The functional medicine model supports the whole person by taking into account the following elements; physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, and spiritual factors. Experienced doctors use optimal nutrition, targeted supplementation, innovative therapies, detoxification and mind-body practices to support the immune system.
There are many reasons why you should consider calming and stabilising your immune system now, one being the current viral threat that comes from coronavirus disease (COVID-19). According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus. There is currently no effective pharmaceutical or vaccine therapy available to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Moreover, a robust immune system can help to prevent cancer. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the world. A capable immune system can also help prevent and avoid issues with opportunistic bacteria and other viral infections.
Start with the Gut - Optimise Your Gut Health
The gut is paramount in immune function because it is seventy percent of the immune system. The microbiome plays an integral role in keeping the immune system ready to fight off any intruders. The use of probiotics from supplements greatly supports the microbiome. The term probiotic is derived from the Greek term's "bios" meaning "life" and "pro" meaning "for." Thus, Probiotic ~ "for life." The World Health Organisation defines probiotics as "live microorganisms" that can confer health benefits for the host when used in "adequate amounts."
The probiotic, Lactobacillus Acidophilus helps maintain intestinal health and serves as a natural antibiotic. Acidophilus is also a nutritional supplement that keeps the 'normal' balance of good bacteria in the intestines. Bifidobacteria shows promise in the treatment of cholesterol reduction, cancer prevention, and immune support. The good bacteria "probiotics" produce antimicrobial compounds that can inhibit the growth of pathogens. They also aid digestion and nutrient absorption and positively contribute to immune function. Disturbance in this microbial balance can have negative consequences for health, resulting in elevated inflammation and infection that are contributory factors in diabetes and cancer. There is a growing awareness that the microbial balance in the colon may become increasingly perturbed with aging and hasten the onset of certain diseases.
Immune supporting probiotics in food
The use of probiotics with prebiotics appears to improve the survival of probiotics. Probiotics contained in fermented foods have tremendous immune-supporting powers. Some examples of probiotics in fermented food are miso, tempeh, kimchi, and sauerkraut. Miso, a traditional Japanese food, is a fermented soybean paste. Tempeh, a traditional Indonesian food, is a fermented soybean cake that is high in protein.
Grains such as rice or barley are sometimes added to tempeh. Kimchi, a traditional Korean food, is fermented cabbage, traditionally made with radish, garlic, red pepper, green onion, ginger, and salt. Sauerkraut, fermented cabbage, is a traditional German food. Foods like miso, tempeh, sauerkraut, and kimchi are beneficial for gut health and immune function.
The term "prebiotic" was coined in 1995 by Gibson and Roberford as a "non-digestible food ingredient that confers a benefit on the host by selectively stimulating growth and/or activity of one bacterium or group of bacteria in the colon and thus improves host health. So, prebiotics help feed good bacteria and include fibre from food choices such as chicory root, Jerusalem artichoke, dandelion green, garlic, leek, onion, Chinese chive, asparagus, legumes and green tea.
The importance of stress reduction for immune function
According to the American Institute of Stress, it is estimated that 75% to 90% of all visits to primary care physicians are for stress-related problems. Many people resort to the use of pharmaceuticals, over-the-counter remedies, or self-medicating with detrimental agents (such as alcohol) to cope with stress.
These so-called remedies only make the problem worse and can weaken the immune system. Our ancestors experienced brief stress responses, which provided them with necessary bodily functions to get them out of danger quickly. But in modern society, with all of the pressures of work deadlines, family commitments, and a host of other stressors, many people spend much more time in sympathetic nervous system activation than in parasympathetic activation.
Sympathetic activation is meant to be brief, whereas parasympathetic activation is intended to be long-lasting. The sympathetic nervous system is the part of the nervous system responsible for "fight or flight." The parasympathetic nervous system is activated when a person is relaxed. It is responsible for digestion, rest and utilisation of nutrients, and supports our immune system.
Natural ways to reduce stress and support immune function
Functional medicine doctors know stress can negatively affect multiple systems in the body. Miskawaan Health Group (MHG) helps identify the stressors, uses various proven natural treatment methods, and teaches skills to reduce stress. There are many ways to support the mind-body to reduce stress, including meditation, visualisation, affirmations, comedies (laughter), and psychological therapy. To support the physical body, practice the following:
- Keep yourself well hydrated (one half your body weight in fluid ounces per day (ounce = 30 ml))
- Get adequate sleep (seven to nine hours)
- Deep breathing exercises (meditation)
- Practice moderate physical activity (aerobic and anaerobic)
Proper individualised nutrition is foundational to reduce stress. MHG creates individualised dietary plans and uses targeted, high quality supplements to support the body and immune system. The use of adaptogens, vitamin C, magnesium and B-complex becomes more critical when under pressure. Adaptogens are natural substances found only in a few rare plants and herbs. These plants and herbs provide special nutrients that help the body achieve optimal mental, physical and work performance. The adaptogens have three distinguishing qualities:
- They are entirely non-toxic to the human body and would have no harmful or adverse effects no matter what amount or for how long they are used.
