Check the Health of Your Immune System
By Linda Page, ND, Ph.D.
Common symptoms of immune system depression
Chronic and continuing infections, colds, respiratory problems; Candida yeast overgrowth; chronic fatigue; chronic allergies.
Common causes of immune system depression
Glandular malfunction, usually because of poor diet and nutrition; staph infection; prolonged use of antibiotics and/or cortico-steroids, (long-term use of these drugs can depress the immune system to the point where even minor illness can become life-threatening.); some immunization shots; Candida albicans yeast overgrowth; great emotional stress; food and other allergies; environmental and heavy metal pollutants; radiation.
What Depresses Our Immune System Response?
- Long term courses of drugs: antacids (reduce nutrient assimilation), antibiotics (destroy friendly bacteria vital to GI immunity), anti-inflammatory drugs like acetaminophen, aspirin and ibuprofen (inhibit white cells that fight infection).
- Long term exposure to second hand smoke, chemicals and pollutants: which put a strain on the body's natural detoxification system and lead to genetic mutations that cause cancer.
- A diet high in chemicalized "foods in a box," so popular today: Your body regularly rejects or ignores these "non-food" foods. Fake fats like olestra that rob cancer-fighting carotenoids are especially disrupting.
- Repeated exposure to allergens: Allergens from foods and chemicals causes the immune system to take a dive because immune defenses are channeled to deal with the allergen rather than to fight infection. (In turn, allergies are usually the result of impaired immunity....a vicious health disrupting circle.)
- A diet high in trans fatty acids , saturated fats or refined sugars: Our food supply is loaded with them today....deep fried foods, fast foods, and almost all snack foods. Trans fatty acids increase LDL (bad) cholesterol and decrease HDL (good) cholesterol, and are found at high levels in women with breast cancer. Saturated fats interfere with prostaglandin E1 which regulates efficient T-cell activity. Sugary foods suppress immune white blood cell activity for a few hours after eating. Eat these foods regularly and your immune system may take a nose dive all day long
- Low intake of protective, antioxidant and enzyme-rich fruits and vegetables: Low nutrient intake not only depletes immunity. It also leads to a poor outlook on life or severe, long lasting depression.
- Excessive dieting depresses interferon activity: Overeating also depresses immune response.
- A lifestyle low on rest: People who overextend themselves may be unusually susceptible to immune system malfunction. Natural killer cell activity is reduced by as much as 28% when sleep is cut by 4 hours in clinical tests performed at U. California at San Diego School of Medicine.
- Having parents who smoke, drink to excess or abuse drugs: Children born to addicted parents have more genetic predisposition to illness and infections.
- Not being breast-fed as a child: Breast milk is rich in antibodies, essential fatty acids and interferon that strengthen a child's developing immune system.
Does Your Immune System Need A Boost? Take this test:
It isn't easy to measure immune health. Each one of us is different and the character of immune response varies widely. I've worked for years to develop ways people can communicate with their bodies. Here's a personal quiz to monitor your immune status.1: Do you suffer from chronic infections, colds, respiratory problems or allergies?
2: Do you have or have you had in the past any immune-deficient diseases, like chronic fatigue syndrome, Hashimoto's or fibromyalgia?
3: Do you have malabsorption problems, like irritable bowel syndrome (I.B.S.), or chronic diarrhea or constipation?
4: Do you have diabetes or liver disease?
5: Do you have bouts of systemic candida or yeast infections that don't seem to go away even after treatment?
6: Do you have a skin disorder like adult acne or Rosacea?
7: Have you recently undergone surgery?
8: Have you recently undergone chemotherapy or radiation treatment?
9: Have you undergone long-term treatment with antibiotics or steroid drugs (NSAIDs) pain relievers?
10: Do you have periodontal disease?
11: Do you drink 2 or more drinks of hard alcohol 4 to 5 times a week or take recreational drugs regularly?
12: Are you a smoker or are you exposed to second-hand smoke on a regular basis?
13: Do you live in area where there is smog or heavy pesticide use?
14: Are you regularly exposed to industrial heavy metals, like cadmium, asbestos or mercury?
15: Do you drink untreated tap water or eat produce sprayed with pesticides?
16: Do you regularly eat meats, like pork or beef that are injected with antibiotics and hormones?
17: Do you have circulation problems or a history of claudication?
18: Do you suffer from chronic stress, anxiety, panic attacks or depression?
19: Do you suffer from chronic insomnia? Are you always tired?
If you answer yes to more than 3 of these questions, your immune system may be sluggish.
Learn how detoxification with herbs can strenghten the immune syetem
Page Updated: January 2013
A growing body of evidence shows how nutraceuticals may offer many advantages for the future of medicine.