In this episode, Dr. Tabatha explains how your innate and acquired immune systems work together to protect you from illness. She also explains what damages our immune system, so we can take steps to intervene.
She gives you tangible ways to boost your immune system and help get you through this unforeseen, stressful time of social distancing. She brings hope and positivity during this time of fear and uncertainty.
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I am Dr Tabatha, the functional gynecologist. I'm a board certified OBY, giant and functional medicine physician. I've embraced the world of functional medicine and wellness through my own personal health journey. And I'm super excited to share my wisdom and unique perspective as it pertains to women's health. So if you're struggling, hormone imbalance, weight gain, period issues, anxiety and son, you name it, then you come to the right place. I want to be your functional gynecologist, so welcome. Hi, ladies. So today's episode is called Understanding Your Immune System. I thought this would be a great topic to discuss in the wake of Cove in 19. Because if you're anything like me, this social distancing has been a struggle, to say the least. I've been trying to work from home while I teach my kids and help them with their school work and keep them fed, and they're just full of energy. It's insane. So I've had moments where I've actually screamed. I've cried a couple times and I wanted to pull my hair out, and it's only been a week, so I realized that I need to work on my stress management. I thought I had all the tools for that. My meditation, my deep breathing, you know, journaling, that type of thing. But I need I need to step it up a notch because this week has been really challenging, and it has shown me that stress can overtake you and affect your body. So I've been seeing all of these ads for boosting your immune system with this supplementary that supplement. And honestly, managing your stress is the biggest way to boost your immune system. And I'm gonna explain why that is. So I'm going to get into the science a little bit of how your immune system works and how your stress affects it. And then we're gonna talk strategy. How can I really helped my immune system to get me through this? Because, honestly, ladies were probably looking at a couple more months until life is back down to normal and our every day normal stresses that we have so awesome. So our immune system is a complex network of cells and organs that defend the body against infection. The main parts of our immune system are the white blood cells. Antibodies are compliments system. The lymphatic system are spleen, bone marrow and time, Miss, you can hear and feel the beating of your heart, right? So you know it's working. But the immune system is usually silent. You don't really know it's working. So even though we're much less aware of our immune system, it is working 24 7 to protect us from thousands of potentially deadly attacks every day, like covert 19. So let's examine the different lines of defense used by the immune system. The first defense is known as the innate immunity. This is range of protective mechanisms we are born with. The innate immune system provides non specific protection against various pathogens, such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, protozoa, owns and worms. So a number of defense mechanisms serve the innate immune system. These include physical barriers like your skin, chemical barriers like antimicrobial proteins that harm or destroy those invaders that try to get into our system, and then cells that attack foreign cells and body cells that are harboring infectious agents. So before we talk about the sunk it line of defense, let's talk a little bit more about the innate immunity. So the skin is an external barrier made from layers of cells serving as a protective barrier to infection. Now on Lee, Does your skit provide AH protective barrier to keep invaders out, but it secretes fatty acids and enzymes. That's pretty cool. You probably didn't know that. So the fatty acid Oleic acid can kill certain bacteria while the enzyme laces OEM Kenbrell ache down the outer wall of certain bacteria. So internally, your mucus membranes line your respiratory tract G. I tract genital urinary tract, and they provide ah barrier of cells that are constantly being renewed to regenerated in the membrane traps small particles to prevent them from attaching to the cells. A good example of where this innate immunity starts to break down is after menopause. Women's vaginal tissue is no longer releasing those enzymes and having they sell, turn over all the time to protect it. So you are more prone to getting bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections. So that's a good example of another crucial aspect of innate immunity is that it cause it's a chemical barrier to infection. So when microbes penetrate the bodies protective barriers and enter into our tissues, then they encounter a variety of chemical substances that attempt to prevent their growth there are many mechanisms and cells by which chemicals work to harm or destroy invaders. These processes go beyond the scope of what we're going to discuss. Just know that they're continually looking out for foreign invaders and ready to strike at any time. Early induced responses are the final process of your innate immunity, so that's inflammation. Inflammation can eliminate infection or hold it in check until specific acquired immune responses have time to develop. Infection often results in tissue damage, which may trigger an inflammatory response. So the triggers of inflammation include pain, swelling, redness and fever. These air induced by chemicals released by macrophages, which are white blood cells. So inflammation is a healthy protective immune response. However, chronic inflammation exists in the body. Then you get chronic disease developing, so the second line of defense