Currently there is a lot of confusion as to how we can all keep our immune system healthy and primed. But what exactly is our immune system?
The immune system, unlike any other bodily system, comprises of a complex series of interactions between various glands, such as the thymus gland and tonsils, proteins, chemical compounds, hormones, white blood cells and probiotics that all work in synergy to try and make our bodies less susceptible to infections. Many of these chemical compounds require nutrients in order to work effectively, for example a deficiency in vitamin D3 may result in dormancy of white blood cells which are normally required to engulf and eradicate bacteria and viruses that enter the bloodstream.
Therefore the first supplement that I recommend is a multi-nutrient powder called Life Drink by Terranova. This is a deeply nourishing supplement containing protein, naturally occurring vitamins and minerals found in some of the green vegetable and herb extracts within the formulation, some omega essential fatty acids, green foods such as wheat grass juice and spirulina, mushroom extracts which are rich in beta glucans, some probiotics as well as digestive enzymes which extract nutrients from your food.
Dosage: Adults and children over 12 years of age, take one scoopful daily mixed into juice or water.
Several studies indicate that taking vitamin C just before, or soon after, the onset of the symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections may ease the symptoms and reduce the duration of illness.
The evidence is mixed and does not consistently support the notion that taking vitamin C can reduce the risk of acquiring an infection. However, these studies did focus primarily on rhinoviruses, enteroviruses and influenza viruses, but there is nevertheless justification in using vitamin C supplements.
There are several types of vitamin C supplements which include acidic types, buffered vitamin C supplements and the gentle, but high, absorption Liposomal Vitamin C supplements.
Vitamin C in its natural state is an acid and since the body works within an alkaline state, aside from the stomach which works in an acid state, any acid reaching the intestines is readily excreted away which is why acidic forms of vitamin C often cause loose stools or diarrhoea.
Not so with Liposomal Vitamin C. This form of vitamin C still provides the acidic form of vitamin C wrapped in a phospholipid layer which allows the vitamin C to be absorbed efficiently from the intestines into the bloodstream, rather than being excreted out. We recommend YourZooki Liposomal Vitamin C.
Dosage: Adults, take one sachet twice a day for immune support. Children 12 to 16 years: take one sachet daily.
We tend to think of probiotics as being valuable for digestion and for concerns linked to digestion, however probiotics are involved in numerous processes carried out within the body including calming, elevating mood, preventing urinary tract infections and even helping with oral hygiene.
Numerous studies have been carried out on two well-known probiotic species, L acidophilus and Bifidobacteria, have shown that these strains appear to enhance antiviral activity and may help reduce the occurrence and duration of viral respiratory infections.
So how do these bacteria in the intestines help our immunity?
These friendly probiotic bacteria work to produce antibodies which are made up of protein and bind themselves to pathogens that have entered into the bloodstream; these can be identified by the white blood cells in order to eradicate them.
Additionally, probiotic bacteria are also known to promote the production of specialised white blood cells that are required to protect the body against bacteria and viruses.
The probiotic that I favour is Mega Probiotic ND which provides eight strains of acid resistant bacteria, including the two species mentioned above, which can colonise the intestines where they can perform their myriad of roles including helping to support the immune system. Mega Probiotic ND is free from dairy, gluten, wheat, soya, sugar and numerous other known allergens.
Vitamin D3 has long been known for its importance to maintain healthy bones and teeth because it helps with the absorption of calcium from the intestines into the bloodstream. Scientists have over the last decade discovered that almost every gland has a vitamin D receptor site suggesting that vitamin D3 is required in numerous processes carried out within our bodies.
Since the requirements are high, vitamin D deficiency is a common occurrence and large numbers of the adult population may be vitamin D3 deficient.
Numerous studies show the relationship between vitamin D and a healthy immune system. It is thought that the release of specialised white blood cells called T cells which destroy bacteria and viruses depends upon adequate vitamin D levels. A deficiency in vitamin D means that these T cells remain dormant and cannot attack bacteria or viruses.
The supplement of choice is an oral spray which by-passes the stomach called DLux 3000 Spray by BetterYou. Simply spray onto the inner cheek, hold for a few seconds allowing the vitamin D3 to be absorbed into the tiny capillaries inside the cheeks and then passed into the bloodstream.
Adults: Use DLux 3000 Spray – one spray daily.
Infants from 3 months to 3 years – use DLux Infant Vitamin D Oral Spray
Children 3 years to 12 years of age – use DLux Junior Vitamin D Oral Spray
Children 12 years to 16 years – use DLux 1000 Spray
All DLux sprays should be refrigerated once opened.
The above four supplements I believe are fundamental in helping to support the immune system however some people may wish to further support the immune system using the supplements listed below.
L-lysine is an amino acid that is often used very successfully to reduce recurrences and treat cold sores which are of course caused by the herpes virus.
L-lysine does this because of two properties; firstly it displays powerful antiviral properties and secondly it appears to have the ability to slow down the activity of another amino acid called arginine, known to promote the replication of viruses.
The supplement that I particularly favour is Lamberts Healthcare L-Lysine tablets.
Dosage: For immune support, Adults and children over 16 years of age, take one or two tablets twice a day on an empty stomach. Not recommended for children under 16 years of age.
Zinc has been a favourite for many people to treat upper respiratory tract infections. Scientists have found that zinc helps control infections by gently tapping the brakes on the immune response preventing out of control inflammation that can be damaging to the body allowing the body to gently treat an infection.
Researchers have also found that if there is not sufficient zinc in the body at the time of infection then inflammation becomes very widespread.
So if you are going to take zinc it should be ideally ongoing or just prior to an infection at the first signs of any symptoms.
Terranova’s Zinc Complex provides 15mg of highly absorbable zinc bisglycinate. which is far better than the zinc citrates and other forms of zinc found in many supplements. This is because some of these other forms of zinc demand a lot of stomach acid in order to break down and release the zinc – this is not always possible as a lot of people have digestive problems and lower acid production especially as we age.
Additional tips for supporting the immune system
Ensure you have a healthy sleep pattern
Sleep plays an important part in the health of your body. Whilst more sleep may not prevent you from getting sick, a lack of sleep could adversely affect your immunity making you more susceptible to infections.
When you sleep, your body makes specific protein compounds called cytokines which target infection and inflammation.
Ensure you keep your stress levels down
At times of stress, the adrenals produce a variety of corticosteroid hormones including cortisol.
These steroidal hormones suppress the effectiveness of the immune system by lowering the numbers of white blood cells being produced effectively making the body vulnerable to infection.
So: Calm down; Take a deep breath; Be positive; perhaps take some exercise at home.
This content is not intended to replace conventional medical treatment. Any suggestions made and all herbs listed are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, condition or symptom. Personal directions and use should be provided by a clinical herbalist or other qualified healthcare practitioner