Take care of your immune system and all of its parts (skin, spleen, thymus, gut and bone marrow) and it will take care of you. This is the take-home message for anyone who strives for wellness during the flu season. Or, even if your concern is over life’s long haul and wants to maintain quality of life while avoiding chronic disease? Either way, you will need to focus on your immune system.
Along with the skin and spleen, strengthening the thymus, gut and bone marrow are also critical to boosting your entire immune system. When you do this you will be better equipped to fend off any acute or chronic illness.
Immune System: Thymus
The thymus gland is named after the thyme leaf because of its shape. It is located in front of the heart and under the breast bone. The bone marrow sends T- cells (white blood cells (WBC), or stem cells) to the thymus. Until puberty, your thymus develops T-cells into a specialized army of defense against bacteria, viruses, and fungi body invaders.
After puberty and T cells are matured, the thymus shrinks as its main function is complete.
Mature T-cells are sent to the spleen and lymph (lymph nodes are located in your neck and throughout your body) where they help identify and then destroy unhealthy germ invaders.
What Causes Damage to your Thymus?
It’s not as straight forward as you might think. Free-radical cellular damage naturally caused by aging, strenuous exercise, sun exposure, or possibly anything that causes oxidative damage to healthy cells, such as:
- Stress (emotional or physical)
- Poor diet (refined foods, excess sugar and coffee, trans fats)
- Excess alcohol consumption
- Exposure to x-rays and EMF (electromagnetic fields)
- Chemical toxins
- Pesticides and herbicides residing in fruits and veggies
Is Your Thymus Unhealthy?
These symptoms may indicate the need to visit your doctor. And while you’re at it take steps in boosting your thymus.
- chronic infections and allergies
- a feeling of puffiness in the throat or swollen glands
- candida or yeast overgrowth
- rheumatoid arthritis
- excess sweating
What Do I Eat To Keep My Thymus Healthy?
To reduce oxidative cell damage, eat the colors of the rainbow: Red (strawberries), Orange (orange), Yellow (lemon), Green (kale), and Blue (blueberries).
Eat five to seven servings of veggies a day. If you find this is too much to swallow, try a green drink. This particular green drink flavor contains 110, 190 ORAC factor which is equivalent to 35 servings of fruits and vegetables. The high amounts of ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, a lab test that attempts to quantify the “total antioxidant capacity” of a food.) will help keep the thymus doing its job.
As an FYI, I cannot give you recommended ranges because the USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory removed that information because companies were creating a marketing fiasco. However, I was able to find a list of foods and their ORAC values from the database. So, you can get an idea of which foods and herbs/spices that contain more or fewer antioxidants.
The thymus is nourished with lots of vitamin C (bell peppers, kale, kiwi, strawberries, tomato) and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, collard greens, cabbage, cauliflower).
Garlic and onion work with the T-cells.
Nuts (almonds) and seeds (pumpkin) are high in potent antioxidants, vitamin E and selenium.
Immune System: Bone Marrow
Bone marrow is the fatty Jello like substance found inside bones (skull, ribs, breastbones, spine, hip, and shoulders). It is the bone marrow that produces germ-fighting blood cells in its immune-boosting role.
Bone Marrow Produces 3 Types of Blood Cells:
- white blood cells fight infections from bacteria, viruses, and fungus and also respond to allergens.
- red blood cells maintain oxygen and carbon dioxide balance and provide energy
- platelets coagulate (stick together) affecting blood flow or to help stop bleeding
What Nutrients Feed Your Blood Cells & Immune System?
- vitamin B6 (fish, poultry, eggs),
- folic acid (cruciferous vegetables)
- iron (red meat is the best absorbable source of iron or any animal meat. Plant sources of iron are not as readily absorbable).
Immune System: The Gut
Last and certainly not least, the gut. Seventy to 80% of the immune system is hosted by the gut. The gut has been getting a lot of attention as there are so many ties between the gut, weight, and health.
Both good and bad bacteria live in your gut. In balance, you feel energetic and good. When the bad outgrows the good, you have problems. Your immune system needs help.
When bad bacteria overgrow, your gut lets you know. You experience gas, bloating, brain fog, stomach inflammation leads to gastric reflux, gastritis, leaky gut, constipation, diarrhea, skin conditions and even a white coating on your tongue!
Yeast, otherwise known as candida, has taken over making you feel funky and you may not be sure of what has taken over your body.
4 Gut Nurturing Tips
Eat to heal and bring balance back to your gut.
- Most importantly, avoid sugar and excess carbohydrates. Yeast thrives on sugar. Stick with natural animal or plant foods. Fruit is 100% sugar. A serving of berries won’t hurt but remember any carbohydrate quickly turns to sugar once it hits your tongue. Try avoiding processed convenience foods too.
- And of course, we cannot forget about adding bone broth or marrow to your daily food regimen. Bone marrow provides nutrients that you do not typically get from food. At 126 calories and 13.5 grams of fat per each 1/2 oz serving, marrow is almost 100% fat. It also contains these immune system supporting nutrients.
You do not have to make it yourself, grab a convenient cup and go or simply stock up on your favorite brand like Kettle and Fire.
Vitamin A, E, and B1 are associated with immune health. Preliminary findings suggest bone marrow may help some individuals with leukemia replenish white blood cells, help those with gut issues reduce inflammation and it contains the same immune-boosting nutrients (alkylglycerols) found in breast milk. Wait there’s more.
Bone Marrow Contains:
- Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is beneficial for the immune system, and helpful for promoting diabetes, heart disease, and breast/prostate, skin and stomach cancer.
- Glycine, a neurotransmitter involved in immune system.
- Glucosamine activates T-cells.
- Collagen supports the gut and reduces inflammation.
- Glutamine is used by cells to strengthen the immune system.
- Get 6-8 hours of sleep each night. A study published in Science Immunology found that ILC3 immune cells help keep the gut healthy. These cells contain “clock genes.” While sleeping, immune cells work to refresh worn-out genes. Without the clock, gene animals struggled to fight off infection. There are links to lack of sleep, obesity, cancer, and bowel disease and intestinal infections. It is also interesting to know that interruptions in sleep from either circadian rhythm, a natural, internal process regulating the sleep-wake cycle, or sleep apnea changes the landscape of the gut.
- Give your gut a boost and use a probiotic. Different strains of probiotics function to support various health conditions. Always consult with a physician or knowledgeable health practitioner before taking any supplements.
Immune System: Thymus, Bone Marrow and Gut Wrap Up
“It takes a village to raise a child” and it takes an army of defense to protect you from bad germs that make you sick! The Immune system is a complex system made up of the thymus, bone marrow, gut, spleen, and skin. You cannot just take a little extra vitamin C and think you are giving your whole immune system a boost.
Maintain and support the body’s whole germ fighting system. Consistently eat, drink, move and rest to give yourself a flu-fighting advantage naturally.
Will you use these natural flu-fighting tips to stay healthy this season?
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