Dr. Pamela Yee, MD is a functional medicine doctor who is board certified in internal medicine and holistic medicine. In practice, she takes time to fully understand her patients individually by diving deep to find the root cause of a particular problem. As we continue to battle Covid-19, Dr. Yee shares many ways in which we can all boost our immune system as cooler weather rolls around. In this conversation, she talks about the four foundations of the immune system: sleep, stress, exercise, and diet. Sleep, stress, exercise, and diet all affect our immunity in overlapping ways. For example, high stress affects sleep by decreasing sleep quality which has a detrimental effect on our immunity. Exercise and diet may seem like obvious factors that affect immunity, but it’s actually more complicated than you may think. Exercise is important, but note that it’s the right amount of exercise for the right amount of time because cortisol is produced during exercise. In small amounts, cortisol makes our bodies adapt and get stronger. However, extreme endurance exercise is not helpful in terms of immunity because over 90 minutes of exercises puts the body in a prolonged state of stress. Thus, regular moderate-intensity exercise for under an hour is ideal which will also help with sleep and cortisol response.
Eating well is another seemingly intuitive practice that is good for the immune system. There is a lot of data that shows that nutritional deficiencies disrupt immunity, but there is also our microbiome to consider which is like an organ in itself because it consists of the 100 trillion bacteria. The microbiome is tied into the immune system and affects immune function. Gut bacteria communicates with immune cells and uses compounds found in the gut such as short chain fatty acids which has a very direct impact on inflammation and t-cells. Diet is the direct driver of the microbiome because gut bacteria can use the compounds found in food to activate the immune system. The key point is to eat lots of plants, fruits, whole grains, legumes which provide lots of fiber for the microbiome, consume fermented foods like yogurt and kimchi, and stay away from processed foods and avoid artificial sweeteners which adversely affect the microbiome.
What’s In This Episode
0:00 Intro to Dr. Pam Yee
1:26 Functional Medicine
3:36 Difference between integrative medicine and functional medicine
4:25 When to boost immune system
6:00 What does the immune system mean innate immune system
6:45 Inflammation Response
7:45 adaptive immune system
8:30 Boosting both the innate and adaptive immune system
9:19 The Four foundations of the immune system
11:01 Sleep and immunity
15:20 Undistrupted sleep
15:46 Tips to improve sleep
16:30 Managing stress
22:30 Exercise and immunity
24:10 Too much exercise
25:54 The best exercise for immunity
27:18 Eating well and immunity
28:40 Our microbiome
31:08 What to eat
33:01 What to take now to boost immunity
34:40 Vitamin D
41:50 Supplements and toxicity
46:00 Elderberries as an herbal remed
50:25 Medicinal mushrooms
About Dr. Pamela Yee, MD
Pamela Yee, MD is board certified both in Internal Medicine and Holistic Medicine. She combines her medical training with evidence-based integrative and functional medicine modalities for the treatment of a variety of medical conditions including digestive disturbances, chronic fatigue, rheumatologic and neurodegenerative disorders or for conditions without a name or diagnosis but with clear symptoms. Dr Yee also has a particular focus on oncology and has developed integrative and nutritional treatment strategies for those trying to prevent cancer, those with active cancer in treatment and for patients in remission.
Her anti-aging preventative health program’s goals are to optimize longevity, physical performance, and cognition by the use of an individual’s biomarkers and guides her patients who pursue this to find unique ways to “bio-hack” their bodies through various modalities.
“What is extremely fulfilling to me as an integrative physician is being able to see each and every one of my patients as an individual outside of their particular illness or diagnostic label they may have been given. Taking into account the unique genetics and potential lifetime exposures for each person, a tailored treatment plan can be devised for them and can vary between patients that I see with identical diagnoses. This is what I think of as the true definition of holistic medicine – the evaluation of every person as a distinctive individual and being able to creatively think outside of the box that oftentimes limits conventionally trained medical doctors.”