Top Immune System Boosters You’re Missing Out On
If you’re like us, you probably weren’t expecting to welcome a pandemic in the early months of 2020. But, unfortunately it’s here. And it’s essential that you do everything you can to keep yourself, your family and friends, and your community healthy. However, the novel COVID-19 isn’t the only threat to your immune system. That’s why this post is going to cover all your bases, from what your immune system actually does to natural immune system booster to help it work its best.
What does immunity mean:
In this case, we are referring to the biological definition of immunity. This refers to the state of being resistant to a disease, illness, or having antibodies/lymphocytes to react to a specific antigen.
While we will attempt to provide as much scientific evidence, information, and descriptions as possible–we’re also going to try to break things down in simple terms. After all, this isn’t your college biology course.
What is included in your immune system?
Your immune system is essentially your body’s armor. It protects you from diseases, infections, and all sorts of pathogens. When a disease, antigen, or “foreign invader” is detected by your immune system, it sends out a response to your body to attempt fighting it off. This includes signally various parts of the body:
- Lymph Nodes
- Lymphocytes (including B & T cells and antibodies)
As you can imagine, there are different roles for each part of your immune system. But, before we dive into those, let’s discuss briefly how your immune system came to be.
When two people love each other very much– okay sorry was that triggering?
The point we’re trying to make is that there is a certain percentage of your immune system that is inherited. This is referred to as your “Innate Immune System”. Your innate immunity involves barriers that form the first line of defense. It includes things like:
- Cough reflex
- Enzymes in tears and skin oils
- Stomach acid
The innate immune system is your rapid response system; acting as your first line of defense to invaders. This system is active from the moment you are born, also, inherited are your genes.
Your genes are the building blocks of growth and development (like how amino acids are the building blocks or protein). They determine things like your simple physical characteristics like your hair and eye color, but they also play a role in your immune system.
This could look like someone who is very healthy and has visibly no ailments or someone with an immunodeficiency disorder. Generally these are diagnosed shortly after birth, but can be diagnosed later in life as a child or adult.
At this moment, the role of genes on the immune system isn’t completely understood. There is a ton of research ongoing, not only researching specific genes but specific diseases and disorders. Fortunately, your immune system isn’t completely inherited and there’s a large portion of it that you are actively building.
This is generally referred to as your “Adaptive Immune System”, which is constantly growing as you are exposed to microbes or chemicals. One of your body’s own chemical messengers also affects your immune system and immune response, hormones.
The subsection where hormones and immunity relate is referred to as the Immuno-Endocrine System. Hormones play a significant role in the immune system. So much so that even immune cells produce their own hormones, store them, and secrete them. Where, these hormones are identical to the hormones produced by the endocrine glands.
However, unlike the glandular endocrine cells, immune cells are mobile cells. Meaning they can transport the stored hormones to different places. An example of this is in the case of endorphin, which calms pain caused by inflammation.
But, other hormones play a role in your immune system too, such as your sex hormones. These hormones modulate the development and activity of both innate and adaptive immunity differently in men and women.
Organs and Cells:
The human body is made up of organs, vessels and individual cells and proteins that protect us. Our first barriers of protection include our skin and mucous membranes (mechanical protective wall).
But a wall cannot stand firmly without support. This comes as our own antibacterial substances (such as enzymes in saliva or tears), hair-like structures called cilia, stomach acid, and even our own gut bacteria (flora).
The organs in the immune system control the production and maturation of defense cells as well. These cells are called lymphocytes, which is primarily produced in bone marrow and the thymus.
Most defensive cells are produced and multiply in bone marrow, then migrate to the bloodstream to reach other organs and tissues.
The thymus is a gland-like organ situated behind the breast bone above the heart. There are different defensive cells that originate here as well, including the T lymphocytes (T cells), which is responsible for coordinating the innate and adaptive immune system.
The lymphatic system including the lymph nodes and vessels are also very important to the immune system. These structures are important for continually exchanging substances between blood and tissue.
The lymph nodes filter and clean the lymph fluid on its way to larger vessels, where it will eventually enter the bloodstream.
When a defensive reaction is activated in the lymph nodes they may appear swollen or painful. This reaction can be the result of an infection.
In addition to these structures, we also have our spleen, tonsils, and other mucous membranes. Where the spleen’s mainly responsible (after birth) for removing blood cells and for specific defensive functions. These include, storing defense cells like blood platelets.
Although many of us had our tonsils removed as young kids, they do play a role in the immune system. Due to their position, when they come in contact with pathogens, they can activate a defensive response faster than other organs.
What does your it fight off?
We mentioned, several times, that for a defensive action to take place, it has to be activated. This activation can occur from a ton of different things, as the body doesn’t recognize a lot of things as it own. These foreign bodies are referred to as antigens, which can come in the form of bacteria, fungi, or viruses.
An activation occurs when an antigen attaches to an immune cell receptor. This triggers a series of processes in the body. If it’s the first time the body comes in contact with this disease causing germ, it essentially stores information about the germ and how to fight it off, kind of like a RAP sheet. That way if contact happens again, the fight can start faster. Sometimes the body’s own protein triggers a defensive response, which leads to the whole fight and harmless cells in the body are attacked. This is an autoimmune response.
Inflammation has a bad rep when it comes to immune system responses. However, inflammation is a response from the immune system when it comes in contact to harmful stimuli (pathogens, damaged cells, etc.). So it is actually a vital defense mechanism.
Inflammation can often be characterized by redness, swelling, heat, pain and loss of tissue function. This is often the result of local immune, vascular and or inflammatory cell responses to infection or injury.
So why the bad rep?
Inflammation can ignite a laundry list of disorders affecting the whole body. But, it can also connect to disorders, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. You can generally tell when a disease or condition has an inflammatory cause by name, where the suffix “itis” is the indicator.
