Coming up on this episode of the Doctor’s Pharmacy,
Dr. Mark Hyman:
This sets the stage for this chronic inflammatory state. It makes us more susceptible to infections, more susceptible to food sensitivities, allergies and autoimmunity, as well as rapid aging.
Hey everyone, it’s Dr. Mark here. Uh, welcome to the Doctor’s Pharmacy podcast, a place for conversations that matter. And I’m bringing you today a health bite to improve your health because taking small steps every day can make significant changes in your health over time. Now, we’re all looking for ways to optimize our immune system these days. And the pandemic really got us rethinking some of our basic assumptions around our immune system. For example, we want an overactive immune system, an underactive immune system. We want a balanced immune system. We often talk about boosting our immune system, but that’s not always a great idea. Uh, and we need to understand how to regulate our immune system. So it does fight what we need to fight when we need to fight something. But it also doesn’t get overactive and create autoimmunity and prolonged inflammation and things like post covid syndrome or long-haul covid.
We really now understand so much about the immune system. So we’re gonna talk today about how do we optimize our immune function, how do we regulate it, how do we rejuvenate it? It’s a whole new concept rather than immune boosting or immune suppression. How about immune rejuvenation? This is a beautiful way of thinking about how do we regulate our immune system to do what it’s supposed to do and not do what it’s not supposed to do, which is happening a lot in our culture ’cause we have such an overactive immune system, given our inflammatory diet, given environmental toxins, given the change in our microbiome, given our levels of stress and so on, we all are experiencing, uh, immune system dysfunction at some level. So we also wanna understand how inflammation plays a role in aging and how do we regulate the process of getting older without dealing with the consequences of chronic inflammation, which is driving so much of the age-related diseases.
I wrote about this a lot in my book, young Forever. There’s a whole concept of a chronic systemic sterile inflammation. It’s not inflammation that’s coming from getting an infection, but it’s this low grade chronic inflammation that we now refer to as inflammaging, the inflammation that occurs as we age. And that actually accelerates every aspect of aging. So how do we regulate that? How do we understand how to not, um, neglect our immune systems as we get older and make them strong and fit and be able to be resilient and rejuvenate their effect? Um, which is basically diminished as we age, we’re less likely to be able to fight infections and cancer. So our immune system is dysfunctional at that level, and at the same time, it actually is causing more inflammation that leads to more autoimmunity and chronic sterile inflammation that leads to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and dementia.
So we have to really understand the way to, to rethink our immune system to both upregulate ability to fight cancer and infection, but also reduce the levels of inflammaging and autoimmunity that happen as we get older. Now, immuno rejuvenation is a relatively new concept. It was really, uh, sort of framed by my mentor, Jeffrey Bland. Dr. Jeffrey Bland, the father of functional medicine, who was a student of Linus Pauling and has, has taken this concept OFM rejuvenation and, and actually created a whole company around it called Big Bold Health. And just for full transparency, I’m an investor. I’m an advisor. I believe so much in this, in in the work that Jeff’s doing. He’s taught me most of what I know in medicine. So we have to think about this a little differently. So today we’re gonna talk about immuno rejuvenation, what it is, how it happens in the body, and how to turn it on.
How do we rejuvenate our immune system? Now why is the concept of immuno rejuvenation better than our conventional approach to immune health? Well, immuno rejuvenation essentially trains your immune system to work better at every level. Uh, your immune systems turn over fast. Your white cells turn over fast, you build a new immune system regularly. Everything comes from your blood and bone marrow, right? So your hepatic stem cells are generating new white cells and all the different types of cells. So you really need to kind of learn how to build the right immune system and not have it degrade as we age. Now, what happens as we age typically is not immuno rejuvenation, but a concept called immunosenescence, which is the aging of our immune system. And that’s damage that occurs in our body as a result of a dysfunctional immune system. One that generates more inflammation, that causes aging and less immune support that actually helps you fight infection and cancer.
