Power support for your immune system

It is amazing just how many people actually don't know what it is like to feel really great. Many people go from doctor to doctor, disease to disease, prescription to prescription always hurting and complaining without really knowing why. Often the problem is simply a low defense to germs, bacteria, viruses, pollens and other invaders to the body. We survive, stay well, or recover when sick because we were created with an astonishing inner network of protective devices called the immune system.

CAUSES OF A WEAK IMMUNE SYSTEM
Some of the causes of a poor immune system are unavoidable, such as the air in the work place or inherited tendencies. However, many have contributed to their weakened condition by smoking, eating a diet high in saturated fat, sugar, and salt, and lack of exercise or insufficient sleep. The intake of alcohol, soda pop, and street or prescription drugs usually has the side effect of hindering the digestive system and soon weakens the immune system. Also, emotions and attitudes play a big part in the proper functions of the body.

FUNCTIONS OF THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
Since 1974, scientists have made remarkable progress in discovering how the body generates the enormous volume of unique antibodies that are needed to fight off invading bacteria, fungi, and viruses during a person's lifetime. There are many ingredients in the immune system, but the basic one is the little round white blood cell called a lymphocyte. These are found in the blood, bone marrow, intestines, thymus gland, and most especially in the lymph nodes in the neck, arm pits and groin. The lymph nodes are hotbeds of immune activity; and when they swell up, it usually means there is a battle against an infection.

The immune system consists of about a trillion cells called lymphocytes and about 100 million trillion molecules called antibodies that are produced and secreted by the lymphocytes. The cells and molecules of the immune system reach most tissues through the bloodstream. After moving about, they make their way to a return vascular system of their own called the lymphatic system.

The army of white blood cells (lymphocytes) has three key divisions: scavenger cells that scout, surround, and digest invaders, T cells, and B cells. The T cells develop in the thymus; B cells mature in bone marrow or lymphoid organs. The T cells help the B cells to manufacture "antibodies" that are necessary to destroy specific invaders. Fully active T cells and B cells are required to form a strong defensive immune system to constantly protect you from dangerous chemicals in the environment, viruses, pollens, toxic bacteria, infectious diseases, and other dangerous, life-threatening substances. Also, T cells trigger production of powerful protein chemicals such as interleukin 2 or interferon. The main reason AIDS is so devastating is that it kills helper T cells.

As the Bible reads, "we are made so wonderfully complex!" A good immune system is intricate and seemingly amazing--it can prevent our having any disease from colds to cancer!

Your first line of defense is your skin with its bactericidal sweat and sebaceous secretions. The internal surfaces of the skin are covered with a layer of mucus which is produced by the functions of the sinuses and bronchi and the antiseptic hydrochloric acid in the stomach. Patches of lymph-like tissue in the small intestine swallow invading bacteria. The adenoids, tonsils, and lingual pad of lymphoid tissue also filter off bacteria in the nasopharynx. When infection enters your body, there is prompt action by the white blood cells to invade the area and form pus if enough are destroyed.

NUTRITIONAL SUPPORT
To be immune is to be protected, to have resistance, to be exempt from disease. But you ask, how do I keep my immune system as strong as possible? The answer is found mostly in daily nutritional replenishment. Like the millions of cells in your body, every aspect of your immune system--the bone marrow, thymus, spleen, lymph nodes, adenoids, digestive tract--must have a balance of all nutrients to fulfill their assignment for which they were created. Everything you eat or drink affects your immune system--for good or bad. Obviously, a balanced diet is essential, but some nutrients are even more essential in today's polluted atmosphere because of their effect on the thymus gland, master controller of the immune system. It has been proven that the thymus is one of the first glands to atrophy, and as it does, the immune system breaks down leaving the person vulnerable to illness, cancer, autoimmune diseases, or other problems.

MINERALS: While a balance of all minerals is required for the health and integrity of your cells, the trace minerals zinc, selenium, and iron must be included in your food or supplement intake for immunity.

Zinc has been recognized essential in the daily diet since 1934. It is found in every tissue with the largest amounts located in the eye and male reproductive system. Zinc is involved in the mobilization of vitamin A from reserve stored in the liver. Many people have found that by taking extra vitamin A and zinc that a quick healing results--especially with sinus problems.

Selenium works with vitamin E as an antioxidant and scavenger of the dangerous free radicals in the body, As an antioxidant, selenium helps protect cell walls from oxidation Selenium also helps antagonize mercury and cadmium. These two heavy metals enter the body through contaminated food and water, dental fillings, and inhalation of paint, and can have a harmful effect on the immunity. Too much selenium can cause toxicity as can most trace minerals, but our land is so deficient that most people need additional amounts. Selenium is found in whole grains if grown in selenium-rich soil, and in fish, eggs, and animal meats. To insure a good immune system, the recommended minimal amount is 50 mcg. daily.

Iron is essential for good blood formation and for the absorption of vitamin A and other nutrients. It is easy to get plenty of iron from foods by eating dried fruits--especially prunes, raisins, peaches and apricots--beans, whole grains, green vegetables and nuts. Beets are an excellent food because they contain the proper proportion of copper to assist the assimilation of iron. Iron supplements should be taken under supervision.

