The immune system prevents infections taking hold, and helps overcome those that do. It also assists in building resistance if they're ever encountered again. The components of the immune system range from simple barrier defences to sophisticated cells that recognise and consume invading organisms.
- Poor immunity may cause:
- Increased susceptibility to infections (e.g. Winter Ills & Chills)
- Difficulty resolving or overcoming infections - for example, cold symptoms that are difficult to shake, or infected Wounds that are slow to heal
- A general feeling of being unwell or run-down
- Repeated or particularly virulent infections may dampen the immune response, leaving us vulnerable to secondary infections (e.g. bacterial Sinusitis that develops as a complication to a cold)
- Deficiencies of vitamins A, C or E, or the minerals iron, zinc or selenium
- Elderly or frail people may also be more prone to catching Bronchitis, Winter Ills & Chills and other infections, especially if their nutritional status is poor
- Children are more susceptible to respiratory and other infections as their immune systems are still maturing
- Stress, Low moods and Fatigue can deplete immune health, as can weight problems
- Smoking and drinking alcohol may all compromise immune health
- Some medications decrease immunity as part of their therapeutic actions (e.g. chemotherapy)
Nutritional & Herbal Support
- Echinacea has been scientifically proven to enhance immunity, and may help reduce the severity and duration of infections. It is specifically indicated for individuals suffering from repeated bouts of Winter Ills & Chills, Bronchitis, Sinusitis and other respiratory infections
- Elderberries contain anthocyanins which have been shown to be potent antioxidants and may help reduce the duration and symptomatic relief of colds and flu.
- Astragalus is used in traditional Chinese medicine as a general tonic and to support healthy immune function
- Vitamin C supports immunity, and can help reduce the severity and duration of respiratory tract infections such as Winter Ills & Chills, as well as helping to build resistance to other recurrent infections, such as Cystitis. It is best taken with bioflavonoids, which enhance the absorption and utilisation of vitamin C
- Zinc has many roles in the immune system, and inadequate intake may lower resistance to infection. Supplementation may be particularly beneficial for older people, because the ability to absorb zinc declines with age
- Grape Seed has been shown to have anti-oxidizing effects and scientific studies have shown that the antioxidant power of proanthocyanidins in Grape Seed are 50 times greater than vitamin C.
- If you are susceptible to recurrent respiratory tract infections, take a multivitamin that's been specially formulated with herbs, vitamins and minerals to promote immune support. Look for a product combining a broad spectrum of nutrients with immune-boosting herbs such as Astragalus, Lingustrum, Echinacea, and Reishi mushroom
Diet & Lifestyle advice
- Severe, persistent or recurrent immunity problems may be indicative of underlying disease, and require medical investigation
- Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and their juices to ensure you are getting enough vitamin C, betacarotene (some of which is converted into vitamin A in the body) and bioflavonoids
- Base your diet on whole grains, high quality sources of protein (legumes, fish, poultry and meat) and plenty of vegetables (especially onions and garlic, which have antimicrobial properties)
- Most people need 7-8 hours sleep each night in order for their immune systems to function optimally. Try to stick to a regular routine, even on the weekends, and sleep in a comfortable, well-ventilated room
- Practicing good hygiene helps prevent the spread of infection. Wash your hands carefully, always cover your mouth when you Cough or sneeze, and dispose of used tissues thoughtfully
- Learn and practice meditation or relaxation techniques in order to improve your ability to cope with Stress
- Don't smoke
If symptoms persist consult your healthcare professional. Information provided is of a general nature and should not replace that of your healthcare professional.