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Can I Boost My Immune System?
March 10, 2020 | The New York Times | By Tara Parker-Pope

Lower your stress. Worries about the coronavirus, the stock market and the general disruption of life have added to our stress levels, but we know that stress also can make you more susceptible to respiratory illness.

The bottom line: Your body does a better job fighting off illness and healing wounds when it’s not under stress. Learning techniques for managing stress, like meditation, controlled breathing or talking to a therapist are all ways to help your immune system stay strong.

Improve your sleep habits. A healthy immune system can fight off infection. A sleep-deprived immune system doesn’t work as well..... short sleepers — those who regularly slept less than six hours a night — were 4.2 times more likely to catch the cold compared with those who got more than seven hours of sleep, researchers found. Risk was even higher when a person slept less than five hours a night.

The bottom line: Focusing on better sleep habits is a good way to strengthen your immune system. The sweet spot for sleep is six to seven hours a night. Stick to a regular bedtime and wake-up schedule. Avoid screens, night-eating and exercise right before bedtime.

Check your vitamin D level: While more study is needed on the link between vitamin D and immune health, some promising research suggests that checking your vitamin D level — and taking a vitamin D supplement — could help your body fight off respiratory illness.

Vitamin D can be found in fatty fish, such as salmon, and in milk or foods fortified with vitamin D.

The bottom line: If you are concerned about immune health, you may consider having your vitamin D level checked and talking to your doctor about whether to take a supplement.

Avoid excessive alcohol consumption.

The bottom line: A cocktail or glass of wine while you are sheltering in place during coronavirus is fine. But avoid drinking to excess. The current U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that alcohol should be consumed only in moderation — up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.

Eat a balanced diet and skip unproven supplements.
diets  howto  immune_system  sleep  stress  Tara_Parker-Pope  vitamins 
20 days ago by jerryking
How exactly does fat cause cancer?
July 22, 2019 | The Globe and Mail | by PAUL TAYLOR.

our understanding of fat has gone through a huge transformation in recent years.

It was once thought that fat – medically known as adipose tissue – was just an inert collection of cells used for the storage of surplus calories, or energy, that we can draw upon in times of need.

But now medical experts realize that fat behaves almost like an organ – interacting with other parts of the body. It actually sends out signals that play a crucial role in regulating metabolism, the immune system and other functions. If we become overweight or obese, the normal running of the body can get knocked off balance by too many signals from fat.

There are several ways in which fat may contribute to the development of a variety of cancers:

(1) fat can be converted to estrogen – a hormone that is known to fuel the growth of some ovarian, endometrial (the membrane lining the uterus) and breast cancers.

(2) Fat also creates a state of chronic inflammation – another factor linked to cancer. The inflammatory process is associated with free radicals, unstable oxygen molecules that can damage DNA and cause potentially cancerous genetic mutations.

(3) excess weight often leads to a condition known as insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone that moves glucose (or sugar) from the blood stream into cells where it is used for energy. As the body’s cells become resistant to insulin, the pancreas responds by producing more and more of the hormone in an attempt to clear glucose from the bloodstream. Elevated levels of insulin and related substances – such as insulin-like growth factor-1 – stimulate cells to divide and multiply. This increased activity may lead to random genetic mutations that set the stage for cancer.

(4) People with excessive weight around the abdomen are prone to gastric reflux (or heartburn), in which digestive juices will back up into the tube connecting the mouth to the stomach. The constant irritation can damage cells and may lead to esophageal cancer.

(5) Dietary and lifestyle factors that may contribute to weight gain are also directly linked to an increased cancer risk. For example, diets rich in red meats and highly processed foods have been implicated in colorectal and other cancers.

People who tend to eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains are consuming a host of micronutrients that may help guard against cancer. Likewise, studies suggest that regular exercise may be protective, too.
cancers  colorectal  cured_and_smoked  diets  digestive_systems  exercise  fats  healthy_lifestyles  immune_system  inflammation  insulin  meat  metabolism  risk_factors 
july 2019 by jerryking
Waking Up at 4 A.M. Every Day Is the Key to Success. Or to Getting a Cold.
June 5, 2019 | The New York Times | By Adam Popescu.