VITAMINS: Vitamins are found only in living foods and function with enzymes to become an important part of all cells. The presence or absence of vitamins in very small amounts means the difference between a strong or weak immune system.

Vitamin A is the "anti-infection" vitamin that is essential to the linings of the respiratory/digestive/urogenital tract and eyes. It stimulates the activity of the T cells and B cells in warding off infection.

Vitamin C is the watersoluble vitamin that has been shown to enhance the immune fighting activities of the T cells, interferon productions, the thymus, and lymph nodes. Vitamin C also acts as an antioxidant and protects against the impairment of your immunity by free radicals. When you have a vitamin C deficiency, you are hindering the functions of vitamin A and iron which will soon hinder many body functions. The lack of vitamin C is a first-line cause of premature aging. People who smoke or take the Pill are dangerously low in vitamins C and A. When mega doses of vitamin C are taken, it is important that calcium intake be increased. Vitamin C is found in many fruits and dark green vegetables, but we also recommend that you take a daily supplement.

We cannot rely on any one antioxidant nutrient; we need the combination of all the antioxidants (A, C, E and selenium) for optimal protection from free radicals.

A deficiency in the B vitamins can cause a chain reaction of various deficiencies that will lead to health problems which are usually noticed first by the lack of energy. So much has been written about the necessity of B vitamins, but for supporting the immune system we must note that especially vitamin B6 will enhance T and B cell functions. When vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) are both deficient, a person's resistance drops to almost zero. Folic acid and vitamin B12 are also involved in the important white cell function. The B complex vitamins function in the body as a group, each dependent upon the others. They are vital for the metabolism of fats and protein and the correct function of the brain and nervous system. They are necessary in maintaining an efficient digestive system and for the production of hemoglobin of the blood. So when you are taking extra vitamins B5, B6 and B12, it is wise to take them along with the B complex. All of the B vitamins with maybe the exception of B12 are found in brewer's yeast, liver, whole grain cereals, and green vegetables. The B vitamins are water soluble which means we need to take them daily.

ACIDOPHILUS: Two types of bacteria are present in your intestinal tract most commonly called putrefactive bacteria and friendly bacteria. The bacteria in a healthy colon should be 85% friendly and 15% putrefactive; however, many have the reverse percentages which accounts for much toxemia and flatulence, and weakened immune system. To correct the matter, take fermented milks such as yogurt, kefir, and buttermilk and/or acidophilus and bifidus supplements. It is wise to rotate acidophilus and bifidus supplements as they act on different portions of the intestinal tract but will neutralize each other if taken together.

OXYGEN SUPPLEMENTS: Because many immune systems suffer due to the lack of oxygen, the now popular hydrogen peroxide therapy has brought much help. Aloe vera/hydrogen peroxides products are available at the health food stores. Herbs like germanium are also high in oxygen. It is amazing what this little additional oxygen will do for you!

PROTEIN: A prolonged protein deficiency in the diet will lead to a weakened immune system. In fact, the immune system is absolutely dependent on adequate supplies of nucleic acids and protein. Vitamin B6 is important for the synthesis of protein. A deficiency of protein and vitamin B6 leads to shrinking of the thymus gland.

GREEN FOODS: There are many green foods, as I call them, that help stimulate the immune system, At your health food store you will find Barley Grass, Wheat Grass, Spirulina, Chlorella, Blue Green Algae, and Alfalfa products to provide precious chlorophyll benefits.

PYCNOGENOL, THE SUPER-ANTIOXIDANT: Pycnogenol (TM) (pronounced pick-NAH-gen-nol) is a blend of special bioflavonoids that has recently been patented in the United States and is available as a food supplement. It was researched and extensively tested in France and Germany. Its safety has been studied and its benefits documented in many European scientific and medical journals. It has been available as a nutritional supplement since 1969 in Europe, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, and the Far East.

Pycnogenol is a powerful antioxidant that helps our bodies resist blood vessel and skin damage, mental deterioration, inflammation and other damage caused by harmful free radicals. Pycnogenol protects vitamin C and beta-carotene, which in turn protect the vitamin E in cell membrane.

The bioflavonoids in Pycnogenol are in minute amounts in beans, grapes, cranberries, and other fruits and vegetables; however, as a supplement the strongest is found from the pine trees. Pycnogenol is rapidly absorbed and distributed throughout the body within 20 minutes and remains in the bloodstream for 72 hours. Vitamins C and E pass through the system much quicker.

Richard Passwater, Ph.D., a noted biochemist has written a booklet on the the superantioxidant Pycnogenol and suggests that adults begin taking between 100 and 150 ma. of Pycnogenol daily for a few weeks, then reduce to 50 ma. as a maintenance dose. No doubt you will notice a stronger immune system against any invaders!

Drinking pure water and eating plenty of wholesome foods rich in nutrients and low in fat, sugar, and salt, along with good supplementation will support the immune system. Remember to exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and keep a cheerful, full-of-faith attitude. Stay well!

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by Willa Vae Bowles

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