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Immune Booster Supplements

Supporting the immune system can be a great way to reduce the occurrence and/or severity of infections, whether they be the common cold or candida. The human body has a powerful and complex way of dealing with infections, whether they be fungal, viral, bacterial or protozoa. Leukocytes (white blood cells), produced in the bone marrow, have the important role of targeting and destroying infectious agents.

 

 

There are many different types of white blood cells, including natural killer cells—nice name—and macrophages. However, it is important to not only have the right amount of these immune cells, but also to have them functioning in the right way, with the right amount of activity. After all, a team of labourers are not much help if they are lazy, no matter how many you have. 


 

There are many ways to positively influence the synthesis and functioning of immune cells. Commonly, herbs like Echinacea and Elecampane are used, or nutritionals, such as Selenium and Zinc. In fact, if we were to really dig in and use the available research, we could say that Selenium status is not ideal in Australians, and a little worse in New Zealanders, due to the varying soil content of this mineral. This was reported in the Journal of Trace Elements and Biology in 2005.

 

 

This may not relate to you, however, if you regularly eat Brazil nuts, which are typically grown in the Amazonian Basin in Selenium rich soil. Another piece of research from Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, 2008, indicated that this mineral can support not only antioxidant status, but also protect against viral infections, at intakes that are higher than those found in normal diet. 


 

Some compounds, like garlic, have natural anti-bacterial properties and work independent of the immune system, reducing the growth of bacteria directly. This helps to lessen the burden upon your immune system, and giving it a head-start in the fight. Medicinal mushrooms can assist in improving the immune response to pathogens, including mushrooms like Shiitake, Reishi and Cordyceps.

 

 

Note, these are different to the standard button mushroom found at the supermarket. Just Reishi mushroom alone has been reported to stimulate the immune system, as shown by increases in CD3, CD4 and CD8 lymphocyte percentages. However, Shitake mushroom is believed to be the most potent of the medicinal mushrooms.


 

Vitamins and Minerals are potent immune modulators, the most robust of which are Vitamin C, Zinc, Selenium, Vitamin A, Vitamin E and Vitamin D. Interestingly, many of these nutrients also function as antioxidants and will aid in reducing free-radical induced cellular damage. An immunomodulator is a compound that stimulates a healthy or normal immune response, and will not necessarily boost the immune system into unnecessary activity. Glutamine can also be helpful in supporting immune function.

 

 

If you are trying to preserve muscle mass—a good idea for anyone— during a cold or flue, sipping on an essential amino acid powder is a great way to keep the muscle protein synthetic pathways of your body active. It has been suggested that during infectious illness, protein requirements can double, or maybe even triple, due to the rate at which amino acids are used for repairing tissue and producing new immune cells and immunoglobulins. And if we don’t provide them, through quality protein food or supplements, they will be released from muscle mass, which is a reservoir of these important nutrients.

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