What is the Innate Immune System

WE ARE ALL INTERCONNECTED

Humanity is experiencing a catastrophic increase in chronic diseases, infertility, and metabolic collapse in young adults. And we are also now witnessing epidemic levels of neurodegenerative diseases and cancers in adults. Many of these issues can be traced directly back to a poorly functioning immune system.

During this most extreme collapse of human health in our history, we have made a startling discovery: human cells are not at the center of human health. Instead, it’s the cells within our microbiome, functioning as the life-giving soil within our gut and internal organs, which is at the core. The microbiome guides human health and is one of the most important contributors to the functioning of our immune system.

THE WARRIOR MENTALITY

For centuries, Western medicine has waged war against microbes with the goal being to sterilize the world around us.

The total annihilation of microorganisms is seen by many as beneficial. Advances in anti-microbial science have led to the extensive overuse of pesticides, antifungals, herbicides, and chemical petroleum isolates— each of which have done unspeakable damage to our crops, soils, water, and air systems. Traditional medicine has become over reliant on pharmaceuticals at a detriment to our natural regenerative and reparative potentials. Have no doubt: these are chemical weapons targeting our bodies and environment and are ultimately disrupting the fertile ground of our human organism— the gut microbiome.

Ironically, this war against microorganisms is not saving us. It’s killing us. The microbes we are destroying are the direct link between our bodies and the Earth. The dramatic increase in human disease we are currently experiencing is a symptom of the failing health of our planet.

The warrior mentality has also led to a mischaracterization of the innate immune system where it is often described as a protective barrier separating us from the perceived threats of nature. When you consider that over half of the human genome is of viral genetic origin, you have to wonder how significant is this threat and is there even a threat at all. Our ability to interact with nature at a biological level is paramount to our survival. The innate immune system is not fighting against nature, it’s an intelligent, dynamic, living mechanism connecting us to nature and keeping us in a balanced relationship with nature by promoting biodiversity— not eliminating it. We have to coexist with the microorganisms that surround us and it’s the innate immune system via the gut microbiome that assures balance between protection and adaptation.

TRADITIONAL THINKING

When you hear the term “immune system” you probably think of a loyal group of cells valiantly fighting off a constant barrage of dangerous microbes determined to invade and destroy our bodies.

We are lead to believe Immune cells are the great warriors fighting off threats from our environment keeping us safe and sterile. The immune system is an impenetrable net from which no virus or bacteria can escape. Threats are identified and eliminated. As we’ll see this isn’t really the whole story.

Traditionally, the immune system has been divided into two categories based on function: innate immunity and adaptive immunity.

Innate immunity is the first line of defense and relies on structures and cells already in place. Adaptive immunity houses the reinforcements and produces specific responses to foreign material and maintains a memory of what threats its encountered.

In this article, we are just going to focus on the innate immune system.

 

THE INNATE IMMUNE SYSTEM

In the traditional way of thinking, the innate immune system is a series of barriers that can be separate into two categories: structural and functional.

Structural components are what most would consider physical barriers, such as:

1.) Skin

2.) Cells lining the intestines

3.) Stomach acid

4.) Cells lining the airway

5.) Blood-brain barrier

6.) Tight junctions (regions of cell membranes where the cells are joined to one another)

Water is essential for all of the biochemical reactions in the nervous system and is a vital substrate in the conversion of food to energy in neurons. When you are dehydrated, you have trouble concentrating and remembering things. You also can have difficulty performing complex cognitive tasks, such as creative thinking or doing math.

Dehydration can also worsen symptoms of anxiety and lead to panic attacks. When you don’t drink enough water, your body releases the stress hormone, cortisol, and this may lead to an increased heart rate, headaches, fatigue, and light headedness – all of which can trigger or worsen feelings of stress and anxiety.

Drinking water has been found to have a calming effect, probably as a result of preventing and reducing the symptoms associated with anxiety. Several research studies have found that drinking adequate amounts of water helps to improve mood stabilization in moments of high stress. Grabbing a glass of water may be just the stress reliever you need.

Surround your neuronutrition strategy around water intake. Making sure you’re staying hydrated is an important first step. Some resources say that you should drink half your body weight in ounces of water every day (I am about 180lbs, so that is around 90 ounces of water a day). But this estimate is not enough for most active people. The American College of Sports Medicine suggests adding 12 ounces of water to that amount for every 30 minutes of activity. That means if you exercise an hour a day, you need to add 24 ounces of water to your recommended amount.

Foods that limit inflammation are also important for maintaining proper brain function. This fact is probably the result of ingesting foods that provide calories which burn efficiently and don’t produce nasty byproducts.

Foods that limit inflammation are easy to find and taste great. Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, and cabbage contain high levels of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Some medical studies have concluded that consuming one serving a day of green leafy veggies can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline.

Berries are also great sources of antioxidants and vitamins. The pigments in berries, called flavonoids, have been shown to improve memory and concentration. And flavonoids are not unique to berries; any brightly colored fruit or vegetable contains high levels. A good memory cue is to ‘eat the rainbow’ – keep your foods colorful.

Eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to give up all sweets. Dark chocolate is a great source of antioxidants and flavonoids. That doesn’t mean go grab a dark chocolate candy bar and load up. However, just like with all things in life, moderation is key. If you’re going to go for the dark chocolate, it’s recommended to keep it to 20-30 grams a day and look for brands with 70% cacao.

Whole grains, such as brown rice, oats, barley, breads, and some pastas contain high amounts of antioxidants and vitamin E. Some medical studies show vitamin E can improve cerebral blood flow. There are also studies that have demonstrated reduced chronic inflammation and improved memory in individuals who consume whole grains.

One of the most well studied and documented foods that promotes brain health is omega-3 fatty acids. Our brains contain a high amount of fat. In fact, over 25% of your body’s cholesterol is in the brain. Brain fat is vital for neuron cell wall health and establishing neuronal connections. Brain fat also plays a major role in repair and restoration known as plasticity. You can get your omega-3 fatty acids in pills, flax seed or nuts and other seeds.

 

 

reposted from zachbush.com
By: Dr. Zach Bush, MD (Co-authored by Dr. Peter Cummings)