GOODWILL PHARMA

How to prepare your immune system the summer holidays

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Do you ever start your holidays to find once you slow down, you get ill? That’s probably down to a weakened and run-down immune system.

What is it the immune system? An amazing natural system that preserves our health.

Every year, there comes a time when we can finally take advantage of the well-deserved holiday after working so hard all year. Of course, everyone uses this time differently, some spend it travelling, some renovating the home and some just relaxing.

Whether your choice is a wonderful beach holiday where you can taste new flavours, discover new cultures, and take a siesta on a sunny beach, or lots of travelling seeing beautiful places you’ve never seen before, or even just relaxing at home with the family, however you prefer to spend this time, your immune system never rests. It works so hard for us without limits and doesn’t have the opportunity to take a holiday.

You may ask, “Why should I prepare my immune system for summer?”

Most people usually start thinking about boosting their immune system before the winter cold and flu season, but let’s not forget that this wonderful immune system of ours does not discriminate between seasons, it works actively all year round to protect our bodies against infections and unwanted invaders which can be viruses, bacteria and parasites that can strike at any time.

In fact, our immune system is our body’s natural defence system, a self-employed, super bodyguard that is made up of a complex network of cells, organs, and tissues.

When it’s functioning normally, it can protect us from various health problems, from cancer to common colds. During its defence process, it creates a barrier which prevents a multitude of invaders from entering the body. When something slips through this barrier, our immune system produces white blood cells and proteins to destroy it. These white blood cells locate the unwanted intruder and destroy it before it proliferates. If this fails, our immune system goes into overdrive to destroy it, even in the midst of the growth phase. Our immune system can detect millions of different invaders and can produce what it needs to destroy almost all of them.

However, when our immune system mistakenly identifies something harmless as harmful, it revs up to fight these invaders and an allergic reaction can occur (think pollen or pets). For some people, this reaction can lead to autoimmune disorders or allergies.

As our body cannot fight off all invaders on its own, our immune system can sometimes break down and we need to consider our lifestyle to avoid this. Insufficient vitamin intake, lack of exercise and sleep and chronic stress are major contributors to a weakened immune system. When our immune system is overwhelmed, viruses, toxins and bacteria can flood our bodies. As a result, we become ill. We can help our immune system to work better by eating a variety of different foods and supplements.

 

When we reach age 7 or 8, our immune system is fully developed, after which it is then shaped by external influences, such as lifestyle.

Ostriches have evolved with the strongest immune systems in the world. Amazingly, they can live to be 65 years old in harsh environments while resisting all kinds of infections and viruses, something which most animals can’t do. This is due to the high quality of antibodies naturally produced in ostriches. Researchers are finding ways to use these antibodies to strengthen the human immune system.

There are many food and nutritional supplements available to strengthen our immune system, but the most important are a daily intake of Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Zinc.

VITAMIN C 500 Drink Albert Szent-Györgyi

Vitamin C

Most people are familiar with Vitamin C (also known as ascorbic acid,) and its many positive health effects on our body. Our body can’t produce it, so we have to get it from a range of external sources. Vitamin C is one of the most important nutrients for our body, to reduce the chance of a heart attack and to protect our blood vessels and heart.

Did you know that Vitamin C was discovered by the Hungarian Biochemist, Albert Szent-Györgyi, who was awarded with Nobel Prize in 1937! He extracted ascorbic acid from peppers.

In the age of great geographical discoveries, vitamin C and its positive effects were not yet known. The disease called the ‘sea plague’, known today as scurvy, was responsible for wiping out entire ships’ crew. Vasco da Gama lost almost half of its crew on its journey to India in 1499,  Magellan lost more of half of its crew due to this deficiency disease.

Vitamin C deficiency was caused due to the monotonous diet of ships’ crew on long voyages, only able to eat long-life foods and no access to fresh fruit and vegetables. Symptoms included fatigue, irritability, haemophilia, slow wound healing, haemorrhages under the skin and nails, sensitive joints and bones, tooth loss and bleeding gums. In an attempt to improve the awful situation, alternative remedies were found to prevent scurvy such as pickled cabbage and various citrus fruits, such as limes and lemons. Although the exact reason for the improvement was not known at the time, we now know that these foods are all high in vitamin C.

“I have studied living systems for more than sixty years, and it has convinced me that the body is far more perfect than the endless list of diseases suggest. The body’s disabilities stem far less from our innate defects, than from our abuses of our bodies.” – Albert Szent-Györgyi

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Vitamin D

Did you know, vitamin D is actually a hormone and not a vitamin. It helps aid the absorption of calcium from the intestines and into the bloodstream, as well as playing an important role in regulating the levels of calcium and phosphorus in our body. Vitamin D is produced in your body when your skin is exposed to sunlight from the ultraviolet (UVB) rays that provide energy for the cholesterol in your skin cells to synthesise Vitamin D.

A lack of vitamin D can lead to bone disease, an increased risk of developing diabetes, heart disease or even cancer. This deficiency is not down to a simple vitamin deficiency, but a major obstacle to our health and the healthy development of the body. In childhood, this deficiency is linked to inadequate bone growth and in adulthood it is also linked to insufficient bone density. This deficiency is known as rickets (rachitis). The name originates from England in the 19th century, when during the industrialisation years, vitamin D deficiency caused skeletal abnormalities, stunted growth and development, gum degradation and tooth decay in children, mainly from urban poverty due to air pollution, poor nutrition and lack of sunlight. It is therefore worth supplementing vitamin D and the UK Department of Health now recommends an increased amount to 10mg a day.

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Zinc

Zinc is found in the cells of the body and is needed for the production of proteins and DNA.  Zinc is also very important for the body during childhood and pregnancy for essential growth and development, as well as for the development of our smell and taste functions.  Our immune system and cell division processes cannot function properly without it. It also aids skin rejuvenation and wound healing – when we cut ourselves, zinc acts as an enzyme activator to help wounds heal faster.

In addition to this, it plays a key role in regulating genetic activity and maintaining the balance of blood sugar and carbohydrate metabolism. It also plays an important role in the treatment or prevention of health problems such as Alzheimer’s disease, influenza, infertility in men, psoriasis, age-related cataracts, epilepsy, acne, diabetes, and IBS.

Adequate zinc intake varies with age and gender, so it is important to maintain a consistent daily intake of zinc, as the body cannot store it.

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In summary, adequate vitamin intake can help our body overcome external and adverse effects that can attack our immune system at any time. Enjoy your well-deserved summer holiday time by protecting your immune system.