Sunday, October 27, 2013

Natural Immuninity Plays Important Roles in Your Health

Naturally acquired immunity can result from either passive or active immunization.[1]
  • Naturally acquired passive immunity
    • Immunity is transferred from mother to fetus through placental transfer of IgG or colostral transfer of IgA.
  • Naturally acquired active immunity
    • Occurs when a person is exposed to a live pathogen, and develops a primary immune response, which leads to immunological memory.
    • This type of immunity is “natural” because it is not induced by deliberate exposure.
In this article, we will discuss the following topics:
  1. The importance of natural immunity
  2. What can cause depressed immunity?
  3. Natural immune boosters

Importance of Natural Immunity

Excellent health is not merely how you feel at the moment. It is also how resistant your immune system is to microbes and how resistant you are to cancer. When children are born, they develop natural immunity to a large variety of microorganisms that they breathe, eat, and touch. The immune responses initiated by cells lining their airways, skin and intestines are very important in creating "memory" and protection against the microorganisms they naturally come into contact with every day.

Today we are exposed to more dangerous infections from around the world than ever before.[4] We are routinely in airports and jets crowded with world travelers who have come in contact with exotic and newly created microbes, and we are in schools and hospitals with bacteria circulating that have developed antibiotic resistance.[14,16,32]
That's why we need to have well-functioning immune systems, especially natural immunity; otherwise, the consequences can be devastating:[3]
  • A mild infection can hang on for weeks; worse yet, it can develop serious consequences such as heart damage or nerve paralysis, or it can blossom into a difficult-to-treat bacterial infection such as a life-threatening pneumonia.
  • Tumors may grow out of control
    • Our immune system also protects us from developing cancer.
      • There is a lot of evidence that tumors can elicit an immune response.[2]
      • The same white blood cells and other immune system components that are utilized to fight infection are also used to recognize our own human cells as they become abnormal and to remove them before they can evolve into a tumor or cancer.

What Can Cause Depressed Immunity?

Impaired natural immunity may result from poor nutrition, the overuse and dependency on medication and many other factors:
  • Poor nutrition
    • Poor nutrition not only makes us more susceptible to viruses but significantly impacts the length and severity of an illness.
    • It has been known for years that malnutrition interferes with various physical barriers or immune responses, making the body more vulnerable to attach from microbes, including viruses.
    • If you are deficient in virtually any known vitamin or mineral, research has shown that your defense functions can be negatively affect.
    • Dr. Beck's work at UNC[11] has pointed out the importance of host nutrition in not only optimizing the host immune response, but also in preventing viral mutations which could increase the viral pathogenicity.
    • A phytochemically deficient diet is largely responsible for a weak immune system.
      • When diets are low in consumption of green and yellow vegetables, viral illness takes a more serious form.
      • Populations with a much higher intake of vegetables have much lower rates of cancer, and the longest-living populations throughout history have been those with the highest intake of vegetables in the diet.[8]
  • Medication
    • Couple our nutrient-poor diet--and the resultant immune system weaknesses, leading to frequent illness—with the use and overuse of medicaitons, including antibiotics,[5,30] vaccines, and immunosuppressive drugs for autoimmune diseases, and we have a good reason for the explosion in cancer rates over the last 70 years.
    • Exposure to more medical care, more drugs, more vaccines, and more doctors does not beget Super Immunity[3]
      • In fact, medical care is part of the problem, not the solution.
      • The use of antibiotics is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.[5]
      • The first pharmacology lecture Dr. Fuhrman heard in medical school-the professor emphasized, "Make no doubt about it: all drugs are toxic and can even hasten one's dealth. They should be used only after careful consideration of the risk-to-benefit ratio, because they all have considerable and serious risks.
  • Stress[26]
    • Too much stress eventually inhibits the functioning of disease-fighting white blood cells and suppresses the immune response, leaving us susceptible to infection and disease.
  • Season Change
    • Winter season when sunshine is scarce (hint: Vitamin D).
  • Toxins
    • See [29].