Because inflammation is an immune response, you’ll have to rely on outside sources to fend of chronic inflammation. This could include medication, supplements, and eating an anti-inflammation diet. As well as managing your stress and visiting your doctor as needed.
Allergies are one of the most common chronic health conditions in the world. They can affect people of ages, races, genders, and statuses. Their symptoms can range in severity, in more serious reactions, they can be life-threatening.
So what is an allergic reaction?
Well it begins in your immune system, triggered by something like dust , pollen or another substance. Once contact has been made, the immune system can overreact the stimulus and create antibodies against it. This can result in wheezing, itching, runny noses and other symptoms.
That contact could be from inhalation, ingestion, or through the skin. The first contact you make with a substance you may be allergic to can happen at any age, or recur after many years of remission. This involves other body systems including the endocrine system (hormones).
Bacteria, Infections, and Viruses ..Oh My!
Bacteria are single-cell life-forms that can reproduce quickly and on their own. Most bacteria are not harmful to people, with the exception of strep throat, tuberculosis and Urinary tract infections.
Whereas with viruses, they cannot reproduce on their own. They require cells from a living host to replicate themselves. What they essentially do when they invade your body is invade some of your cells and take over the cell machinery, directing it to produce the virus.
So where does that leave off infections?
When pathogens invade body cells and reproduce, an infection occurs. Although infections lead to an immune response, it’s not always enough to eliminate an infection. In these cases the infection could lead to diseases. But an infection can be either bacterial or viral, meaning it can be sourced from a bacteria or virus.
An important distinction between them being that antibiotics can only fight off bacteria. For viruses, while there are some antiviral medications, it’s important to get vaccinations. Vaccinations contain dead or weakened germs that when given to a healthy person, their immune system is able to fight off the germs and create a “blueprint” of how they did it. That way if you were to be infected again, your body knows what to do.
What are natural immune system boosters?
As you can imagine, there are some lifestyle changes you can make that act as an immune system booster, some easier than others. Currently researchers are evaluating lifestyles and other outside factors on immune system function. So this is an ongoing research question. But, there are some factors that scientists have indicated can help strengthen your immune system.
- Don’t smoke.
- Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables.
- Exercise regularly.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
- Get adequate sleep.
- Take steps to avoid infection, such as washing your hands frequently and cooking meats thoroughly.
- Try to minimize stress.
What supplements are immune system boosters?
While these products may benefit some individuals, it’s important to note they do not replace proper medication or vaccines. For questions regarding whether you may personally benefit from listed or non-listed supplements, please seek the advice from your primary care physician. Additionally, no supplement will cure or prevent disease.
It is especially important during this coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic to understand that no supplement, diet, or lifestyle modification other than social distancing and proper hygiene practices. Currently no research suggests the use of supplements or immune system boosters to protect against COVID-19.
Immune System Boosters: Vitamins and Minerals
Zinc is important to the body for many reasons. But, specifically for the immune system, a zinc-deficient person may experience an increased susceptibility to a variety of pathogens and infections. This is due to zinc being crucial for normal development and functions of cells mediating innate or nonspecific immunity.
Selenium is an important antioxidant, meaning it lowers oxidative stress in your body. This ultimately reduces inflammation and may support an enhanced immunity. In fact, there is some evidence that a selenium deficiency may affect cell-mediated immunity to a greater extent than humoral immunity for anti-influenza viral responses in an animal model.
Iron is essential for many metabolic processes. Additionally, there is an interaction between normal iron levels and immune function, including the innate immune response. The most frequent example of this interaction is in anemia of chronic disease (ACD).
Vitamin A is crucial for maintaining vision, promoting growth and development, and protecting epithelium and mucus integrity and is an anti-inflammation vitamin. Research suggests that crucial immune organs need consistent dietary intake of vitamin A. Additionally, vitamin a may regulate bone marrow population and play a role in differentiation, maturation, and function of cells of the innate immune system.
Vitamin B6 affects both humoral and cell-mediated immune responses. Additionally, research suggests that vitamin B6 may influence tumor growth and disease processes. A deficiency in this vitamin may lead to decreased production of white blood cells and how proteins interact with white blood cells.
Vitamin C is an essential vitamin for immune health. It supports immune cells and may enhance their ability to protect against infection. Supplementing with vitamin C may aid in reducing the duration and severity of upper respiratory infections, including the common cold.
Vitamin D plays a significant role in your immune defense. In fact, it may enhance production of white blood cells and decrease inflammation. A deficiency in vitamin is prevalent in autoimmune diseases and associated with increased risk for upper respiratory infections.
Vitamin E like vitamin D plays a role with anti-inflammation. But, it’s also a powerful antioxidant that may aid in fighting off infections.
Immune System Boosters: Herbs
Astragalus has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. It may support an enhanced immune system and help to fight infections, kill bacteria and viruses and even combat the common cold.
Echinacea is high in antioxidants, which will help the body fight off oxidative stress. But, it may benefit the immune system in other ways too. Research suggests Echinacea may be able to help your body fight off infections and reduce the duration of the common cold.
Black Elderberry extract may be beneficial for reducing the length and severity of colds and the flu. It also may promote heart health through reducing cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
The intention of the information provided is for reference only and we are in no way providing medical advice or instruction. The information provided in this post is based on anecdotal information and available studies/reviews. While it is our goal to maintain and display accurate information, we can’t guarantee it represents the latest formulation of the product or information. Therefore, if you have any concerns, please visit the manufacturer’s website. Also, the information above is not a representation of our views at Same Day Supplements. Rather, these are the views and information provided by manufacturers and users. Also, the Food and Drug Administration has not evaluated these statements. Finally, the intention of these products is not to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or illness.