Immunity is Energy-Intensive
When you get a fever or work through a flu bug, how energetic do you feel? Just about enough to faceplant into bed? When your immune system is actively responding to a call—be it an infection, healing an injury, or dealing with situations like inflammation or autoimmunity—it can zap the energy you may have planned to use for your everyday mental and physical demands.
A recent scientific article explains that it can take around 25% of your energy to address an active immune response. Does that sound like a lot—or not too much? In comparison, the act of digesting food and transforming it into the kinds of energy your body can use is estimated to take around 10% of a person’s energy, and it’s not uncommon for your brain to consume about 25% or more of overall energy.
Your Energy Stash
So, when immunity really kicks into gear, you may be using the majority of your ready energy even before you get out of bed! And what about that work project or travel or fun or exercise you had planned? Some researchers are beginning to suggest that brain fog or unexplained tiredness or pain may relate to underlying energy ‘shortages’ that may be immune-related. Keep in mind that the quality of your nutrition, your stress level, your quality of sleep, and other factors can contribute to energy problems. On the other hand, they may be an active part of what is causing your immunity to go into overdrive and impact your personal energy economy!
Is MORE Energy the Answer?
You might think, then, that storing up lots of energy is the best solution. Your body may have other ideas, though. Energy is critical, but is it ever a good thing you can get too much of. Most of us have little difficulty getting plenty of food energy (that’s calories!) and storing the unused excess as fat. It’s coordinating all of this energy that is the more basic problem.
Having too much stored up energy is actively stressful for the body. Excess stored fat can act as an irritant to the immune system, distracting its attention away from protecting you. It’s also linked to killer health conditions like heart disease and diabetes, which are much more common than they used to be.
The Energy Trick
The trick to the body’s energy economy is to keep it flowing—out as well as in, just like breathing! Flowing from the alchemy of food plus oxygen and sunlight into the creation of human energy by mitochondria so that your cells can use it to power up your life. What are mitochondria? For more on these microscopic organs and how they handle energy, check out this posting on the topic. Optimizing your energy economy takes a dependable lifestyle strategy:
- Maintaining the right balance between food calories and the essential nutrients (B vitamins, minerals, etc.), plant nutrients, and quintessential omega-3 fats that harmonize how your cells and immune system distribute energy. They also help your cells keep to a better rejuvenation schedule!
- Giving your cells regular opportunities for rejuvenation by keeping your ‘eating window’ sparkling clean.
- Maintaining dynamic energy flow by staying physically active, which is another way to encourage healthy cell rejuvenation. Here’s a posting with more on how exercise keeps immune function healthy.
Keeping your immune cells robust through regular renewal is one of the best ways to keep immunity balanced and effective. In human history, this used to happen through hard physical labor and food shortages, which triggered natural rejuvenation processes.
Luckily for us, strategic lifestyle choices (like those mentioned above) can help us achieve rejuvenation in greater comfort. Here’s a great nutritional take on Immuno-Rejuvenation from Functional Medicine expert Mark Hyman, MD on his blog—it’s an enjoyable path to strengthening your innate resilience!