Is the key to success emulating high-profile achievers who are hacking their bodies to increase productivity? Even if capitalism favors early wake-up times, at least as a badge of honor, there is no data that shows that successful people get less sleep...... this early-rising trend propagated by entertainers and entrepreneurs is deeply troubling. And while some people seem to need less sleep than others, we can’t game our body clocks.......In 1999, researchers at the University of Chicago monitored a group who slept only four hours a night — a common amount for those who wake up very early — for six days in a row. That group quickly developed higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, higher blood pressure and produced half the usual amount of antibodies to a flu vaccine........When we delay or speed up our internal body clock, it can have the same consequences as not getting enough sleep, a phenomenon known as advanced sleep-wake phase disorder.......Missing even two hours here, an hour there, then having a wildly different sleep pattern over the weekend, is the gateway drug to chronic sleep deprivation. Fatigue, irritability and overall mental confusion are the dangers and symptoms of such deprivation....In 2008, professors at the University of Chicago, including Eve Van Cauter, the director of the Sleep, Metabolism and Health Center, found a link between sleep loss and an increased risk for obesity and diabetes. A decade later, the university advanced those studies to find that chronic sleep loss can increase the amount of free fatty acids in the blood.

That means a metabolism disruption that reduces the body’s ability to use insulin to regulate blood sugar.
antibodies  blood_pressure  circadian_rhythms  diabetes  early_risers  high-achieving  immune_system  metabolism  overachievers  self-care  sleep 
june 2019 by jerryking
How to Get the Best From Your Immune System - Smarter Living Guides
2019 | The New York Times | By Matt Richtel.

**“An Elegant Defense: The Extraordinary New Science of the Immune System.”"

The immune system is much less about exercising power than it is about finding balance. You can help train and maintain it. Here’s how:
(A) What Is the Immune System?
Our great defense system helps ward off the most dangerous of invaders......It is a common misconception that the immune system goes to war with every foreign organism. That would lead to scorched earth, nuclear winter. Instead, the job of the immune system is to take stock, monitor, assess and judge potential threats...if an invader is deemed a threat, the immune system has a narrow job: destroy the threat while doing as little collateral damage as possible. This response from the immune system is called “inflammation.” .....inflammation can feel like a stuffy nose, sore throat, tummy ache, fever, fatigue or headache. Yes, the symptoms of an immune response feel lousy, but you must suffer a little to keep the rest of your body healthy over the long term. And for your health and daily well-being, the key is to keep your immune system from underperforming or getting out of hand.
(B) IT’S ABOUT BALANCE
The immune system, often seen as a ruthless defender, seeks a steady state, not a police state.....a fiercely delicate combination of a bouncer and a ballet dancer. In fact, many molecules in this complex system are designed to send a signal that it should withdraw, pause an attack and stand down. Without these molecules, the state of inflammation that helps destroy threats would lay your body to waste..... Instead of boosting your immune system, you should be supporting it. And you should try to never undermine its delicate structures.
(C) The Immune System and the Beast
Let's take a moment to understand how (and why) our immune system acts in the face of a threat.....Our immune system took shape roughly 480 million years ago. All jawed vertebrates going back to the shark share its key properties. One property is priority setting.....an acute threat, e.g. a lion attack, the body’s network focuses wholly on that threat....the body goes into an emergency state known colloquially as “fight or flight.” During these periods, the body fires off powerful chemicals, including:

Epinephrine, which creates a kind of high for the body to subvert fatigue.
Norepinephrine, which also helps to subvert fatigue.
Cortisol, which helps the body maintain essential functions, like blood flow.