And what happens is, you, you, we develop these cells called zombie cells, that they’re terrible cells. I wrote about them in my book. It’s one of the hallmarks of aging. They’re also known as senescent cells. And and what they do is they tend to spread inflammation like a wildfire throughout your body. And they make other cells, zombie cells just like zombies, make other people’s zombies the same idea. And you end up with a lot of these senescent cells running around your body that are causing you to age faster. So how do we deal with ’em? How do we actually get rid of them? How do we rejuvenate our body to get rid of the zombie cells to make room for healthy new cells? Well, um, we are, we’re kind of in a, in a, in a challenging moment, uh, in history for human immune systems.
’cause we are dealing with things we never had to deal with before. Uh, and and the worst, uh, is our diet, which is a highly inflammatory diet. Our processed food diet, high sugar and starch diet, high refined oils, lack of enough phytochemicals and medicines in food, uh, infl, anti-inflammatory compounds in food and omega three fats in our diet. We are really having a horrible dietary experience in America and around the world globally. And we’re seeing that effect on driving all the inflammatory diseases is especially obesity. And then there’s not just our inflammatory diet, but all the environmental toxins that we have to deal with. Um, and we’re also having, you know, increased spread of globalization of microbes through, like we saw with Covid in the pandemic. It happens, you know, one in one country a thousand years ago wouldn’t get anywhere ’cause you couldn’t get anywhere.
But now it spreads like a wildfire. So we also have other things like stress, um, psychological stress, physical stresses, all, all create stress on the immune system. So this really sets the stage for this chronic inflammatory state. It makes us more susceptible to, in infections, more susceptible to food sensitivities, allergies and autoimmunity, as well as rapid aging. So the question is how do we lose the science of, um, immunology, the emerging science of, uh, of, of understanding immuno rejuvenation to help the body, to reset, to help the body fight this process of inflammation as we age to help deal with the zombie cells and to basically make our immune systems more resilient. Well, it’s the way basically, you know, we do cleaning up of our cells is through killing of the bad cells or they die and then we have to clean and recycle ’em up.
And this is called autophagy. And this is something I’ve talked a lot about. But autophagy is sim simply this process of self-cleaning, like a self-cleaning oven where your, your sort of body has this process to kind of gobble up, like with Pacman, little things called lysosomes, gobble up all the old cells or damaged cells or damaged proteins, digest them and break them down into component parts and then reuse them like recycling. And it, it’s quite a, uh, an amazing process and we often have a degraded process of autophagy as we age. And there’s lots of things we can do to stimulate it. Uh, and and there a lot of the ways we can do it actually is through food and through the right nutrients in food and through the right phytochemicals in food. So we also have to actually understand how to also rejuvenate our mitochondria because our mitochondria are the energy factories of our cells, or the place where we make a t p that drives all of our biological processes.
So, um, when our mitochondria age, we age and we need to rejuvenate our mitochondria as well. So again, this is like, autophagy is is similar to autophagy. It’s a process of recycling, getting rid of the old mitochondria, getting building new ones. And you need a good immune system to do that. ’cause any kind of inflammation will cause mitochondrial function. So, um, when, when you look at the body’s ability to rejuvenate, it’s quite remarkable. We have our own built in process of rejuvenation. We have stem cells, we have immune cells that can help us rejuvenate. We can actually activate all these processes, but we have to learn how. So the question is, what can we do to activate our own body’s immuno rejuvenation system? What are the, what are the research showing us about how do we cultivate a healthier immune system? Well, there’s a few things.
Food, right? So food is so important. And so eating an anti-inflammatory diet that’s plant rich, that’s full of phytochemicals, that has medicinal properties in them that actually can kill some of the zombie cells, can rejuvenate your immune system, can reduce the inflammation is so important. So lots of colorful fruits and vegetables. One of the things that I like, um, are prebiotics and polyphenols and, and they’re in various kinds of foods. One of the most important foods for immuno rejuvenation is something called Himalayan tart buckwheat. Now this is an ancient grain, not even a grain, it’s actually a flower. So it’s not even a grain, even though it’s called wheat. It’s not wheat , that’s confusing. But anyway, it’s grown in the Himalayas and it’s got over 132 phytochemicals, many of which are not found anywhere else in nature and have a powerful ability to regulate immunity.
