How has the cooler weather been for you this year? The weather changed suddenly from quite hot days and nights to chilly mornings.
Unfortunately, this change in weather also means that winter illnesses are starting to emerge, such as influenza, rhinovirus, and pneumonia. It’s only the beginning of May, and already had clients come to me with these illnesses. I attribute the quick change in weather and season has contributed to this.
Today, I want to share tips on supporting your body against winter illnesses to avoid getting sick and minimize the length of illness periods.
In the past few years, especially last year, I’ve had many people come to me, including children, with recurring illnesses. Some got sick six or seven times last year with various bacterial or viral infections.
But it doesn’t have to be like this.
We don’t have to suffer through winter illnesses.
That’s why I wanted to talk today about the immune system. In the image below, there’s a little picture of blood to help explain it. The immune system involves white blood cells in the body.
The immune system includes the white blood cells in the blood. They have a role to defend us against infective microbes.
The White Blood Cells In Action…
The white blood cells include neutrophils, eosinophils, natural killer cells, lymphocytes, and many others that move through the blood. Their job is to be our defense force and actively look for infective agents like bacteria and viruses.
Think of white blood cells as soldiers who must proactively search for harmful agents. When they find these agents, they engulf and eliminate them. To do this, they need to be active and moving. In the above image, the big moon-like structure above my head is a neutrophil, and the other circles are red blood cells.
Blood tests from pathology labs calculate the number of white blood cells in a specimen, but it’s important to check if the white blood cells are performing their role and are active. So, as a microbiologist, I view the blood sample on a slide under my microscope and determine if the white blood cells, like neutrophils, are active. It is one of my favourite aspects of my job.
When white blood cells, like neutrophils, are active, they can move independently of the blood flow to detect and eliminate infective microbes. They engulf and digest the microorganisms and display parts of them for other white blood cells to respond faster.
As we head into winter, we must keep our immune system active and healthy to fight off any infective microbes.
Supporting the Immune System….
Some nutrients are highly beneficial in supporting the health of white blood cells, including Vitamin C, Zinc, Vitamin D, Selenium, and Glutamine, which fuel the immune cells.
In deficiency of these nutrients, the white blood cells struggle to be mobile enough to fight off infection.
As a naturopath, part of my role is to work with clients to identify imbalances and deficiencies.
One of the tools I use to support clients is medicinal herbs.
Numerous herbs have a reputation in supporting the immune system and having an anti-microbial action. Some of these herbs include medicinal mushrooms like Reishi, Shiitake, Maitake, and Cordyceps. Other herbs include Echinacea, Astragalus, Perilla, and Andrographis.
However, getting qualified advice when using herbs and nutrients to support the immune system is advisable.
Self-prescribing supplements have become a significant issue during the pandemic, with people taking herbs and nutrients for extended periods without assessing their individual needs. High doses or long-term usage can impact the body. For instance, Selenium and Zinc can build up levels in the body and have side effects. Andrographis taken over extended periods of time without a break has contributed to a loss of taste.
Therefore, it’s crucial to seek guidance and support to determine what supplements or herbs you require.
I encourage taking a proactive role in your health and supporting your immune system.
Feel free to contact me for guidance and professional support. Using my qualifications as s a Naturopath, Biochemist and Microbiologist, I am here to help you in the right direction.
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This is how gut microbes can influence weight!
Probiotics can help you gain weight or lose weight by interacting with our genetics, food and metabolism.
And yes, I did say lose or gain weight……..
Firstly, let me explain that the trillions of microbes in the gut need to be varied, meaning that there should be a large variety of species. There are many different species (or breeds) of microbes, and they all have their place in aiding health — the more variety and balance, the better health results.
Back to the weight loss or weight gain issue….
Do you eat yogurt and berries for breakfast? Thinking that it’s helping you lose weight?
Well, Lactobacillus acidophilus (like the species found in yoghurt) has been connected to weight gain.
I am not saying throw your yoghurt and berries in the bin. Instead, I am suggesting looking at the overall picture. If Lactobacillus acidophilus is the predominant micro-organism of the gut, then weight gain can result.
It is about the variety of species of gut microbes. Imagine if we only have trained german shepherd guard dogs in the world. It may be a safe world, but I am sure that other breeds may be more suitable as a family pet.
While Lactobacillus acidophilus is associated with weight gain, other Lactobacillus species correlate with weight loss.
Species like Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus gasseri, and Bifidobacteria animalis have been found to support weight loss.
Want to lose weight?
Look at your gut flora to support your goal.
Tests can be performed to identify the predominant species of the gut, and specific species can be utilised to support weight changes.
Want more information about your gut health?
Or want to look at all the factors contributing to weight gain, I’d love to be able to help.