is called acquired. Immunity acquired means that you're not born with this form of immunity. It means that you acquire it through exposure to pathogens over your life. This line of defense is acquired from exposure to infection or disease, another person's antibodies like baby to mama, and it's well established that persons who contact certain diseases and survive generally do not catch those illnesses again. This is made possible through the mechanisms of acquired immunity. When your immune system is exposed to a pathogen, it learns to recognize it and can make your immune system better equipped to fight off that type of German the next time you're exposed to it. Acquired immunity is dependent on the specialized white blood cells known as lymphocyte. Lymphocytes are the cells responsible for the body's ability to distinguish and react to almost infinite number of different foreign substances. Lymphocytes originate from stem cells in the bone marrow and the travel and multiply in response to the appropriate stimulation. I just heard a doctor on CNN yesterday talking about how his lymphocyte levels were low, and that was a good indicator that he had Corona virus. So if you've heard of the term T cells and B cells, these air referring to the different types of lymphocytes. Both T cells and B cells recognize and help eliminate foreign molecules, but they do so in different ways. Lymphocytes are distinguished from other cells by their capacity to recognize foreign molecules by means of receptor molecules, a receptor molecules, a special protein whose shape is designed to fit foreign molecules. Think of these molecules as a key that fits into a lock. So any foreign material that buying specifically to a receptor molecule is called an anti gin. Antigens include molecules found on invading micro organisms such as viruses, bacteria, protozoa, fungi as well as the molecules located on surface of foreign substances such as pollen, dust and transplanted tissue. Certain antigens can induce an immune response when they bind to a receptor molecule. So one of the many incredible abilities of the immune system is that it keeps a record of every microbe it's ever defeated. That's pretty cool. So this enables the immune system to recognize and destroy the microbe quickly. If it enters the body again before it can multiply, make you sick. That is awesome. However, some infections like the flu, the common cold or Corona viruses have to be fought many times because so many different viruses and strains of the same type of virus can cause the's illnesses and the same symptoms, especially something like the Corona virus, which has reversed transcriptase are in a, which means that it can replicate itself and mutate into a different strain of virus. So that your immune system doesn't recognize it. So what that means is catching a cold or flu from one virus does not give you immunity against the others. Record keeping us how we acquire immunity through vaccinations. So the immune system is triggered by a small amount of an illness to produce antibodies. This enables the body to quickly launch an immune attack to kill off the virus when it actually has a full exposure. So what we are exposed to dictates are acquired immunity, for example, like so where we live vaccinations given to us or exposure to different environmental conditions All a pack impact our ability to fight off various diseases. If you've ever experienced allergies when visiting someplace for the first time, this is due to the exposure of something your immune system is not already familiar with. The next time you visit, you may not have that same reaction for which you can thank your acquired immunity. Okay, ladies, So because we're all exposed to different pathogens, we all have unique immune systems in regards to what viruses and bacteria we can handle. This means our immune system varies from person to person. We all have similar innate responses, such as our skin barrier, but are acquired. Immunity can be vastly different. In fact, recent studies have found that our history and environment, like where and who we live with, are responsible for about 60 to 80% of the differences between individual immune systems. While genetics accounts for the small rest. An overactive immune system, which I deal with all the time in the office with my patients, can result in a number of conditions, including auto, immune, disease and allergies. Allergic diseases can include allergies to foods, medications, stinging insects in Gahanna flexes, hay fever, Sinus infection, toe asthma, hives, dermatitis and eczema. These conditions result when the immune system makes an overly strong response to the allergens. Auto immune disease includes autoimmune, thyroid disease, multiple sclerosis, type one diabetes, systemic Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic vasculitis and the list goes on when the immune system mounts a response against normal components of your body autoimmune diseases to blame. So I often work with women trying to calm their immune system down to get their disease into check to keep it manageable. Oftentimes this goes back to healing the gut. 80% of our immune system is actually in our G I tract, and that's where a lot of our inflammation starts. So ever in doubt, he'll your got first. That's a whole nother episode that will have to get into so an underactive immune system, also known as immunodeficiency, doesn't function correctly and makes you more vulnerable to get infections. This could be life threatening. In some cases, immunodeficiency can be inherited through conditions like common variable immunodeficiency, excellent, severe combined immunodeficiency and some complement deficiencies. They can also arise from taking medications. A lot of autoimmune diseases are treated by conventional medicine doctors with immuno suppressants like plaque. When L and Remicade those shut down your immune system so that your body quits attacking itself. But