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Larry Newman is the Chief Operating Officer, Technical and Regulatory Affairs of Kirkman Group, Inc. (Kirkman). Contact Kirkman at 1-800-245-8282; 6400 Rosewood St., Lake Oswego, OR.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Now's the Time to Strengthen Your Immune System

By Larry Newman

It is back-to-school time as well as the beginning of cooler weather and flu season.  This year more than ever, with the specter of swine flu combined with the usual viruses, a strong
immune system is a must to get through this period without getting sick or, at least, lessen the severity of illness.  Now is the time to take steps to strengthen our immune system and improve our resistance to infection. 
As students and teachers go back to school, it is inevitable that exposure to flu and other viral infections will occur.  Group activities increase as well as crowded gatherings at sporting events.  Children bring the sniffles home from school to the siblings, Mom, and Dad, and Mom and Dad sit next to other moms and dads in crowded workplaces.  Individuals with a strong, healthy immune system are far less likely to be stricken by bugs.

General facts about our immune system
The immune system is a complex and dynamic network of cells, membranes, organs, a circulatory system and many other components.  These entities all work together to protect us from infection by opportunistic microbes, bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites that are all around our environment.  The immune system also constantly scans our bodies for any signs of abnormal cell growth.

Our body’s first line of defense against the above intruders is our skin, our enzymes such as saliva and stomach acid, and our protective epithelial cells that line our body’s mucosal surfaces.  These physical factors along with specialized white blood cells that make up our innate immune system help protect us from contagious illnesses. 

There are many specialized white blood cells that work together to coordinate overall immune response.  T cells are responsible for cellular immunity, while B cells produce antibodies in response to antigens.  Then there are NK (natural killer) cells that kill off certain body invaders: large granular lymphocytes (LGL) that remove bacteria and parasites by releasing toxic compounds.  And there are macrophages that engulf and destroy pathogens.  There are two major types of T cells: Th1 and Th2.  Th1 cells drive immunogenic responses, while Th2 cells drive antibody production by B cells and are especially important in responding to allergens.  Compromised immune systems usually display a Th1 to Th2 shift, which causes an increase in food and environmental allergies. 

The success of our immune system relies on an incredibly elaborate and dynamic regulatory/communications network composed of millions of cells and has a sensitive system of checks and balances.  Biological errors and environmental insults can result in the immune process going terribly wrong.  Serious illnesses, infections and other adverse health consequences can result. 

Signs of immunodeficiency  
The signs of an immune problem are often quite easy to recognize over time.  Persistence of certain conditions is a key to suspecting immune deficiencies.  Frequent illness and infection is the most prevalent sign.  An increase in allergic reactions is another indicator.  Special needs individuals are especially prone to compromised immune systems. 

Products that support and strengthen
the immune system

There is a long list of nutritional products that support a healthy immune system, which includes: 
Your doctor or nutritionist can help you design an individualized supplementation regimen that includes the appropriate products for your unique needs.  It is not necessary to take all of the above immune-stimulating products.  Pick a combination that seems to work for you, or find an immune-boosting product formulated as an “all-in-one” preparation.

Kirkman's Immuno-Aid™ Hypoallergenic Capsules

Kirkman® has formulated an excellent combination of immune-supporting vitamins, minerals, and herbal compounds that are proven immune stimulators.  This product is Immuno-Aid™ hypoallergenic capsules.  The ingredients in Immuno-Aid™ have been clinically shown to support immunity and help you stay well.  This formulation begins with the nutrients vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc and selenium.  Then the powerful herbal immune supporters beta glucan, astragulus and echinacea are added to round out this very potent immune-stimulating formulation.  In addition to the back-to-school and flu season risks, Immuno-Aid™ is useful when the following immune-compromising situations exist
  • You regularly get illnesses that “go around.”  
  • You travel on airplanes or other mass transit.  
  • You travel abroad, especially internationally.  
  • Your occupation forces you to work in crowded situations, such as for teachers, retailers, bankers, and office building employees.  
  • You must be around sick people, such as for doctors, nurses, receptionists, and hospital employees. 
  • You are under stressful situations that deplete the body of immune-supporting nutrients.
Recent advances in immune technology
Recent medical technology has suggested that high levels of vitamin D help ward off infections. For more information on vitamin D and immunity go to www.vitamindcouncil.comhttp://www.vitamindcouncil.com.

A recent article published in Pediatrics® in Julyu 2009 by Danisco, a worldwide probiotic supplier, has shown that taking certain probiotic strains can lessen the frequency and severity of illness.

The complete program
Immune-stimulating supplements work in the body synergistically with our natural immune-stimulating processes to maximize resistance to illness. It is also important to get enough rest, exercise, eat a balanced diet and refrain from smoking or excess alcohol consumption. Some other simple precautions will help as well, including:
  • Wash your hands carefully when using public facilities and before eating.
  • Avoid touching handrails, doorknobs and other objects that are used routinely by individuals in public places.
  • Stay at home if you are ill.
If you take these steps and initiate an immune system supplement program, you will be on the road to a healthier back-to-school season with fewer and less severe illnesses.