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Immune System

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Priming Your Immune System for Cold & Flu Season

by Karen Lee Richards*

An estimated 65 million Americans suffer from a dysfunctional immune system. When our immune system is not functioning properly, our body may become an open target for a wide variety of health problems – ranging from relatively minor illnesses like a cold or allergies to a potentially deadly disease like cancer.


The immune system is an intricate network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to defend the body against attacks by “foreign” invaders. Since the human body provides an ideal environment for many different microbes, it is the immune system’s job to keep them out or, if they do get in, to seek out and destroy them.

A healthy immune system has a remarkable ability to distinguish between our body’s own cells (self) and foreign cells (nonself). Normally, our body peacefully coexists with cells that carry distinctive “self” markers, but will quickly attack any carrying “nonself” markers. Cells marked as nonself could be viruses, bacteria, parasites, or even another person’s tissues. (This is why transplanted tissues or organs are often rejected by the body.)

Unfortunately, sometimes the immune system doesn’t work properly, resulting in an immune system disorder. In addition to just having a generally weakened immune system, other types of immune system disorders include:

  • Allergies – when the immune system responds to a false alarm, attacking harmless materials like pollen, dust or mold.
  • Autoimmune Diseases – when the immune system mistakes self markers for nonself, and launches an attack against the body’s own tissues or organs. Some autoimmune diseases include lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes.
  • Immune Deficiency Disorders – Temporary immune deficiencies can develop in the wake of common viral infections, including influenza, infectious mononucleosis, and measles. Immune responses can also become depressed by things like surgery, smoking, or stress. Of course, one of the most serious immnue deficiency disorders is AIDS.

Key Immune System Players

A number of different tissues and organs comprise the immune system. The major players include:

  1. Lymph Glands – Small bean-like nodes that filter the lymphatic fluid and store special cells that can trap cancer cells or bacteria traveling through your body. Many of the body’s immune reactions begin in the lymph glands. When you have an infection, your lymph nodes may get larger and feel tender or sore.
  2.  Thymus – A small organ located just behind the breastbone where T-cells mature. (That’s why they are called T-cells – the “T” stands for “thymus.”)
  3. Spleen – The largest lymphatic organ in the body – about the size of your fist. The spleen is located in the upper-left part of the abdomen and contains white blood cells that fight infection or disease.
  4. Bone Marrow – The yellow tissue in the center of bones that is responsible for making white blood cells which are destined to become lymphocytes.
  5. Lymphocytes – Small white blood cells that play a large role in defending the body against disease. There are two main types of lymphocytes: B-cells and T-cells. B-cells make antibodies that attack bacteria and toxins. T-cells help destroy infected or cancerous cells and attack body cells themselves when they have been taken over by viruses or have become cancerous.

Keeping the Immune System Strong

While it would be nice if our bodies could get the nutrients we need to keep our immune systems functioning properly just by eating a balanced diet, the fact is, today much of our food is grown in soils that have been over-planted and saturated with synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Then, once harvested, many of the nutrients essential to a healthy immune system are processed out of the final food products we eat.

Often we need to supplement our diets with additional nutrients, targeted specifically for the immune system support. Below are seven of the best immune support supplements available:

1. Vitamin D – The Basic Defense Against Colds & Flu

And finally, with shorter days comes a greater need for supplementary vitamin D3 to support natural resistance to colds, flu and other respiratory tract infections.

Because of reduced sunshine in fall and winter months, a study was undertaken to determine if low vitamin D levels correlated with the incidence of acute viral respiratory tract infections. The researchers, representing a consortium of US University schools of medicine, found that individuals with a serum 25(OH)D concentration of less than 38 mg/ml were three times more likely to become ill with an acute respiratory tract infection.(5)

The researchers concluded: “The data in this study suggests that supplementing with vitamin D to raise the concentrations in the general population to above 38 ng/ml could result in a significant health benefit by reducing the burden of illness from viral infections, at a minimum from viral infections of the respiratory tract…”

2. Professional Strength Vida-Defense for Immune Health-A Strong Immune System is Essential to Health and Vitality

  • Supports and Strengthens Immune Health
  • Enhances immune cell function and metabolism
  • Supports a healthy response to Inflammation
  • Helps maintain healthy cell and organ function
  • Reduces oxidative cellular damage

As the body’s first line of defense, immune strength is critical to your health. Our immune system functions as a complex network of cells and organs, specialized to defend the body against attacks by foreign invaders. Proper immune responses seek, find, and destroy offending pathogens, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites, and also protect the body from future infections by forming specific antibodies.

When the immune system is weakened or malfunctions, the body becomes highly susceptible to infection and is slower to respond. Compromised immune cells can incorrectly identify pathogens and antibodies, as well as other body cells, which may lead to more severe problems. A combination of factors – including stress, fatigue, lack of sleep, toxins in food and the environment, age, and genetics – all contribute to weakened immunity over time, resulting in everything from the common cold or flu to serious illness.

Maintenance of a healthy immune response is a pivotal part of overall health and wellness.

