Thursday, August 1, 2013
Your Immune System
First let's take a look at how your immune system works and how it protects you from catching those "bugs". Your immune system is made up of cells, tissues and organs all working together to protect your body by fighting off invaders that can cause infection. It consists of proteins and cells, bone marrow, lymph nodes, adenoids, appendix, blood vessels, thymus, tonsils and parts of the gastrointestinal tract and spleen. This network protects the body from antigens such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, toxins, and cancer cells. Antibodies, which are proteins, are produced by your immune system and along with white blood cells fight and destroy these antigens. As we age, our immune system doesn't function as well because lymphoid tissues shrink and our bodies don't produce as many white blood cells.
What Can Suppress Your Immune System?
There are many factors that can influence how successful your immune system is at protecting you. Here are a few that may be causing your immune system to not be doing an optimal job at fighting off illness.
We've all heard about the obesity problem in the U.S. and know how it can affect our general health. But did you know this is one factor that can cause hormonal imbalances and inflammation that affects how your immune system works? One study showed that people with a body mass index over 40 (which is definitely in the obese category) are more likely to become seriously ill with swine flu.
Too much sugar in your diet can not only contribute to obesity which affects your immune system, but also can affect your white blood cells. According to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, eating 100 grams of sugar can significantly affect white blood cells' ability to kill bacteria for up to 5 hours after it is consumed. (http://ow.ly/jQN98) Other studies show that diets high in saturated fat also suppress your immune system function. Your diet should not have more than 30% fat and choosing healthier fats can help out your immune system.
Drinking Water –
The type of water you drink can also make a difference to your immune system. If your water source contains chlorine, it could be doing damage to the probiotics or good microflora in your intestinal tract. The EPA cautions that around 25 million people in the U.S. are drinking water from wells that have a higher level of arsenic than is safe. Arsenic has been shown to affect the immune system response to disease such as swine flu and is reported as being linked to some forms of cancer. Find out what is in the water you drink and you may need to consider filtering your water or using bottled water.
Stress is another factor that can influence how well your immune system functions. Chronic stress ages the immune system leaving you much more vulnerable not only to colds and flu, but also to diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. Finding ways to reduce stress and ways to cope with stress you can't avoid, such as yoga and meditation, will help support your immune system.
As we get older, our immune systems naturally cease to function as well. Although research has not shown the cause for this, theories speculate that older bodies are not as able to produce immune system cells or that nutrition could be the problem as elderly people often have diminished appetites and don't get the nutrition the immune system needs to stay strong and healthy. We do know that as we age lymphoid tissues shrink and our bodies don't produce as many white blood cells which contributes to the immune system not functioning as efficiently as when we were younger.
Natural Solutions to Boost Your Immune System
If you get more than three or four colds each year, then your immune system may need a boost. Start with getting enough good quality sleep, exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet with lots of vegetables. Adding antioxidants to your diet is especially important as they fight off free radicals that can suppress your immune system. Vitamins C, E, and A and flavonoids found in fruits and vegetables are antioxidants that added to your diet can help give your immune system a boost. Green tea also has antioxidants. Zinc is a micronutrient that helps keep the immune system strong and often is lacking in our diets.
AFA Blue Green Alage
AFA blue green algae has a wide variety of micronutrients your body needs to stay in tip top shape. A type of algae supplement that is the whole algae can provide essential fatty acids, proteins, complex sugars, vitamins, minerals, and essential amino acids. The cell walls of this type of blue green algae are composed of peptidoglycan (carbohydrates and peptides), lipids (oils), polysaccharides (sugars) and proteins which makes it an easily digestible natural complex that is critical for the health and vitality of tissues and cells.
Another type of AFA blue green algae supplement that is the heart of the algae with the cell wall removed through a special process provides all essential amino acids which feed and enhance brain activity. This type of blue green algae is not only an abundant source of raw materials for enhancing activity in the brain, the most nutrient-demanding organ in the body, but also has amino acids which are the building blocks of the healthy nerve cells and neurotransmitters vital for proper brain function. It also provides essential omega-3 fatty acids necessary for cardiovascular health and that support immune system health and helps maintain normal, healthy blood chemistry.
Digestive enzymes also can help support immune system health. We have over 80,000 enzyme systems in our body and each has its own specific function. Some of these are designated to help with food digestion. Diets full of processed and cooked food that don't have any active enzymes keep our bodies from getting the enzymes needed to help with food digestion. This puts a lot of extra stress on the pancreas, liver and spleen as they then have to produce the enzymes we are not getting from our diets. This extra stress takes that energy away from the immune system causing it to be less effective. Adding a high quality digestive enzyme supplement to your diet can relieve this stress and help the body absorb the nutrients it needs from the foods you eat.
Probiotics are another important aid to your immune system. Acidophilus and bifidus are two of the probiotics found naturally in the intestinal tract. These "friendly bacteria" aid in the defense against "bad bacteria" and yeast in our intestines. Balanced levels of these beneficial microflora support proper digestion and help eliminate waste. When we do not have enough of these probiotics, more stress is put on our immune systems. Many of the foods we eat such as those high in fat and sugar, chlorinated drinking water, environmental toxins, antibiotics and other medications we take can all contribute to killing off these friendly bacteria leaving an imbalance. Taking high quality supplements of acidophilus and bifidus with active live cultures can help support the replenishing of these microflora.
All in One
So in our natural solutions section of this article so far, we have listed how 2 types of algae, enzymes, acidophilus and bifidus can all help support your immune system. If that sounds like a lot of hassle and a lot of bottles to you, then there is a way to get all these in one convenient packet. With 30 packets to a box, each packet contains one vegetarian capsule of each type of algae, 2 digestive enzymes, and a capsule of acidophilus and one of bifidus. Easy to grab on your way to work, when traveling or anytime and gives you the added nutrition for healthy digestion, assimilation and micronutrition.
WGP Beta Glucan Supplement
One last natural solution to help boost the immune system is a supplement that contains WGP beta glucan which studies have shown has the ability to activate macrophages, a type of white blood cell that is the body's first line of defense. Macrophages circulate throughout the body destroying foreign antigens.
You don't have to wait for cold and flu season to come around to get working on strengthening your immune system. Be one of those people that rarely catches the "bugs" going around by using the tips and natural solutions in this article to get your immune system in tip top shape so it can offer you the protection to fight off infections and illness.
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Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net