When it comes to having better defenses against viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens, it’s important to understand the concepts of immune tolerance and immune resilience, and how they relate to each other.
Immune tolerance refers to the immune system’s ability to appropriately respond to the environment. Proper tolerance means it does not over react or under react, and that it tolerates normal everyday things like foods you eat, chemicals in the environment, and even your own tissues.
When you have healthy immune tolerance you don’t have food intolerances, chemical sensitivities, or autoimmune disease.
However, when people lose immune tolerance, their immune system becomes hyper vigilant. They start reacting to multiple foods, their skin might start reacting to lotions, detergents, or jewelry, and they can also react to chemical scents and odors such as car fumes.
These changes in immune function can gradually lead to loss of self-tolerance, which is autoimmune disease, such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism or rheumatoid arthritis.
Immune resilience is your body’s ability to deal with a biological pathogen. We are all exposed to different viruses and bacteria in our everyday lives. However, our immune resilience determines whether pathogens infect us and cause a significant and ongoing immune response.
The connection: Loss of immune tolerance affects immune resilience
The key concept to understand here is that loss of your immune tolerance is going to impair your immune resilience.
In other words, if you have food intolerances, chemical sensitivities, or autoimmune disease, your immune system is already compromised to some degree because the cells normally involved with fighting off infections are no longer as efficient. This can make you more susceptible to biological pathogens.
Improve immune tolerance to support immune resilience
Sometimes, one of the best strategies to improve immune resilience is to work on improving immune tolerance.
One of the easiest and most established strategies to recover immune tolerance is to improve your gut microbiome diversity.
The past decade of research has shown us that a diverse gut microbiome supports immune function. If you eat the same foods every day or don’t eat many plant fibers in general, you will reduce your immune tolerance because you will reduce your gut microbiome.
When we increase the amount of produce we eat (ie: increased vegetable and fruit fibers) and constantly diversify what kinds of produce we consume, we can improve immune tolerance and give our immune system a chance to develop a stronger defense against pathogens.
As you can see, these two aspects of your immune system are intimately linked — and there are simple ways to increase the function of both. You can learn about these concepts in more depth in my free program Everyday Immune Resilience.