By Anne Ruth Dela Cruz
A lot has been said about the need to boost your immune system to enable you to fight the Covid-19 virus. According to Dr. Rolando “Oyie” Balburias, a functional medicine practitioner, the best way to boost your immune system is to eat right, sleep well and exercise.
Unlike the conventional medicine, which is disease and organ oriented, that we are familiar with functional medicine is health oriented. According to the Institute for Functional Medicine, functional medicine is a systems-biology based approach that focuses on identifying and addressing the root cause of a disease. Each symptom may be one of the many contributing factors to an individual’s illness.
For example, if a patient suffers a heart attack, he is rushed to the hospital and conventional medicine practitioners will address the heart attack either through an angioplasty or open heart surgery. When the patient has fully recovered, he will be advised to undergo cardiac rehabilitation.
Root cause of the disease
A functional medicine practitioner, on the other hand, goes one step further and finds out what is the root cause of the heart attack. If the heart attack was caused by hypertension, functional medicine doctors will find out why the patient is hypertensive. This could have been caused by a very unhealthy lifestyle, chronic stress or obesity.
“Lifestyle medicine together with personalized medicine is what functional medicine is all about,” Dr. Balburias said. “I prefer focusing on the immune system because it is in charge of repairing or defending us against any invasion or disease. We have to focus on how we can boost and how it functions because for it to function, it needs a lot of micronutrients and macronutrients.”
The best and cheapest way to boost your immune system is to eat more vegetables, which according to Dr. Balbuiras, contain the micro- and macronutrients that your body will need. Vegetables like broccoli, spinach and tomatoes are good sources of minerals and nutrients for our body.
“One good thing to note about our body is that if there is a lack in any of the nutrients, it will find a way to adapt,” he said. “However, if we fail to make up for the loss of these nutrients, our immune system will be affected and you will start seeing symptoms of your disease. Other foods to eat in your diet include mushrooms and whole grains.”
It is also best to check yourvitamin C, Zinc, vitamin E, fatty acid and amino acid levels because “those are the ones that are important to know whether your immune system can fight off any infection. “I just don’t manage and prevent your disease because what I can do is that I optimize the management of your health,” he explained.
Right sleep pattern
Getting the right amount of sleep, specifically the right sleep pattern, is as important as eating right. Adults need eight hours of sleep and it is important that you are sleep by 11 pm so that when you reach your deep sleep at 2 am, all the systems in your body will start to regenerate and recharge it time for it to face another day when you wake up at 6 am.
“You have to understand that our body is made up of different systems that are intertwined with each other and our body has a biological clock that is embedded in our genes,” Dr. Balburias said. “That is why when you eat late, you gain some weight. When you sleep late, you gain some weight as well because it affects the balance of your hormones.”
He added that we should stop eating by 8 pm so that the body can fast for 13 hours, enough time for the body to rejuvenate and recharge. If you eat the right kind of food “and the nutrients are there, you are not supposed to be hungry. But if all you are eating are simple sugar, then you will be hungry every hour or every two hours.”
Regular exercise will also help build your immune system. However, Dr. Balburias reminded that being “muscularly fit is just one component of being healthy.” “If you really want to be healthy, all your body systems should be balanced because your kind of exercise may not be appropriate for your system,” he said.
“Nutrition, exercise and sleep are the determinants of your health while the negative determinants are stress, excessive weight and environmental exposure,” he said. “This virus came about because of the damage we did to our environment, and the mutation that happened to this virus was able to manipulate our system.”
“We can strengthen our immune system and we can avoid the virus if we give everything that our body needs,” Dr. Balburias continued. “And how do we do that? By eating right, going to bed at 11 pm and by exercising.”