Protect Yourself and Your Family This Cold Season - Tips and Products
Immunity and the Fantastic 4
Brad King, MFS, MS
Immunity is your first-line of defense that helps prevent disease-causing pathogens from causing harm to your body. It is a multi-faceted system and as long as it is given what it needs to function optimally, you should be fully protected.
Your skin is your first defender, as it keeps pathogens from entering the body on contact, followed by mucus, which helps trap the pathogens, stomach acid helps to destroy them, and our sweat creates anti-bacterial components. If all of these areas fail and a threat makes its way into our system still intact, specialized immune cells will be on full alert to directly attack all invaders. Spleen, bone marrow, thymus, and lymph nodes instantly jump into action against disease-causing foreign substances by secreting antibodies[i].
There are also many reasons your immune cells may actually cause harm to your body by overreacting, damaging and even destroying healthy cells. Allergens, inflammation, autoimmune, and immunodeficiency disorders are a few examples. Many other factors can also lower your immunity; like older age, environmental toxins (smoke, dust, pollens, and excessive alcohol), excess weight[ii],[iii], poor diet (lack of essential nutrients), chronic diseases, chronic mental stress, and lack of sleep and insufficient rest.
Making sure to consume all the necessary immune-balancing nutrients in sufficient quantity is required for the healthy and proper functionality of all body cells, including immune system cells. These nutrients include humic-fulvic acid complexes, South African geranium, vitamin C and D, selenium, zinc, humic-fulvic acid complexes, grape seed procyanidins, protein, and plant sterols/phytosterols[iv],[v]. A diet that contains prebiotics (humic-fulvic acid complexes, garlic, leek, onion, asparagus, bananas, etc.) and probiotics (yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, tempeh, etc.) are also beneficial for optimal immunity.
As you can see, there are many natural substances that can ensure immunity is humming along perfectly, however here are what I call the Fantastic 4:
- Humic-Fulvic Acid Complexes
- South African Geranium
Selenium is an antioxidant mineral that is found in; nuts and walnuts, fish, beef, poultry, and whole grains – especially organic. It is required in minimal quantities but plays a vital role in metabolism due to its antioxidant nature. Selenium is also part of the most powerful antioxidant enzyme, glutathione peroxidase. According to many research studies, selenium is vitally important for immunity and is helpful in the treatment of many diseases ranging from arthritis to asthma to infertility to dandruff[vi].
Zinc is one of the most powerful immune supportive minerals – especially as it pertains to anti-viral agents. Zinc is found in red meat, oysters, poultry, whole grains, beans, and nuts. It helps the body heal wounds, strengthen the immune system, and support the repair of the body. It is used to treat common colds, respiratory infections, herpes, rheumatoid arthritis, high cholesterol, HIV, ulcer, sickle cell anemia, ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), acne, and much more. It’s also used for skin irritation and diaper rash[vii].
Humic-Fulvic Acid Complexes are the end remains of recycled organic matter. When plant matter eventually dies and begins the process of decomposition, humic-fulvic acids are naturally produced. These organic acids transform inorganic rocks (minerals) into organically-bound trace minerals. These minerals are perfectly complexed to the plant cells (they come from), making them the best kind of minerals to consume[viii]. Research supports what’s been understood in natural medicine for 3,000+ years[ix]: humic-fulvic acid complexes can improve immune function and reduce the occurrence of inflammatory diseases (like cardiovascular disease and diabetes)[x]. These organic acids aid immunity by both reducing inflammation when it’s harmful and increasing inflammation when necessary to speed up healing[xi] (also referred to as immune modulation).
South African Geranium is a plant grown year-round (provided there is enough sunlight) throughout Southern Africa. Myriad research indicates this plant—especially its roots—possesses incredible healing power and immune support. In fact, South African geranium is one of the most powerful natural anti-viral plants ever discovered, and has been shown to protect us from viral infections. The powerful roots of South African geranium attack viruses and other pathogens by: 1) reducing the capacity for viruses (and other pathogens) to pass barriers in the body, 2) reducing the capacity for viruses (and other pathogens) to bind to healthy cells, 3) reducing the capacity for viruses (and other pathogens) to replicate, and 4) reducing the capacity for viruses (and other pathogens) to infect new healthy cells[xii].
When it comes to protecting my own personal immunity, I rely on products that contain one or more of these amazing nutrients. My own go-to immune system formulas are as follows:
- LeafSource® (Humic-Fulvic Acid Complex) – 1 capsule twice a day on an empty stomach
- South African Geranium (found in LeafSource® Cold Formula)
- Immunocare® – 1 capsule twice a day on an empty stomach
- Vitamin C in mixed ascorbate form – 1,000mg twice a day with food
When it comes to supporting overall immunity, always remember that without a healthy mindset and diet as your foundations, no amount of supplementation will help you. If you are already experiencing symptoms of low or compromised immunity (low energy, weakness, sore throat, congestion, etc.) you may wish to try my go-to supplement suggestions (outlined here), and don’t forget to incorporate lots of healthy liquids. No one loves soup when you’re feeling down more than I, so I wanted to share one of my favorite immune-boosting soup recipes (https://www.savoringitaly.com/immune-boosting-turmeric-chicken-soup/) – ENJOY!
[i] “Nutrition and Immunity.” The Nutrition Source, 27 Jan. 2021, https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/nutrition-and-immunity/.
[ii] Childs, C.E., Calder, P.C., Miles, E.A. (2019). Diet and Immune Function. Nutrients. 16;11(8).
[iii] Green, W.D., Beck, M.A. (2017). Obesity impairs the adaptive immune response to influenza virus. Annals of the American Thoracic Society. 14(Supplement 5):S406-9.
[iv] Guillin, O.M., Vindry, C., Ohlmann, T., Chavatte, L. (2019). Selenium, selenoproteins and viral infection. Nutrients. 11(9):2101.
[v] Wessels, I., Maywald, M., Rink, L. (2017). Zinc as a gatekeeper of immune function. Nutrients. 9(12):1286.
[vi] Griffin, R. Morgan (2021). “Selenium: Benefits, Uses, Side Effects, Dosage, and More.” WebMD, WebMD, https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/supplement-guide-selenium.
[vii] Griffin, R. Morgan (2020). “Zinc for Colds, Rashes, and the Immune System.” WebMD, WebMD, https://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/supplement-guide-zinc.
[viii] Mackowiak CL, Grossl PR, Bugbee BG. Beneficial effects of humic acid on micronutrient availability to wheat. Soil Sci Soc Am J. 2001 Nov-Dec;65(6):1744-50. doi: 10.2136/sssaj2001.1744. PMID: 11885604.
[ix] Wilson E., Rajamanickam G. V., Dubey G. P., et al. Review on shilajit used in traditional Indian medicine. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2011;136(1):1–9. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2011.04.033.
[x] Winkler J, Ghosh S. Therapeutic Potential of Fulvic Acid in Chronic Inflammatory Diseases and Diabetes. J Diabetes Res. 2018 Sep 10;2018:5391014. doi: 10.1155/2018/5391014. PMID: 30276216; PMCID: PMC6151376.
[xi] Winkler J, Ghosh S. Therapeutic Potential of Fulvic Acid in Chronic Inflammatory Diseases and Diabetes. J Diabetes Res. 2018 Sep 10;2018:5391014. doi: 10.1155/2018/5391014. PMID: 30276216; PMCID: PMC6151376.
[xii] Roth M., Fang L., Stolz D., Tamm M., Pelargonium sidoides radix extract EPs 7630 reduces rhinovirus infection through modulation of viral binding proteins on human bronchial epithelial cells. Plos One, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0210702