How to Boost Your Immunity?by Jonathan Wilson Health Consultant
The body’s immune system defends itself against invasion by disease-producing organisms. The major components of the body’s immune system are: The White Blood Cells (Macrophages and The B & T Lymphocytes); The Red Blood Cells; Interferons.
It’s your most powerful weapon against disease – your body’s own natural defense system. Here’s how to keep it fighting fit!
When Susan and Natasha employed in a large office where people sit and work, more or less in one big hall, the most of the employees grouped together, only a few being separated by inefficiently partitioned cubicles. It was natural, therefore, that when an epidemic of influenza hit the city, one of the workers infected all the others with the virus - all except Susan and Natasha: these to remained totally unaffected.
Similarly, when John's classmates developed conjunctivitis, John remained healthy.
Why do some people like Susan, Natasha and John remain untouched by infection? The answer is that these people possess a natural immunity that protects them from the most diseases which prostrate others in no time.
Many doctors acknowledge the presence of natural immunity but ignore it in favour of vaccines, toxoids and what not. Vaccinations do have their place, but wouldn’t a sensible gardeners strengthen the roots of a tree rather than prune and spray each individual flower to save it from withering? It has been found in studies abroad that primary and booster vaccines, in both experimental animals as well as voluntary groups of human beings, are rendered absolutely ineffective if the subject lacks essential nutrients like Vitamin B6 or Folic acid or proteins. This is the very reason that, in spite of inoculations, poorly nourished children continue to be victims to a host of contagious diseases. On the other hand, if natural immunity is boosted – through better nutrition, a cleaner environment and healthy habits - most infections can be eradicated.
Germs keep floating around in the atmosphere and it’s impossible to get rid of them.
What is within our control is strengthening our body’s own defenses so that it is robust enough to quell invading microbes and zap them into submission! Here is how:
1. MAKE THE SCENE – CLEAN!
The need for fresh, clean, unpolluted air cannot be over-emphasized. Pollutants in the atmosphere - like hydrocarbons, tar and carbon monoxide – all weaken the immune systems. It is essential therefore for those of us who live in cities to take a break from our work schedules and relax in comparatively unpolluted areas like villages and hill stations. Deep diaphragmatic breathing increases the oxygen available to the body’s cells, the basic units of the immune system.
2. EAT TO BEAT DISEASE!
Three vitamins of the B-Complex group are considered the most important in boosting immunity(the rest are important too, but these three are considered vital). They are Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6), Folic acid and Pantothenic acid. In experimental animals, the absence of any of these three causes an inability on the part of the body to manufacture circulating antibodies. In many studies, no antibodies were formed at all when these nutrients were absent.
Vitamin B6, (the daily requirement of which, by a healthy individual, is between 2 to 10 milligrams) - has a vital role in the biosynthesis of RNA and DNA acids which are present in all cells - they have synthesize protein. Without these, no new cells can be formed and if there are no cells to produce antibodies, how can infections be fought? A few years ago, scientists in America discovered that, when human volunteers were deprived of pantothenic acid and Vitamin B6, very few antibodies and WBC were manufactured and these people became highly prone to infections of the throat and pharynx. When the same volunteers were given Tetanus, Typhoid and Polio vaccines, their blood showed no increase in antibody production. The normal WBC count of a human body is being between 6000 to 11000 cells/cu.mm – a high count indicates the presence of infection and shows that the body is fighting this infection. A low count reveals that there are no defense forces to fight the infection.
Vitamin B6 is found in abundance in wheat germ - the core of the grain which is often discarded in the refining process when white bread is made. It is also found in food sources rich in the other B Vitamins, for example, liver, brewers’ yeast, molasses, unpolished rice and sunflower seeds. It has also been said that Magnesium ‘protects’ Vitamin B6, and has a ‘sparing’ effect on it, i.e., it binds with Vitamin B6, acts as a synergist and saves waste of this vitamin. If magnesium is depleted, so is B6 along with it. So, there should be an adequate intake of foods rich in magnesium like green vegetables, almonds, soyabean and molasses.
Folic Acid: Folic Acid and Vitamin B6 are required by the bone marrow to form Red Blood Cells (RBCs). It's the RBCs that transports antibodies. So when the RBCs are fewer in number, this transport system becomes inefficient. Folic acid is found in wheat germ, yeast, desiccated liver and green vegetables. Daily requirement - at least 0.4 milligrams (mgs.)
