5 Subtle Signs Your Immune System Needs Support

The immune system is responsible for a lot more than you might think. Here are signs your immune system may be weak, along with what to do about it. Consult a naturopathic doctor to get to the root of your immune dysfunction.

1. Sweet tooth

What this says about immune health

Sugar cravings could signal underlying gut dysbiosis, which refers to the overgrowth of “bad” micro-organisms in the gut, at the expense of “good” micro-organisms known as probiotics. A bad gut makeup deters good bacteria from priming the immune system to fight infection; control inflammation; and maintain tolerance to food, environmental antigens, and the body’s own tissues.

What to do about it

Restricting sugar and eating plenty of plant-based foods is a good start to correcting the problem.

2. Feeling blue

What this says about immune health

When the immune system can’t control inflammation, it can damage the body’s own tissues and contribute to depression. Eating a diet rich in vegetables and healthy fat sources such as salmon, walnuts, and extra-virgin olive oil is foundational both for combatting inflammation and for supporting mental health.

What to do about it

Avoid processed foods rich in sugar and unhealthy saturated fats.

3. Painful periods

Why this says about immune health

Blocking off a week in your calendar every month so you can lie undisturbed in the fetal position is no way to live! Painful period cramps could signal underlying inflammation, hormone imbalance, and possibly endometriosis. While it’s tricky to treat endometriosis, it’s crucial that underlying contributors to inflammation are identified and addressed to reduce associated pain and tissue damage.

What to do about it

If you’re in the clear for endometriosis and still have painful periods, there may be an issue with estrogen balance in the body that can be addressed simply with food and lifestyle changes to decrease inflammation and improve hormone detoxification.

4. Bloated belly

Why this matters for immune health

Insufficient stomach acid and poor digestive enzyme release are common causes of bloating among women, and they impair the body’s ability to absorb the nutrients in food that are crucial for immune functioning. Food sensitivities also cause bloating and can contribute to inflammation in the digestive tract, impairing the gut’s ability to prime the immune system (creating a bit of a vicious cycle!)

What to do about it

Testing for food sensitivities and supplementing with digestive bitters or enzymes may do the trick.

5. Abnormal Pap test

What this says about immune health

The immune system is responsible for both fighting off infection and screening the body for abnormal or cancerous cells. An abnormal Pap test suggests the immune system either couldn’t prevent human papillomavirus (HPV) from causing damage to the cervix or didn’t catch abnormal cervical cells that grew as a result. Focusing on reducing inflammatory burden may lighten the load on the immune system so it can do a better job.

What to do about it

Meditate; exercise; laugh; eat plenty of densely nutritious veggies, leafy greens, healthy proteins and fats; and do your best to reduce your intake of sugar and processed foods.

To learn more, read “Leveling The Balance” by Cassie Irwin in the April 2021 issue of alive Magazine. 

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