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Winter is here, and with it, the swarm of bugs, cold and sniffles that gate-crash our bodies when temperatures dip to the single digit end of the mercury scale. Every day, we are continually bombarded with a stream of (often conflicting) information as to how to strengthen your immune system. From reaching for a satsuma, to skipping your daily shower, to kissing your pet dog.
But what are the most effective ways to boost your low immune system? How do you minimise days off work and keeping yourself fighting fit?
The immune system is one of the most complex parts of the human body, and no one would expect to perform at their prime whilst living off poor nutrition. However, there is emerging evidence to suggest maintaining an optimal immune system can be enhanced by using the best balance of pharmaco-nutrition.
Pharmaco-nutrition is the use of food - and food extracts - to rectify the nutritional and metabolic imbalances that cause chronic inflammation, dysnutrition and immune dysfunction. All three of these drive chronic degenerative diseases.
In very simple terms, the immune system is an exceptionally complex network of cells and proteins that protect the body against infection. Although the immune system is one fully integrated system, it’s useful to think of it as having two parts: the innate immune system and the adaptive immune system.
To say the innate immune system is clever is an understatement. It’s our body’s first line of defence, equipped to keep us healthy, with the ability to quickly recognise, target and destroy infections. Harmful substances - known as antigens - entering the body activate the innate immune system, causing cells to take flight through the blood to neutralise pathogens by surrounding and killing them. The innate immune system has no long-term memory, which is why it’s able to create new receptors to adapt to the immune response.
The adaptive immune system is slower, unable to respond instantly to infections, requiring time to learn to recognise them. After the first encounter with a pathogen, the adaptive immune system remembers what the pathogen looks like. This means that, when the same pathogen tries to infect the body again, the next response is fast, accurate, and effective. Major cell types of the adaptive immune system include T cells and B cells.
The adaptive immune system can go wrong in many interesting ways. It is deeply involved in allergy, critically involved in autoimmune disease, and is an essential component in graft rejection and graft-versus-host disease. The adaptive immune system gets a good deal of attention, because it can be manipulated via immunisation, which at $40 billion per year is a very big business.
Daily life! We are constantly under attack by all manner of enemies that threaten the level our immune system functions at. Medication, life choices such as smoking or alcohol, or poor nutrition (which today is widespread) are all factors.
How prone to infection are you? Are you someone who always seems to catch whatever’s doing the rounds? A weak immune system doesn't only mean you get ill more frequently than others, you might also find recovering from illness a challenge. All clues that whatever you might be doing to support your low immune system isn't actually working.
Without sleep we couldn’t survive, and skimping on your daily eight hours could also be adversely affecting your immunity. Sleep not only re-energises our cells, it acts like a hoover for the brain, clearing out the waste, recuperating and resetting. A good night’s sleep releases cytokines (proteins) which not only help to promote sleep, they also target infection and inflammation.
What we eat is half the battle, and the quality of what we eat is equally important. Taking a generic A-Z supplement has been proven time and time again to have little benefit to your body. You're best to ensure your diet is optimised with immune-boosting vitamins and minerals to keep you on top form. Nutrients that take you beyond the ceiling of a healthy, balanced diet will give you the edge.
LYMA contains our multi-award winning Wellmune® Blend, the highly specialized 1,3 1,6 beta glucan clinically proven to boost the white blood cells neutrophils and macrophages. These are innate, rapid fire primers of your immune system who engage with foreign pathogens.
Inflammation is also at the enemy of a sound immune system: an overly inflamed body is more prone to acute injury and chronic illness. This is where LYMA comes into its own, as we provide a myriad of the world’s most potent, technologically enhanced, anti-inflammatory compounds in one place. These including: 250% more bioavailable HydroCurc™ and microencapsulated, highly bioavailable Lycored Lycopene™.
Vitamins and minerals are key for bodily function and none is more important for immunity than vitamin D, where deficiency is estimated to be at 50% amongst the UK population and approximately 15% exhibit a severe shortfall. Unlike most, LYMA provides a clinically powerful 2,000i.u./day vitamin D3, enough to ensure a high percentile are protected from deficiency. This also ensures cholecalciferol is optimised for musculoskeletal, bone and cardiovascular health.
The big freeze: Exposure to cold can boost your metabolism which can lead to increased immune power. A blast of cold water at the end of your morning shower can really help. Cryotherapy can also be useful for recovery and will have an effect on keeping the bugs at bay.
Training and exercise may also protect you from the flu bug and, if you're not already sick, doing some HIIT or a resistance workout is a top choice way to get your defences up. Work on the ethos of working hard, but resting harder, to really decrease the stressors on the nervous system. Overtraining could make you more vulnerable so make sure you get the right balance - while also balancing your yin and yang accordingly - through sports such as boxing and yoga.
