Tag Archives: Immune System

Immune Boosting Strategies

Immune_StrategiesJacquie Eubanks RN BSN

If you are seeking a path to vibrant health, look to a healthy, vigorous, hardworking immune system. When cold and flu season is in full swing, strategically supporting the immune response may help to prevent illness and promote healing. Throughout life, we encounter harmful microbes, and unfortunately, sickness and infections are inevitable. When our immune cells combat and destroy viruses and bacteria, it also builds antibodies against those specific pathogens, strengthening immunity for the long haul. As influenza is a highly contagious airborne virus, even those with a strong immune system may contract the flu. However, those with the most robust immune systems may recover faster and experience less complications.

The youngest among us, who have not had time to build immunity, and seniors, whose immune functions weaken with age, are not only more susceptible to winter colds, influenza and strep throat, but are more vulnerable to a wide range of complications as well. Complications can range from moderate conditions, such as sinus and ear infections, to the more severe life threatening complications of pneumonia and organ inflammation. Those with chronic conditions, such as asthma, as well as heart and lung diseases, are most at risk of experiencing a worsening of their health conditions triggered by the flu.

Per the National Institutes of Health, a compromised immune system simply cannot perform as well as a fully functioning one. It appears to be in everyone’s best interest to take positive steps to avoid winter maladies by initiating strategies to support the immune system throughout the immunity building phase and when naturally declining as part of the aging process. Unhealthy lifestyle habits, including smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, can decrease the immune system’s ability to fight off illnesses. Good general health habits help keep the immune defenses strong and alert.

Sleep on it – There are times when many of us are guilty of skimping on sleep. Prioritizing sleep strengthens the immune response, while chronic sleep deprivation elevates inflammation- promoting chemicals, weakening and suppressing immune health. Regular sufficient sleep, which means seven to eight hours nightly, will support overall good health and help to keep the immune system in top fighting form.

Feed it – Feed your body a variety of nutrient-rich foods for long term healthy function. Include live cultured foods like a low-sugar organic yogurt or kimchi, traditional Korean fermented vegetables. Multi-strain probiotic supplements help to enhance beneficial intestinal microorganisms, which aids intestinal homeostasis, helps to keep inflammation in check and supports proper immune and gastrointestinal functions.

Work it – Exercise boosts the immune system by strengthening its ability to create antibodies and the white blood cells that fight off deleterious pathogenic invaders. Prioritizing 20-30 minutes each day for physical activity will help boost immune performance, as well as reduce tension and relieve stress.

Chill out – Long term stress taxes both the adrenals and the immune system, raising the risk for poor overall health and  suppressed immune reaction. By directly affecting the immune response chronically stressed, but otherwise healthy people, are more vulnerable to infectious and autoimmune diseases. Chronic stress acts as a trigger for anxiety and depression, and can bring about poor quality sleep, high blood pressure, heart disease and digestive issues.

Get happy – Chronic depression appears to increase proinflammatory cytokine activity and inflammation, negatively affecting immune health. Per the NIH, there is strong evidence that depression alters multiple aspects of immunity that may contribute to the development of several disorders and diseases.

Consider medicinal foods – Medicinal plants such as ginseng, astragalus, and garlic provide immune enhancing phytochemicals. As well, medicinal mushrooms, including shiitake, reishi and maitake, have antimicrobial properties that help support a balanced immune environment.

Address micronutrient deficiencies – Studies have linked deficiencies in zinc, selenium, folic acid and vitamins A, B6, C, D, and E to reduced immune function.

-Sufficient vitamin D plays several roles in supporting proper immune function, while a deficiency contributes to infection susceptibility.

-Zinc is essential for the proper development, maintenance and function of the immune system.

-Vitamin A helps regulate and support healthy development of immune cells.

-Vitamin C plays a variety of roles in immune function, including enhanced function of white blood cells and increased antibody levels.

-In addition to energy production, B vitamins support serotonin and neurotransmitter production, helping to reduce stress and improve mood.

