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Ways to keep your Immune System supported as we go into Winter

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As we approach the Winter months we are generally faced with seasonal pathogens that affect mainly our upper and lower airways. These pathogens range from viruses which cause the common cold to those that cause a more virulent bronchitis or even bronchopneumonia.

This Winter, just to add to the pot, we are also exposed to Covid.

It makes sense to start preparing your immune system now in order to give yourself the best possible outcome if you are infected / affected by any of these seasonal pathogens.

Our immune systems are made up of a collection of organs and cells, namely white blood cells, the spleen, the thymus, bone marrow, tonsils, adenoids, mucous membranes, skin, and the gastrointestinal tract.

Humans have three types of immunity —innate, adaptive, and passive-immunity.

  • Innate immunity: We are born with innate (natural) immunity, which provides general protection. The skin is an example here which acts as a barrier to block pathogens from entering the body.
  • Adaptive (active) immunity: develops throughout our lives. We develop adaptive immunity when we are exposed to diseases or when we receive vaccinations.
  • Passive immunity: This is “borrowed” immunity from another source, and it lasts for a short period of time. An example here is antibodies in breast milk which give a baby temporary immunity to diseases that the mother has been exposed to.

In order to support the different areas of our immune system one must be mindful of diet, exercise, external stressors, sleep, downtime, and supplementation.

Supplementing with nutraceuticals is greatly beneficial in today’s world and is something that is easily controllable in our busy lifestyles.

Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin and very powerful antioxidant. It is a necessary component for healing and for proper immune function. Unlike other animals, humans are unable to synthesize vitamin C endogenously, so we rely solely on our diets to acquire it.

Vitamin C is also critical for the absorption of nonheme iron (the type of iron naturally present in plant based foods). If we become iron deficient this too will negatively impact on our immune systems.

If you suffer from, or have a tendency towards gastritis, gastric ulcers, or acidity, then an esterified form of Vitamin C is advisable, so as not to aggravate gastric upset.

Zinc is considered an essential nutrient, meaning our bodies cannot produce or store it, so we rely on our diets and/or supplementation. It plays a crucial role in immune function and wound healing, and is helpful in fighting the common cold.

We now know that Vitamin D3 has a much greater role to play than just preserving bone density, and that its’ effects extend far beyond calcium homeostasis.

Vitamin D3 has the ability to modulate the innate and adaptive immune responses, and a deficiency in D3 is associated with autoimmunity as well as increased susceptibility to infection.

Although D3 is hugely beneficial in so many areas, it is important to note that it is a fat-soluble vitamin, and therefore requires monitoring of blood levels 6 to 12 monthly.

Echinacea has shown through several studies to have a positive effect on white blood cell production as well as preventing the common cold. Echinacea can be used both prophylactically as well as in the treatment of upper and lower respiratory tract infections.

Engystol, in tablet or ampoule form, is immunostimulating and has been proven to activate the innate immune system and act against viruses causing upper respiratory tract infections. Engystol supports the immune system to reduce the severity and duration of symptoms, particularly in early stages of viral infections, including colds and influenza-like illnesses.

Basic research has revealed the activity of Engystol against numerous respiratory viruses, such as influenza (flu) A virus, adenovirus type 5, Herpes Simplex Virus type 1 (HSV 1), human rhinovirus B serotype 14 (HRV-14) and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).

One can appreciate that we have an array of immune supporting supplements at our disposal. It is still critical however to eat nutrient rich diets, and supplement what we require over and above that so that we are best prepared.

BY: Dr Abbey Wagner – Doctor of Homeopathy
Dr Abbey is available at Thrive Ballito on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
To make an appointment: dr.abbey.wagner@gmail.com or 083 415 4406.

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