nutrition
The material on this web site including nutrition is offered to you for informational purposes only and is not meant to be interpreted as medical advice to diagnose, treat or cure any immune system disorder. You should consult with a qualified health professional whenever your health is in question.
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Immune System Etc.com focus: immune system information, the immune response, immune system support, nutrition, what you need to be aware of when you boost the immune system, what is immune system balancing, combating immune system stressors, what weakens the immune system, what strengthens the immune system, immune system deficiencies including auto immune disorders and how you can help the body heal.
Nutrition & the Immune System
According to Dr. Jesse Stoff, Dr. Robert Atkins and others, poor nutrition can cause ill health and suppress immune function. Poor nutrition can present itself in a couple of ways.

The first way is by not giving your body the food or nutritional supplementation it needs. The nutrients just aren’t there in the first place.

The second way is by having a compromised digestive system that isn’t capable of breaking break down food particles into a form the body can use. Beyond symptoms of nutritional deficiency and poor function that can develop, the co-factors and supports the body in general and immune system needs to function become unavailable.

“Virtually every study comparing supplement takers with a matched group that does not take supplements shows that those taking nutrients are far healthier.”
Dr. Robert Atkins, "Nature’s Answer To Drugs"

Part I – Nutrition  [Food & Supplementation]

Micronutrients - Macronutrients
Vitamins and minerals are classified as micronutrients. We get them by eating plants and animals that make them. Minerals come from the earth. If it’s not in the soil, it won’t be in the food grown there. These nutrients cannot be manufactured in our bodies (with the exception of some of the B vitamins).

They are not energy sources. We get energy from macronutrients; carbohydrates, protein and fats (food). However, micronutrients [found in food] help to convert those macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein and fats) into useable forms.

Micronutrients (vitamins, minerals) "function principally as coenzymes (in collaboration with enzymes) for a variety of metabolic reactions and biochemical mechanisms within our many bodily systems. Each enzyme is specific to one biochemical reaction. Enzymes are catalysts, that is, they speed up specific chemical reactions that would proceed very slowly, if at all, without them.” Dr. Elson Haas, M.D.  Ideally, these micronutrients should be obtained from food. At least that’s the way it used to be.

Is Today’s Food Really Food?
There are some problems with food today. Dr. Burt Berkson, MD states, “Our recent ancestors ate from a menu rich in fresh foods; vegetables, fruits, and almost raw meats. Today, most of the food that people eat is processed in some way to ensure an attractive, shelf-stable, product…Is processed food still food?”

Elizabeth Lipski, board certified clinical nutritionist says, “Today we are part of a massive uncontrolled science experiment. What happens when people are fed highly processed foods, lacking in nutrients and fiber and loaded with chemicals, over three generations?

What happens when you put these same people under high levels of stress, in sedentary jobs, with poor air and water quality? Is it a coincidence that infertility rates are up, that Americans are fatter than ever before, that we are more violent than ever before…

Is it a coincidence that more children have attention deficit syndrome, a condition that never existed previously…Is it a coincidence that our immune systems are breaking down or that diabetes and heart disease rates have changed dramatically over the past eighty years? I don’t think so.” 

References to our poor food intake are so numerous that the issue that our “food” isn’t the nutritious commodity it used to be is an accepted fact to most anyone paying attention.

Drs. Michael and Mary Dan Eades say, “without macronutrients [protein, carbohydrates, fats] we would suffer malnutrition, starvation and death; without micronutrients [vitamins, minerals, antioxidants] we would suffer deficiency diseases, a precipitous health decline and death.”

Dr. Earl Mindell states, “Micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, etc.) regulate our metabolism [the sum total of all the chemical reactions occurring in body.] through enzyme systems. A single deficiency can endanger the whole body.”

Some Nutrients That Support Immune Function
  • Zinc supports the thymus gland (which trains T-cells in the immune system).
  • Iodine supports activity of Natural Killer cells.
  • Vitamin C increases antibody production.
  • Vitamin E with C increases T-cells, interleukin 2, and TNF.
  • Vitamin A normalized cell division and supports the thymus gland and antibody production.
  • Selenium supports T cell activity, NK cells and antibody production.
  • CoQ10 supports IgG antibody production.
  • Glutathione supports T cell activity.
  • B6 supports Tcells and B cells, plus 50 other enzyme reactions.
[Reference: Patrick Bouic, Ph.D., The Immune System Cure]

The AMA Approves
Not too long ago the American Medical Association (AMA) approved the use of nutritional supplementation. 

In 1997 the following appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association, “The era of nutrient supplements to promote health and reduce illness is here to stay…There is overwhelming evidence of immunological enhancement following such an intervention.”

For those persons who have been supplementing for the last 40 years while ignoring their doctor’s negative appraisal of supplements, it’s not news. 

Synergy and Balance
Today it’s easy to add supportive micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants) to anyone’s diet to avoid deficiencies. Note that avoiding deficiencies and providing optimal micronutrient supplementation are not the same thing by a long shot.

Outside of being easier, there are a variety of issues that a good multiple nutrient product supports. A couple of those issues are balance and synergy.

“Having the proper balance of vitamins and minerals is very important. Scientific research has proved that excesses of isolated vitamins or minerals can produce the same symptoms as deficiencies of vitamins or minerals.

For example, high does of isolated B vitamins have been shown to cause the depletion of other B vitamins. Similarly, if zinc is taken in excess, symptoms of zinc deficiency can result….

Synergy is a phenomenon whereby two or more vitamins combine to create a stronger vitamin function than the sum of their individual effects would suggest. For example, in order for bioflavonoids to work properly they must be taken along with vitamin C…In addition, certain substances can block the absorption and effects of vitamins…” Phyllis Balch, CNC & James Balch, MD

It’s Easy – But Choose Wisely
Food supplements, (the “multiple vitamin” which also contains minerals and antioxidants), are commonplace. And that’s what they are, supplements to food.
See also Free Radicals-Antioxidants and “Stress”.

The issue becomes more of what product(s) are truly good because so many are available.

Here are some questions to be considered:
  • Is research done (historical & current intelligence) to prove a natural ingredient is actually authentic, functional and safe?

  • Are independent evaluations done with suppliers of raw material on quality and concentrations of active ingredients as opposed to relying on the word of the supplier?

  • Does a botanical need to be grown in a certain way or picked at a certain time to assure the highest level of active ingredient? Is that monitored?

  • Are chemical structures analyzed to identify active constituents that can be used to provide consistent manufacturing?

  • Wide variations in active compounds are commonplace in most products. Are standardization procedures to assure consistency in place?

  • Is it tested for safety? Does it contain microbes, pesticides or heavy metals? Do they know?

  • Are the claims of efficacy (does it work?) substantiated by documented pre-clinical and clinical studies rather than relying on anecdotal information?

Part 2 - Digestion

Sugar
Immune System
Immune Stressors
See also Immune 101

Fast Facts
  • Poor nutritional intake can result from poor food choices or poor food quality as in organic food vs. processed food. It’s easy to have nutritional deficiencies.

  • Poor nutrition doesn’t give the immune system those factors it needs to operate. It also leaves a multitude of other functions in the body unsupported.  

  • Vitamins, minerals, antioxidants must be taken in a balanced way. Unbalanced supplementation can cause deficiencies. Antioxidants have special duties.

  • It’s not enough for food supplements to be ingested, they must be a high enough quality for them to be absorbed and reach the tissues. There’s a world of difference between “optimum” and “just enough”.