There are many factors that influence our immune response, some are out of our control such as aging while others require individuals to make good choices.
Age: The elderly are more at risk, people over 60 tend to have a reductions in T lymphocytes (T cells) which are essential to fight virial attacks.
Sleep: Less than 6 hours sleep can reduce our adaptive immune response, a single night of inadequate sleep can reduce your T cell function by over 60%, while decreasing the bodies response to inflammation. 7 – 9 hours sleep each night also reduces risk of diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
Hydration: Our body is up to 70 % water, our skin and mucus membranes are our first line of defense but when dehydrated are unable to protect us fully from infections and removal of unwanted debris. Water is also needed to transport our white blood cells (cells that destroy bad microbes) around the body within the lymphatic system .
Exercise: It is best to do moderate exercise regularly rather than an intense session once a week as this can suppress immune function and has been linked to respiratory illness. Exercise not only helps to transport blood and oxygen around the body but also reduces inflammatory cytokines reduces stress and increases good T cells.
Stress: Physical or psychological stress disrupts our nervous and immune systems. When stress hormones become elevated, it leads to the reduction of white blood cells making you more susceptible to infections. People with immunologic endocrine disorders such as diabetes, hypothyroidism and adrenal disorders are at higher risk of infection.
Medication: Antibiotics can reduce our natural microbiome diversity, which in turn impairs our overall immunity, it is vital we rebalance our good flora during and after antibiotic use.
Alcohol: Excessive consumption can disrupt the functions of T and B cells, making you more susceptible to infections
Smoking: Immune boosting nutrients are depleted from smoking such as vit C, it also reduces oxygen levels and increases toxicity load.
Toxicity: Household cleaners, heavy metals etc can all impact our phagocytic cells and increase oxidative stress, in turn, lowers our immune function.
A nutrient rich diet is not only required for a healthy immune system but required for our overall health and wellbeing. Studies have shown nutritional deficiencies directly impact human cognition, behavior and emotions
Increase intake of foods high in Antioxidants, flavonoids, carotenoids, essential fatty acids, vitamins A, C, D, E, zinc and selenium.
Berries, broccoli, kumara, green leafy greens, citrus, capsicum, carrots, kefir, nuts and seeds and herbs such as turmeric, garlic and ginger.
Decrease intake of foods that can cause inflammation and immune deficiency: table salt, saturated fats, and SUGAR! Sugar reduces white blood cells for up to 5 hours, making you more susceptible to infection.
To summarise – to strengthen and support your immune system ensure you get enough rest, water and good nutrition!
Next week, what supplementation is available to help your immune function.
The Human Immune System
What is the immune system?
We share our world with microbes, some good but others considered pathogenic, immunity is our defense mechanism which works to fight these pathogens and prevent diseases. The important thing to remember is the manifestation of pathogenic disease is totally dependent on the virulence of the pathogen and our immune system, the stronger our immune system is the easier it will be to achieve resistance against disease .
Our immune system is complex, made up of specialized cells, molecules and biological processes that patrols, recognises and attacks antigens which can be; bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites, existing disease or toxins and environmental substances such as pollen) . Internal Immune tissue and organs include, tonsils, adenoids, lymph nodes and vessels, thymus, spleen, peyers patches, appendix, and bone marrow, each having their own specific role.
Immunity defense against pathogenic infection can occur through innate or adaptive immunity.
Innate (aka natural or native) immunity is the first line of defense from pathogens attacking our body from the inside or outside. It does not require specific antigens to become responsive and can respond immediately or within hours of detecting antigens . Innate immunity does not achieve immunologic memory, therefore your body will not recognize that particular pathogen if you are exposed again. Adaptive (aka specific or acquired) immunity is acquired over your lifetime. It takes over when the innate immune response can no longer cope with the pathogen. It requires specific antigens to produce a specific response. It has a memory of past exposure, in the form of antibodies which enables a quicker, stronger and more efficient immune response when you are subsequently exposed to that specific antigen . A summary of innate and adaptive immunity is shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1. Flow chart showing innate and adaptive immunity taken from Paul et al 2020 .
