Have you noticed the meteoric rise in allergies, inflammatory diseases and other signs of poor immunity in the past few decades? Our immune systems are designed to protect us from environmental insults and harmful pathogens. But, when it is confused, it can attack itself, giving rise to autoimmune diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus and Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
Although the research in understanding the immune system has grown significantly in the past 40 years, immune problems are still on the rise. I strongly believe that applying the wisdom of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) in combination with modern research will truly help us strengthen our immune systems. (To get a more basic understanding of how TCM views immunity, check out my Facebook live video)
I started my studies in Naturopathic Medicine over 20 years ago and the hot topic in research then was the treatment of AIDS and HIV. It was at that time that I learned about this unusual TCM concept called “dampness.” I learned that almost every HIV patient had the following signs and symptoms associated with dampness:
- Feeling sluggish
- Feeling heavy
- Mental dullness
- Edema or swelling
- Excessive mucus or phlegm in the body
- Frequent infections
- Weak digestion or metabolism
The TCM concept of dampness is difficult to translate into English, but the closest western medicine diagnosis is a “candida overgrowth.” A candida overgrowth is when the yeast and bad bacteria are dominating over the healthy bacteria, completely throwing the ecosystem of your digestive system out of balance.
How Does Dampness Affect the Immune System?
Yeast and bad microorganisms release toxic compounds that aggravate our immune systems. Over time, our immune systems wear down and fail to protect us against invading viruses and parasites. This breakdown also leads to confusion in the system, resulting in allergies and autoimmune problems.
How Do We Reduce Dampness in Our Bodies?
In my practice, I customize dietary and treatment plans for each patient.
Here are 3 important recommendations I give to my patients to help them reduce dampness:
1. Avoid overconsumption of sugar.
- Studies have shown how our modern day diets full of sugar (found in breads, desserts, candies, drinks, snacks, etc.) truly weaken our immune systems
- Yeast and harmful bacteria thrive on sugar. Some studies show how yeast can release neurotoxins that cause us to crave sugar.
2. Avoid raw and cold foods.
- According to TCM, raw foods are more difficult to digest compared to cooked foods. My patients with dampness do far better with foods that are lightly steamed or stir fried. For example, sashimi (raw fish) is best to be avoided.
- Temperature of foods and beverages also matter. Patients with dampness are best to avoid cold or frozen foods like ice cream, ice cold drinks or foods that are directly from the refrigerator.
3. Avoid overuse of antibiotics.
- Broad spectrum antibiotics wipe out both good and bad bacteria. Unfortunately, opportunistic pathogens, like yeast, will colonate in your gut after antibiotic usage.
- Did you know that you are getting small doses of antibiotics from eating commercial meats? The reason is because antibiotics are regularly added to the animal’s feed.
There are so many other ways to improve the strength of our immune systems. If you want to learn more about building a truly resilient immune system, I will be taking a deeper dive and personally answering your questions in my Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/drleefbgroup
Dr. Jeffrey Lee, ND, R.Ac.
P.S. I also have a Blog on how sprouting can strengthen your immune system.