because you're shutting down your immune system, it makes you susceptible to infection that you should normally be able to fight off so those can be dangerous. Medications to be on immunodeficiency can also arise in such diseases like HIV and AIDS, where you're mean system gets wiped out. Okay, so now that you have this understanding of the immune system and how it protects us, let's look at ways to strengthen army and system, so your best defense is to live a healthy lifestyle. Not only will your immune system benefit, but every part of your body, mind and spirit will function better. So follow these tips first and foremost. Eat a diet with lots of fruits and vegetables. They're full of fight on nutrients, vitamins and minerals. These are all necessary for those chemical reactions to create and support your immune system. Vitamin D and sunshine directly affect your immune system, so get out there and get your sunshine. And if you live in Michigan like I do, you're gonna need to supplement with vitamin D. I want to see those levels. At least 50 to 70 Vitamin D has actually been used unknowingly to treat infections like tuberculosis before we discovered antibiotics. So tuberculosis patients were put in sanitariums sanitorium size, where treatment included exposure to sunlight, which they thought killed the T B bacteria. But it was actually the vitamin D that was doing it from the sun exposure. That's pretty awesome. Cod liver oil was also used because it's a rich source of vitamin D. So I would say taking cod liver oil definitely helps protect two against infections. Exercise regularly huge super important. A moderate amount of daily exercise enhances the recirculation of immunoglobulin anti inflammatory side of kinds. Neutrophils natural killer cells cited toxic T cells and immature B cells. The's all play a critical role in your immune defence activity and your metabolic health. Okay, so if you drink alcohol, you definitely only want to drink in moderation. For us women, that means one drink a day because excessive alcohol reduces the number and function of macro if Asia's T cells and B cells. So macrophages are super important line of defense against disease because they actually go around destroying everything that's not supposed to be in your system, which leads me to my next recommendation. Get adequate sleep. This is when your body actually restores and regenerates. So those macrophages I mentioned are immune cells whose jobs are to go around your body and find all the cellular debris broken D n A. And infected cells and destroy them. So if you're not sleeping, your Kirk Etienne rhythm will be out of balance, and it won't signal those cells to go out into their jobs. Think of it like your cleaning lady. If you're lucky enough to have one. She only comes when you're sleeping. She cleans your house, takes out the trash when she's done. If you don't go to sleep, she never shows up to do her job, so make sleep a priority that will boost your immune system. I had to learn that the hard way. As an obstetrician, I didn't sleep, and I was more prone to being sick. So get your sleep. Also. I hope none of you are struggling with this one. But if you are, now is the time to quit. Don't smoke, don't Vape. Smoking actually suppresses our innate and inquired immune systems. Smoking Kills Tumor necrosis factor Alfa sells many different types of T cells, macrophages, natural killer cells in Anna bodies in our bloodstream that are trying to fight off infection and destroys anti accidents such as vitamin C. So that's super important. We need vitamin C to destroy the free radicals that go on to cause cancer. We need vitamin C, too. Tackle those infected cells and smoking inhibits all of our immune cells from working. So now is the time to quit if you're still doing that. Okay, so here's the most important recommendation of all for strong defense. Actively manage your stress. And I know this is crazy because we are the most stressed out that we've ever been Like. I said, when at the start of this podcast, this quarantine type situation with social distancing has been very stressful. So now is the time to really focus an implement managing your stress when we're too stressed physically, emotionally or mentally. We produce too much cortisol and adrenaline. Thes hormones actually suppress our immune cell function, and they cause the production and release of pro inflammatory cited kinds increased accid eight of stress, which all week in our mean system. More specifically, we see a decrease in lymphocytes, and these are actually the cells needed to fight off the infection Cove in 19 the pro inflammatory side of kinds. That's what's responsible for the site. A kind storm that is so concerning with Cove in 19. So you get this overwhelming sight, a kind release, which causes respiratory distress and failure, and that's why people end up on ventilators in the I C. U. So you definitely don't want to be activating inflammatory cited kinds. Okay, so if you're eating well, exercising, doing all those physical right things, but you're not controlling your stress level. It negates all of your efforts and put you at risk. So keep that corgis all in check. It's huge for your men system. How are we supposed to do that? You ask. So my favorite ways to reduce stress are deep breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, drilling, exercise and getting out into nature. These may be difficult to do if you're stuck at home with your kids, especially, but I encourage you to use this time to teach your kids how to become resilient little humans themselves. Okay, so first cosmic kids yoga on YouTube is totally awesome. My kids love yoga now because of cosmic kids. It gets them moving. It gets you moving your doing it together. You're laughing and having fun. It's a huge immune booster. Another app, 10% happier is an app that I have done loaded on. All our devices are phones and I pads. It has tons of guided meditation APS