When these hormones are at work, we can feel generally O.K.,but .... the release of these fight-or-flight hormones dampens our immune response. ...it causes the immune system to withdraw.
(D) WHY THE IMMUNE SYSTEM WITHDRAWS
During times of real, acute stress — like threat of being eaten by a lion — our bodies can ill afford to waste resources dealing with illness. Viruses and bacteria, while dangerous, pale in comparison to the gigantic beast with razor-sharp teeth chasing us across the savannah. In that moment, our body needs all our energy, non-essential functions be damned. Step one: survive lion. Step two: deal with head cold.
(E) Sleep Is a Magic Bullet
Both you and your immune system need rest. ...If you don’t sleep, you will die — sooner. Studies show that lack of sleep leads to premature death through diseases like cancer and heart disease, and the reasons have everything to do with the immune system,
(F) SLEEP KEEPS YOUR SYSTEM IN BALANCE
This might sound contradictory. How can sleep can weaken the immune system, but also lead to inflammation?

Your immune system does not work as a binary system. It is not either on or off. It is made up of many molecules that send different signals, some urging inflammation and others restraining it. Your goal is to create an environment that doesn’t require your immune system to lose its natural balance.

Sleeplessness tips your immune system out of balance, hinders homeostasis, and turns the once elegant system into reckless pinballs of powerful molecules bouncing off your body’s bumper rails, and sometimes through them.

More concretely, it is a hard pill to swallow knowing there is no pill to swallow. The most important steps to support your immune system require discipline and habit.
(G) Exercise, Food and Meditation
Ward off illness with these three staples of a healthy body. ...the best things you can do for yourself when you’re sick are rest, eat well, don’t turn little things into lions, and remember that your immune system, if given your support, will likely do a darn good job of keeping you at harmony with the world.
allergies  bacteria  books  defensive_tactics  exercise  food  habits  homeostasis  howto  immune_system  inflammation  meditation  mens'_health  mindfulness  priorities  self-discipline  sleep  sleeplessness  steady-state  threats  viruses 
june 2019 by jerryking
I’ve Interviewed 300 High Achievers About Their Morning Routines. Here’s What I’ve Learned. - The New York Times
By Benjamin Spall
Oct. 21, 2018
Experiment with your wake-up time
While the majority of the people I’ve interviewed tend to get up early — the average wake-up time for everyone I’ve talked to is 6:27 a.m. — successful people like to experiment to find the sweet spot that works for them.......Make time for whatever energizes you
Most successful people carve out time in their morning to commit to things that make them feel relaxed, energized and motivated. That can mean working out, reading, meditating or just spending time with your loved ones.....
Get enough sleep
The quality of your sleep the night before directly impacts your ability to perform the next day and, indeed, your ability to enjoy your day. Your morning routine means nothing without a good night’s sleep behind it. Not getting enough sleep has been linked to chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease, and might even decrease the effectiveness of your immune system.

Don’t become complacent about how much sleep you need; most people require between seven and nine hours of sleep a night. If you’re constantly trying to get by on less than seven hours of sleep, it will catch up with you, likely sooner rather than later......Adapt your routine to different situations
While it might not always be possible to keep your full morning routine in place when you’re away from home, it is possible to have a travel-ready routine that is always there when you need it.....Don’t beat yourself up
Nearly everyone I’ve talked to said they don’t consider one, two or even three missed days of their morning routine a failure, so long as they get back to it as soon as they can.
GTD  productivity  routines  lessons_learned  insomnia  adaptability  best_practices  choices  serenity  sleep  high-achieving  early_risers  diabetes  immune_system 
october 2018 by jerryking
No Excuses, People: Get the New Shingles Vaccine - The New York Times
Paula Span
THE NEW OLD AGE NOV. 10, 2017
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aging  mens'_health  vaccines  immune_system  immunization  shingles 
november 2017 by jerryking
The Older You Are, the Worse You Sleep
Oct. 13, 2017 | WSJ | By Dr. Matthew Walker, director of the Center for Human Sleep Science at the University of California, Berkeley, and author of a new book, “Why We Sleep” (Scribner)

As we age, bodily changes degrade the quantity and quality of our sleep—which affects our health more than we realize....Sleep gets more difficult the older you get. Older adults are less able, on average, to obtain as much sleep, or as restorative a sleep, as young adults. The problem gets so bad that by our 80s, the lack of sleep can have major health ramifications, though we don’t always notice.

