fatigue, fibroids, mood issues, irregular cycles, amenorrhea, heavy periods, PMS, and severe menstrual cramping.
You can find her on social media at www.instagram.com/julie.ann.harris or get in touch via email email@example.com