The concept of “immune defense” is a misunderstood but often talked about topic. It is common to believe that we get a cold and flu symptoms when our immune system is weak, which allows us to be overwhelmed by viral invaders. Accordingly, we believe that the invading viruses give us the cold/flu symptoms. As a result, we are naturally led to look for substances that can make our immune systems stronger. This approach, however, is mostly incorrect.
The immune system has both pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory functions, and each is needed to be healthy. Too much or too little of one or the other is not healthy. When your immune system is working right, it helps defend against disease and responds to bacteria, viruses, and other foreign invaders. When it’s not working right, the exact opposite can happen.
General cold and flu symptoms include malaise, loss of appetite, physical and mental fatigue, and aches and pains. The scientific term for these symptoms is the acute phase response. Consider a time when you were psychologically stressed by an event or series of events and you developed cold/flu symptoms—the acute phase response. What appears to happen is that psychologically stressful situations themselves activate the immune system in a similar fashion as viruses. This causes an acute phase response that we misinterpret as “catching a cold virus.”
Some of the nutritional supplements that reduce inflammation and thus help to reduce the chemistry associated with an acute phase response are: vitamin C, a number of the spices including ginger, garlic, etc., magnesium, probiotics, and vitamin D and fish oil. When considering the immune system and nutrition, the focus should be on avoiding the foods that promote inflammation and focusing on the foods that reduce inflammation. Also using the best supplements to support a healthy immune response.