Professional Supplement Center carries these and other high quality supplements to support overall and immune health:

UltraNutrientUltraNutrient® by Pure Encapsulations – This comprehensive, high potency, bioavailable formula includes core vitamins and minerals, advanced antioxidants, and standardized phytonutrient extracts providing exceptional broad spectrum nutrients for enhanced cardiovascular, liver and overall health support. Gluten and soy free, Non-GMO vegetarian formulation.

Astragalus Max-V 500...Astragalus Max-V 500 mg by Douglas Laboratories – Used since ancient times in Traditional Chinese medicine, Astragalus is widely known for its immune-stimulating properties. One capsule provides 500 mg of standardized astragalus in support of the immune, cardiovascular, renal and hepatic systems. Gluten, soy and dairy free, Non-GMO formulation.

SR-StaminaSR-Stamina™ by Iagen Naturals – This pharmaceutical grade blend of adaptogenic herbs and traditional botanicals provides ingredients known to increase stamina, enhance physical performance, and promote a healthy immune response, as well as decrease stress, anxiety and sore muscles.

L-PhenylalanineL-Phenylalanine by Metabolic Maintenance – This product provides support for the normal production of mood-elevating neurotransmitters and addresses physical discomforts by blocking a nervous system enzyme that amplifies pain signals. Excipient free, preservative free, vegan formulation.

Mushroom Immune...Mushroom Immune Defense™ by Source NaturalsON SALE This broad spectrum, high potency blend provides mycelia and extracts from 16 well-studied species of health supporting mushrooms in support of immune health. Vegetarian formulation.

 

References:
12 Strategies to Strengthen Your Immune System. http://www.motherearthnews.com/natural-health/nutrition/strengthen-your-immune-system-zmaz10aszraw
Flu Symptoms & Complications. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/complications.htm
Depression, Inflammation, Immunity and Infection. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/health-matters/200903/depression-inflammation-immunity-and-infection
Strengthen Your Immune System. http://www.everydayhealth.com/hs/guide-to-essential-nutrients/strengthen-your-immune-system/

How Your Lifestyle Habits Affect Your Immune System

ExerciseDietHealthJacquieIconBy Jacquie Eubanks
BSN, RN

While we may be constantly challenged by disease causing micro-organisms, our bodies do a great job fighting pathogens and fending off invaders.  Most of the time, that is.  Are you one of those fortunate people who rarely comes down with a cold, stomach bug or other viral related illness?  You may wonder why some people are less susceptible than others when both are exposed to the same illness.  It may all come down to a balanced immune system.  An out of balance immune system not only fails to protect the body, it may cause the body to attack itself, as evidenced by the development of autoimmune diseases.  Your immune system can only function at its best when general good health guidelines are followed.  Immune system strength is influenced by lifestyle factors, which can either boost or deplete the body’s reserves. 

We are all born with innate immunity.  Innate immunity involves barriers such as the skin and the cough reflex, which prevent antigens from entering the body.  As we are exposed to various pathogens along the way, we develop acquired immunity, as our immune systems build a defense against  specific antigens. Young people and the elderly are most vulnerable to illness.  Children’s immature immune systems make them more susceptible to sickness.  Many researchers believe that aging leads to a reduced immune response, leaving the elderly far more likely to contract infectious diseases.

An immune system that functions efficiently protects against disease, while a poorly functioning immune system allows disease to develop.  Certain lifestyle factors can weaken immune function including poor diet, smoking, chronic stress, inefficient sleep, lack of vitamin D and excessive alcohol consumption.  Conversely, a healthy lifestyle can strengthen and support your immune system and lead to better overall health. 

Your diet plays a major role in immune health.  Poor diet or malnutrition can lead to immune deficiency.  Fried foods and oils that contain disproportionate amounts of omega-6 fatty acids can cause inflammation, which over time can lead to a host of chronic diseases.  Refined sugar can suppress the immune system’s white blood cells and reduce their ability to destroy pathogens.  A diet devoid of whole foods does not provide the nutrients and antioxidants the immune system relies on to fight against free radical cell damage.  A diet rich in whole fresh foods, including vegetables, fruits, lean meats, fish and healthy fats, will provide the body with the nutrients it requires for healthy immune and overall function. 

