Most people want to do a “cleanse” once the coldest months are behind us however, a cleanse can put the body under stress and may result in unwanted cold and flu issues. No one wants to engage in something with the intention of making themselves feel better only to end up with a cold so here are 5 supplements that will not only aid in helping the body with a cleanse, but also help the immune system to stay on top of the game as well.
We all know about Vitamin C and its benefits in immune system support and stimulation. Research has indicated that Vitamin C increases the body’s ability’s to fight infection by stimulating the immune cells that fight off viruses and supports the antimicrobial (antiviral and antibacterial) actions of the immune system. In addition to its immune stimulating benefits, Vitamin C has been shown to be a powerful antioxidant and research suggests that Vitamin C protects the body against the oxidative stress that is created as the body mounts an inflammatory reaction3. Vitamin C should be taken with food and only 1000 mg’s should be taken at a time to ensure for optimal absorption.
Zinc is a mineral that supports a number of different functions in the body including cognition, reproduction and immune system function. Zinc’s role in immune support has been well documented and low levels of zinc are directly linked to impaired immune function, decreased resistance to pathogenic organisms and increased incidence of acute infections including the common cold and pneumonia. Zinc, like vitamin C, has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory functions and zinc supplementation has been shown in adults to significantly decrease the oxidative stress produced from the immune system reaction In addition to it’s role in prevention, zinc has been shown to shorten the time it takes to recover from acute infection and research has indicated that supplementation for 1-2 months restores immune response and reduces the incidence of infection overall.
Glutamine is an amino acid that comes from protein and interestingly, both the liver and the immune system require protein to function properly. Glutamine is used at a high rate by the cells in the immune system and research has indicated that when there is a stimulation of immune cells, this increase in immune cell production also increases the rate that the body uses glutamine. Many of the immune mediators in the body are actually glutamine dependent, meaning that they require adequate levels of glutamine to be present in order for the immune system to function effectively, and if glutamine concentrations in the body are too low, immune cell production decreases substantially. Interestingly, studies have indicated that immune cell production increases significantly as glutamine is supplemented and there is consistent evidence supporting the position that a higher protein intake does not affect kidney functioning in people with healthy kidney systems. Glutamine or its protein precursors should be taken as food products or through supplementation.
Milk Thistle is an herb best known for it’s hepto-protective (liver-protecting) and anti-oxidant properties but research is now indicating that it may have some anti-viral benefits as well. In patients with Hepatitis C, a serious viral infection where the liver is damaged by chronic inflammation, milk thistle has been shown to have significant antiviral properties and goes on to moderate the pro-inflammatory response caused by the immune system response14,15. In this study, it was found that there was no indication of side effects or toxicity for the milk thistle treatment and subjects tolerated the intervention very well.
Curcumin is also well known for its detoxification, anti-inflammatory and immune stimulating capabilities. Curcumin, the orange colored component of Tumeric, has been shown to have anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-oxidant and anti-cancer properties. It has been shown to have the ability to support and regulate cells in the immune system including T-cells, macrophages, neutrophils and natural killer cells and when taken at lower dosages, appears to be able to increase the antibody action of the immune system in the body. Curcumin can be eated through foods or taken in supplements. Those on blood thinning medications should consult their health care provider before taking Curcumin.
Dr. Chantelle Drobot ND practices out of the Integrative Health Centre in Calgary, AB. Her clinical focuses are hormonal issues, digestive disturbances, stress related conditions, immune dysfunctions and cardiovascular disease.
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