Fortifying Your Immunity in Cold and Flu Season
by Michael Schwartz, President of Michael's Naturopathic Programs
The immune system is arguably the most incredible in the human body. Its mission always, but especially in cold and flu season, is to keep the body healthy by fighting pathogens, disease-producing microorganisms, or neutralizing their toxins. Nutritional deficiencies resulting from factors such as diet, lifestyle, and excessive stress, however, can weaken this system and disturb its delicate balance, compromising the body's strength and ability to defend itself.
HOW BASIC IMMUNOLOGY WORKS
Lymphocytes are white blood cells that carry out the body's immune responses. Should bacteria enter the body, it is white blood cells that are deployed to fight the invaders and prevent its spread. There are two major groups of lymphocytes— T-cells and B-cells—and both develop in stem cells of bone marrow.
The immune system reacts to foreign invaders in several ways. One method is for the T-cells to directly attack the foreign intracellular pathogens, i.e., bacteria, viruses, and tissue transplants. Via the circulatory system, both T-cells and B-cells move through the body, destroying or neutralizing intruders and other abnormal cells, and ultimately eliminating them. Another attack strategy involves the B-cells. B-cells create antibodies, which attack specific pathogens and stay in circulation, ready for attack, for long periods of time.
Macrophages also play a major role in immunity. These cells are activated and mobilized by T-cells to the site of infection where they directly kill invading microorganisms. Macrophages may also be involved in the function of processing and presenting pathogens to lymphocytes for neutralization.
While the immune system works continuously to keep the body free from infection, periods of excessive stress can significantly compromise the body's defenses, depleting nutrients necessary for maintaining proper immune function and homeostasis.
Homeostasis, which means balance and harmony within the body, is created when the body functions in an internal environment which remains within certain physiological limits. Homeostasis is disturbed by such life style indiscretions as lack of sleep, poor eating habits, smoking, and stress. Fortunately, supplementing with herbs and nutrients can help return the immune system to homeostasis.
To fulfill its mission of keeping the body free of toxins and microbial invaders, the immune system requires a constant source of nutrients essential for the proper growth of T-cells and B-cells, as well as the manufacturing of plasma and antibodies. Some of the essential nutrients include:
VITAMIN A – Important for the healthy formation of mucous membranes (in the linings of the mouth and nose, the digestive tube, and the breathing passages), part of the body's outer defense against foreign toxins. Mucous is composed of water, castoff tissue cells, mucin, and white blood cells— leukocytes, which function as the catalyst for the T-cells and B-cells in the immune response process.
VITAMIN C – Essential for the immune system; may reduce the duration and symptoms of the common cold.
VITAMIN B2 – Aids in the formation of red blood cells and antibodies.
PANTOTHENIC ACID & VITAMIN B6 – Used in the production of antibodies.
FOLIC ACID – Necessary for growth of all types of cells in the body, including white blood cells.
VITAMIN E – Essential for the proper function of hair and the mucous membranes, both are major players in the outer first line of defense.
ZINC – A component of zinc metalloenzymes, the enzymes necessary for cell growth and proper immune system function.
For long-term support of the immune system during the entire cold and flu season, Michael's® Everyday Wellness Factors™ uses all of these nutrients, including the B-complex vitamins, to nourish the immune system and help maintain homeostasis. It also contains an extensive assortment of Chinese herbs traditionally used for centuries, including astragalus, plus reishi and shiitake mushrooms to bolster the immune system, and Schizandra to help build strength and reduce fatigue.
For more immediate support, Michael's® Quick Immune Response™ provides a rapid boost to the immune system to fight symptoms of cold and flu. It contains higher doses of vitamins A and C and zinc, as well as pantothenic acid. These nutrients are complemented with the herbs that quickly boost the immune system, such as garlic, goldenseal, and Echinacea.
Michael's Naturopathic Programs combines natural ingredients that complement each other, producing synergistically complete supplements that contain the nutrients necessary for the immune system to both ready and mobilize its troops.