Boosting Your Immune System Naturally
May 01, 2020
By Bill Kalman, Pharmacist/Owner, Essential Wellness Pharmacy
Right now, we are faced with new challenges for our health in the face of an ever changing environment. We already are challenged with allergies, colds, and the influenza every year and now we have a new virus. Now is the time to boost your (and your children’s) immune system before you get sick. The best way to prepare is to incorporate both nutritional changes and lifestyle and hygiene changes into your daily routine.
Several different types of cells are involved with how our immune system functions. Macrophages engulf and digests foreign substances, microbes, cancer cells and damaged cells; Natural Killer (NK) cells bind to certain tumor cells and virus infected cells and kills them; B-lymphocytes produce antibodies for which are specific for the bacteria, virus, or substance; and T-lymphocytes directly attack bacteria, viruses, or substances.
Vitamins and supplements can naturally boost our immune system. Some of the immune boosters are Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, zinc, mushroom extracts containing beta-glucans, Echinacea, elderberry, olive leaf extract, L-lysine, and probiotics. Vitamin D regulates the expression of genes that influence our immune system to attack and destroy bacteria and viruses by promoting macrophage activity. It also stimulates the production of cathelicidin, a protein with natural antibiotic properties. Vitamin C enhances T and B-lymphocyte production. Vitamin A influences the activity of the T and B lymphocytes to prevent and fight off infections. Zinc boosts activation of T lymphocytes and NK cells.
Beta-glucans are naturally occurring polysaccharides generally derived from mushrooms which enhances macrophages and natural killer cell function. L-lysine increases T-lymphocytes and blocks viral replication. Probiotics are good bacteria within our gastro-intestinal (GI) system. Much of our exposure to bacteria and viruses is through our GI system. About 70 percent of our immune system lies within and just outside of the GI tract. Taking probiotics increases the number of good bacteria in our GI tract which decreases the ability of an infectious bacteria or virus to replicate. The body can then fight off the invasive bacteria or virus preventing it from creating a cold, flu, or other infection.
Next, increase healthy living practices into your daily routine. Healthy living habits can boost your immune system. Getting run down and tired can make your immune system weak. Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fresh foods and healthy proteins—lean meat, chicken, and fish. Get 4 to 6 servings of vegetables and 1 to 2 servings of fruit daily. Stay hydrated with water. Get regular exercise and get a good night’s sleep. For adults, that means getting seven to nine hours a day and children need more. Lack of sleep causes stress on the body and the adrenal glands which lowers the body’s immune response.
Finally, basic hygiene practices can tremendously reduce the incidence and spread of bacteria and viruses. Washing your hands with soap and water, or your child’s hands, for 20 seconds especially after blowing your nose, sneezing, or coughing will reduce spreading germs to other surfaces and other people. Anti-bacterial soaps are generally not necessary and may increase the resistance to antibiotics by bacteria. Also, be sure to cough or sneeze into your elbow instead of your hand and teach your kids to do the same. Wearing a mask during this time is also recommended.
If you have any questions regarding boosting your immune system, our staff is highly knowledgeable and available to discuss your health concerns. Consultations over this, or other conditions are available with one of our pharmacists by scheduling an appointment.
If you are interested in learning more about boosting your immune system and implementing healthy lifestyle changes or any other health issues, please feel free to contact Essential Wellness Pharmacy, located at 4625 N. University Street in Peoria, at 309-681-8850 to set up a personal, one-on-one consultation with one of our pharmacists. We look forward to serving you and your family and assisting with all your health needs.
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