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Aspects of health that immune function affects:  EVERYTHING!

If you have lowered immunity (meaning you pick up infections easily) or an immune system that is sensitive, over-reactive and generally not working properly, then this really can affect your day-to-day health and well-being and hugely affect the future of your health. In this day and age with the Western diet, medications and pollution being omnipresent everybody is affected. There is no reason for you to expect to get colds and flu every year – you can do something about it.

There are so many aspects of health that involves immune function –
far too many to mention here but the main areas are:

Immune protection against infection and disease
inside and outside

Inflammation

Removing toxins, pathogens and heavy metals from all tissues

Response to foods – food sensitivities

Putting out the fires of metabolism – energy production and removing waste

Removing rogue tissue and damaged cells

And much much more.

Intelligent immunity

Our immune system has an intelligence all of it’s own. The very first immune response is SIgA – Secretary IgA (IgA is an antibody response) High SIgA can accompany fatigue –it can indicate either / or both infection and food sensitivities.

In the gut where 80% of immune function is there are tissues that decide intelligently what the immune function will or won’t respond to. There are also trillions of bacteria and microbes in the intestines especially the colon. Your immune function depends on these being in the correct balance.

Immune Tissue

Your whole system depends on a healthy continuous production of different types of white blood cells to not only fight infection and pathogens, but to clean up toxins and general waste products. The lymph vessels and glands are vital to neutralise and remove all this out of the body via the elimination pathways.

Keeping your circulation strong by exercising regularly, helps move the lymph fluid that clears waste away taking it to the liver to be neutralised and dumped into bile which in turn is excreted through the bowel movements. Waste is also lost through sweating, breathing out, tears, hair, saliva and urine. People who are particularly toxic can show it through the quality of their skin, breath, hair and foul-smelling bowel movements and strong urine. Toxic overload is a real threat to the immune system. Detoxifying takes a lot more than just a few days or weeks of a ‘Detox’, in fact most ‘Detoxes’ are misleading and in some cases can be dangerous.

An acid bath

But lets go back a little way – the stomach produces a very strong acid that not only breaks down food, but also kills parasites, microbes and bacteria.

Many people nowadays, as they get older they produce lower amounts
of stomach acid.

Zinc is needed for both production of stomach acid and immune function – and is a co-factor in many reactions in the body – if there is not enough acid, you can’t absorb zinc and if not enough zinc you cannot make hydrochloric acid (HCL). A vicious circle forms. Supplements are the most effective way to get back into balance – zinc and digestive enzymes or even HCL is supplement form is the most effective support, as well as major dietary changes.

Stomach acid also helps to break down proteins into particles that the rest of the digestion can handle – even proteins from grains and pulses that can cause sensitivities, which really is just an immune response.

So what do you think happens when people are given antacids? Many people take antacids if they get indigestion, not realising that it could be low stomach acid causing it. Getting properly diagnosed is vital – and this can be difficult if your doctor just makes assumptions without proper investigation, generally an esophageal manometry or an endoscopy is performed to properly diagnose.

All our food has a certain amount of bacteria on and in, some even have parasitic eggs, raw fish for example and ‘Rare’ cooked meet – it’s normal, and a normal healthy digestion and immune function will keep all of this in check. Problems occur if there is not enough acid to kill off microbes or the immune system is not robust.

The population within

Healthy bacteria like we get from fermented foods like Natural live Yogurt (sugar-free NOT fat-free), Tempeh, Sauerkraut, kephir or other fermented foods (not alcohol) are very helpful in supporting the correct balance in the gut (small interesting and especially the colon. If you want to know more please go to my website and look at ‘Digestion’. http://www.foodspa.org.uk

It is vital to have good gut flora in healthy / abundant amounts to keep everything in check.

An over growth of Candida (yeast) can have such severe effects that are very debilitating – including exhaustion and an immune function that doesn’t work at it’s best.

Candida feeds on sugar – from refined carbohydrates (all sugars and white flour products and sweet fruits/fruit juices/dried fruit etc) so does bacteria.

Candida in particular can have such a damaging effect to well-being as it secretes toxins that can affect the brain and immune function. Some people with Candida overgrowth can feel happy one minute, consume sugar and feel depressed and debilitated within a short period of time.

The main cause of bacterial and yeast imbalance?

Taking antibiotics once or over a life time can cause Candida (yeast) overgrowth, especially coupled with the high sugar Western diet, it why the symptoms of thrush can happen after antibiotics – this is literally a Candida overgrowth.

It can also cause undesirable bacterial overgrowth – this all upsets the fragile balance and leaves the door open for opportunistic bacteria and infections in the gut, and on the skin and tissues where microbes have access.

This is why you need to take BIG doses of probiotics to even get a small amount into the gut and it needs to be taken with foods to help it get to where it should be. Some experts are now implanting healthy faecal matter into people who have such severe dysbiosis that it is literally life threatening. Sugar has to be cut out or eliminated to support healthy bacteria and starve the undesirable microbes, yeasts and bacteria. Vegetable fibre needs to be consumed to feed the good bacteria and I say it again – wide use of probiotics are needed.

