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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).

26 Apr: Immune boosters – Zinc

Zinc is a mineral and a busy one, too: about a 100 enzymes in the body need zinc to function properly, it’s needed in DNA and protein synthesis, and – you guessed it – in immunity. (1) In the immune system, zinc’s role is to develop and activate various white blood cells, the warriors of our immune system that rush onto the scene of infection and fight the perpetrators. Both T and B-lymphocytes need zinc for this – the role of these cells is to produce antibodies that help destroy foreign invaders. Antibodies can directly kill the pathogen, or flag it for other types of white blood cells to come take care of it. (2, 9) Additionally, zinc deficiency has been seen to reduce natural killer cell activity (a type of lymphocyte that scans cells in our body and kills the ones that are not “self”), inhibit antibody responses and…

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…

14 Apr: Immunity Boosters – Vitamin C

Not surprisingly, I’ve recently seen a lot of writing about boosting your immunity to avoid getting sick from the Coronavirus (and really from any bug for that matter). There are quite a few things that are said to improve one’s immunity, including many nutrients and lifestyle choices. Vitamin C – a water soluble vitamin and a potent antioxidant is one of those nutrients. But, will taking a vitamin C supplement prevent me from getting sick? Vitamin C does play a great role in the functioning of the immune system, supporting various cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune systems. It enhances epithelial barrier functions (think skin, the lining of your mouth, lungs, etc.), and is needed in the functioning of various white blood cells. Deficiency in this vitamin predisposes us to getting sick, and being sick causes us to use more vitamin C than usual. One article summarizing…