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Boosting Your Immune System

By Drs. Rick and Jan Hanson

Q

Since having kids, I've been getting colds much more often, plus I developed a chronic rash that my doctor says is an autoimmune condition. Why is this happening to me? And what can I do?

A

We're very sorry that all this seems linked to becoming a mother - yet you're far from alone since studies have shown that bearing and rearing children gyrate the immune system in a number of ways, leading to increased colds and flus and more risk for autoimmune conditions.

Happily, there are things you can really do to strengthen your immune system so it is more able to fight off pesky invaders, and less likely to over-react and attack your body (i.e., an autoimmune illness). (Of course, this column is not meant to give advice about any particular condition.)

The approaches we're about to mention are all backed up by research (see our website for the references), but they may seem a little technical.Hang in there, and there's lots more info and back-up in chapter 5 of our book, Mother Nurture, which contains a thorough, research-based discussion of how to stay optimally healthy while raising a family.

A Solid Foundation
Actually, the most important thing you can do is mental, not physical: a positive outlook, social support, and low stress will nurture the healing powers of your body. Since angry quarrels depress immune system function, you'll also benefit from finding positive ways to work out issues with your partner.

Second, try to get lots of deep sleep.

Third, keep the overall load on your immune system as low as possible - by minimizing your exposure to toxins, allergens (including foods to which you are sensitive), or infection - so that it is not already burdened when new challenges come along.

Now, on this foundation, let's look at a range of specific options for strengthening and balancing your immune system.

Acupuncture
This ancient system can increase T-cells and other white blood cells - essential soldiers within your specific immune system.


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