Even Louis Pasteur was quoted as saying “Bernard was right, the microbe is nothing… the terrain is everything.” Of course we can’t truly prove whether or not Pasteur uttered these last words on his deathbed, We are finding, however, that the “terrain” or host is instrumental in determining whether or not we actually get sick when exposed to infectious agents.
Our first line of defense against harmful bacteria, virus, yeast, parasites and other foreign invaders is our immune system. This complex system is an orchestration of glands, organs and cellular activity, regulated by our nutritional status. If our immune system is suppressed by exposure to toxins, free radicals or excessive stress, it will become incapacitated. If we are deficient in protein or micronutrients, malnutrition will lead to suppressed immunity. That is when we are most vulnerable to an onslaught of foreign invaders.
How can we support our immune systems in the face of mutant viruses and infectious organisms? There are a few things that we all should be doing to maintain our immunity at its best.
PROTEIN status can make or break our immune systems. We need protein to build antibodies against foreign invaders, support cellular immunity when we need to attack an invader head on, and to maintain a healthy gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Clean, lean sources of protein include seafood (from small, cold water fish is best); organic eggs high in omega three fatty acids; turkey and chicken free of hormones, antibiotics and pesticides; organic dairy and whey. A scoop of high quality whey protein powder can be added at breakfast to a smoothie, oatmeal, or milk for your cereal. That way (whey) you can start off your day with 20 – 25 grams of high quality protein!
MICRONUTRIENTS are absolutely essential to immune function. Specifically, zinc, vitamin A/beta carotene, vitamin E, selenium and vitamin C are key players in supporting our immunity. A well balanced, preferably whole food multivitamin mineral supplement should provide you with adequate levels of these vital nutrients.
VITAMIN C is a topic unto itself. I will dedicate a full article to this champion but for now I’ll give you a few tips. Human requirements for vitamin C and all of its duties has not been fully determined. Humans are one of the few mammals that does not produce its own vitamin C. Most mammals do produce their own and may produce up to 8,000 mg per day! So, while we may need less than 100 mg to prevent end stages scurvy, how much do we need to prevent atherosclerosis, or poor connective tissue, or adequate antioxidant status? We really don’t know the answers to this! Many experts, including those with MD, PhD degrees, recommend thousands of milligrams per day… I will address this in a future article. Remember to eat an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables to boost your vitamin C status. Minimize cooking and exposure to air as these can destroy vitamin C.
A HEALTHY GI TRACT is an absolute must to support your immune system The majority of immune tissue in the body is found in the GI tract! Protein and glutamine are decisive players in supporting our GI tracts. Note: Glutamine supplementation should only be used if kidney and liver function is completely within normal limits. Probiotics also play a supportive role in the GI tract. They produce important molecules for us and they directly compete with “bad guy” bacteria in their role as GI super heroes.
We must CONTROL FREE RADICALS as they can attack the thymus gland, the master gland of the immune system. The thymus gland is responsible for producing T lymphocytes or “T cells.” T cells are then responsible for directly attacking foreign invaders such as viruses, bacteria, yeast, fungi and parasites. T cells are also responsible for attacking and eliminating cancer cells in our bodies! Stress can suppress T cell production also, so be sure to practice stress reduction every day! That’s another lecture…
HERBS can also support the immune system although they must be used with caution and only on the advise of a qualified health professional. Some are simple and safe to use such as garlic and elderberry which can be consumed as foods.
Last but not least, decrease your toxic load, as this can overwhelm the immune system, increasing inflammation and making the immune system unavailable to do battle with our microbe enemies! Avoid or minimize exposure to pesticides, heavy metals, harmful chemicals from plastics, unwanted pharmaceuticals and radiation. Drinking primarily purified water can help you accomplish this, specifically purified by REVERSE OSMOSIS. See my article “Water, Water Everywhere…Nor any Drop to Drink!”
Good luck and Good Health.