The immune system is designed to work intelligently and efficiently in the background, using a complex range of tailored responses to deal with viruses, bacteria, damaged tissue and abnormal cells. It’s a complex and demanding system which benefits from the right kind of support to enable it to work optimally.
At this time of year exposure to infection increases upper respiratory tract (URT) infections. Symptoms include inflammation of the throat, ears, Eustachian tube, bronchi and/or nasal passages with increased mucus production. Children are especially prone to URT infections including otitis media (glue ear), tonsillitis, bronchitis and the common cold.
With so much that can interfere with immunity, it’s important to give it the right kind of support – antioxidants, in particular vitamins A, C and E, which have been shown to play a role in reducing oxidative stress in otitis media. Vitamin C actively inhibits virus multiplication and improves immune cell function High doses (1-3g/day) of vitamin C orally can decrease the duration of cold.
Zinc boosts immunity in childhood and may shorten the duration of colds. It has also been shown to improve antibody response to the flu vaccine and possibly reduce the chance of respiratory infection in elderly patients with nutrient deficiency.
Deficiency of vitamin D has been linked to tonsillitis in children and supplementing it enhances the natural immune response against various infections, especially tuberculosis, flu and upper respiratory tract infections.
Elderberry is nature’s very own anti-viral. Elderberry may increase immune system activity against influenza showing 93% more rapid recovery from influenza in general. It appears to be more useful for treatment once an infection has taken hold, rather than for prevention.
The majority of immune cells are in our gut boosted by beneficial bacteria especially Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium so eating fermented foods such as yoghurt and saukraut, as well as taking probiotic capsules (that have patented strains) in times of need are key to a great immune system.