And some of them, like corset 10, we’ve seen reverse biological age and some preliminary data. They’ve shown that, that using Himalayan tar buckwheat, we can actually reverse our biological age by rejuvenating our immune system. So really important Next is stay active. So moving your body exercise interval training really powerful for actually rejuvenating your immune system. Uh, over exercising actually can cause a problem, but the right amount exercise actually helps build immunity. Also, make sure you get the right omega three fats ’cause essential fatty acids are so important. And most fish oils are not that great because they process the fish oil in a way that degrades some of the most anti-inflammatory components we call pro resolving, uh, mediators, which are basically like breaks on the immune system. Uh, and they also take out a lot of the, the important things like astaxanthin, which is important for, uh, inflammation.
It is an antioxidant that is found in a lot of the omega three fat containing fish like salmon. So wanna make sure you have the right omega three. So also you want to fertilize your microbiome. So both polyphenols from colorful plant foods, but prebiotic and probiotic foods are really important. So, and there’s, there’s a lot of them out there. We’ve talked a lot about it on the podcast, but we wanna make sure you increasing pre and probiotic foods. Also get rid of all the junk, right? The processed food, fried foods, sugary foods, junk foods. These are things that are just driving inflammation and actually worsening your immune system. Also sleep. Really important. If you don’t sleep, your immune system’s not gonna work well. So seven, eight hours of good sleep really important. Now the other thing is that there are positive things that are gonna help you and we prove your immune system like a stress stressors, for example.
We know that, that a stress isn’t always bad, that there are good stresses that activate your body’s own healing response. So basically a uh, uh, this kind of stress is called hormesis. And hormesis is the idea that there’s a stress that doesn’t kill you, that makes you stronger. So essentially it takes, uh, some kind of insult, which could be exercise or fasting or a sauna or a coal plunge. And it tricks your body into thinking something bad’s happening. And then your body responds by creating a defensive response by activating all its healing and rejuvenation and repair systems. So, uh, it’s really important and I think there’s a lot of ways to, to do this. So, uh, and, and these, these positive stresses are, are important. They help you become more resilient. So the goal is to become more resilient, more stress resilient, more immune resilient, be able to adapt to a lot of changes and actually, uh, deal with what has to happen.
. Now one of the ways we can actually stimulate the, uh, process of healing in the body is through sort of plant compounds that they have used and developed to protect themselves. Either the plant’s own protective defensive mechanisms and they’re called phytochemicals. And when plants are stressed, they make more of these, they’re their own defense system, they’re their immune system. So it’s great to eat these things ’cause they actually activate your body’s own healing system. So when plants have to deal with bad soil or temperature extremes or, or you know, insects that’re trying to fight off or floods or droughts, they create all these incredible molecules that are part of their own defense systems. And, and when we a actually eat these, it’s like eating a little bit of adversity and then they activate our body’s own healing systems and it’s really powerful. Now, uh, Dr.
Bland has come up with an approach to immune health that I think is quite brilliant because it deals with three key categories of foods and components in our food that can really rejuvenate our immune system. The first are polyphenols from plants, things like quercetin, lutein, um, and, um, asperin and all these bioflavonoids that are, that are found in food that can really rejuvenate our immune system. And they, they’re, they’re found in abundance in this Himalayan tery buckwheat. The second is eating the, the right amounts of omega fats, omega three fats and, and the right kind. And, and again, I know I’m an investor in big, bold health, but they, they’ve come up with a model of getting fish oil and extracting the omega threes from it and keeping the pro resolve in mediators, preventing the degradation is purified. There’s no toxins in it, it’s cold process, so it retains all its benefit and it’s quite a different omega three fat.