Many factors affect your immune system such as your age, hormones, nutrition, alcohol intake, smoking and other toxic substances. One a positive note, there are things we can do to strengthen our immunity such as, good nutrition, exercise, adequate sleep, stress management, and good hygiene. We will focus on these in part two of our human immune system series. Part three will look at the essential role of zinc within our immune system.
1. Meagher MW. Immune system structure and function. Encyclopedia of Health Psychology. 2014;1–9.
2. Schultz KT, Grieder F. Structure and Function of the Immune System. ToxicolPathol. 1987;15
3. Cruvinel WDM, Júnior DM, Antônio J, Araújo P, Tieko T, Catelan T.Fundamentals of innate immunity with emphasis on molecular and cellular
mechanisms of inflammatory response. Bras J Rheumatol. 2010;50(4):434–
4. Marshall JS, Warrington R, Watson W, Kim HL. An introduction to immunology and immunopathology. Allergy, Asthma Clin Immunol.
5. Paul, Sujata & Hmar, Elbethel Lalthavel & Sharma, Hemanta. (2020). STRENGTHENING IMMUNITY WITH IMMUNOSTIMULANTS: A REVIEW. 7. 35-64.
Celebrating Week Two for July at Johns
Yours free with every clinicians winter wellness products sould throughout the month of July, get in quick, only while stocks last.
Clinician’s ViraShield is your defence against winter ills and chills, containing active herbs Pelargonium, Andrographis and Elderberry, plus zinc, for supporting your respiratory health and modulating the immune system. Pelargonium is anti-bacterial and anti-viral; this herb creates a protective coating over mucus membranes to prevent attack from pathogens. Andrographis is a potent immune-supporting herb, working on the upper respiratory tract to prevent infection as well as reducing the severity of sore throats and other symptoms of lowered immunity. Elderberry is an anti-viral superstar that fights against colds and is rich in antioxidants. All of these herbs combined with zinc help to support your immune system function and keep you healthy and thriving throughout the seasons.
Are you passionate about reducing harmful human impact on our earth?
So is Ethique! Brianne, the founder, started a small business in her home kitchen in Christchurch, NZ. She was frustrated about the amount of plastic waste created by the cosmetic industry. That small business has expanded into one that has saved over 11 million plastic bottles ending up in landfill.
They do not stop there; they are true environmental and social warriors. Their entire skin and hair care range is plastic free, cruelty free, vegan and palm oil free. Ingredients are ethically and fairly sourced with direct trade partnerships, ensuring growers receive stable prices, reliable income, and good working conditions. 2% of sales are donated to charity which has seen 170 organisations benefit, here in NZ and around the world. Ongoing partnerships include, HUHA, Oxfam, Rainforest trust, project blue and City mission.
We are all hooked on their products, our top picks are Pinkalicious shampoo bar, The Guardian conditioner bar, along with the Sweet orange and Vanilla bodywash and Botanica Lavender and vanilla deodorant. Pop into store to check out their full range.
Do you want to help reduce the 200 million plastic lip balm tubes thrown away each year?
For the entire month of July 2021 when you come in to top up on your favourite Ethique products you will also receive a free Ethique Peppermint lip balm. Crafted with fair traded sustainable ingredients from Rwanda, Ghana and Samoa to support small farming cooperatives. This wee gem will leave your lips silky smooth and when it is finished, pop the 100% plastic free tube into your home compost.
Viralex Everyday Immune support is a unique blend of medicinal herbs and minerals, with its star ingredient being EpiCor® - a scientifically researched dried fermented extract from Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
How does it work?
One of the key ingredients is Olive leaf. Its key constituent being oleuropein, it has powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial properties as well as being a febrifuge which means it assists in supporting your body through fever. Astralagalus is also included, an adaptogenic herb indicated to boost the immune system against viral infection.
Zinc is a key mineral to support your immune system and is the second-most-abundant trace mineral in your body. Its fundamental for the development and function of immune cell and lowering inflammation throughout the body.
Viralex Attack has a similar ingredient list but with a higher dosage of EpiCor® which supports the body’s ability to initiate the proper immune response at the appropriate time and it starts working in only 2 hours. Instead of Astragalus, it uses Pelargonium, an immune modulating herb that is particularly effective in respiratory infections.
