Updated: Feb 5
The past two years have been stressful, incessant, and confronting. Where previously we could live without giving much thought to our immune system, COVID-19 has changed things radically. Now, knowing how to boost your immune function can be the difference between getting sick and staying well. But before we dive into how you can boost your immune function, it’s important to understand the basics… There are two arms to the immune system: innate and adaptive. Innate immunity is non-specific, or inaccurate. When a threat is faced, this arm recruits immune cells and sends them to the site of infection. Cytokines, substances that enable cell-cell communication, trigger inflammation. This combination acts like a first responder, answering the initial call out. Adaptive immunity can be thought of as the second line defense. It is specific, exquisitely accurate. As the review article, An introduction to immunology and immunopathology, said, “The primary functions of the adaptive immune response are the recognition of specific non-self antigens in the presence of self antigen.” In your body, every cell has markers that signal they belong to you and so are safe. In health, the immune system “tolerates” self-marked cells because of this identification. (In auto-immune disease, these markers are seen as foreign leading to the self-attack that causes illness.) Antigens also occur in organisms. However, in this case the feature designates unfamiliarity and allows the body to “see” the invader. This identification allows a pathogen-specific — whether bacterial, viruses, or other — response, meaning the immune system targets the specific invading organism and attacks it. This is done by cells called lymphocytes. Lymphocytes continually scour the body seeking foreign antigens. Once identified, the two types of lymphocytes — T-cells and B-cells — team up to launch an antibody response. How does this work? An antibody is designed to perfectly fit with an antigen. It’s simpler to think of this like a lock and key. Specific “keys” float around the body searching for a matching “lock”. When found, the antibody key fastens to the antigen lock, then tells the body where the infected cell is. Now, a direct attack can take place.
The adaptive immune system also develops memory so that next time a pathogen is encountered a faster, more effective response can occur.
Okay, so now that the basics are under the belt, let’s ask the important question: how can you boost your immune function? The immune system, like your body, is affected by a number of factors. How quickly and how fully you respond, or don’t, is influenced by lifestyle and personal choices. This is wonderful because it puts you in the driver’s seat. You can boost your natural immunity! Here are our top 4 ways to supercharge your immune function to best protect yourself, naturally.
Wholesome complete nutrition As the saying goes, “You are what you eat.” This is true for the immune system, too. Eating to nurture your body makes sense. But, with your immunity at stake, this old adage takes on a deeper meaning. See, nutrition is a hallmark of optimal immune function. A study published in the journal, Nutrients, breaks down the reasons why… — adequate protein is essential to maximize antibody production (the “keys” we discussed earlier) — the amino acid, arginine, increases the responsiveness of T cells and boosts T-helper cell numbers (cells that are critical for robust adaptive immunity) — the amino acid, glutamine, helps to provide energy for a range of immune cells and, in doing so, enables them to multiply (creating extra cellular soldiers to fight the battle) — low levels of vitamin A, and the mineral, zinc, increase the risk of infection — vitamin D may stop infection by halting a virus’s ability to enter a cell (viruses require cell entry in order to multiply and produce an infection) — healthy intakes of polyunsaturated fatty acids have been linked with lower hs-CRP levels, a marker of inflammation (which takes place in an infection and damages nearby tissues) — dietary fiber increases the health and diversity of the gut microbiota, the bugs that live in your digestive tract. Given this organ houses the majority of your immune system, this is of paramount importance. So much so that as dietary fiber consumption rises, death from infectious disease drops With this in mind, which foods provide hearty amounts of wholesome nutrients? Protein: Beans, free range eggs, fish, lentils, nuts, seeds Vitamin A: Cantaloupe, carrots, free range eggs, herring, spinach, sweet potato (baked in its skin) Vitamin D: Free range egg yolks, salmon, sardines, swordfish, tuna (and safe sunshine) Zinc: Baked beans, beef chuck roast, crab, oysters, pork chop, pumpkin seeds Polyunsaturated fatty acids: Fish including barramundi, salmon and tuna, Brazil nuts, chia seeds, flaxseed, pine nuts, tahini, walnuts Dietary fiber: Apples, artichoke, avocado, beans, berries, broccoli, nuts, pears
Immune supplements Do you believe that you consume enough vitamins and minerals to keep you safe? Would you be surprised to learn that around three in four Americans don’t achieve the recommended intake of fruit? And that more than four in five don’t consume enough veggies? That makes it pretty tough to get the nourishment needed.
