According to the Centre for Disease Control, natural immunity is acquired from exposure to the disease organism through infection with the actual disease.
Active Immunity results when exposure to a disease organism triggers the immune response to produce antibodies to that disease. For the body to achieve active immunity, exposure to the disease organism through infection with the actual disease or the introduction of vaccination is required.
That much is pretty straightforward. However, natural or active immunity does not always protect us from future infection. Colds, flu and viruses replicate themselves but change a small fraction of their genetic makeup each time to trick the immune system. The immune system is designed to search its memory banks for past infection and pull the necessary antibodies from its internal toolbox. However, the slightest change is considered "new" to the immune system and requires the body to create a "new" antibody to fight back.
The process can be simplified even further by comparing it to saving a file on your computer. If you save the same file on your computer, it sends you a message: "This file has already been saved; do you want to override it?". However, change one thing in the title of your file, and your computer will accept it without question. This is a simplistic view of how the human body continues to catch colds, flu, and viruses.
The body's Immune Response
It can take up to fourteen days for the body to seek out that new invader and create the necessary antibody to fight it. But what if a person's immune system is not as robust as another? There lies the difference in why one person seems to be magnetic for viruses while others can seemingly slide through the flu season.
Your immune response is influenced by your inherited genes (good or bad). Your immune system can weaken due to malnutrition, autoimmune disorders, cancer, medical treatments and medications. Chronic inflammation can cause an immune response but weaken your body's ability to fight infection. Blood disorders, bowel disorders, poor digestive health and chronic stress can also contribute to a weakened immune response.
The health of the immune system also depends on a person's age. As we age, there is a natural reduction in T cells responsible for fighting infection. Did you know that even chronic stress & insomnia cause a strain on your immune system, leaving you more vulnerable?
Natural Immune Support Through Supplementation
Considering the role of the body's systems in fighting viruses, the health of a person's immune system becomes one the most critical factors in a person's ability to push back against viruses and reduce the chance of reinfection. Can supplements play a role in helping to create a robust immune system?
A healthy diet with organic fruits and veggies is the optimum immune system tool, but the likelihood of everyone being able to afford organic or locally grown foods is becoming more challenging to maintain daily. Supplementation has never been an "instead of wholesome foods" they have always been to "supplement" your diet. Micronutrients found in supplements not only fill in the gaps, but they can also act as immune modulators (help maintain the equilibrium of the body) or as immune stimulators (help increase the activity of the immune system )
Knowing what role your supplement was intended to perform can improve your outcome of finding your way to the other side of the cold and flu season. Here are a few of the top immune-supportive supplements and what role they play.
Bee Propolis contains the bioflavinoid quercetin, an immune modulator that benefits viruses that affect the upper and lower airways. It balances the "T" cells responsible for autoimmunity and can significantly and positively increase the effect of the host defence system and immune response.
Bone Broth contains "proline," which can stimulate the immune system to produce more white blood cells and the natural killer cells to fight infection. There is something to be said for consuming chicken soup when sick!
Zinc Supplements modulate the immune system signalling pathways in immune cells and decrease the time it may take for the immune system to develop an antibody to the infection/virus.
Vitamin C contributes to immune defence by supporting various cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune systems. It stimulates the immune system by helping fighter cells get to the site of the infection more rapidly.
Vitamin D is classified as an immune modulator by enhancing the function of the innate immune system. It acts as a regulator to maintain a balanced response and improve its effectiveness in fighting infections. It can inhibit virus-cell division and stimulate cells to differentiate when needed.
Elderberry supplements are not an immune stimulator, as one may think. It is an immune modulator providing support when the immune system needs it, keeping inflammatory response cells in balance when viruses have caused them to go haywire.
NAC ( N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine) can act as both an immune modulator and stimulator. As an immune modulator, NAC is vital in helping your body replenish glutathione, one of the body's most potent antioxidants (fights against free radicals that cause disease infection, etc.). As an immune stimulator, it can help suppress the replication of viruses and support mucus production associated with respiratory viruses.
Spirulina acts as an immune stimulator by increasing the production of antibodies and other cells that improve immunity. Spirulina is a dense green food supplement that contains immune-boosting antioxidants that provide inhibitory effects against viruses.
Get ahead of the virus season by keeping a supplement tool kit and be better prepared for what may come your way.
- Vitamin C, Zinc and Vitamin D every day
- NAC every day to bolster your immune system
- Spirulina a few times a week to give you a vitamin boost
Sign of a sniffle?
- Elderberry and Bee Propolis every day until symptoms subside
- Bone Broth sip away every day until symptoms subside
Stay Informed! Stay Healthy!