Older adults face a number of challenges. The first is a reduction in the quantity and quality of deep sleep—the stage that beneficially overhauls your cardiovascular, immune and metabolic systems and refreshes learning and memory abilities. As you enter your 30s and 40s, your deep-sleep brain waves become smaller, less powerful and fewer in number. Reductions in deep-sleep quality increase your risk of heart attacks, obesity and stroke, as well as the buildup of a toxic brain protein—called beta amyloid—that is linked​to Alzheimer’s disease.

Passing into your mid- to late-40s, age will have stripped you of 60% to 70% of the deep sleep you were enjoying as a teen. By the time you reach age 70, you will have lost 80% to 90% of your youthful, restorative deep sleep....The second hallmark of altered sleep as we age is fragmentation. The older we get, the more frequently we wake up throughout the night. Causes include body pain and a weakened bladder. Reducing fluid intake in the evening can help the latter, but it isn’t a cure-all.

Because of sleep fragmentation, older people will suffer a reduction in sleep efficiency, defined as the percent of time you were asleep while in bed.The third sleep change with advanced age is that of circadian timing—the body’s internal clock that times our sleep-wake rhythms. Seniors commonly experience a regression in circadian timing, leading to earlier bedtimes. The cause is an early release and peak of melatonin in older adults in the evening, instructing an earlier start time for sleep, in part because of an early drop in core body temperature.
aging  Alzheimer’s_disease  books  cardiovascular  circadian_rhythms  health_risks  heart_attacks  immune_system  melatonin  mens'_health  metabolic_rate  sleep 
october 2017 by jerryking
Bacteria to the rescue: Indiscriminately killing germs eliminates the ones that are helping us - The Globe and Mail
WENCY LEUNG
The Globe and Mail
Published Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016

Toronto microbiologist Jason Tetro in his new book, The Germ Files: The Surprising Ways Microbes Can Improve Your Health and Life (And How to Protect Yourself from the Bad Ones).

As Tetro explains, antibiotics and antimicrobial products kill germs indiscriminately, destroying the ones that keep us healthy along with those that cause harm. Rather than wipe out entire populations of bacteria, yeasts and fungi, scientists are now searching for ways to bring them into better balance, allowing them to live among us, and within us, harmoniously.
germs  bacteria  mens'_health  digestive_systems  colons  books  TPL  antimicrobial_resistance  immune_system  antibiotics  self-protection 
february 2016 by jerryking
A childhood disease with adult consequences - The Globe and Mail
ANDRÉ PICARD
The Globe and Mail
Published Tuesday, Dec. 16 2014

Vaccines work by stimulating the immune system to create antibodies, but they’re not 100-per-cent effective. That’s why it’s important for everyone to be vaccinated, to create what’s known as herd immunity.
antibodies  André_Picard  herd_immunity  immune_system  immunization  vaccines 
december 2014 by jerryking
Stone Age cave dwellers had healthier mouths than we do - The Globe and Mail
PAUL TAYLOR

The Globe and Mail

Published Thursday, Feb. 21 2013

Think of your mouth as being in a constant state of disease..."There is a very low diversity of bacterial species and a high prevalence of disease-causing pathogens."...In fact, our teeth and gums are generally in worse shape than our cave-dwelling ancestors....What's to blame? Our shift to a carbohydrate-rich diet – especially the increased consumption of processed sugar – fostered the growth of certain bacteria that cause gum disease and dental decay, "Hunter-gatherers in general had really good teeth. You see quite a bit of wear because of the highly abrasive nature of their diet, but you see almost no signs of pathology," said Cooper.

"That all changes with farming and the increased consumption of domesticated cereals," added Cooper.

The DNA analysis revealed that as agriculture took hold, there was a marked decrease in bacterial diversity and certain disease-causing microbes became more prevalent, including Porphyromonas gingivalis which contributes to gum disease.The composition of oral bacteria underwent another dramatic shift with the industrial revolution and the introduction of processed sugar and flour. There was a further decrease in diversity, and a rise in bacteria such as Streptococcus mutans, which causes dental caries commonly known as cavities......Diet has influenced the bacteria that inhabit the human body "and we can see that in the oral cavity," said Cooper. "One can pretty safely deduce that same thing has happened in the gastrointestinal system, which is arguably even more important in terms of the role of bacteria in human health."