Stress comes in many shapes and sizes. If you're stressing about things, it’s important to remember that most of the things you're worrying about will never happen. Make sure you know that it's ok not to have all of your life together and try to go with the flow. My tips to reduce anxiety and boost your immune system in the process: meditation, yoga, massage, charity work, learning something new. Even after a fight with a loved one, your immune system can be weakened for up to two days so try to avoid conflict with your close ones when feeling poorly or under the weather.
You can make ginger tea, eat raw ginger, or add ginger to your broth or soup. Red peppers have double the levels of vitamin C as citrus fruits. Al dente broccoli is supercharged with vitamins and minerals. Garlic also acts as a great immune booster. If you're sick, garlic is a great way to rev up your immune system. If you're feeling brave, suck on a clove of raw garlic for a few minutes to get its benefits (remember to keep your distance!)
Start eating sauerkraut or kimchi
The fermentation processes in which these foods are prepared produce beneficial bacteria (probiotics) which have an important role in your gut health. Most of your immune cells are located in your gut so the healthier your gut, the healthier your immune system will be. Research suggests that just a teaspoon of sugar will inhibit your immune system for up to four hours, so avoid it - this includes hidden sugars in refined carbohydrates and alcohol.
Other key options
Citrus fruit are packed with Vitamin C, and should be eaten regularly as the body isn't able to store this nutrient. Leafy greens are laden with Vitamin E and wholegrains, packed with folate, are both proven to support and strengthen immune function. Selenium - in garlic and brazil nuts - has the power to slow the body’s overactive responses to illness. Zinc in shellfish and chickpeas can help to control inflammation too. Add a splash of colour with Vitamin A packed carrots will help to modulate immune function.
The simple answer? Probably not. The only way to be assured a ‘remedy’ works is to prove in peer-reviewed clinical evidence. Exchange organic immunity remedies for proven nutraceuticals that have been tested and proven to provide functional and beneficial attributes.
With vitamins and minerals, all we really know is that they alleviate deficiencies of those vitamins and minerals. With nutraceuticals - proven ingredients, like those found in LYMA - we can demonstrate that by using appropriate technology, a particular natural compound is able to enhance resistance to infection.
The shift from supplements to nutraceuticals is a shift from hope to scientific proof, as the latter have already demonstrated their ability to actually strengthen your immunity. With the shift from generic supplements to LYMA, we are stepping out of the dark ages of nutrition and into the age of science.
A good, albeit maybe not welcome, start would be by cutting back on sugar. A challenge over the holiday period! Don’t indulge in the wrong foods at Christmas, as they can cause inflammation, which is a thriving ground for microbes of the flu. Challenge yourself to switch to natural treats like dates and fresh fruit.
Walking onto a plane or a train, you’re going to be around 300 or so of your newest friends, some of whom will be sick. The best way to protect yourself is to take 1-3, 1-6 beta glucans such as LYMA’s Wellmune® Blend. This patented form of beta glucans is a good start to a stronger immunity.
Our Wellmune® blend is a leading natural yeast beta glucan, clinically proven to help strengthen your immune system. This Wellmune® Blend has over $300 million worth or research behind it, including mechanistic, pre-clinical and clinical data. There are many beta glucans on the market, but none come close to our Wellmune blend. It’s the most effective tool you can use to improve the efficacy of your innate immune system, the part that keeps you well most of the time, improves resistance to infection and helps alleviate allergies. The beta glucans instruct the naïve T helper cells, which are part of your adaptogenic immune system, to become TH1 instead of TH2 (a profound anti-allergy mechanism.) There is a real two for one benefit that spins off from this compound.
There are many different 1-3, 1-6 beta glucans, with varying molecular structures; which means that they each have different affinities for key receptors. These include the CR3 receptor, which is so important in enhancing innate immune function. They will therefore have different degrees of clinical effectiveness, ranging from good to inadequate. Unless you take our Wellmune blend's branded beta glucans, you have no way of knowing how effective a particular version of beta glucans is once ingested. You will be likely taking beta glucans that are borrowing the scientific data of our Wellmune® Blend, when in reality you have no way of knowing how effective it may be.
“For 40 years I have been working at the cutting edge of supplement design and technology. A lot of good science has been developed in the labs, clinics and universities but very little of this has made it as far as the consumer market, leaving the supplement industry characterised by low quality, poorly formulated and over-hyped products which offer few if any benefits. LYMA have taken a different approach. By combining best-in-breed clinically proven and patented ingredients, it has produced a world class product. Never before has so much validated science and patented technology been combined into one formula, in a combination that no diet or multi-vitamin could ever deliver. LYMA has changed the industry and will transform the lives of its consumers.” - Dr. Paul Clayton, PhD