Immune System Boosters

Natural immunity is acquired at our early ages. As a matter of fact, immunity can be transferred from mother to fetus through placental transfer of IgG or colostral transfer of IgA. A mounting body of research also suggests that exposing infants to germs may offer them greater protection from illnesses such as allergies, asthma and other autoimmune diseases during adulthood.[17-20]
Just as a baby's brain needs stimulation, input, and interaction to develop normally, the young immune system is strengthened by exposure to everyday germs so that it can learn, adapt, and regulate itself, notes Thom McDade, PhD, associate professor and director of the Laboratory for Human Biology Research at Northwestern University.[20]

If you are adults, you can still find many ways to boost your immune system:
  • Hand washing
    • As many as 80 percent of infections are transmitted via contact like sneezing, coughing or touching surfaces that have been sneezed or coughed on. To diminish some of the exposure risks, you can protect yourselves with handwashing and other proper hygienic measures, such as not touching your face without washing first.
  • Sleep[21]
    • Getting your 7 to 9 hours a night means your body can repair and heal itself and ward off infections.
  • Exercise[22]
    • Getting your blood pumping regularly can increase the activity of a type of white blood cells that attacks viruses.
    • Exercise is the pump to the lymphatic system as heart is the pump to the cardiovascular system.
  • Zinc[23]
    • Zinc interferes with viruses gaining full access to our cells.[15]
    • Zinc is necessary for the functioning of more than 300 different enzymes and plays a vital role in an enormous number of biological processes.
  • Garlic[24]
    • It is believed that garlic has immune-boosting properties that may reduce cancer cell growth and help the body fight off diseases such as colds or the flu.
  • Water
    • Without sufficient moisture, immune system cells can't optimally work. So, it's important to stay hydrated.[15]
  • Skipping happy hour
    • Alcohol suppresses both the part of the immune system that protects you from coming down with something and the part that fights off the germs already in your system.[15]
  • Laughter
    • While there's much that's still not well understood about the process, it seems that certain immune cells are produced by a big belly laugh.[15]
  • Massage
    • While there's been little research into exactly how it works, massage certainly increases circulation, which may help promote the general "state of wellness in the body.[15]
  • Healthy diet (We are what we eat)[3,12-13]
    • To have normal immune function we require hundreds of additional phytochemicals in addition to vitamins and minerals.[3]
    • Phytochemicals (plant-chemicals or phytonutrients)
      • Phytochemicals are compounds that maximize cell function, thus enabling the healing properties of immune cells, which include:
        • alpha-lipoic acid, flavonoids, bioflavonoids, polyphenols and phenolic acids, quercetin, rutin, anthocyanins and proanthocyanins, allium compounds, allyl sulfides, glucosinolates, isothiocyanates, lignans, and pectins
        • A combination of these compounds is more effective than a single agent, even in a high dose.
    • See [25] for a list of immunity-boosting foods from Dr. Oz.
  • Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy[34]


Without doubt, nutrition plays the most important role of our healthy immune systems.  Pathogens can adapt themselves to the host (our body) and becomes dangerous and multiplies as a result of the host's disease-promoting environment. In most cases, however, pathogens would remain harmless when they are exposed to a healthy, well-nourished body.

The most effective artillery we have to protect ourselves against the potentially damaging effects of influenza and other infectious disease is nutritional excellence.  Life is not without risks, and of course optimal nutrition cannot prevent all microbial diseases and all cancers.  At minimal, optimal nutrition can boost our natural immunity.  And immunity, when optimized, can ward off infection; and if infection does occur, it is much more likely to have a harmless outcome.

As discussed in [27], fever is a protective mechanism.  When our body temperature reaches 101.3 oF (38.5oC), the immune system shifts into a state of alarm.  At this temperature, the level of immune chemicals in the bloodstream doubles, and immune defenses throughout the body increase.  Within 6 hours, almost every major defense within the immune system doubles its efforts.[28] As advised by Dr. Gorter, don't reach out for medication unless you have worsening symptoms which involve labored breathing, persistent fever above 103 degrees for three days, abdominal pain, changes in behavior or mental status, and persistent diarrhea or vomiting.