Lowered immunity – can also be caused by chronic stress, poor digestion or nutrient deficiencies due to poor diet.

Nutrient deficiencies can have a huge effect on immune function as well as energy production (among many other things) but we are concentrating on immune function.

Antioxidants support immune function by neutralising toxins looking to destroy cells and help immune function get rid of them.

All vitamins and minerals play a part in immune
function, but the following
are particularly important:

Vitamin C – Increases production of interferon which coats the cell membrane preventing viruses from getting through. This is vital not only for preventing colds and flu but the very nature of stopping the virus actually can halt the triggers that cause immune dysfunction – i.e.: Serious viral infections like Glandular Fever can have a long-term detrimental effect on health.

Vitamin C is also one of the most potent antioxidants.

Vitamin A – Best in the form of Beta-carotene – Carotenoids are found on many vegetables like carrots, squash, courgettes, green leafy vegetables and orange fruits. Boosts natural killer cells, antioxidant and can help fight tumours through boosting ‘Tumour necrosis factor’

Vitamin D – Mainly from sunshine, or in very small amounts in some foods. Best supplemented in the winter months (600iu to 2,300iu per day). Is vital to healthy immune function and speeds up the healing process amongst many other things. Getting into the sun is vital for immunity.

Vitamin E – Stimulates production of white blood cells and protects against oxidative damage (when toxins destroy atoms in cells that make up body tissues) Found in high quality oils, nuts and seeds, organic green leafy vegetables.

Essential fatty acids (Fish oils and flax oil)–stimulate white blood cell production and help regulate immune function, so protects tissues against over reactive immune response.  I.e.: inflammation.

Zinc – Increases production of white blood cells, and supports production of killer cells. Best from rich dietary sources unless a Nutritional Therapist advises supplements. Seafood, nuts, Pumpkin seeds and green leafy veg, wheat germ and egg yolk.

Selenium – Stimulates natural killer cells as well as playing a vital role in major antioxidant activity. Founds in nuts and seeds, fish and seafood.

Bio-Flavonoids – A very important immune support for many conditions – these phytonutrients take up the receptor sites on cells and stop toxins and viruses. These have also been shown to stimulate immune function in a way that helps protect cardiovascular health.

All fruits and vegetables have some bioflavonoids but some are particularly high in them: Blueberries, elderfower, lemon and orange rind, green tea, green leafy veg, organic strawberries only, organic red bell peppers, orange fruits, garlic and onions,

Phytonutrients – from fruits and Vegetables and herbs have many protective properties as they can have stimulating effects on immune function.

Protein – Correct protein intake is VITAL – protein deficiency can lead to immune dysfunction, as every aspect of immune function needs sufficient protein. Too much can impair immunity as the metabolic by-product puts strain on immune function. It is vital to be able to digest protein properly.

Other Foods that support immunity:

shiitake and Maitake mushrooms

Herbs: Sage, Thyme, Oregano

Chili or cayenne pepper

Organic chicken broth

Fresh natural live yogurt

Substances that have a detrimental affect on immune function:

Antibiotics and other medications
Alcohol
Heavy metals in foods (i.e.: Mercury in Tuna)
Contraceptive pill / HRT
Food additives
Damaged fats
Sugar
Refined carbs
Processed foods – including meats, dairy, carbohydrates and coffee
Pesticides
Foods grown in poor soil
Foods that can cause problems: Wheat, dairy, soya and sometimes eggs

Other elements that affect, reduce or inflame immune response:

Pollution
Stress – chronic or acute from an upsetting event
Worry
Depression
Anxiety
Extreme physical training
Very busy social or work life, where opportunities for physical rest are reduced and poor dietary habits are followed.
Smoking
Recreational drugs
Lack of sleep
Lack of exercise

All of the above can cause reduced immune function. Although we cannot always avoid the daily stressors of life there are actions that you can take to support the body through nutrition and rest. Some stress therapy can be very helpful too – like massage, Yoga Nidra, meditation, Yoga, acupuncture, and reflexology – and SLEEP!

Everyone is individual and what lowers your resistance may not affect the next person. Your childhood and the illnesses and medications (like antibiotics) you have taken in the past can still affect you even years later. It is a very rare doctor that will advise taking probiotics and cutting out sugar after taking medications, or encourage you to take buffered Vitamin C,  due to their lack of knowledge in this area.

The above is a guide to help you to think about the changes you could make to support your own immune function.
After all you rely on it much more than you even realise.

What on the list can you address to protect your immune function now and in the future?

If there is nothing else that you do – TAKE A HIGH DOSE BUFFERED VITAMIN C more than once a day. ‘Buffered’ means it is less irritating to the gut wall and you can take higher doses. Increase your mineral intake by adding more organic leafy vegetables to your diet.

Please be aware:  The information and advice provided in this
website is not a substitute for medical advice.  
If you are concerned about your health or have any
symptoms you should see your GP/health-care provider.

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