What is Immunity?
Immunity is like a collective term for the vast and organized defense system against diseases within the body. The human body can be compared to a country, and the immune defense system functions similarly to a nation’s national security system. It establishes various units to eliminate or isolate any substances harmful to the country, making it an extremely complex and dynamic system.
In a healthy human body, the immune system detects bacteria, viruses, parasites, and various pathogens and harmful substances, eliminating or isolating those harmful to human health. Additionally, the immune system deals with aging, damage, death, and mutations of self-cells, eliminating cells that deviate from the normal state to maintain the body’s safety.
What Happens When Immunity Deviates or Loses Balance?
When immunity is too low, it can lead to symptoms such as frequent colds, fever, and diarrhea; or when immunity is too high, it can result in an excessive sensitivity reaction to harmless substances in daily life, known as an allergic reaction. Both situations can cause discomfort to the body.
How to Help Regulate Immunity?
Maintain a Regular Lifestyle
Quit Smoking and Limit Alcohol Intake
Here are 4 evidence-based and suitable supplements for immune support:
Vitamin Series Products
Recommended for supplementation include comprehensive vitamins to provide the necessary nutrients for various basic immune cells. The known vitamins and minerals and their respective functions in supporting immunity are listed below.
Function Vitamin A Maintains the mucous membranes, preventing the invasion of bacteria and viruses into the body Vitamin B Complex Produces antibodies, assisting in the rapid division of immune cells Vitamin C Stimulates the production of interferons to destroy viruses and accelerates the activity of T cells by secreting thyroid hormones for body defense Vitamin D Strengthens the innate immune system and mitigates inflammatory responses Vitamin E Assists in antibody production and T-cell activity to eliminate viruses, bacteria, and cancer cells Copper Related to the maturation of red blood cells, lymphocytes, and neutrophils. Insufficient copper results in a reduced production of T cells and a decrease in the ability of neutrophils to kill bacteria Magnesium Affects the development, function, and distribution of immune cells Zinc Regulates the replication of genes’ proteins, allowing cells to replicate normally Selenium Enhances the ability of immune B cells and antibodies Iron Involved in the production of hemoglobin, red blood cells, oxygen transport, and heat generation
Probiotic Series Products
The human gut is now widely recognized as one of the important immune organs in the body. When the gut is healthy, it can block various bacteria and toxins from entering the body, and it contains various immune-related cells to protect the safety of the gut.
When the gut is unhealthy, the permeability of some mucosal cells in the gut will increase. Harmful bacteria, toxins, or toxic substances can easily penetrate these mucous membranes and circulate in the blood, causing an imbalance in the immune system (see the figure below).
💡Continuous and stable intake of sufficient probiotics can help maintain a healthy gut, thereby assisting in balancing the immune system.
Medicinal Mushrooms, Reishi
Medicinal mushrooms are widely used in the treatment of various diseases due to their various pharmacological activities, including antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, and anti-tumor effects. Among them, the most well-known is reishi, which is classified as a non-toxic and side effect-free superior medicine in ancient Chinese medicine. Recent scientific research and clinical evidence have confirmed that reishi has beneficial effects on human health, including enhancing the immune function and anti-cancer effects, especially through its polysaccharides.
💡Reishi not only has the effect of promoting immunity but also includes immune suppression to reduce allergic reactions caused by excessive immune response. Therefore, long-term intake of reishi-related products can achieve an “immune regulation” effect.
Further reading: 3 Functions and Side Effects of Wellmune WGP Yeast Beta-Glucan
Elderberry is less known in Taiwan but has been used in Europe for a long time and is known as the “universal medicine cabinet.” It is widely used in folk medicine and is believed to boost immunity, help prevent or alleviate symptoms of colds, and is considered the best herb to fight against influenza viruses.
Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is an infectious disease caused by influenza viruses. On average, about one in ten adults and one in three children are infected each year. Unlike other health supplements, elderberry not only enhances the body’s own immune system to combat foreign substances but also combines with the outer membrane of influenza viruses to prevent their entry into human cells for replication and proliferation. Thus, it blocks the reproduction and spread of the virus at
the very beginning.
Most cold medications mainly treat symptoms, and unlike elderberry, they do not reduce the increase of influenza viruses. Although some drugs also inhibit the increase of viruses, such as Tamiflu, Relenza, and Peramivir, they must be taken within 24 to 48 hours.
💡The incubation period of the influenza virus is about 1 to 4 days, with an average of 2 days. Therefore, the optimal treatment time is often missed. At this time, the health supplement elderberry can be continuously taken during the high-risk period to achieve a more effective prevention of influenza infection.
Understanding the Differences Between the Flu and the Common Cold
|Flu (Influenza)||Common Cold|
|Pathogen||Influenza Virus||Various other viruses (Rhinovirus, Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Adenovirus, etc.)|
|Scope of Impact||Systemic (affecting the entire body)||Mainly localized respiratory symptoms|
|Clinical Symptoms||Sore throat, fatigue, muscle aches||Sore throat, sneezing, nasal congestion, runny nose|
|Fever||High fever for 3-4 days||Low-grade fever, only a slight increase in body temperature|
|Duration||Approximately 1-2 weeks||Approximately 2-5 days|
|Complications||Pneumonia, myocarditis, encephalitis, and other severe secondary infections or neurological diseases, etc.||Rare (may include otitis media or pneumonia)|
|Contagiousness||Highly contagious||Variable contagiousness|