Immune Support 2.0
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Is the need to support our immune function here to stay as the world becomes more interconnected? Many experts think so. Dr. Robert Sheeler addresses a spectrum of things you can do to help support a healthy immune response in his new protocol – now available in the Wellevate protocol library: Immune Support 2.0
What are the simple things that give powerful support to our immune function? They come in several categories. The two biggest are lifestyle factors and nutrients.
In regard to lifestyle the three biggest are:
- Adequate hydration
- Stress management
Let’s look at these one at a time.
Sleep is critical for immune function. Most people need at least seven hours of sleep a night in order to have proper and complete immune function. Sleep is the time that the body gets rid of waste products and the circadian rhythms of the body’s hormones and cellular functions are optimized. Skimping on sleep is a way to cripple your immune system.
Adequate hydration addresses a lot of significant bodily functions. Not only is good hydration needed for proper kidney function and elimination of wastes it’s also critical for the function of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is a channel for the transportation and delivery of key immune system cells to tissues throughout the body.
Stress management is also a big factor. Intense stress over a period of time tends to disrupt the microbiome. Since 70% or more of the immune system is located in the gut a healthy microbiome is key to signaling that helps the body to identify friend or foe and keeps the immune system in balance.
Overly stressful situations also lead to a system that is dominated by the adrenergic component of the autonomic nervous system which leads to exhaustion and depletion of immune resources overtime.
The immune system is dependent upon a wide variety of nutrients for optimal and effective function. Key vitamins and minerals serve as central elements of critical molecules and as cofactors for numerous enzymes that are involved in cellular and immune system functions.
Key components of protocols that support immune function through all phases of the body’s response begin with elements that help NK Killer cells be more effective.
Vitamins A, C, and D along with Zinc are key in all phases of response. Vitamin D is one of the most critical elements. Vitamin A is of great import in supporting intact barrier functions both in the upper and lower respiratory tract as well as in the GI tract. Vitamin C is crucial in both its prooxidant and antioxidant functions. Zinc is key to helping preserve a balanced immune response.
Astragalus serves several different functions. It supports NK killer cells and the migration of macrophage type white blood cells. Further it modulates heparan ace activity which regulates and facilitates cytokine release.
Quercetin has significant activity in the lung and upper respiratory tract. Additionally, quercetin is one of the compounds that functions best as a zinc ionophore ushering zinc molecules inside of cells where they can be more effective in their roles.
Elderberry as an antioxidant helps support barrier function and protect at the cellular level.
The compound EGCG which is one of the main active derivatives of green tea extract has a number of positive functions to help the immune system. It up regulates the NRF 2 antioxidant pathway. It increases the number of T regulatory cells and supports immune cell production.
Other key compounds include melatonin which has strong antioxidant effects especially at higher doses. It serves as a buffer and immune modulator. Melatonin also supports sleep which is vital to immune function.
NAC or N-acetyl cysteine is another compound that is helpful in protecting cells against oxidative stress. It does this by upregulating glutathione production. Glutathione being the body’s main intracellular antioxidant is helpful for the stability and integrity of all cellular functions.
A newer nutrient that we are including in our protocols is rhamnan sulfate. Rhamnan sulfate is currently marketed in combination with olive and other polyphenols to help the protective inner layer of blood vessels called the glycocalyx.
Beyond the initial immune response, a balanced and regulated performance can lead to better outcomes. We are also learning the value of novel compounds such as rhamnan sulfate for their support properties on both large and small blood vessels.
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Dr. Robert Sheeler is a Family Medicine Physician practicing Integrative and Functional Medicine in Scottsdale, AZ. He received Chemistry and Biology degrees with honors from Grinnell College in Iowa and attended the University of California at San Diego for Medical School. He practiced at Mayo Clinic for over 20 years during which time he was Clinical Practice Chair for the Department of Family Medicine, Chair of the NeuroPsychiatric Medicine Group and Medical Editor of the Mayo Clinic Health Letter in addition to being Clerkship Chair in Family Medicine and Associate Professor teaching Pharmacology at Mayo Medical School. Certified as a Headache Subspecialist by the United Council of Neurologic Subspecialties and certified in Functional Medicine by the Institute for Functional Medicine, he has also been Board Certified in Integrative Medicine.
His current focus of practice is developing personalized precision plans using advanced biomarkers and leading edge genomics to help each individual reach deeper levels of health and well-being.