Monthly Archives: October 2013

Loving Your Immune System

Loving Your Immune System

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

One important factor to understand about our immune systems’ response to infection is inflammation. This can be a byproduct of both acute (short term) and chronic (long term) infection.

Let me explain a bit further. When you are stung by a bee and the poison enters into your blood stream, the blood supply is increased. Blood vessels become more permeable, which permits white blood cells to rush to the site.

As the phagocytes (those Pacman-like cells) consume the microbes, oxidative products (waste) like hydrogen peroxide are released, and the area swells. After a short time, the body rids itself of the toxins, and then the inflammation goes down. This is a beautiful thing. Acute inflammation is healthy.

This cleansing process is the reason why consuming antioxidant-rich foods is so healthy.

Whenever chronic inflammation is present, the body is in a prolonged state of crisis (often due to diet or inherited factors). Toxins are not flushed out, which can lead to chronic diseases that include coronary heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Eating a poor diet only increases the likelihood of more severe damage.

So, how can I boost my immune system?

    1. Pray the Lord helps you to steward your body well and that He would grant you a strong body
    2. Exercise – Like my husband Keith says, “Exercise is like breathing.” You can make it a priority and do it every single day (even if only for 15-20 minutes).
    3. Eat Well – Pray that the Lord helps you to desire healthier foods. We are the product of what we eat. If you want to feel great, you need to consume great.

Here are six super foods that have been scientifically proven to aid with boosting the immune system:

Yogurt – Believe it or not, this yummy treat isn’t just for strengthening your bones. It also contains probiotics (live strains of good bacteria) that keep your intestinal track clear of disease-causing microbes. Lactobacillus reuteri is specifically known for its ability to stimulate white blood cell activity. What many people do not know is that over 50% of all diseases can be traced back to the gastrointestinal system. These are a set of body organs you want to take really good care of while you can.

Garlic – This is a relative of the onion that contains allicin, an ingredient that acts like an antibiotic in fighting infection and bacteria. Research suggests that garlic lovers who consume more than six cloves a week have a 30% lower rate of colorectal cancer and a 50% lower rate of stomach cancer. Talk about being proactive.

Fish – Salmon, mackerel, and herring are rich in omega-3 fats (essential fats), which act as anti-inflammatories, aid the formation of cell membranes, and decrease high blood pressure. These are definitely wise to consume.

Green Tea – Both black and green tea (including decaf variants) contain an amino acid known as L-theanine, which stimulates the immune system. Green tea also carries a high content of flavonoids (plant-derived antioxidants). According to the Harvard Medical School, green tea is the best food source of catechins (an anti-oxidant). In test tubes, catechins are more powerful than vitamins C and E in halting oxidative damage to cells and appear to have other disease-fighting properties. Studies have found an association between consuming green tea and a reduced risk for several cancers, including skin, breast, lung, colon, esophageal, and bladder. And that my friends, makes me feel much better about drinking my daily dose of tea.

Mushrooms – Just a handful of these tasty fungi can increase the production and activity of white blood cells, which is especially great when fighting an infection. They are also rich in dietary fibers, including those associated with lowering cholesterol (chitin) and healthy hearts (beta-glutan). You can add these in your pasta, salads, or scrambled eggs.

 Apples – Red apples contain an antioxidant called quercetin, and recent studies have shown that quercetin can increase and fortify your immune system, especially when your body feels stressed. Apple skins also contain a phenolic compound that prevents cholesterol from solidifying on your artery walls. An apple a day really can keep the doctor away.
Photo courtesy of immunityboosters.com
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Understanding Immunity

Understanding Immunity

Illness is a paradox.

It’s something that can often be prevented, yet at the same time it’s also inevitable.

Upon entering our bodies, it leaves many of us feeling helpless, lonely, and often deeply discouraged.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Because we live in a broken world, with imperfect bodies, we are bound to catch some sort of infection at least once in our lives. And because of this, I believe it is incredibly wise to prepare for these unannounced intruders.

“The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.” Proverbs 22:3

Our body’s defense against illness is our immune system, and its strength or weakness will determine whether we contract an infection or allow a disease to slowly develop within our bodies.

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

There are two types of diseases we will become familiar with in today’s discussion. But, the probability of preventing these diseases increases significantly with a healthy immune system – one that is nourished daily with the proper intake of vitamins and minerals from diet.

“Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul. ” 3 John 1:2

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31

I. Infectious diseases

These diseases are caused by the entry of microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungi) into the body through contact, food, water, or vectors (carrier) such as mosquitoes.

Examples of these are the flu, common cold, AIDS, malaria, tapeworms, and typhoid fever. These still serve as the primary cause of death in women and children around the world, predominately in underdeveloped countries where malnourishment is prevalent.

II. Chronic diseases

These diseases are of long duration and generally slow progression. Examples of chronic diseases are heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes. According to the World Health Organization, these account for 63% of all deaths around the world, and each of these are directly linked to poor diet.

Nutrition cannot directly prevent or cure infectious diseases (Example: Vitamin C does not cure a cold), but good nutrition can strengthen the body’s defenses against them.

The Response of the Immune System

Once these foreign substances enter into the cells of our bodies, the immune system generates responses known as antigens. These serve as indicators screaming “foreign invader” and marking where the white blood cells should attack.

