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Issue 86: From Jordan's Desk--Self Defense 101

Self defense is much more than fighting against an attacker. It includes doing everything possible to avoid fighting someone who threatens or attacks you. You might say that self defense is more about using your smarts than throwing a punch or jabbing someone’s eyes.

Interestingly, de-escalation is one of the first lessons of self defense. De-escalation occurs when you talk or act in such a way that you prevent a threatening situation from getting worse. It’s a self defense move that can apply to your immune system, too.

Most of us know that the immune system is your body’s first line of defense for fighting off attacks, and it’s a complicated system. What’s more is that the state of your overall health is often dependent on the state of your immune system health.

Naturally, maintaining a healthy immune system is core to self defense in terms of your health, since the immune system can potentially de-escalate would-be attackers. Likewise, maintaining healthy immune cells like B cells, T cells, and macrophages and molecules like cytokines (which signal immune cells to act) is important for immune health. So is maintaining healthy skin and a healthy GI tract. 

The cells of your immune system, in fact, are constantly circulating in your bloodstream or in your lymph nodes and can move quickly to minimize invaders’ entrance into the body. To ensure healthy immune cells and molecules, look to your diet and be sure to include healthy proteins, antioxidants, essential fatty acids and certain vitamins and minerals. 

Healthy proteins, for example, are required for adequate numbers of immune cells and for those cells to function properly by making antibodies and such. Vitamins A, C, D, E, K and the B vitamins are all essential for healthy immune cells as are the minerals zinc, iron, copper, selenium and manganese. 

Likewise, immune system barriers such as your skin and your gastrointestinal tract are vigilant to keep unwanted intruders out. Truth be told, the GI tract holds about 80% of your body’s immune cells and is the primary physical barrier between your internal organs and the outside world.

The GI tract has about 150 times more surface area than your skin does, even though your skin serves to block invaders, too. The GI tract also has to figure out how to keep damaging intruders out, while still letting essential nutrients in. That’s no small task—so feed it right.

Important nutrients for a healthy GI tract include vitamin A, essential fatty acids like omega-3s found in cold-water fish, monounsaturated fatty acids like those in olive oil, and fiber from whole, fresh vegetables and fruits. Friendly bacteria are also necessary for GI health, of course. 

And processed foods? They’re problematic for your immune system, so avoid them—especially sugary foods. Being overweight can put a strain on your immune system, too, so be sure to stay at a healthy weight.

De-escalation—it’s one of the first lessons of self defense and a smart move towards immune health. Why make your immune system fight any more than it has to?

 

This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.


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