Enhance Your Health
Health Tip of the Week: Immune System Function
I spend a lot of time talking and writing about immune system health and the support needed to help your immune system function at an optimal level. For this health tip, I will discuss the ins and outs of the immune system and how it is related to what we are going through today with the coronavirus pandemic.
The most important thing to know is that the immune system is vital for our survival. The immune system is our body’s defense against germs, bacteria and viruses. Without it, or without a properly functioning immune system, we would not be able to fight off illness and disease.
The immune system is a network of cells, tissues and glands that are constantly on the search for “foreign” invaders in our body. It literally attacks and fights bacterial, viral and parasitic cells with what is called the immune response.
The immune system has to first differentiate our good cells from the bad cells, then once a “bad” cell is found the immune response is initiated, whereas the blood and lymph cells begin the battle for good health.
There are three types of immunity. Innate immunity, adaptive immunity and passive immunity.
- Innate immunity is the level of immunity that we are born with. It is the natural immunity that was created within us to protect our body from germs. Innate immunity is the first line of defense versus germs and is usually considered to be the “outside” barriers of the body like the skin and mucous membranes of the throat and gut.
- Adaptive immunity is the immunity that comes from our exposure to diseases and germs (like the flu, Covid-19, etc.). Our body builds up levels of antibodies (cells that resist disease) that remember the previous exposure to the germs that caused the illness. This way, if exposed to the germs or bacteria again, our body has a resistance to the disease and we do not get sick.
- The third type of immunity is passive immunity. This is the immunity that comes with pregnancy and passes from the mother’s placenta to the unborn child. Passive immunity also comes from a mother’s breast milk and passes onto the newly born child. This type of immunity does not last forever and is designed to give the baby a fighting chance against bacteria and viruses until their own immune system can develop.
The stronger our immune system becomes, the more resilient our body is to fighting diseases. This explains why not everyone gets sick when they are exposed to viruses and bacteria. It also explains why people do.
The health of your immune system is dependent upon how well you eat, how much you exercise, the amount of sleep you get and the daily stress you are under. If you are overweight, sleep little, eat junk and have a stressful lifestyle, you are a sickness waiting to happen.
On the other hand, if your body weight is in the ideal range, you workout and or get exercise every day, eat whole nutritious foods, sleep a minimum of 7 hours a night and destress your mind, your immune system will be able to handle most illnesses that you come in contact with, including Covid-19 coronavirus.
That being said, even a properly functioning immune system needs some help to better do its job. Think of this example, would you rather go fight a battle with the Army? Or would it be better for you to fight the battle with the Army, Navy, Airforce and Marines? If you want to decisively win, you bring it all to the table. As far as the immune system goes, we can do things to support and help the immune system stay at an optimal level.
For instance, vitamin / mineral supplements that have antiviral, antibacterial properties to fight disease. Vitamin C, Zinc, Quercetin and Elderberry are very important immune system enhancers. The most important is the Vitamin D3, K and magnesium combo. Vitamin D when taken with K and magnesium has an extremely beneficial affect on the immune system. Low levels of vitamin D are linked to severe cases of the coronavirus.
In the world of holistic health care, chiropractic has an all natural immune system connection with spinal care. Adjustments to the spine have been shown to increase the rate at which DNA repairs itself, increase resistance enzymes, T-cell counts and white blood cell production. All important markers for immune system health.
Massage therapy helps with the lymphatic system. Lymph glands are immune system glands.
Acupuncture also has a beneficial effect on the immune system and specific acupuncture points can increase white blood cell production and T cell production.
How does all this relate to the coronavirus pandemic and what do you need to know now as far as immunity goes? First, the goal would be to prevent symptomatic infection. How you do that is explained above. Take care of your immune system, do right by it and it will protect you.
If a germ gets in and you don’t feel well, then increase your immune system support (take more C, etc). When someone does have coronavirus symptoms, the body starts to use its adaptive immunity that we talked about earlier.
Antibodies will develop that recognize Covid-19 cells for future exposure. With most respiratory viruses (which coronavirus is) antibodies will wear off over time. Coronavirus is so new to our medical research that they don’t know yet how long the antibodies will last.
Will you have natural protection for 3 months, 6 months or a year? Or will it be like a common cold where you can get over a cold and get another one in 3 weeks? No one is sure.
What we are sure of is that healthy people with a properly functioning immune system do much better with any illness, including preventing or fighting off the coronavirus than people who do not take as good care of themselves.
The other thing to remember is that even though some people are testing positive for coronavirus weeks or a few months after having the coronavirus, it does not mean that they are re-infected with Covid-19.
Above we talked about adaptive immunity cells. The testing is picking up specific adaptive immunity cells that are leave tell-tale signs of Covid-19 RNA and DNA still left in the immune cells and give a positive Covid-19 test finding. This is normal and it is part of the immune system doing its job with the leftover virus.
The Center for Disease control states that if you had coronavirus and it has been 10 days since your symptoms and fever have past, you are good to interact with people again.