Pantothenic Acid: The natural bacteria present inside our body also manufacture this vitamin inside the gastrointestinal tract. Taking too many antibiotics can discourage the formation of this vitamin which is essential for antibody production. Humans are especially vulnerable when there is a deficiency of this vitamin and Vitamin B6. Good sources are the same as for Folic acid. Daily requirement: 10 mg.
Vitamin B12: This is the vitamin needed for the WBCs to function properly. The main source of this vitamin is meat. It is not found naturally in any plant food. The required range is 3 to 1000 micrograms (this wide variation is due to different needs at different times - for instance, a healthy young man may not need very much of any particular vitamin, but in a pregnant women or a diseased individual the need goes up considerably).
Riboflavin or Vitamin B2: The deficiency of this vitamin diminishes antibody generation. Sources – Liver, kidneys, yeast, wheat germ, milk and cheese. Daily requirement: 1.6 mcg.
Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid): It increases the quantity of complement proteins and antibodies. It also prevents harmful chemicals and radicals from causing cancer in the body. Finally, it plays a role in the production of Interferon which helps fight viral diseases. It is found in citrus fruits, tomatoes, guavas, cabbage and indian gooseberry (amla). Requirement: 60 to 500 mg. daily.
Vitamin A: This Vitamin increases circulating WBCs, especially lymphocytes, as well as the enzymes that destroy bacteria and viruses. It also improves resistance to viral disease. Sources: Cold liver oil, liver, carrots, leafy green vegetables, papaya, melons, apricots, peaches, butter and egg yolk. Requirement: Upto 50,000 International Units (I.U.) Excess can cause poisoning and even reversal of all beneficial effects.
Vitamin E and Tocopheryls: Like Vitamin C, this vitamin too has an anti-oxidant effect and removes harmful free radicals (the by-products of oxidation) from the body, thus preventing ageing and cancer - according to one strong school of thought. In experimental animals, it boosts antibody formation and stimulates T-lymphocytes production. It should however be used with caution in patients of high blood pressure since it improves heart tone and may raise blood pressure temporarily. Natural sources: nuts and grain oils. Requirement: 200 – 1000 I.U. per day.
Zinc: This is necessary to keep the thymus gland, spleen and lymph nodes healthy - all are organs of the defense system. A deficiency causes severe reduction in antibody production, depletion in the quantity of T and B lymphocytes and in their ability to destroy cancer cells. Excess can cause harm to the immune system because zinc (in excess) interferes with iron absorption which causes depression of blood copper levels as well as decreases the number of WBCs. Excellent sources: Red meat, fish and eggs. Certain foods impair the absorption of zinc from the body – they are peanuts, soyabean and cereals. Daily requirement is 8 to 11 mcg. All the zinc ingested is not absorbed, so upto 15 mg/day can be taken. A little zinc is also lost in the semen during sexual intercourse. So, men may need a bit more.
Iron: A deficiency of this mineral makes a person prone to infectious diseases and decreases the number of T & B lymphocytes. Iron also helps produce enzymes that are harmful to bacteria. However, an excess of iron too is not good, since bacteria also need iron to grow and may flourish in the presence of glut.
Other minerals that are beneficial to the defense system are:
Calcium: When macrophages and phagocytes react to the foreign invaders, they absorb calcium rapidly from the immediate environment - in the blood. So, without calcium, the body is not able to produce the substances used to kill invaders. Calcium ions also aid in the attachment of foreign organisms and bacteria to macrophages. Present in milk, curds, bone soup. Daily requirement: 800 mg.
Magnesium: Magnesium helps activate the alternative pathway of the complement system and in the formation of some of its components. It is also needed for the destruction of the bacteria by the macrophages. Nuts, cooked green leafy vegetables and sea snails (if you can stomach them!) are good sources of this mineral. Daily requirement: 350 mg.
Iodine: Is required to cart off toxic substances that are formed when the WBCs destroy bacteria. Iodine combines with these harmful chemicals and whisks them off. Sources: sea fish and iodised salt. Requirement: 150 mcg.
Copper: Its deficiency increases severity of infection in experimental animals. Humans with low levels of this mineral are also very infection-prone. Sources: liver, soyabean, chocolate, cocoa. Daily need: 2 - 3 mg. Excess can cause harm.
