Immune System Guide: Balance, Support, Strengthen

Immune System Guide: Balance, Support, Strengthen

In the age of global pandemics, people are showing an increased interest in the immune system. Specifically, many want to know how--or if--they can boost their own immunity to better resist disease and infection. When desiring to increase the overall health of any system in the body, it’s important to understand how it works to best address any concerns. The immune system is very complex, and trying to “boost” it’s function may actually do more harm than good. Instead, the goal should be to balance and optimize immune function so it can perform at its best.

What Is The Immune System?

The immune system is a complicated network that protects the body from disease and infection. There are many parts of the body involved in immunity, including the skin, mucous membranes, white blood cells, and the lymphatic system. Working together, these tissues and organs both repel germs and foreign substances while also attacking invaders in and on the body. (1)

How The Immune System Works

In order to protect the body from dangerous or unknown cells that could damage it, the immune system first identifies harmful substances and then responds. Called antigens, these substances can take the form of germs, viruses, bacteria, chemicals, toxins, or damaged cells. Once identified, various parts of the immune system attack the antigen, often by creating proteins called antibodies.

After successfully battling an infection, the immune system remembers the foreign substance in case it encounters it again in the future. It’s then prepared to defend the body, often stopping sickness before it starts. All humans are born with a basic immunity to antigens, and throughout life, additional immunity is acquired, through successfully battling an illness or receiving a vaccine or immunization. (1)

Where Immunity Can Go Wrong

Although the immune system is very effective at protecting our bodies from infection, there are situations where things can go wrong. There are also disorders and situations that can affect the ability of the immune system to function correctly. Some immunity problems include:

  • Primary immune deficiency (usually present at birth) where white blood cells are limited or absent
  • Acquired immune deficiency from a disease that weakens immunity, such as AIDS,
  • Temporary acquired immune deficiency from medications, infections, smoking, alcohol, or a poor diet
  • An overactive immune system where the body reacts to allergens that are normally harmless. This usually presents in allergies, asthma, and eczema
  • Autoimmune diseases where the body attacks healthy tissues, such as arthritis, type 1 diabetes, and Lupus (2)

When any of these problems are present, the body has a harder time fighting off infections and disease. Additionally, infections may last longer or occur more often. (1)

Caring For The Immune System

In light of how essential our immune system is, it’s important to properly care for it. Is it possible to boost our natural immunity to limit sickness and infection? If we have a weakened immune system, can we do anything to help? We’ll examine these questions one by one.

Boosting The Immune System: Is It Possible?

Many herbs, supplements, and formulas claim to “boost” the immune system. However, boosting the immune system could result in an overreaction in the body, leading to unwelcome symptoms like fever, joint pain, and even organ malfunction. As a complex system with a variety of cells involved in the immune response, “boosting” activity won’t necessarily help; in fact, it could do more harm than good. (3)

One example of this immunity overreaction is a cytokine storm. Cytokines are proteins that cells release that perform a variety of functions. Interferons are a type of cytokine, essentially involved in the immune system response. Other groups of cytokines include interleukins and chemokines. In a normal situation, these cytokines can either increase or decrease inflammation. In a cytokine storm, the immune system goes into overdrive, and severe inflammation results. For example, a severe lung infection can result in a cytokine storm, with inflammation invading other systems to cause sepsis--or infection in the circulatory system. (4)

There is a danger, then, of boosting the immune system’s natural response. Doing so could result in imbalance, potentially increasing the chance of developing a cytokine storm. Because this could negatively impact overall health, balancing, and optimizing the immune system is the best option.

How To Balance And Optimize The Immune System

Instead of attempting to boost the natural immune response, efforts should be focused on support, balance, and optimization. In addition to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and reducing stress, supplementing with a science-backed formula could help balance your immune system response.

PectaSol Modified Citrus Pectin  is a highly researched nutraceutical that has been shown in studies to support the body's natural immune response. PectaSol also blocks a rogue protein called galectin-3 (Gal-3). This protein can cause an overactive immune response, which we learned can impact overall health. Gal-3 can also hide antigens from the immune system; by blocking this protein, the body can better target any invaders. (5)

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How does the immune system fight viruses?

A: When a virus enters your body--through your mucous membranes or otherwise--they begin to attack and multiply. Your immune system then responds, sending out cells and proteins to attack the virus. When the body successfully eliminates invaders, antibodies will be able to “remember” the harmful cells if they should try to attack again. (1)

Q: Does quarantine or social distancing weaken our immune system?

A: The short answer is no. Many have expressed concern that social distancing or quarantining--such as is practiced with severe viruses --will weaken the immune response to new germs. However, because the immune system’s antibodies can remember the plethora of bacteria and antigens you’ve already been exposed to, being isolated for a time won’t cause your cells to “forget.” Stress and isolation, however, can suppress certain immune functions. Getting sufficient rest and exercise, eating a healthy diet, and supplementing with immune-balancing formulas can all help keep the immune system functioning normally. (6)

Q: What are some symptoms of a weakened immune system?

A: The immune system can be weakened for a variety of reasons. Some are born with a compromised immune system, some acquire a weakened immune system because of disease or medications, and others have overactive immune systems that can affect their healing response. Symptoms include allergies, asthma, autoimmune disorders, and frequent illnesses. (1)

Sources:

  1. Immune system and disorders. Immune System. 1999. https://medlineplus.gov/immunesystemanddisorders.html.
  2. Disorders of the immune system. Hopkinsmedicine.org. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/disorders-of-the-immune-system.  
  3. Lancet. 2020 Mar 28;395(10229):1033-1034. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30628-0. Epub 2020 Mar 16. COVID-19: consider cytokine storm syndromes and immunosuppression
  4. J Heart Lung Transplant. 2020 May;39(5):405-407. doi: 10.1016/j.healun.2020.03.012. Epub 2020 Mar 20. COVID-19 illness in native and immunosuppressed states: A clinical-therapeutic staging proposal
  5. Immunol Rev. 2009 Jul;230(1):160-71. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-065X.2009.00794.x. The regulation of inflammation by galectin-3
  6. Immune system and disorders. Immune System. 1999. https://medlineplus.gov/immunesystemanddisorders.html.
  7. Tisoncik JR, Korth MJ, Simmons CP, Farrar J, Martin TR, Katze MG. Into the eye of the cytokine storm. Microbiol Mol Biol Rev. 2012;76(1):16-32. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3294426/

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