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Immune Boosting

The immune system itself is a network of specialized cells with various functions, but it works closely with the lymphatic system which is made up of lymph vessels, lymph nodes, bone marrow, spleen, thymus gland, and tonsils.

Only in the last ten to twenty years have we begun to understand the complexity and importance of the immune system. There is still much that is not understood. Scientists have come to realize that stress and improper nutrition can lead to a breakdown in the immune system. You may have symptoms such as a cold or flu when you are run down, or it can be more subtle where things go wrong inside the body long before symptoms are felt.

The best way to maintain a strong immune system is through maintaining a healthy lifestyle, body mind and soul. Controlled weight, enough sleep, a healthy diet, a positive outlook and regular exercise can keep the body in the best shape possible to fight infections. Cleanliness, including regular hand washing, can also help keep germs from invading the system.

Sometimes foods can either weaken the body or cause an allergy response. Sugars inhibit white blood cells in their attempts to destroy bacteria. Alcohol and high dietary fat also interfere with immune function. Dairy products can predispose a person to respiratory and sinus infections. In these cases, antibiotics may treat the infection, but the infection will recur almost immediately, once they are stopped. 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.

Some drugs, such as steroids, are anti-inflammatory, but also immunosuppressant and depress your body’s ability to fight invaders.

Kids are back in school, and everyone is spreading their germs around. I am already seeing a significant increase in people around me suffering with upper respiratory tract infections such as sinusitis as well as stomach viruses.

This is the time of year I start boosting my family’s immune system because it will only get worse through the holidays. It is better to strengthen your system now so you hopefully won’t get sick or your case will only be mild. Understand that the job of antibiotics is to kill bacteria. It kills all kinds of bacteria, even the good kind that live in your intestines and helps with digestion and the formation of certain vitamins. Taking antibiotics actually lowers your ability to fight infection and makes you susceptible to the next germ that comes along.

These good bacteria should be replaced immediately after taking antibiotics to rebuild your immune system. This includes lactobacillus acidophilus which is the most well known and is found naturally in yogurt. However, yogurt is a dairy product and if it is sweetened, is high in sugar, so this may not be your best choice. Replacing with supplements, is easier and faster. The full complex of pro-biotics is recommended and can be found in pill, powder or liquid form. These often require refrigeration to keep the cultures alive.

There are lots of ways to boost immunity. Vitamin/minerals, herbs and homeopathics can all be useful under various circumstances. Vitamin C is the old standby and lots of research has been done on it. A natural vitamin C with the bioflavinoid complex, instead of just lab-produced ascorbic acid, is most beneficial. The Vitamin C family also plays important roles in wound healing and as a natural antihistamine. Herbs or herb complexes containing echinacea, olive leaf, astragalus, goldenseal, shitake mushroom, oregano, garlic and many others are well known for either their anti-viral or antibacterial properties. These can be found in tablets, capsules or liquid tinctures.

In families, using tinctures added to juice helps to boost everyone’s immune system together, so every virus or illness that is brought home is not passed around the whole family. Homeopathics are wonderful for children too young to swallow pills. 

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