Do you catch every cold that comes around? Do you have frequent cold sores or swollen lymph nodes? Are you currently fighting cancer? If you answered yes to any of these questions, your immune system could probably use a boost!
The immune system is a complicated, intricate disease-fighting system that functions in many ways like an army. The enemies - viruses, bacteria and fungi - are constantly being identified by your body's immune patrols, which are antibodies and special blood cells. Once identified, complex messages are sent throughout your body to mount an attack on the enemy. After the battle is over, your body returns to surveillance mode once again.
Cancer is a special type of intruder, almost a traitor of sorts. It begins as a normal cell in your body and is transformed into a cancer cell that grows uncontrolled. Ideally, your immune system identifies the cancer cell as a "traitor" and eliminates it before it can do any damage.
To strengthen the immune system, you must take care of your body as a whole. That means getting back to basics! First, get rid of unnecessary stress in your life. Many studies have shown stress impairs your immune system. Second, avoid excess sugar, alcohol and tobacco - all depress your immunity. Third, eat a well balanced diet, and avoid refined, nutrient-poor "fast foods."
What about supplements? The old "immune" favorites, Vitamins A, C, E, zinc, selenium, echinacea and astragalus all have impressive studies supporting their benefit to the immune system. The next generation of immune-stimulating supplements is beta-glucan. Beta-glucans are specially branched carbohydrate molecules that stimulate unique immune cells such as macrophages, granulocytes, monocytes and natural killer cells. The most potent forms are extracted from yeast and mushrooms (fungi). Keep your eyes open for the results from new clinical studies that are currently in progress.