Take Immune System and Optimize Your Health
One important question is whether dietary supplements may help older people maintain a healthier immune system. To ask a question or to purchase your vitamins for the immune system today, call us at or click here to find a store near you! Older people should discuss this question with a physician who is well versed in geriatric nutrition, because while some dietary supplementation may be beneficial for older people, even small changes can have serious repercussions in this age group. We are not responsible for republished content from this site on other blogs or websites without our permission. Demonstrating whether an herb — or any substance, for that matter — can enhance immunity is, as yet, a highly complicated matter. Researchers hope to use these tools to analyze patterns in order to better understand how the many pathways involved act at once.
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As we age, our immune response capability becomes reduced, which in turn contributes to more infections and more cancer. As life expectancy in developed countries has increased, so too has the incidence of age-related conditions. While some people age healthily, the conclusion of many studies is that, compared with younger people, the elderly are more likely to contract infectious diseases and, even more importantly, more likely to die from them. Respiratory infections, influenza, and particularly pneumonia are a leading cause of death in people over 65 worldwide.
No one knows for sure why this happens, but some scientists observe that this increased risk correlates with a decrease in T cells, possibly from the thymus atrophying with age and producing fewer T cells to fight off infection.
Whether this decrease in thymus function explains the drop in T cells or whether other changes play a role is not fully understood. Others are interested in whether the bone marrow becomes less efficient at producing the stem cells that give rise to the cells of the immune system. A reduction in immune response to infections has been demonstrated by older people's response to vaccines.
For example, studies of influenza vaccines have shown that for people over age 65, the vaccine is much less effective compared to healthy children over age 2. But despite the reduction in efficacy, vaccinations for influenza and S. There appears to be a connection between nutrition and immunity in the elderly. A form of malnutrition that is surprisingly common even in affluent countries is known as "micronutrient malnutrition.
Older people tend to eat less and often have less variety in their diets. One important question is whether dietary supplements may help older people maintain a healthier immune system. Older people should discuss this question with a physician who is well versed in geriatric nutrition, because while some dietary supplementation may be beneficial for older people, even small changes can have serious repercussions in this age group. Like any fighting force, the immune system army marches on its stomach.
Healthy immune system warriors need good, regular nourishment. Scientists have long recognized that people who live in poverty and are malnourished are more vulnerable to infectious diseases. Whether the increased rate of disease is caused by malnutrition's effect on the immune system, however, is not certain.
There are still relatively few studies of the effects of nutrition on the immune system of humans, and even fewer studies that tie the effects of nutrition directly to the development versus the treatment of diseases. There is some evidence that various micronutrient deficiencies — for example, deficiencies of zinc, selenium, iron, copper, folic acid, and vitamins A, B6, C, and E — alter immune responses in animals, as measured in the test tube.
However, the impact of these immune system changes on the health of animals is less clear, and the effect of similar deficiencies on the human immune response has yet to be assessed.
So what can you do? If you suspect your diet is not providing you with all your micronutrient needs — maybe, for instance, you don't like vegetables — taking a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement may bring other health benefits, beyond any possibly beneficial effects on the immune system.
Taking megadoses of a single vitamin does not. More is not necessarily better. Walk into a store, and you will find bottles of pills and herbal preparations that claim to "support immunity" or otherwise boost the health of your immune system.
Although some preparations have been found to alter some components of immune function, thus far there is no evidence that they actually bolster immunity to the point where you are better protected against infection and disease. Demonstrating whether an herb — or any substance, for that matter — can enhance immunity is, as yet, a highly complicated matter.
Scientists don't know, for example, whether an herb that seems to raise the levels of antibodies in the blood is actually doing anything beneficial for overall immunity. Modern medicine has come to appreciate the closely linked relationship of mind and body. A wide variety of maladies, including stomach upset, hives, and even heart disease, are linked to the effects of emotional stress. Despite the challenges, scientists are actively studying the relationship between stress and immune function.
It can also be applied to the skin to help heal wounds, sores and infections. Always keep in mind that it should not be used for more than 14 days in a row. You may come across many warnings about colloidal silver causing an irreversible condition called argyria when people turn blue ; however, this is caused by the misuse of products that are not true colloidal silver, like ionic or silver protein.