Indeed, a growing body of medical research suggests that the loss of beneficial bacteria is associated with a range of modern systemic diseases, from diabetes and heart disease, to obesity and autism. And perhaps most important of all, a diverse gut bacteria is necessary to train the immune systems of young children.
evolution  bacteria  diets  dental  guts  disease  pathogens  digestive_systems  microbes  microbiome  gums  gastrointestinal  hunter-gatherers  immune_system  human_evolution 
february 2013 by jerryking
Is a gluten-free diet a good idea? - The Globe and Mail
LESLIE BECK | Columnist profile | E-mail
Special to Globe and Mail Update
Published Wednesday, Mar. 21, 2012
diets  legumes  lentils  immune_system 
march 2012 by jerryking
Experts Discuss the Causes of Sinusitis - NYTimes.com
May 12, 2011, 12:36 PM
Exploring the Roots of Sinus Trouble
By INGFEI CHEN
sinus  mens'_health  immune_system  halitosis 
may 2011 by jerryking
Can Dirt Do a Little Good? - WSJ.com
MAY 18, 2010 | Wall Street Journal | By MELINDA BECK. Can Dirt Do a Little Good?
Melinda_Beck  immune_system 
may 2010 by jerryking
The Hidden Benefits of Exercise - WSJ.com
JANUARY 5, 2010 | Wall Street Journal | By LAURA LANDRO. Even
Moderate Physical Activity Can Boost the Immune System and Protect
Against Chronic Diseases.
exercise  Laura_Landro  fitness  mens'_health  immune_system 
january 2010 by jerryking
The Flu Fighters in Your Food
NOVEMBER 25, 2009 | Wall Street Journal | By LAURA LANDRO.
New Research Points to Ways to Boost Immunity by Making Sure Your Diet
Has the Right Nutrients.
Laura_Landro  food  healthy_lifestyles  nutrition  diets  immune_system  vegetables 
november 2009 by jerryking
Phys Ed: Does Exercise Boost Immunity? - Well Blog - NYTimes.com
October 14, 2009 | New York Times | By Gretchen Reynolds.
There is a “ J-shaped curve” involving exercise and immunity. In this
model, the risk both of catching a cold or the flu and of having a
particularly severe form of the infection “drop if you exercise
moderately,” .But the risk both of catching an illness and of becoming
especially sick when you do “jump right back up” if you exercise
intensely or for a prolonged period of time, surpassing the risks among
the sedentary."
exercise  fitness  running  flu_outbreaks  health  immune_system 
october 2009 by jerryking
Illness as Economic Metaphor - WSJ.com
JUNE 20, 2009 | Wall Street Journal | By MICHAEL MILKEN and JONATHAN SIMONS. The first rule, as always, is do no harm.

"[There's] a remarkable alignment between treatment regimens for sick economies and sick people. In both cases, it's important at some point to let the patient's immune system carry the load of recovery. Overtreatment is bad medicine.

Before the 1970s, our economy's "immune system" resided in financial institutions, especially banks and insurance companies. Companies looked to these institutions for capital that could restore growth and create jobs whenever the economy got sick. Beginning with the 1974-75 recession, however, capital markets took over the healing function; equity and bond markets provided the "antibodies" that corporate America could depend on to fight off the infection of recession.

Economies that lack the crucial immune-system component of a corporate bond market tend to suffer longer, deeper recessions. The most obvious case in point is Japan, whose banks struggled to recapitalize in the 1990s.
'70s  antibodies  capital_markets  deleveraging  economic_downturn  financial_institutions  immune_system  metaphors  Michael_Milken  overtreatment  recessions  stress-tests  
june 2009 by jerryking
Don’t Starve a Cold of Exercise
NYT article on the benefits of running and working out despite having a common cold
exercise  health  fitness  running  Gina_Kolata  immune_system 
december 2008 by jerryking

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