Viralex Attack is great to use when you first start feeling like you might be coming down with a cold or flu. Be it viral or bacterial, it’s going to help support the immune system combat whatever it may have come in to contact with. Viralex Everyday Immune Support can be used on a more regular basis to ward off any bugs in the first place.
Ensure you take either of these capsules with food so the gut isn’t irritated. Remember, rest is a crucial but underutilised component of the healing process…and lots of water too!
Viralex Kids immune chews are a wonderful product to have on hand at home as they support the immune system when it comes into contact with any nasty pathogens, but does not overstimulate the immune system so that it protects your little ones only when they need it. Starring Good Health’s key ingredient, Wellmune®, a beta-glucan derived from the Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast, these chewable tablets prime the immune system (and immune cells) to protect against viruses and bacteria in the body. This key ingredient has been studied and shown to reduce the duration and severity of colds, resulting in less time out of school or day care and more time healthy and happy!
Wellmune® is combined with vitamin C and zinc to reduce free radical damage, boost the immune system and even support growth and repair.
Suitable for everyday use, these berry-flavoured chewable tablets quickly become a favourite amongst kids and they contain no artificial colours, sweeteners, flavours or preservatives.
If someone said to you that laying on a bed of nails would be relaxing, would you believe them?
This form of acupressure has been referred to in Sanskrit poems in India over 5,000 years. When you lie on the bed of nails your body’s weight is distributed evenly so only a small amount of pressure is applied to each area of contact. Today, the modern bed of nails is a mat with plastic spikes attached which can be used when needed or as part of your daily routine.
How does it work?
The mat stimulates the body’s nervous system, by applying pressure to the acupoints on the body’s meridians. This restores energy balance to the body by promoting blood circulation, while relaxing muscles and stimulating the release of endorphins and oxytocin. These are also known as ‘happy hormones’ and act as natural pain relivers which induce relaxation and supports restful sleep while enhancing a feeling of wellbeing.
Are all mats the same?
We looked at a range of mats and saw Shakti mats were a socially responsible company committed to giving back and creating a positive change. ‘Shakti’ in Sanskrit is a feminine principle and symbolises empowerment, abundance, and change. They are made in a purpose built workshop in Varanasi, India where they employee 72 women, all of whom are paid a living wage, given daily meals, and have free medical care for their entire family. It does not stop there! With every mat sold a donation is made on your behalf, going towards such initiatives as; deworming and Vitamin A programs, rainforest protection and scholarship grants. To date over 145,560 lives have been impacted with consumer’s support!
If you would like to view the Shakti range of mats and pillows, drop by our store where we can talk you through the range and offer tips and tricks from our own experience.
If you are after a skin care range that captures the healing qualities of medicinal plants that support the health of the skin holistically, that is socially responsible and do not test on animals, Dr Hauschka skin care ticks all the boxes. They use holistic principals with 98% of the plant ingredients being organic and biodynamically grown. This involves scientific use of crop rotation, composting, integrated soil, crop and pest management practices. The range is certified with NATRUE, free from synthetic fragrances, dyes and preservatives. Sustainable business practices are guaranteed through ecological and socially responsible partnerships such as working with the World Hunger Organisation to support organic rose farms in Afghanistan to combat the opium trade by providing alternative means of work.
Dr Hauschka came onto the market in 1967 and offers skin, body and makeup ranges. There is something suitable for every skin condition from dry and sensitive to normal, acne prone or mature. Each skin type offers it's own skin care ritual to get the best results from their products. It is tailored to support your skin’s regeneration rhythm, activating and stablising it.
If you want to learn more about this incredible range, which has become a favourite with our instore Naturopaths, come in and talk to our trained Dr. Hauschka consultant available Saturday, Monday and Tuesday.
Spend $80 on Dr Hauschka to get your Gift with purchase available between 28 June 2021 until the end of July 2021.
Phone (07) 578 3566 ext 4
292 Cameron Road, Corner of 2nd Avenue
9am - 6pm Monday- Friday
9am - 5pm Saturday
10am - 4pm Sunday
Part of John's Photo Pharmacy - locally owned and operated, proudly supporting the Tauranga community since 1993.
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