Nicotine and the chronic inhalation of cigarette smoke is believed to trigger inflammation and suppress immune system function, putting smokers more at risk of developing bacterial, viral or fungal infections.  The toxins in cigarette smoke also overstress the liver, leaving it more vulnerable to disease.  The good news is that within 30 days of quitting smoking, immune activity begins to improve.  After about 3 months, immune system efficiency is greatly improved.

Over time, stress puts your health at risk by overexposing the body to cortisol and other stress hormones, which can disrupt other bodily functions.  Chronic stress can result in an increased susceptibility to colds or infections and can slow the recovery process.  Studies show a stress-related imbalance in the immune system can lead to chronic inflammation, a known contributor to many chronic age-related diseases.  Learning to reduce or at least manage stress can get our stress hormone levels down to more normal, healthier responses.  Getting plenty of sleep, eating healthy balanced meals and maintaining social relationships all help to alleviate stress and support a well functioning immune system.   

According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep deprivation is believed to compromise the immune system by activating the stress response and elevating inflammatory chemicals.  A University of Helsinki study showed that insufficient sleep affects the immune system by altering gene pathways related to immune function, triggering an inflammatory response and increasing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.  Other studies have shown an association between sleep deprivation and obesity and hypertension.  In short, sufficient sleep appears to support immune system function while sleep loss is a risk factor for impairment. 

Vitamin D insufficiency has wide ranging health consequences and plays a critical role in our immune response, influencing both the innate and acquired immunity.  Lacking sufficient vitamin D,  killer cells known as T-cells are unable to activate to fight off serious infections.  T- cells are also part of our adaptive immune system, helping the immune system to recognize a pathogen at the next encounter.  Without sufficient vitamin D, T-cells remain dormant and don’t even begin to mobilize.  To get sufficient vitamin D, spend 10 minutes each day in the sunshine without sunscreen or take a good quality supplement containing 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily, especially in winter. 

Excess alcohol consumption can lead to immunodeficiency and increased risk of illness and liver disease.  Overindulging appears to deprive the body of immune boosting nutrients necessary for white blood cell production, such as vitamin A, impeding the body’s ability to fight infection and disease.  Studies also suggest that excessive alcohol consumption suppresses the immune system by impairing the function of natural killer cells and decreasing the release of pro- inflammatory cytokines, necessary to combat foreign invaders.  Conversely, a small amount of red wine each day, which contains of high levels of antioxidants, is believed to support immune functions. 

To enhance overall health and support immune function, eat a healthy diet with lots of antioxidant fruits and vegetables, get sufficient sleep, de-stress your life, exercise regularly, spend a little time outdoors in the sunshine, don’t smoke and enjoy that small glass of red wine with friends! 

Supplements to support immune health include:

Vitamin A 25,000 I.U. (A97)
 
Vitamin A 25,000 IU (A97) by Thorne Research provides pure vitamin A for enhanced immunity, healthy vision, and cellular development.  Essential for a healthy immune system, vitamin A supports the normal function of white blood cells and natural killer T-cells.  Non-GMO,  gluten, soy and lactose free. 
 
Vitamin D-3 2000 IU
 
Vitamin D3 2,000 IU by Innate Response Formulas provides an effective whole food form of vitamin D, complete with amino acids and sterols for enhanced utilization.  This formula contains an immune blend, bioactive enzymes, proteins, and probiotics.  Non-GMO, gluten and soy free. 
 
ImmuCore
 
ImmuCore by Metagenics provides advanced immune support with antioxidants, vitamins D and C, and ingredients that enhance the function of natural killer cells and protect a stressed immune system.  Non-GMO and gluten free.
 
 
Phyto Immune
 
 
Phyto Immune by BioGenesis Nutraceuticals contains a comprehensive blend of vitamins and standardized herbal extracts to support a healthy immune system especially during stressful times.