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Maintaining a Healthy Immune System

Nov 30, 2021 ● By Meena Malhotra
A bunch of different bowls of fruit

Photo credit by bit24 for Adobe Stock

The immune system is a complex network of cells, tissues and organs throughout the body that helps fight infection and disease. It comprises white blood cells and the lymphatic system, which includes the thymus, spleen, tonsils, lymph nodes, lymph vessels and bone marrow.

Our immune system is on constant guard to protect against viruses, bacteria and other pathogens. This system also keeps us free of cancer. Lupus, rheumatoid issues and other autoimmune diseases in which the body attacks its own healthy cells, occur due to immune dysregulation.
Here is a simple quiz to help assess immune system health:

  1. Do you bruise easily?
  2. Do you have digestive issues (85 percent of our immune system resides in the gut)?
  3. Has stress taken a toll (feeling overwhelmed)?
  4. Do you have autoimmune illnesses like RA, lupus, psoriasis, etc.?
  5. Are you taking meds which can suppress the immune system (steroids or biologics)?
If you answered  “Yes”  to any of these questions, then you need to pay extra attention to your immune system.

This acronym is very helpful for understanding how to keep the immune system robust and avoid nasty seasonal pathogens.

I stands for intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting can be undertaken in many ways with different durations, depending upon our health status. Fasting may improve autophagy, which means removing damaged cells and pathogens from the body, which is beneficial to improving immune function

M stands for maintaining social distance. Six feet is the number—avoid crowded places.

M stands for masking. Practice common sense hygiene practices such as washing hands frequently, especially before eating. Cough and sneeze in the elbow and greet by namaste or elbow bump.

U stands for unwinding. This is crucial to shift from a fight-or-flight response. Chill, relax and sleep; this is when the body releases cytokines which help fight infection.

N stands for nutrition. Eat a balanced, whole-food diet with plenty of vitamin C from fresh fruits and vegetables, phytonutrients (compounds which give fruits and vegetables their bright color), shiitake mushrooms, garlic, honey and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) from green tea. One orange typically has around 62 milligrams of ascorbic acid. If unable to get an adequate amount from diet, take buffered vitamin C in liposomal form that doesn’t upset the stomach and turn into kidney stones. Nutraceuticals like vitamin D, zinc, selenium, probiotics, essential fatty acids, medicinal mushrooms such as maitake, reishi and cordyceps are welcome additions. Avoid alcohol and smoking.

E stands for exercise. We don’t have to kill ourselves doing it; moderation is the answer.
Meena Malhotra, M.D., is the medical director of the Heal n Cure Wellness Center, located at 2420 Ravine Way, Ste. 400, in Glenview. For a consultation, call 847-686-4444. For more information, visit