within it. I use it myself, but my kids actually love using the ones for sleep. It helps calm them down when they're trying to go to bed and helps them listen to their bodies. We've also been writing little stories about our time being stuck home together. And the funny things are dogs air doing, and we're just looking for the good in everything. Laughing is so good for your immune system. We've also been taking the dogs for a walk every evening, enjoying the fresh air. Seeing nature's in spring pop in bloom. Crocuses are coming out. The grass is turning green. All that renewal is so good for your spirit as well as your immune system. Another thing we've been doing is we've been gang organized. So if you're like me, you're probably taking spring cleaning to a whole new level. Now that you're stuck in the house, we've been, you know, getting rid of our stuff, donating the things that we don't need any more and trying to simplify, trying to downsize a little bit when you get your stuff in order in your house in order you get your mind in order, and it's so nice to just clear your mind and get your thoughts organized as well as your stuff. It's It leaves room for creativity and starting fresh, so I highly recommend you tackle those projects that you have been putting off Now that you're stuck at home, these are like the best lessons that we can teach our kids while we're home, schooling them. And if you don't have kids, focus on you and your loved ones that you are taking care of. I see this time as a gift from the universe. I've been asking for more time at home to work on projects, to see my kids, to spend time with my kids. And now I have it, and I need Teoh. Embrace that and focus on the gifts I have been given. I'm trying not to worry about the fact that I can only see a few patients through telemedicine, that I'm gonna be making less money, that I might have difficulty paying my bills. But I have faith that the universe will provide and everything balances out, and we just need to focus on the gifts that we've been given. The best way to focus on the gifts you've been given and staying positive is to start your day off with great intentions every morning. I want you to get up 20 minutes earlier than you have been, and if you have Children at home with you, make sure you're getting up before them so that you have time for personal growth and resilience training. So when you first wake up, take five deep breaths, fill your chest and belly, rise with air for three seconds and then exhale Justus Long and then increase the time with each breath. So the next time do four seconds in and then out and then do five seconds in and then out. Do that until you feel a sense of awakening. Then get up and go to the bathroom and do what you normally would do. Then drink a glass of warm water with the teaspoon of apple cider vinegar. Next, I would recommend doing a nice awakening. Morning yoga, like 10 minutes with Adrian on YouTube. She's pretty awesome. She has all types of beginner yoga and different morning yoga routines. It gets your blood flowing in your lymphatic system, moving and draining so the lymphatic system is where your your immune cells dumped all their trash during the night. Now you need to help finish the job when you wake up by getting your lymphatic smoothing in your blood pumping that will really boost up your immune system. I also recommend using lavender essential oil and a diffuser in your house to keep your parasympathetic so engaged as you go throughout your day. That helps Aton, or another way, is to take an absence salt bath with lavender oil at the end of your day to calm yourself back down. But if you do these things in the morning before your kids get up before you get on, start doing your work. Whatever you are doing, it's gonna help you conquer your day. You're gonna kick ass. You're gonna do so much better. You're not gonna feel overwhelmed is easily. But if you do get overwhelmed, I want you to take five or 10 minutes to sit with your breath again. You can do meditation with a guided app, like 10% happier like I mentioned. Or you can just do this focus on your breathing. Close your eyes, sitting a nice composition and focus on your breathing. When your mind wanders, focus again. Begin again. Don't worry about doing it wrong. That's the practice. Realizing your mind has wandered and you're thinking about something else and then you bring it back to your breathing. It's a mental workout for your brain. It increases your ability to focus and concentrate. It's actually an amazing game changer. Friess. Multitasking women. So I would encourage you to try it for sure. So there you go. No, you know how to boost your immune system. While we can't say for sure that any certain thing will protect you from getting covert 19 or any other virus, we do know how to minimize the effects of this situation. Stress reduction, eating clean, plant based food. Getting regular physical activity, connecting with nature, making sleep a priority and practicing good hygiene, of course, is your best bet at getting through this with joy and creating resilience. So stay positive and know that you got this. Let's all make the most of this and come out better as individuals and as a community. Let's foster compassion, hope and get back toe living more balanced, healthy lifestyle. Who's with me? If you're enjoying the functional gynecologist podcast, I really encourage you to hit the subscribe button share with everyone you know, and maybe even leave me a five star review that helps guarantee that I can keep bringing you this important information and keep supporting you women. So let me know what topics you want me to cover. Send me your questions. I would love to show you out of my question of the week episodes that air every Friday. Okay, ladies, go out there, find new ways to connect without actually touching anybody anymore. Right? And have a kid. Guess Week I will talk to you soon. You're all amazing by