What we get wrong when we talk about immunity
Let’s start with the unfortunate truth — most conversations about immunity are woefully inadequate. Popular messages around immunity have largely focused on oversimplified and sensationalized ideas like “boosting” the immune system.
In the context of a globally renewed interest in infectious disease mitigation, invoking “immunity” to promote a quick-fix solution may have been inevitable. Yet there’s so much more to this story. Even a slightly better understanding of immunity promotes widespread benefits to multiple aspects of your health.
What immunity is, and what it isn’t
Immunity is often defined as the body’s ability to defend against external threats, especially microbes. This description tends to limit the application of immune science to infectious threats. But research has convincingly revealed that the immune system plays a vital role in everything from metabolic health to the gut, brain function, and even mood.
The immune system orchestrates a complex symphony of chemical messages that direct the growth, function, and lifespan of other cells. It’s also an information broker, translating data from the outside world into signals that can be interpreted and acted on by our organs.
When immunity gets off balance
When immunity is balanced, it manages threats from the inside and outside without major challenges. But in the modern day, immunity is often overwhelmed, confused, or otherwise thrown off-axis. This makes the immune response unreliable and counterproductive to your wellness. The cascade of effects of an imbalanced immune system can result in a variety of negative physiological outcomes, only some of which are commonly recognized as “immune” problems.
Why most immune interventions are inadequate
We all hear about new ways to restore immune health. Most of these are superficial attempts at remedying a deeper problem. There’s a faulty assumption that the only thing separating us from a healthy immune system is a massive dose of a trace mineral or a 7-day juice cleanse.
There’s also a tendency to villainize all microbes because some of them can cause disease. We can’t expect to remedy a complex problem with overly simplistic thinking. As is the case with most chronic dysfunctions in our physiology, it’s imperative that we address deeper contributors to the problem.
What to think about instead
Our immune health is a reflection of the interface between our genes and our environment. Environmental influences on immunity-related genes are, in fact, proposed to be the central determinant in human immune variation, and this variation influences everything from our stem cells to the way we see the world.
This means that by modifying our actions, we can change our immune function at a micro- and macroscopic level. We can promote healthier expression of immunity-related DNA through the science of epigenetics, change the programming of our immune cells through dietary modification, and even alter immune signaling through something as simple as deep breathing or nature exposure.
An understanding of these pathways and how to affect them is the healthier alternative to crude boosting attempts that may further promote immune disequilibrium. We call this integrative approach to rebalancing immune health Immuno-Rejuvenation.
What should you do next
Immuno-Rejuvenation is a comprehensive and personalized framework for reimagining immune health, so there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, we recommend you start by learning about your immune function by taking the Immuno-Identity Quiz. We'll email your result and recommend some next steps to help you make positive changes in your immunity and wellbeing.