Enzymes and Cellular Metabolism

Our bodies rely on intricate chemical reactions to function normally. When these biochemical processes are impaired or if toxins accumulate, the body must turn to abnormal metabolic pathways to survive. As a result, the normal immune response is weakened and eventually becomes irresponsive.

Systemic enzymes help provide the necessary energy for metabolic reactions essential to immune health. Enzymes have been shown to stimulate the body’s natural defenses while breaking down offending pathogenic immune complexes. This helps relieve stress on the body and strengthens the immune system, which can speed the healing process. Enzymes can also reduce free radical damage, inhibit pathogens and potentially provide support for the most challenging of health disorders.

Introducing Vida Defense by AST Enzymes.

Vida-Defense is a blend of powerful systemic enzymes and antioxidant herbs designed to support normal cellular metabolism and optimal immune function. The unique blend found in Vida Defense includes a potent, proprietary blend of Plant and Microbial Proteases, SEBPro® V. This is combined with a powerful blend of antioxidant, antimicrobial and immunostimulatory enzymes and herbs including Lysozyme, Colostrum, Chitosanase, Catalase, Lactoperoxidase, Rutin and Grapeseed Extract for complete, broad-spectrum defense.

Benefits of Vida Defense

Vida-Defense is an innovative and powerful enzyme blend formulated to maintain and support the body’s immune system by reducing free radical damage, inhibiting pathogens and providing nutritional and enzymatic support.

The unique proprietary blend of plant and microbial proteases (SEBPro V) plays the most significant role in Vida-Defense by helping to reduce inflammation, the body’s natural response to injury or infection. Inflammation is a sign of an abnormal metabolic pathway, used by the body as a reactionary mechanism to injury or illness, which results in a deposit of insoluble proteins. Vida-Defense’s anti-inflammatory proteases help break down these proteins, promoting a quicker healing time and reducing the severity of the condition.

Vida-Defense incorporates multiple potent antioxidants, including catalase, grapeseed extract and rutin. These components aid in the reduction of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS), or free radicals, that severely damage cells and lessen their integrity. By incorporating these powerful antioxidants, susceptibility to infection is reduced and cellular processes can remain focused on proper immune functions.

Vida-Defense also includes many antimicrobial enzymes, giving this powerful formula a multifaceted approach to building immunity. Lysozyme, lactoperoxidase and chitosanase work on invading pathogens by breaking down their cellular wall components, making them more vulnerable to immune responses.

With the addition of colostrum, which contains antibodies and additional enzymes, the proprietary blend found in Vida-Defense provides an all-encompassing formula for supporting normal cellular metabolism and optimal immune function.

Enzyme Activity in Vida-Defense Proprietary Blend

Proteases (SEBPro V blend)
break down proteins and possess significant anti-inflammatory properties; they act systemically, affecting multiple cellular and molecular targets.

is a naturally occurring protein found in many organisms including plants and animals. Biologically, Lysozyme attacks the cell wall of certain pathogenic bacteria.

is a natural immune enhancer and powerful antioxidant.

is a natural antibacterial enzyme that works with the body to increase immune response. It has also been shown to promote tissue repair and anti-inflammatory activity.

is a powerful enzyme that breaks down chitin – a component in fungal cell walls.

Grapeseed Extract
is scientifically proven to be abundant in bioflavonoids, which are known for their tremendous antioxidant properties.

is a bioflavonoid that strengthens and tones arteries and veins and provides antioxidant support against free-radicals and inflammation.

is a nutrient-rich, bioactive and immune supporting factor found in breast milk. It is loaded with several anti-inflammatory, immune, growth, and tissue repair factors, including colostral lymphocytes.

3.Olive Leaf Extract – Nectar from the Tree of Life

The olive tree, often called “The Tree of Life,” has been used for thousands of years as a natural antibiotic. According to some 1855 medical reports, tea brewed with olive leaves was also effective in treating malaria. Then after a major pharmaceutical company isolated its active components in 1969, the resulting upsurge in research led to the discovery of many additional health benefits.

The most important element in olive leaf extract is a compound called oleuropein – a polyphenolic fraction derived from the fruit, leaves, bark and roots of the olive tree. It is oleuropein that helps make the olive tree itself so strongly resistant to damage from insects and other factors. Within Oleuropein is a chemical agent called elenolic acid, which has been shown to assist the body’s immune defense by helping it to balance levels of friendly bacteria.

The energy-boosting benefits of olive leaf extract are believed to be the result of its ability to help fend off fungi, which overtax the immune system, and yeast overgrowth (such as Candida albicans), which cause fatigue. It also provides nutritional support for detoxification at the cellular level when the body is under stress and has been shown to protect RNA structure.

* Karen Lee Richards is the Lead Expert specializing in Fibromyalgia and ME/CFS, for HealthCentral’s Chronic Pain Connection ( Karen is co-founder of the National Fibromyalgia Association (NFA) and was Executive Editor of Fibromyalgia AWARE magazine for four years.