Restoring Your Aging Immune System, Part 2 – Invite Health Podcast, Episode 98
Invite Health Podcast, Episode hosted by Jerry Hickey. Ph
In Part 1 of Restoring Your Aging Immune System, we discussed how your immune system becomes weaker with age, making you more susceptible to diseases and infections. If you missed that episode, click here to listen now! In today’s episode, Part 2, we will discuss what you can do to make your immune system stronger, including what supplements I take to help maintain overall health and wellness.
Probiotic Bacteria for the Immune System
Research shows that a healthy person has hundreds of strains of bacteria in their intestines, including strains of yeasts and viruses. A number of things can cause a decline in the number of these strains. These bacteria are intimately involved with controlling the immune system. About 70% of your immune cells come in contact with your digestive tract and there is an interaction between them and gut bacteria. If you don’t have sufficient quantities of healthy bacteria (the Probiotic-types), the harmful bacteria will confuse and active the immune system. This is implicated in many harmful things.
One is leaky gut syndrome. Toxins released by the bad bacteria inflame the lining of the intestines and you develop a leakage, where toxins from the intestines and possibly bacteria and viruses themselves leak into the blood stream and wreak havoc. In fact, leaky gut syndrome has been implicated in conditions such as systemic lupus and even rheumatoid arthritis. So, when you have sufficient, healthy bacteria your immune system is kept under control and they very quickly heal the lining of your stomach and intestines.
Probiotic numbers decline for a number of reasons –
- smoking cigarettes
- taking certain drugs or medications (like antibiotics)
- using a lot of cleaning products
- eating a lot of sugary or salty foods
- elevated blood sugar, like Prediabetes and Diabetes
You can obtain healthy bacteria or Probiotics from fermented foods like yogurt, kefir or a supplement. The strains of bacteria decline as we age, also. The journal Nutrients reviewed four different studies of people in their 60s and 70s. Researchers looked at a particular strain of bacteria called Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis and found, within a few weeks, it strengthened the activity of natural killer cells. In Part 1, we discussed how natural killer cells lose their strength as we age. This particular stain of Probiotic bacteria improved the strength of the natural killer cells in these studies.
In the journal of Dairy Science, researchers studied Lactobacillus plantarum; this is another beneficial strain of Probiotic bacteria. It reduced the incidence of upper respiratory tract infections in adults. It also reduced how long participants had the infection and the intensity of the symptoms. It also reduced pro-inflammatory cytokines and enhanced natural killer cell activity. This is what becomes dangerous in infections like Ebola or COVID-19. Pro-inflammatory cytokines over activate the immune system and make it attach your own organs.
In the journal of the American Geriatric Society a study was published by Mcmaster University of Ontario of 209 nursing home residence, aged 65 and over, from 14 different nursing homes. Taking the strain Lactobacillus rhamnosus reduced the number of infections with a virus by 45% over a six month period. This shows just how important probiotic bacteria can be to enhancing and directing your immune system.
Fiber and Prebiotics for the Immune System
There are also a lot of things in fiber that feed the good bacteria. This is why following a fiber-rich diet is so important. Fiber is a starch that you cannot digest or absorb. It is found in vegetables, whole grains, and seeds and nuts. When you put fiber and good bacteria together in a supplement, it is called a prebiotic with a probiotic. A prebiotic is simply the food for the probiotic bacteria. The probiotics work with the fiber to release a bunch of different things, including acids like lactic acid and propioic acid that benefit the digestive tract. Deeper down the intestines you actually release butyric acid; there is an interaction between good bacteria and good foods and the release of butyric acid. These three acids give energy to our immune cells and to our digestive tract so they can function properly. But the butyric acid also heals the lining of the intestines very rapidly and improves the absorption of minerals, such as calcium and magnesium.
Additional Methods to Enhancing A Good Diet
Cocoa has been shown to be great for brain health, specifically the circulation to your brain, and for heart health. But the active ingredients in cocoa have to be activated by probiotic bacteria otherwise it does not work. Another example is Green tea which has a vast majority of benefit; These benefits cannot be demonstrated unless probiotic bacteria is activated. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage and kale must also be activated in order to reap the benefits of their components.†
Older individuals make less Vitamin D when exposed to the sun. Normally, to make Vitamin D, the cholesterol from the sun is irradiated by ultraviolet radiation coming from the sun and it goes to a precursor of Vitamin D that is stored in your liver called 25-hydroxycalciferol. When released, it lasts about two weeks in your bloodstream which is the type of Vitamin D that your doctor is measuring. It is really a precursor to Vitamin D. Then, it must go to your kidneys to be activated. You require the mineral Magnesium for this. Then it becomes 125-hydroxycalciferol, which is the active version of Vitamin D.†
Your immune cells – your T and B-cells – have receptor sites for Vitamin D. Just like immune cells release Melatonin to be activated, there are receptor sites for Vitamin D to be activated. T-cells activate different parts of the immune system and coordinate the fight against an infection. Plus, at the end of an infection, they tone down the immune response. B-cells make antibodies. If you lack vitamin D, there is less chance that an immune cell will be properly activated.†
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