Selenium: Aids the production of antibodies and helps the WBCs to function well. Selenium is also considered to lower the incidence of cancer. Sources: eggs, garlic, liver and yeast. 50-100 micrograms are needed daily.
Some harmful minerals: These include: cadmium - found in cigarette smoke, canned fruits, margarine, sugar and alcohol; mercury - found in fish like tuna and shark; lead - in paints, cigarette smoke, tin cans, tap water (from lead pipes), and exhaust from vehicles; nickel - found in cigarette smoke and margarine.
All these minerals have a catastrophic effect on the immune system and lower resistance to viral diseases, suppress the metabolism of interferon and can be toxic to the WBCs.
Protein: Proteins and calories are required to maintain the detoxification of foreign chemicals and drugs. A deficiency of these essential nutrients also causes a decrease in RBC production. Proteins also boost T-lymphocytes formation.
Carbohydrates, in excess, are not beneficial for the body's defence system because they diminish the fighting power of the WBCs and lower the ability of the body to remove foreign toxins.
Essential unsaturated fatty acids, like Safflower, Groundnut and Sunflower oils are vital in maintaining cellular immunity. But an excess can cause impairment of this function.
Vegetables: The helpful vegetables are cabbage and cauliflower and leafy green vegetables that contain the B group of vitamins, and iron. Cabbage and cauliflower are helpful in getting rid of toxic chemicals and drugs from the body. On the other hand, WBCs may diminish if too many vegetables are eaten. Also, vegetables and fruits often have bacteria and fungi in them.
The bottomline, where nutrition is concerned, is that a healthy balanced diet, with all the essential nutrients, is needed for strengthening the immune system. Natural sources are best for obtaining these nutrients, though supplements can also be taken, especially when one is not able to get fresh, nutritious, high quality food. But, just as too little of anything is harmful, too much of anything can be detrimental as well.
3. WORK IT OUT!
Exercise is extremely beneficial because exercising helps in releasing the chemical pyrogen which enhances the efficacy of the WBCs and enables them to fight infection better. It also inhibits the production of bacteria and viruses inside the body.
Normal weight is ideal. Emaciation and obesity both can be deleterious to the immune system. Fat people are more prone to infections. They have also been found to have zinc and iron deficiencies, as well as a higher incidence of breast, colonic and prostatic cancers.
Alcohol inhibits the ability of WBCs to collect at the area of infection. It hastens the loss of nutrients that are essential for the immune system. The nutrients especially depleted by drinking are proteins, folic acid, calcium, zinc and Vitamin E.
6.WATCH THOSE DRUGS!
Too many drugs given unnecessarily for the minutest of infections impair the normal ability of the body to develop its own antibodies. Therefore trigger happy family doctors who give toxic drugs like Chloromycetin for a 99 degree temperature that has occurred just an hour back, need to go slow with their keenness. Several drugs rob the body of essential vitamins, alter the beneficial bacteria inside the intestines and weaken the immune system. The biggest culprits are: Antibiotics, Corticosteroids, Tranquilizers, Ginseng (this has been found to suppress lymphocyte production), anti-psychotic drugs like chlorpromazine and certain anti-malaria medicines. An excess or overdose of vitamins can also be extremely harmful and cause poisoning.
7. CHEER UP!
Depression, especially, has been known to cause havoc with the body's defence system and severely suppress the immune mechanism. Several people have been known to get serious diseases like cancer and shingles and even die if they are badly depressed. Anxiety and stress also affect immunity adversely.
8. SNUFF IT OUT!
Smoking is poison for the immune system and should be avoided. Also, avoid second-hand smoke.
9. GET 40 WINKS!
During sleep, your other body functions either shut down or slow down. Then your food - your building blocks – can be used by the immune system. Sleep is like the mechanic’s shop for the immune system.
Author Note: Balanced Lifestyle Wikipedia - A New Look At Wellness! It’s more than keeping fit, eating right, and brushing your teeth! Balanced Lifestyle Wikipedia is a multidimensional, wholesome wellness journal where each and every detail contributes toward the wellness of the body, mind and soul.Also, stay informed about genuine reviews of the wellness products like Lean Belly Breakthrough, Grow Taller 4 Idiots, Masszymes and many more to nourish and transform your everyday self.
Created on Dec 11th 2018 10:03. Viewed 463 times.