The next is, uh, your microbiome. And this is supporting your microbiome through pre and probiotic foods. And actually Himalayan tar buckwheat has these amazing microbiome supporting fibers that are quite amazing. And, and basically you wanna make sure you get these from all sorts of foods, not just obviously Himalayan tar buckwheat, but omega three fats from fish polyphenols, from plants, fibers and pre and probiotics from, from our food. And they basically help us to build our own immune system. So what are the kinds of other positive stressors other than food that we can use to upgrade our immune systems and immuno rejuvenate ourselves? Well, first is, uh, hormesis. So hormesis is, is, like I said, this idea that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And, uh, some of them are pretty simple to do. For example, temperature extremes, hot and cold. So you can do a sauna for 30 minutes at, you know, 170 a regular sauna for 30 minutes and you can go in and out, cotton, cold, hot and cold.
That doing that four times a week has enormous benefits for your health and longevity. Uh, cold plunge, if you get one and great, you can just fill up your bathtub with cold water and get a buck big, uh, horse trough and fill with ice and water and go in that, uh, you can even just say cold shower. That also helps rejuvenate your immune system, not overeating. And actually having a diet that is, is time restricted can be very important. So donate three hours before bed. Uh, give yourself at least, you know, 16 hours, maybe 12, 14 if you’re, you know, thin and you can’t tolerate a longer period. But most people can deal with a 16 hour overnight fast that’s eating dinner at six and having breakfast at, you know, 10 in the morning. So it’s not, it’s not terrible . Um, and it’s powerful to actually drive the activation of autophagy, autophagy and killing some of these zombie cells, rejuvenating immune system.
Uh, do stuff that’s also challenges you in other ways, whether it’s, uh, you know, learning a new sport, um, whether it’s, uh, you know, bike riding or tennis or horseback riding. You know, do something that kind of puts you outta your comfort zone and makes you learn new stuff. And I picked up tennis when I was 45 and it was, I’m still learning and I’m still improving and growing. So it’s, it’s amazing. Uh, and also, uh, try something crazy like public speaking. I do it, it’s, it’s pretty easy for me, but if you’re not used to it, it creates this stress in your system. It may actually be a good stress. So try lots of fun stuff. Try, uh, do some fun and challenge yourself a little bit both, um, in terms of the life activities you can do in terms of optimizing your diet, in terms of making sure you get all the right nutrients, uh, from polyphenols and from phytochemicals that are great for your gut microbiome, prebiotic fibers and omega three fats.
So that’s a great way to really think about reshaping your immune system to actually deal with the ravages of aging and inflammaging, but also to, uh, boost it so you can actually fight infections and cancer. So we really gotta think about immune systems in a different way. We have to basically learn how to regulate it and to rejuvenate it through, um, upgrading our cells and upgrading our immune cells. So if you’re really excited about this idea of immuno rejuvenation, there’s a lot more to learn. You can go to big bold health.com. They have lots of educational content on there that shares how this works, why it’s important, and how to track what’s happening. You can learn more about the ins and outs of the immune function, just go to, uh, big bold health.com and I hope you learn more and enjoy yourself. Okay, that’s it for today’s Health Bite. Uh, be sure to share this with your friends and family on social media. Leave a comment, we’d love to hear from you, how have you upgraded your immune system. Uh, and we’ll see you next week on the Doctor’s Pharmacy.
Hi everyone. I hope you enjoyed this week’s episode. Just a reminder that this podcast is for educational purposes only. This podcast is not a substitute for professional care by a doctor or other qualified medical professional. This podcast is provided on the understanding that it does not constitute medical or other professional advice or services. If you’re looking for help in your journey, seek out a qualified medical practitioner. If you’re looking for a functional medicine practitioner, you can visit ifm.org and search their find a practitioner database. It’s important that you have someone in your corner who’s trained, who’s a licensed healthcare practitioner, and can help you make changes, especially when it comes to your health.