We often think of the immune system as a single entity, but that is far from reality. It is a whole bunch of things, like the U.S. Military. The U.S. military has multiple functions, although generally it has the task of protection of the country – there is the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, as well as the National Guard. When they fight, they don’t just go in and kill everyone, they have to kill only enemy combatants, and not kill those who don’t pose a threat. Moreover, there are a lot of support staff, as many as ten times the number of soldiers. There is also overlap, for example, the Army has more flying machines than the Air Force, and the Navy and Marines have less. Each has different types of weapons that are specialized to their needs.
This is a great analogy of the immune system. We think of it as our soldiers fighting off the little micro-enemies that constantly threaten to invade our bodies, but it is so much more. Much of the immune system is like janitors, military police, and disposal services for the body. When cells are disabled, infected, or dead, the immune system cleans up the mess, taking out the compromised cells. When our own cells go rogue and stop being what they are supposed to be and doing what they are supposed to do, the immune system takes them out, preventing cancer from growing. Amazingly, if one part of the immune system is compromised, the other parts can take over the function… but not as efficiently.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Commander-in-Chief, is the brain, which controls every regiment. You need a good working brain for the immune system to function well. Without good leadership, the immune system goes crazy with lots of “friendly fire” called autoimmune diseases. You must keep order, with every part of the system functioning well, doing their own job, and keeping the body clean and free of invasion from within and without.
You don’t have to be a West Point graduate with honors to keep a good immune system. It’s part of the AUTONOMIC nervous system, and runs very well on its own – as long as it has the resources it needs. Give the army all it’s supplies, and they will do their job well – but deny them ammo, guns, food, or transportation, and they will flounder! Remember, “For want of a nail, the kingdom was lost!” So, your only job is to give your military everything it needs to function well.
Meditation is not an empty mind, but rather a focused mind. Stop multi-tasking! Start your meditation practice. Remember that there are many different forms of meditation. If you do yoga, that’s fine. Transcendental meditation works as well. Prayer is meditation focused on God, and is a great way to meditate for thirty minutes twice per day – a wonderful way to connect with the Infinite!
Exercise helps the brain, and all areas of the immune system. It keeps the hormones balanced and relieves stress. It can prevent cancer, as well as many kinds of infections. Physical activity is also essential to prevent aging. The exercise you do will depend upon what you enjoy. Find what you like to do. Walking is fine, but you get better results with short bursts of high-intensity exercise like interval training. Work up to a level that builds muscle, don’t try to do it all at once. Find time every day to exercise.
A good and functional immune system is amazing in its ability to keep the body free from enemies. The methods above will help to keep you safe from COVID-19, as well as all the other flu viruses. Moreover, while you may be exposed, and even get the virus, your response will be able to clear it without doing damage to your body.
Scott Saunders, MD
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