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Where is your immune system?

It’s been said that 70 to 80 percent of our immune cells are located in the gut. This protective environment identifies and attacks a variety of threats, including viruses, bacteria, and parasites, while distinguishing them from our own tissue.

Supporting your immune response can not only reduce duration and severity of colds and flues, it can lower the incidence of developing these in the first place. A healthy

system is one of the most important functions in the fight against cancer. It will remove dead cells and foreign substances from our bodies. It will also pick up and eliminate cells that have mutated or gone rogue.

There are several ways you can support and raise your immune response. We take antibiotics when our innate immunity can not keep up with an infection. Healthy life style choices, like exercise, will make your immune system stronger.

Getting enough sleep strengthens our immune system. Some disease fighting substances are released or created only when you sleep. Repairing and growing new tissue happens at this time. Even short sleep deprivation causes undue stress on the body.

During times of prolonged stress, our bodies produce too much cortisol which creates chronic inflammation. This can lower signals that are critical to immune cell response. Short term inflammation is one of the first immune responses in order to create a barrier against the spread of infection and promote the clearing of pathogens. This is helpful. But long term inflammation is destructive.

Avoid sugars and flour, especially when you are starting to feel sick. A clean diet that is rich in nutrients, minerals and antioxidants, like Vitamin C, is essential. You can also support yourself by taking a multivitamin. I suggest you pick one that has at least three capsules a day, ideally six.

Increasing dosages of other nutrients can also be supportive. Vitamin D3 has antimicrobial properties that help fight against pathogens. Vitamin C is a well know antioxidant and must be taken as the body does not produce it. This vitamin produces beneficial effects on virtually all of your immune system’s cells. Fish oil is another source of D and is shown to enhance the function of immune cells.

Vitamin A has a profound effect on your immune system, particular the surface of your digestive track and leads to immune tolerance across the gut lining. This is a key to being able to consume a wide range of foods and not react adversely. Zinc Citrate is an important component of the enzymes involved in tissue repair and may reduce the duration of a cold by 50%.

Probiotics support a healthy gut flora. This is a major defense against invaders and integral to the immune system. I consider probiotics foundational to optimal health. Beta glucans, like those extracted from mushrooms, are considered immune modulators. These activate without over stimulating your system.

Natural herbs can have broad spectrum effects against viruses and bacteria. Some of these immune boosters include astragalus, echinacea, green tea extract, elderberry, andrographis, and goldenseal.

Scott Porter is a Functional Medicine Pharmacist at Sandpoint Super Drug.

Photo: GLady / Pixabay

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