'Every single day when I’m with patients I talk about the immune system to at least one if not everyone I see that day, including the boys in my household. My boys understand that too many raisins and dates (yes, “healthy” sugar) is still sugar and they are only allowed a small amount of them and not every day. Why? Because studies show that about 2 hours after consumption of sugar, the white blood cells decrease slightly in number. And this directly affects our ability to fight viruses. I talk to them about our bodies natural defenses and how what they put in their mouth directly affects this. They know this because I have been talking about this since they can remember. I firmly believe that children truly can understand a lot more that we give them credit.. you just have to talk to them about it.
My greatest legacy are my boys. If they can explain why they take the supplements they do and eat like they do, then I have done my job well. It is not an easy job so please don't think I am suggesting that it is all unicorns and rainbows committing to this lifestyle. A flashback of the day my older son insisted on eating from the preschool holiday party turned into a run to the bathroom is playing in my mind. He learned at a very young age what MSG, Red dye and additives do to his stomach. It wasn’t a pretty site let me tell you.
Back to the point..you have to start somewhere and so I am going to tell where to start:
I often think about what my greatest message could be to the masses, one that I am most passionate about. Hands down it is the idea that Food is Medicine, that we should eat for our immune support, and that by looking at the 5,000 + year old philosophy of Chinese Medicine and implementing parts of it in our daily life, then we are much healthier for it.
80 percent of our immune system resides in the gut, which is comprised of: mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestines, large intestines, gall bladder, liver, colon, and rectum. When speaking of Leaky gut, we are referring to the permeability of the large and small intestines and when the lining is thin and weak, bacteria, and toxins escape and enter the blood stream where they are regarded as foreign particles and in turn stimulate our bodies natural defenses to clean up the mess. Helping to strengthen the integrity of the intestines will in the long run protect us from viruses, auto-immune issues, diabetes, and give us a fighting chance to protect us from Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s, this list can go on and on. It is very important to also pay attention to your oral health. Taking good care of your teeth, removing any old metal fillings, flossing daily and seeing your dentist for regular cleanings is paramount to digestive health as well.
I'd like to put on my rosy colored glasses and believe that maybe the new normal will be one of more kindness, more compassion, and better care of our health, in particular, our immune health via our digestive system. Here at the office, my new norm has been expanding my practice to include telehealth sessions where I talk a lot about this very topic, which supplements to choose and why, and the beneficial herbal formulas in our current landscape. I've even started offering virtual pilates sessions!
I want anyone who has taken the time to read this post to feel empowered because gut health CAN be improved. It is completely attainable and I believe that anyone can do this, on any budget...And if you need some guidance, reach out to me. I will gladly offer support and solid insights, wherever you are in your process.
Blog postings by Natalie Maddox Rougie, DOM, AP owner of Palm Wellness in Tampa, FL.