There has been ongoing debate over whether it is the virus alone that causes a cold or flu or whether a person’s health, vitality and wellbeing play a role. So what exactly happens when we get an infection?
The three major routes of entry for an infectious organism are the skin or mucous membranes, ingestion and inhalation. The body is a sophisticated organism though and has developed ways to defend itself. Physical barriers to infection include the skin, nasal hairs and mucous membranes. Secretions like tears, urine, sweat and sebum all play their role and chemicals like hydrochloric acid in the stomach and acid in the urinary tract have developed as further defence. It makes sense then that health of our physical barriers; secretions and chemical action would reduce our risk of contracting an infection. What happens though if the amount of microorganisms is too much for our defences or is too virulent? What does the body do to defend itself? This is when our own personal army sets in motions to defend us against viruses and bacteria- our white blood cells. The immune system is a complex integration of cells and tissues which all work together; it is able to recognise foreign microorganisms and can destroy them. There are some factors which affect our immune systems ability to eliminate an invader, these are the number of immune cells and the strength of the immune cells themselves.
So what can effect immune cell numbers and strength?
Two important immune cells are T-helper cells and lymphocytes and stress can decrease the amount we produce. This is why after significant life changing events in our lives we can be more prone to infections. Moving house, relationship break-up and even joyful events like a new job or promotion can all exert stress on our bodies that will affect our immune system. Both Zinc deficiency and age reduce thymus gland function are also vital for immune function. The thymus gland sits just behind the sternum and is critical for activation of T-cells, a type of immune cell. This is why the elderly are more prone to infection and illustrates the need to make sure we are consuming a balanced diet containing significant foods high in zinc like sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, lean red meat and seafood like oysters. For protection supplementation with a balanced vitamin and mineral supplement like the will ensure your vitamin and mineral needs are met daily. Prescribed Corticosteroids and chemotherapy also suppress the immune system. Allergies also suppress though the mechanism is not just suppression as allergies challenge the immune system due to repeated immune overreactions, which can lead to immune depression long term.
How do we build a strong immune system to increase our resistance?
We can start by avoiding or reducing coffee, tea, salt, sugar and refined carbohydrates. Where possible, start to consume organic food, it is higher in nutrients and lower in chemical load. Minimise alcohol consumption. The amino acids from protein are valuable building blocks for a healthy immune system. So stock up on adequate good quality easily digested proteins like fish, organic chicken and lean meat. All immune cells are surrounded by a cell membrane. Immune cells are required to stretch and move between tissues in order to eliminate bacteria and viruses. Strong cell membranes require healthy amounts of essential fatty acids like those found in NUTRIWAY Omega 3 Complex Foods like raw Garlic, onions, ginger, fruits and vegetables, green tea and exotic mushrooms like shitake and reishi all help to maintain a strong immune system. Living in a bubble and avoiding microorganisms altogether would be great but this of course is unrealistic. Remembering though that inhalation is one of the major routes of entry for viruses and bacteria then clean air could help to prevent colds and flu. The Atmosphere air filtration unit removes 99.99% of all airborne particles including viruses and bacteria.
What do we do if a cold or flu slips through our defences?
Herbal medicine has a long history in many ancient cultures and it still outweighs conventional medicine used in countries where access to prescription medication is limited. Before antibiotics, herbs were used to assist in overcoming infections. This meant that a vast amount of knowledge related to the herbs actions was built up over the years and then passed from generation to generation. Up until the 1940’s Echinacea was formally listed on the national list of official plant drugs in the USA and was produced by pharmaceutical companies during this period. It was only with the introduction of antibiotics that Echinacea’s popularity decreased. Echinacea’s immune stimulating abilities were highlighted by its traditional use by American Indians to help in recovery from snakebite. Research since has found that Echinacea works by improving immune system function by increasing the number of T-cells in the blood stream and enhancing specific immune cells to engulf and destroy foreign matter. NUTRIWAY Triple Shield Echinacea uses fresh plant and root of Echinacea harvested at their prime and processed to maintain therapeutic levels of the compounds in Echinacea specific to build the immune system.
Another popular herb for immune function with a long history of medicinal usage dated back to the ancient Egyptians is garlic. Garlic’s ability to alleviate the symptoms of the common cold and influenza is well documented. Including garlic in cooking adds warmth to the dish; however, some garlic anti-bacterial, anti-microbial properties may be lost when heated. Supplementation with an odourless garlic supplement like the NUTRIWAY Garlic Heart Care could be a convenient way of ensuring you include this herby in your diet. The garlic used is dehydrated using a patented process that retains the key plant chemicals alliin and allicin. It is these two chemicals that research has shown to be the active ingredients in garlic giving it, its powerful effect.
Don’t forget vitamin C which plays an important role to help relieve the symptoms of both colds and flu. Vitamin C is water soluble; this means it completely dissolves in water and cannot be stored in the body. Whatever is not readily absorbed is excreted as water. Because it cannot be stored, it is essential that vitamin C is replenished in our bodies every single day. So to maintain consistent immune supporting levels in your system when you have a cold or flu try the NUTRIWAY Extended Release Vitamin C.