Common deficiencies include nutrients that are needed for optimal immunity. You can think of these as “immune vitamins”… But just how common are these inadequacies? Forty-three percent of people consume less than the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) for vitamin A; 38.9% for vitamin C; a staggering 94.3% for vitamin D; 88.5% for vitamin E; 52.2% for magnesium; and 11.7% for zinc. That’s scary when you consider these nutrients are needed for natural immunity. The answer to this epidemic of poor nutrition is two-fold: a move to wholesome whole foods and science-backed, evidence-based supplementation. Let’s look at four supplements we frequently recommend because they protect wellbeing and regularly deliver positive results. Vitamin D The sunshine (and food) vitamin works in a number of immune-boosting ways, including by its ability to lower a virus’s ability to reproduce, or replicate. This is particularly important in a COVID-19-world. Research shows that low vitamin D levels have two important outcomes in those who experience this type of coronavirus. One, they face a higher chance of having a critical versus mild infection. Two, they face an increased risk of dying. We prescribe and recommend Protocol for Life - Vitamin D. Vitamin E You’ve likely heard of vitamin E. It’s one of the better known nutrients. But how does it support natural immunity? Research suggests supplementing with vitamin E restores the production of the cytokine, IL-2. This substance fosters the growth and development of immune cells in the initial immune response, when the body first comes in contact with a pathogen. It also helps to keep these immune cells alive long enough to defend the body. Vitamin C Well-known for reducing the length of the common cold, vitamin C plays an important infection-culling role. Vitamin C acts like a cheerleader, spurring on the movement of white blood cells (WBC) called neutrophils to the infection site. Neutrophils, also called natural killer cells, are the most common type of WBC in the bloodstream. They are first responders, on the ground quickly when an infectious agent invades. Neutrophils act like PacMan. They ingest bacteria or other cells just like PacMan does his enemy ghosts. But it gets more impressive. Neutrophils release chemicals that kill the devoured organism. Then they leave an external fibrous web designed to trap it and other invaders. It’s like PacMan meets Spiderman! Needless to say, supplemental vitamin C is a favorite! The mineral, magnesium In natural health circles magnesium is well-known as “the great relaxer”. Its ability to calm stress and enhance sleep are legendary. These two factors alone — relaxation and slumber — are immune supportive. But, as with other nutrients, magnesium has various roles in the body; hundreds, in fact. When it comes to natural immunity, magnesium has key roles. It encourages macrophages (PacMan-like cells) to bind to antigens (the “locks”), white blood cell activation, and aids in the manufacture of antibodies (the “keys”). Cannabidiol (CBD) oil While not a single nutrient, CBD oil is full of nutrition. Nutrition that a recent study showed is protective against the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. As the authors noted, CBD strongly blocks viral replication in lung epithelial cells; it stops the virus from reproducing. This may be why those who supplemented with this natural oil were shown to have an increased likelihood of logging a negative SARS-CoV-2 test. Speak to us for our high-quality CBD recommendation. Colloidal silver The mineral, silver, has a long history of use as an antimicrobial. At least six thousand years to be precise. According to an article published in the journal, Surgical Infections, “Silver was the most important antimicrobial agent available before the introduction of antibiotics”. Silver binds to viruses and bacteria and displays inhibitory effects. This may be how infection reduction occurs, and why — even millennia later — silver is still in therapeutic use.
General cleanliness “Wash your hands” has become a mantra over the past 24 months. This is simply because it works. Follow good hygiene practices for your person, your home, your work, and your belongings to kill infective organisms and keep yourself safe.
Chiropractic care Chiropractic care enables the body to function well by removing interference between the brain and the spinal cord. The spine is integral to how your nervous system works and your nervous system is essential for great immune function. At Flemington Chiropractic Center, we love to help people enjoy vital, long and well lives. Book your appointment here and we look forward to helping you, too.