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Boosting Your Immune System

The immune system is responsible for protecting the body against infection. Its major components include lymph nodes, bone marrow, spleen, thymus gland, and tonsils. The immune system creates antibodies, which react to specific infectious agents. In most cases, an antibody is created the first time that the body encounters a germ. The antibody then remains in the body, preventing a second infection by the same germ.

Some diseases, including HIV and Lupus, weaken the immune system. Antibodies do not form normally, and infections easily overtake the body. In some cases, medications can help counteract weakened immune systems.

Only in the last ten to twenty years has there been any real understanding of the complexity and importance of the immune system. Scientists have come to realize that stress and improper nutrition can lead to a breakdown in the immune system. The best way to form a strong immune system is through maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Controlled weight, healthy diet, and regular exercise can keep the body in the best shape possible to fight infections. Cleanliness, especially regular hand washing, can also help keep germs from invading the system.

Some foods appear to interfere with the body’s immune function. Sugars inhibit white blood cells in their attempts to destroy bacteria. Alcohol and high dietary fat also interfere with immune function.

Allergies can also weaken the immune system. Many ear infections are caused by allergic reactions, especially to dairy. In these cases, antibiotics may treat the infection, but it will recur almost immediately. When allergies are affecting immunity, it may be necessary to discover which food or environmental agent is causing the problem, and avoid it as much as possible.

Nutrient Facts and Recommendations:

Acidophilus, which is found both as a supplement and in foods such as yogurt, helps the body to fight both bacterial infections and yeast infection.

Vitamin A helps to strengthen skin and mucous membranes, preventing germs from penetrating these. Supplementation may help prevent infection and speed recovery from certain illnesses, such as measles and diarrhea.

Vitamin C acts as an antiviral agent, elevating the body’s interferon levels. Even taken in small amounts, it appears to reduce the duration and severity of illnesses. In some studies, Vitamin C has helped reduce the risk of hepatitis infection as well.

Zinc supplements appear to increase immune response. Taking Zinc lozenges when a cold starts often shortens the duration and severity of the infection. It is unclear whether Zinc also acts to prevent infection.

Ashwagandha works to stimulate the immune system overall, with many components that promote general wellness.

Astragalus reduces autoimmune response such as that caused by rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

Some of the components of Cat's Claw stimulate the immune system.

Echinacea supports immune function. It works both as a preventive measure and to treat infection once it has set in. Echinacea works by increasing the number of "killer white cells", which fight disease. It works well both by itself and as an enhancer of traditional medical treatments.

Green Tea has antibacterial properties and stimulates the production of immune cells.

Licorice has long been used in Chinese medicine to enhance the effects of other herbal remedies. This enhancing behavior may be the reason for Licorice's effectiveness at improving immunity. It stimulates immunity in several ways, including encouraging the growth of T-cells and interferon.

Ligustrum fruit has many immune-enhancing effects, including cancer inhibition. It appears to increase white blood cell counts.

Maitake mushrooms enhance immunity, and appear especially effective in helping the body to inhibit cancer growth.

Shiitake mushrooms stimulate white blood cells to produce interferon. They appear to help increase immunity in laboratory studies.

MGN-3 is a natural product isolated from rice bran. It has been shown to improve the natural killer cell function of the immune system response. This may be beneficial in patients with cancer, AIDS, and other immune system deficiencies, although the published studies are limited.

Statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat and cure or prevent disease. Always consult with your professional health care provider before changing any medication.



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