Probiotics are good bacteria that help you digest nutrients that boost the detoxification of your colon and support your immune system. Research published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition suggests that probiotic organisms may induce different cytokine responses. Supplementation of probiotics in infancy could help prevent immune-mediated diseases in childhood by improving the gut mucosal immune system and increasing the number of immunoglobulin cells and cytokine-producing cells in the intestines.
Although astragalus is one of the least studied immune-boosting herbs, there are some preclinical trials that show intriguing immune activity. Researchers concluded that astragalus extract has a beneficial effect on the immune system, and it protects the body from gastrointestinal inflammation and cancers. Ginger root and ginger essential oil can treat a wide range of diseases with its immunonutrition and anti-inflammatory responses.
Research shows that ginger has antimicrobial potential, which helps in treating infectious diseases. The ginseng plant, belonging to the Panax genus, can help you to boost your immune system and fight infections. The roots, stems and leaves of ginseng have been used for maintaining immune homeostasis and enhancing resistance to illness or infection. Ginseng improves the performance of your immune system by regulating each type of immune cell, including macrophages, natural killer cells, dendritic cells , T cells and B cells.
It also has antimicrobial compounds that work as a defense mechanism against bacterial and viral infections. A study published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine found that ginseng extract successfully induced antigenspecific antibody responses when it was administered orally. Antibodies bind to antigens, such as toxins or viruses, and keep them from contacting and harming normal cells of the body.
Vitamin D can modulate the innate and adaptive immune responses and a vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased autoimmunity as well as an increased susceptibility to infection. Research shows that vitamin D works to maintain tolerance and promote protective immunity.
There have been multiple cross-sectional studies that associate lower levels of vitamin D with increased infection. One study conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital included 19, participants, and it showed that individuals with lower vitamin D levels were more likely to report a recent upper respiratory tract infection than those with sufficient levels, even after adjusting for variables such as season, age, gender, body mass and race.
Myrrh is a resin, or sap-like substance, that is one of the most widely used essential oils in the world. Historically, myrrh was used to treat hay fever, clean and heal wounds and stop bleeding. Myrrh strengthens the immune system with its antiseptic, antibacterial and antifungal properties.
Researchers concluded that myrrh oil has anti-infective properties and can help to boost your immune system. Oregano essential oil is known for its healing and immune-boosting properties. It fights infections naturally due to its antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral and anti-parasite compounds. A study published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition found that the main compounds in oregano that are responsible for its antimicrobial activity include carvacrol and thymol.
I should also stress the importance of incorporating physical activity into your daily and weekly regimen to strengthen your immune system. This false advice on limiting the length of time that one should be using Echinacea originates from a German study that actually said the opposite. Things are often lost in translation. The bottom line is that one can supplement Echinacea continuously for years without concerns.
The other Echinacea myth is that people who have autoimmune disease should not be taking it due to over-stimulation of their autoimmune disease. Once again, to be healthier with autoimmune disease, take echinacea in large doses. If you have a ragweed allergy you might react adversely to Echinacea because it belongs to the same plant family. I may have offended David Letterman and some people by not listing their favourite immune booster.
There are many other immunity boosting supplements I could have discussed. Below is a short list of other supplements readily available from most health food stores and some pharmacies which have a substantial amount of evidence that supports their use.
These are all excellent for the right person. Of course, numerous homeopathic remedies based on individual needs will also help boost immunity. A natural health care provider can recommend what might work best for you. We are a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites.
Our participation does not influence our content, but it helps offset the costs involved in providing you with free information. He has also published several Canadian best-selling books, including Vitamin D: Visit his website at: Unit 19, Thornhill, ON. So far, no company has made such a supplement but you can make your own. You can get most of the list in liquid or powdered form and mix them into a smoothie. If you get capsules, they can be opened up and the powder or liquids can be mixed into the smoothie too.
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Do not hesitate to contact us, should you have questions or concerns. Piers Morgan Flu shot. Am J Clin Nutr. Enhancement of immunity in the elderly by dietary supplementation with the probiotic Bifidobacterium lactis HN Prentice Hall, ; pp. Bovine colostrum emerges as immune system modulator. American Journal of Natural Medicine; March, , pp. Alive Books, Rona, Zoltan. Childhood Illness and the Allergy Connection. Natural Alternatives to Vaccination. New Product Keeps Mosquitoes at Bay.
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