Friday, November 13, 2009

Immunity Impunity

Wikipedia definition of impunity: "Impunity arises from a failure by States to meet their obligations to investigate violations; to take appropriate measures in respect of the perpetrators..." Oh, Anne. What are we talking about here?

OK. For the sake of this discussion, I see ourselves as our own little states. While states don't have 100 percent control over what happens within the state, they do have a lot of control. And so do we. We don't have complete control over what happens to us and our bodies, but we have a lot of it. So when it comes to our bodies, how much control do we have over our immune systems? Again - a lot.

A great immune system is ALWAYS important, but we especially depend on it now during the flu season (seasonal and H1N1) to get us through without catching anything. We also depend on it to keep us from suffering diseases of many other kinds including cancer. So are we meeting our obligations to our bodies to keep our immune systems as strong as we can or are we failing to pay attention and take appropriate measures to correct?

You read so often that exercise and good nutrition help your immune system, but I always wondered exactly how they did that! It wasn't until I went through one of Andrew Weil's online courses on Nutrition and Cancer that I finally found an explanation that filled out the picture. It was an excellent course BTW. Here is the gist of it.

Our bodies have many millions of cells that naturally age at different rates depending on where they are in the body. Additionally cells are damaged by various things - oxidants, etc. We have a wonderful system called apoptosis that's in place to get rid of old or damaged cells that if otherwise left alone can cause illness. So we need those killer cells to be plentiful enough to handle the day-to-day workload of old, damaged, out of control cells, etc. When we're in balance, the bad cells aren't too plentiful and we have enough killer cells to take them out.

But here's where impunity comes in. A poor diet that is loaded with unhealthy fats and sugar, being sedentary and not exercising regularly, drinking too much and smoking can really amp up the damage to otherwise healthy cells and diminish the number and ability of the killer cells to do their jobs. So you wind up with an overload of nasty cells and a weak army to deal with them. Double whammy. That's when we become more open to disease. It's like a little creek that becomes a river and the walls that held the water back from the city and were never taken care of fell when overwhelmed. Are we allowing that to happen unchecked?

This is a very simplistic explanation and there are certainly other factors that cause illness, but this is a biggie. THIS we have much control over in our little state of self. Are we paying attention and turning bad habits around? It's a good question to ask ourselves everyday. Are we meeting our obligations to ourselves or are we failing?

So many of us are juggling many responsibilities - maybe more than ever before. Women especially seem to put themselves last on their list of priorities. Just keep our heads down and plow on. Well, I'm here to ask you to figure out how you are going to be a priority in your life. You're like the family car (I love analogies). You carry everyone around every day, day after day, but you need regular maintenance to keep the wheels turning! Maintenance for you is exercise, healthy diet, minimal alcohol intake and no smoking for starters. That is Basic Human Maintenance 101. No maintenance - you're up on blocks sooner or later. Kind of an interesting visual and not at all fun if it happens.

I don't want to be up on blocks and of course you don't. Wherever you are in your life today, think about where you might be living with impunity and reverse gears. You are so worth it. There has never been anyone exactly like you since the world began. That is precious and worth paying attention to my friends.


  1. Excellent post - I love it - you explained it so well. That is exactly riggt. It's tough to do at times - but we must not give up on taking care of ourselves as well as others.