Your Immune System is About to be Challenged

Another season is upon us. The first colds threaten. Carb foods entice. The immune system is challenged. How should you feed it to best support its healthy function?

 

Vitamin D – 3000 to 5,000 IU daily for most adults is safe and effective for the prevention of flus and colds. No other supplemented nutrient has been as extensively studied as vitamin D. If you are low in vitamin D, fewer Natural Killer cells (NK-cells) are formed, and your innate immune defenses against viruses and bacteria become impaired. One has to get sunshine in order for the body to manufacture sufficient vitamin D and across the Fall this doesn’t happen enough. You may have your blood levels checked before supplementing. If you happen to have a cold or flu at the moment, sharply increase the Vitamin D dose for just a few days.

As the other function of NK-cells is to kill tumor cells, D-depletion probably increases our risk of cancer also. Vitamin D depletion and deficiency are both common in the Northern latitudes due to lower exposure to sunlight. So take advantage of sensible exposure to the sun. Mushroom Extracts that contain reishi, maitake and/ or shiitake mushrooms are high in beta-glucan, a powerful antiviral agent and immune system modulator. Beta glucan - a complex polysaccharide that enhances the activities of macrophages causing them to react aggressively against threats foreign to your body, helps in recognition of ‘self’ which prohibits autoimmune symptoms such as inflammation, induces macrophage mediated destruction in malignant lesions, anti-tumor activity, speeds the healing process.

Zinc is critical for optimal functioning of the immune system. The body requires zinc to develop and activate T-cells—important players in the immune system. Even mild zinc deficiencies can impair natural killer cell activity and other components of the immune system. Zinc lozenges can shorten the length of respiratory tract infections.

Elderberry has been used for hundreds of years to fight colds and flu; it’s high in anthocyanins, antioxidants that protect the cells from damage and activate the immune response. The well demonstrated antiviral properties of elderberry, suggest that taking it at the first sign of illness can substantially shorten the duration of flu, and may be especially effective in treating upper respiratory tract infections.

Echinacea is known for its antiviral and antimicrobial activities, and its ability to support immune system function. Echinacea reduces the incidence and duration of the common cold; additionally, it appears to have potent adaptogenic (or stress reducing) effects, which enhances immune system activity in the long run. Supplementing with Echinacea increases the body’s production of hyaluronic acid, a well- Astragalus is a traditional Chinese herb that helps the body naturally adapt to stress and illness. It’s high in polysaccharides and flavonoids that enhance immune function and help protect against the flu. Astragalus stimulates white blood cells to both prevent and fight infections. Some studies have also found that astragalus inhibits the development of atherosclerosis and may help to protect against cancer.

Probiotics are friendly bacteria that usually inhabit the gut and are a very well documented optimizer of the immune system. Seventy percent or more of our immune system is controlled by what happens in the gut, and friendly bacteria are the most important component of that immune system. These bacteria modulate the immune system by increasing the numbers of certain white blood cells (T lymphocytes). Probiotics also help improve digestion and protect the body from harmful pathogens such as candida albicans.

Vitamin A plays a major role in the proper function of cells that mediate adaptive immunity, such as T and B lymphocytes role in preventing infections by influencing the activity of T and B lymphocytes (white cells). Vitamin A helps to maintain the structural and functional integrity of these mucosal cells. Vitamin A is also important to the normal function of several types of immune cells important in the innate response, including natural killer (NK) cells, macrophages, and neutrophils. Moreover, Vitamin A is necessary for the generation of antibody responses to specific antigens.

Quercetin has been shown to control the release of histamine, leukotrienes, and prostaglandins. It does this based on its ability to stabilize mast cells, which release histamine and other inflammatory signals. It is a popular and widely used remedy for sinus congestion, sneezing, the pollen season, and other issues where the immune system seemed to behave in an excessive direction.