Photo Credit


  1. Microbiology and Immunology On-Line Textbook: USC School of Medicine
  2. Tumor Immunology On-Line Textbook: USC School of Medicine
  3. Super Immunity by Joel Fuhrman, MD
  4. The global infectious disease threat and its implications for the United States. National Intelligence Estimate (NIE 99-17D). January 2000.
  5. Velicer CM, Heckbert SR, Lampe JW, et al. Antibiotic use in relation to the risk of breast cancer. JAMA 2004; 291(7): 827-35.
  6. Are You Fever Phobic? (Travel and Health)
  7. Boggs DA, Palmer JR, Wise LA, et al. Fruit and vegetable intake in relation to risk of breast cancer in the Black Women's Health Study. Am J Epidemiol 2010; DOI:10.1093/aje/kwq293. Gullett NP, Ruhul Amin AR, Bayraktar S, et al. Cancer prevention with natural compounds. Semin Oncol 2010; 37(3): 258-81.
  8. Healthy at 100, by John Robbins.
  9. Liu RH. Potential synergy of phytochemicals in cancer prevention: mechanism of action. J Nutr 2004; 134(12 Suppl): 3479S-3485S.
  10. Peterhans E. Oxidants and antioxidants in viral diseases: disease mechanisms and metabolic regulation. J Nutr 1997; 127: 962S-965S.
  11. Beck MA. Antioxidants and viral infections: host immune response and viral pathogenicity. J Am Coll Nutr 2001; 20 (5 Suppl): 384S-388S, discussion 396S-397S.
  12. Roman GC. An epidemic in cuba of optic neutopathy, sensorineural deafness, peripheral sensory neuropathy, and dorsolateral myeloneuropathy. J Neurol Sci 1994; 127:11-28.
  13. Domingo E. Newly emerging viral diseases: what role for nutrition? J Nutr 1999; 127:958S-961S.
  14. Achievements in public health, 1900-1999: control of infectious diseases, MMWR 1999; 48(29): 621-29.
    • The emergence of antibiotics resistance in many organisms is reversing some of the therapeutic miracles of the last 50 years and underscores the importance of disease prevention.
  15. The Best Immunity-Boosting Breakfasts
  16. Documentary: Rise of the Superbugs (Dr. Mercola)
  17. Are Dogs More Protective For Children’s Health? (Travel and Health)
  18. Hepatitis A and Allergic Diseases (Travel and Health)
  19. Can Parasites Heal the Gut? (Travel and Health)
  20. Is Dirt Good for Kids? (WebMD)
  21. Enjoy Good Night Sleep and Live Longer (Travel and Health)
  22. Exercise and Its Benefits (Travel and Health)
  23. Did You Get Enough Zinc Lately? (Travel and Health)
  24. Garlic—a Vegetable, a Condiment, and a Medicine (Travel and Health)
  25. Dr. Oz's 12 Natural Immunity Boosters
  26. Stress and How to Diffuse It (Travel and Health)
  27. Are You Fever Phobic? (Travel and Health)
  28. Fighting Cancer — A Nontoxic Approach to Treatment by Robert Gorter, MD, PhD and Erik Peper, PhD.
  29. Toxins Are Everywhere — I'm Not Kidding (Travel and Health)
  30. Do Antibiotics in Animal Feed Pose a Serious Risk to Human Health? (Dr. Mercola)
  31. Does adding routine antibiotics to animal feed pose a serious risk to human health? (BMJ)
    • It will get worse. Ten times more cases of meticillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus occurred in US children’s hospitals in 2008 than a decade earlier.
  32. Meningitis: What Is The Dangerous Infection Spreading At Princeton And UC Santa Barbara?
  33. Immune System Basics (University of Arizona)
  34. Thom SR, Bhopale VM, Velazquez OC, Goldstein LJ, Thom LH, Buerk DG. Stem cell mobilization by hyperbaric oxygen. American Journal of Physiology. 2006;290(4):H1378–H1386.
  35. Major Advantages of Massage Therapy
  36. Antimicrobial Shoes and Clothes?
    • Dr. Francine Yep says "no thanks" and saves your money.
  37. CRE bacteria: What you should know
  38. The New Science of Disease Recovery (good)
  39. Dr. Kurt: why I will never choose to vaccinate my own son and any future kids my wife and I have
  40. Your birth year predicts your odds if flu pandemic were to strike
  41. Xiao L, Xing C, Yang Z, Xu S, Wang M, Du H, Liu K, Huang Z. Vitamin D supplementation for the prevention of childhood acute respiratory infections: a systematic review of randomised controlled trials. Br J Nutr. 2015 Oct 14;114(7):1026-34.
    • As reported, vitamin D supplementation simultaneously enhances the effectiveness of the antimicrobial response of the innate immune system and diminishes the natural consequence of inflammation.

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