- They catalyse responses in the body to increase the body's mental and physical performance as well as provide resistance to stressful insults at the cellular level.
- Their effect is to balance and normalise the body's systems leading to overall homeostasis and health.
Adaptogens can improve response to stress or changes in the environment. MHG also uses mind-body therapy to identify stressors and help eliminate them. With cognitive behavioural therapy, you learn to identify each stressor and begin to see patterns in order to modify your behaviour.
Supplements to boost your immune system
"Nutrition is a critical determinant of immune responses and malnutrition, the most common cause of immunodeficiency worldwide. In studies involving more than 1,327 hospitalised adult patients, 40% to 55% were found to be either malnourished or at risk for malnutrition, and up to 12% were severely malnourished. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin (other fat-soluble vitamins are E, A, and K) that functions as a pro-hormone (a precursor to hormones). Dr. Cedric F. Garland, a cancer prevention specialist and his colleagues estimate that 250,000 cases of colorectal cancer and 350,000 cases of breast cancer could be prevented worldwide by increasing intake of vitamin D3, particularly in countries north of the equator. Vitamin D3 is available through diet, supplements and exposure of the skin to sunlight. Vitamin D is essential in mucosal integrity and gut permeability (leaky gut). Vitamin D deficiency can make you more susceptible to osteoporosis, periodontal disease, infectious disease, cancer, heart disease, autoimmune disease, and depression.
When you have low vitamin C levels, the immune system's white blood cells cannot function well. Women with deficiencies in vitamin C and folate have a higher risk of cervical cancer. Studies show that women with low vitamin C intake have a ten times higher risk than women who eat more foods that are high in vitamin C. As a bonus, vitamin C supports the stimulation of collagen formation for anti-aging.
IV Vitamin C immune support
It is best to use intravenous nutrition because it offers better bioavailability of nutrients to the body's metabolic needs. A synergic application of IV and oral nutrition increases nutrient absorption potential. Intravenous (IV) vitamin C can have an anti-cancer and positive immune effect on the body. If the white cells (neutrophils and monocytes) have enough ascorbate (vitamin C), they can carry hydrogen peroxide. These cells can inject hydrogen peroxide into cancer cells, which kills them. Vitamin C also plays a role in preventing, shortening the duration, and alleviating many different infections.
IV Lipoic acid immune support
Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is a naturally occurring antioxidant in the human body with powerful antioxidant properties that help protect cells from oxidative damage which supports anti-aging. It promotes the regeneration of other antioxidants such as vitamin E, vitamin C and glutathione. When antioxidants and free radicals in the body are out of balance it can disrupt normal immune responses. This makes the immune system overly sensitive. Subsequent activation of the immune system can over-produce white blood cell responders and help create a chronic inflammatory state. Accumulated evidence suggests that ALA might have immunomodulatory effects on the immune system. It restores and improves normal function to immune system cells (e.g. natural killer cells).
Peptide Therapy can boost your immune system
A peptide is a short chain of amino acids linked together that can be thought of as a small protein. In our bodies, these small proteins typically act as signalling molecules. They bind to receptors on the cell surface and tell other cells and molecules what to do. By attaching to receptor proteins on the surface of individual cells, peptides will stimulate how they respond to certain stimuli that support cellular communication. As naturally occurring biological molecules, they play an essential role in any form of biological activity
Peptide therapy naturally produces peptide in the thymus gland and lymphoid tissue to support immune function. It basically helps the body's ability to protect against foreign invaders that can harm the body. It has been studied extensively for its ability to enhance the immune system of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. It is also useful in stabilising your immune system that it is effective for treating many conditions such as bacterial infections, viral infections, and cancer.
In conclusion, a healthy immune system protects us from antigens entering the body. It is very important to ensure that our immune system is in optimal condition in order to fight any health challenges that might arise.
Author: Miskawaan Health Group (MHG). For Further information, please contact: email@example.com
Series Editor: Christopher F. Bruton, Executive Director, Dataconsult Ltd, firstname.lastname@example.org. Dataconsult’s Thailand Regional Forum provides seminars and extensive documentation to update business on future trends in Thailand and in the Mekong Region.