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17 May: Immune boosters – healthy microbiome

It seems that the human microbiome has become a hot topic in recent years. Lots of research has come out that shows us how important the bacteria (and other microbes) that live on our skin, gastrointestinal tract, lining of the respiratory system etc, are for our health. The Human Microbiome Project found 3,500-35,000 species inhabiting our body and there are actually more microbes in the body than there are body cells (9). Both good and bad microbes exist in our bodies, but in a healthy person there exists an appropriate balance between the two (1-3). However it is not exactly known what constitutes as a healthy microbiome, and what’s more, every person has their own unique composition of different microorganisms (9).

07 May: Immune boosters – Echinacea

The first time I became aware of Echinacea, was at a grocery store tea isle. The packaging of Echinacea tea promised improved immunity for the person drinking the tea. I never thought to check the validity of this claim until now with the novel coronavirus pandemic, and I found some interesting information. Echinacea is an extract derived from a perennial flowering plant Echinacea purpurea. It is unclear what the active ingredients of Echinacea are exactly, but it contains many substances with potential medicinal effects. (3) I found a relatively recent article discussing the effects of Echinacea on immunity, and more specifically on the components of physical barrier function (think skin, lining of the lungs), innate immunity (mechanisms that are in place against all invaders) and adaptive immunity (mechanisms that attack specific pathogens). The authors compiled multiple studies, and found mostly promising results. One study saw that Echinacea could help promote the…

20 Apr: Immune Boosters – Vitamin D

Vitamin D is another nutrient that the body needs for proper immune system function. Just like vitamin C, vitamin D plays a role in both the body’s innate and adaptive immune responses, but it’s also needed for bone health (which I won’t talk about in this post). Basics A few things to know about vitamin D in general before I dive into its effects on immunity. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, and it is unique in that your body can make it. This is nice because natural food sources of Vitamin D are not that easy to find. Ultraviolet light triggers the production of vitamin D from a molecule derived from cholesterol, which then has to be converted by your liver to 25 hydroxy vitamin D, the storage form of this vitamin, and then activated by your kidneys to the active form. Similarly, Vitamin D from food has to…