It’s important to understand how our bodies operate in the face of conflict, so that we can understand how to effectively aid our bodies.

“An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.” Proverbs 18:15

Out of the 100 trillion cells in the human body, 1 out of every 100 is a white blood cell. There are two types of white blood cells that dominate the body’s defense system:

I. Phagocytes:

These are first to arrive on the scene. Once they recognize the antigen marker on the foreign substance, they engulf it and digest it. If you’ve ever played the game pacman, you’ll understand what I am saying. When the immune system is strong (due to the intake of proper nutrients), this entire process operates at a much quicker pace. This is often why some people can recover from illness quicker than others. 

II. Lymphocytes (B-Cells and T-Cells):

These cells work synergistically with the phagocytes to destroy pathogenic (harmful) substances. The B-Cells produce antibodies (highly specialized ammunition for the antigen marking the attacking foreign invader) which adhere to foreign substances and completely destroy them. The T-cells are also highly specific cells as they can only attack one type of antigen. These are incredible fighters against microbe-causing infections.

A great example is the flu. If you have contracted one strain of the flu virus, after a period of time, the T-cells memorize the strain, so if you were to catch it again, there would be no delay in assassinating the foreigner intruder. This is absolutely incredible.

“Behold, I will bring to it health and healing, and I will heal them and reveal to them abundance of prosperity and security.” Jeremiah 33:6

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139:14

Do you see why it is vitally important that we keep our bodies strong?

Our bodies are fighting for us; shouldn’t we also fight for them? Is it not loving to give our cells what they need to fight and protect us from harmful diseases?

Check in tomorrow as I share the significance of inflammation and seven super foods that can dramatically boost your immune system.

Photo provided by reverseaginginstitute.com
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Repost: Jesus is a Scientist

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With hot tea in hand after concluding some prayer time with a friend, my husband began to enlighten my morning with some rather intriguing news about the universe.

As some of you know, I am married to a rocket scientist.

And this morning he has allowed me to pick his brain (with the help of the Holy Spirit) in discussing Jesus and Science. In fact, introducing Jesus as a Scientist.

The Bible and Science

The Bible was not written as a science book, but anywhere that it mentions a scientific claim, it is remarkably correct. Many of these claims were not even confirmed to be correct by science until within the last 200 years. Because the Bible was written by very unscientific people and for very unscientific people, this is one piece of evidence that its writing was in fact inspired by an omniscient God. This also contrasts with texts of other religions, which make statements that are easily refuted by science.

One example of this is in the description of how mountains are formed. The Bible mentions mountains and valleys being formed from land that could have originally been underwater.  This is consistent with plate tectonics, which was first accepted by science in the 1950s (and itself was previously ridiculed).

“You covered it with the watery depths as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains. But at your rebuke the waters fled, at the sound of your thunder they took to flight;they flowed over the mountains, they went down into the valleys, to the place you assigned for them. You set a boundary they cannot cross; never again will they cover the earth.” Psalm 104:6-9

Other examples of similar mentions in the Bible that were not discovered by science until later include:

1. A Round Earth / An Expanding Universe

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded?He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.” Isaiah 40:21-22

2. The Vastness of Space

“‘Only if the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth below be searched out will I reject all the descendants of Israel because of all they have done,’ declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 31:37

3. The Earth in Space

“He spreads out the northern skies over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing.” Job 26:7

4. The Water Cycle

“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven,  and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:10-11

5. Atmospheric Circulation

“The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course.” Ecclesiastes 1:6

The Bible is often portrayed as being opposed to science. The truth is that many Christians and non-Christians alike have misinterpreted the Bible in this way. For example, leaders of the Roman Catholic Church promoted the idea that the earth is the center of the universe for hundreds of years. This concept is never taught in the Bible.

Creation versus Evolution

Another common point of contention that is often mentioned is a perceived conflict between the creation story of the Bible versus the Big Bang Theory and evolution. The story of creation in the Bible actually lines up with the Big Bang Theory extremely well. The opening lines of the Bible depict the creation of the universe, the formation of the earth, the development of oceans and continents, the emergence of sea life, plants, land animals, and finally humans. Of all the “holy books,” the Bible is the only one that describes the order of creation realistically as later revealed through science.

The Bible does not directly address evolution, which itself is composed of two very different ideas: microevolution and macroevolution. Microevolution describes the development of adaptations within a taxonomic family in response to its environment. In humans this can lead to different eye, hair, and skin colors. Microevolution is consistent with the Bible, which states that everything can reproduce after its own kind.

“Then God said, ‘Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.’ And it was so.” Genesis 1:11

“So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.” Genesis 1:21

Macroevolution is the study of the origin of life, and includes the idea that a taxonomic family can fundamentally change into another taxonomic family in response to its environment, which is difficult to observe in nature because of the large timescales involved. In the context of the origin of life, this also becomes difficult to prove for reasons including a lack of material evidence (gaps in the the fossil record) and the ongoing, fascinating research into the complex nature of DNA (which makes the probabilities of spontaneous bio-genesis infinitesimally low).

Science is beautiful, and I’m so thankful that we have it as a tool to discover more about this planet God designed for the human race. It’s pretty cool to think that our Savior is a Scientist.

Photo courtesy of stockfreeimages.com
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