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Colds & Flues? Strengthen your immunity!
Are you suffering from colds and flues often? Do you get cold sores or mouth ulcers regularly? Your immune system must be under the weather.
Your immune system is like a well organised army.
Photo by Josep Altarriba
Let’s look at how it works, what kind of troubles can it cause when working suboptimal, and how can we get it back on track.
Your Body's Army
A strong immune system is like a well organised army with several different attacking, defending and cleaning groups.
Detects and Prepares to Attack
Through a series of steps called the immune response, this army attacks organisms and substances that invade our body and cause disease. Once the enemy enters the body, special cells recognise non-self cells and harmful substances and this highly complex response is activated.
Through inflammation, raised body temperature, immune cell proliferation and stress hormone production the body is defended.
The immune system is made up of a network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to protect the body.
First Type - Innate
Everyone is born with innate (or natural) immunity, a type of general protection, which includes the external barriers of the body, like the skin and mucous membranes (like those that line the nose, throat, and gastrointestinal tract), which are the first line of defense in preventing diseases from entering the body.
Second Type - Adaptive
The second kind of protection is adaptive (or active) immunity, which develops throughout our lives via either getting in contact with invaders, or via vaccination.
Third Type - Borrowed
Our third type, the passive immunity is "borrowed" from another source and it lasts for a short time. For example, antibodies in a mother's breast milk provide a baby with temporary immunity to diseases the mother has been exposed to.
This can help protect the baby against infection during the early years of childhood and it also has an effect on general health through later years, therefore breastfeeding is very important.
We also establish a good amount of probiotics (good bacteria) in our gut through breast feeding and these bacteria are crucial for the strength of our digestive system, which is part of our first line of defense.
70% of your immune system resides in your digestive tract.
Healthy Digestive System = Healthier Immune System
In fact, 70% of our immune system resides in the digestive tract, therefore the health of the digestive system is greatly influencing our immunity. It comprises two layers: the localised secretory IgA (sIgA) response and the gut-associated lymphoid tissues (GALT).
sIgA is First Layer
Secretory IgA is like an ‘antiseptic paint’ on the intestinal mucosa, it can neutralise viruses and remove antigens before they cross the mucosal barrier and reach circulation. Low levels of total sIgA are associated with recurrent upper-respiratory infections, allergies and altered intestinal permeability which leads to food allergies.
GALT is Second Layer
Antigens and foreign substances that escape the sIgA surveillance can enter the mucosal layer, where the GALT provides the second layer of defence.
Immune System is Holistic
The immune system is truly "holistic," as evidenced by the close association of psychological, neurological, nutritional, environmental, and hormonal factors with immune function. As little stress as lack of sleep can greatly undermine its work. Many conditions dependant on the health and integrity of the immune system ‐ from colds and recurrent infections through to allergies and severe, debilitating auto‐immune conditions.
Supporting the immune system is critical to good health. Conversely, good health and optimum nutrition is critical to supporting the immune system.
Holistic System Needs Holistic Treatment
The best approach to supporting immune function is a comprehensive plan involving lifestyle, stress management, exercise, diet, nutritional supplementation, and the use of plant‐based medicines.
A naturopathic treatment always starts with a thorough investigation to find the root of the problem, whatever the health concern may be. We are all very individual: as there are no two snowflakes alike, neither are any two human bodies. Once we found the cause, with a tailor made menu plan and herbal supplement regime your body can be gently ushered back to health - without side effects.
Find out more about Nutritional Therapy.
Try my Immune booster Oriental soup.
Try my Aduki Bean-Shitake Mushroom Soup.