A Deep Dive into Nutritional Immune System Modulators
First, we’d like to thank Dr. Dung Trinh for taking time out of his schedule to write this important and informational article for MyJane.
Your body has its own army to defend itself against foreign invaders: the immune system. Your body’s immune system protects you from viruses, bacteria, fungi, toxins, and other things that may cause you harm.
In order to fight this internal battle against harmful invaders, your immune system responds by creating inflammation. Your body’s inflammatory response not only allows you to successfully overcome infections but also helps you repair damaged tissues (think of a bruise!).
Normally, your body strictly regulates its immune response so that just enough inflammation is released to heal you. However, when your immune system fails to function appropriately, it will also fail to appropriately employ the right amount of inflammation in your body – potentially causing more harm than good.
In the case that your immune system overreacts to harmful stimuli, this can wreak havoc on your body and result in autoimmune diseases and chronic inflammation.
Consequences of an Overactive Immune System:
Cytokine storm: an extreme, uncontrolled inflammatory response where the immune system harms its own body. This dangerous reaction has been a primary contributor to the death of patients with Covid-19, as the immune system attacks the body in an attempt to fight off the illness.
Allergies: a reaction, commonly presented in forms such as sneezing, stuffy noses, and rashes, in response to hypersensitivity to certain substances.
Internal autoimmune diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Celiac Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Hashimoto’s Thyroid Disease, Lupus, Type I Diabetes.
Eating fried foods, sodas, processed meats (hamburgers, hotdogs), and refined carbohydrates promote immune system overactivity.
On the other hand, if your immune system under-reacts to external and internal pathogens, harmful pathogens such as parasites or cancer cells will be able to invade and harm your body.
Contributors to an underactive immune system include genetic
birth defects, poor nutrition, sleep deprivation, chronic stress, overeating, lack of sunlight, and lack of exercise.
Consequences of an Underactive Immune System:
Cancer. When the body’s immune response is not strong enough, it fails to defeat cancer-causing pathogens.
Some examples of cancer-causing pathogens:
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV) – cervical cancer
- HIV – Kaposi sarcoma, leukemias
- Hepatitis B&C – liver cancer
- Helicobacter Pylori – stomach cancer
- Epstein Barr virus – nasopharyngeal cancer
Infections: Bacteria, mold, parasites, and viruses
As you can see, an out-of-balance immune system (overactive or underactive) leads to health problems and disabilities. However, there’s hope! There are immune system “modulators” that keep the immune system in balance (homeostasis) and allow it to function at its optimal performance.
Luckily, we can eat natural foods and make healthy life choices to increase these “modulators” and boost our immune systems.
Here is a list of 10 immune system modulators:
Vitamin D3 is the active form of vitamin D and plays an essential role in the regulation of calcium and phosphorus metabolism. This vitamin acts as an immunomodulatory and targets various immune cells including macrophages, monocytes, T-cells, B-cells, and dendritic cells.
According to one study, it is reported that a high dose of vitamin D3 modulates the immune response in mammals via negative regulation of NF-kB signaling pathway. (Cheng, Tang et al. 2020) In another scientific study, it is reported that vitamin D3 glycoside along with lipopolysaccharide modulates the immune response in the broilers by increasing the production of interleukin-10. (Nunes, de Souza Duarte et al. 2020).
Vitamin C is a reducing agent and acts as an antioxidant. This vitamin plays an essential role in against acute aflatoxin activity in guinea pigs. (Sahoo and Mukherjee 2003)
In another study, it is reported that vitamin C increases the interferon-γ by
reducing the IL-4 in the cultured primary splenocytes, this, in turn, suppresses the Th2-type immune response. The findings of this research suggested that the dose of vitamin C is helpful in the prevention of soybean allergies. (Sun, Li et al. 2009).
Zinc acts as a cofactor for enzymes involved in cell proliferation such as in DNA replication and signaling pathways. It is reported that zinc plays a significant role in innate immunity. One of the zinc-dependent hormones “thymulin” secreted from the thymic stroma is responsible for T-cell proliferation. (Goswami, Bhar et al. 2005).
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are the precursor molecules for lipid signaling pathways and play a significant role against autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Research studies indicated that these fatty acids are helpful against heart disease, neurodegenerative disorders, and diabetes. (Zivkovic, Telis et al. 2011) In one study, it is indicated that omega-3 fatty acids suppress the activity of nuclear transcription factors such as
NF-KB, and decrease the synthesis of cytokine and inflammatory enzyme production. (Kang and Weylandt 2008).
Turmeric is a well-known herbaceous plant due to its anti-inflammatory properties and prevents inflammatory diseases. Curcuminoids are one of the main components of turmeric that has strong anti-inflammatory properties. (Chainani-Wu 2003)
In one research study, it is reported that turmeric extract contains prebiotics, probiotics, and anti-inflammatory compounds. Prebiotics and probiotics promote the health of the gastrointestinal tract. (Yazdi, Soleimanian-Zad et al. 2019).
Green Leafy Vegetables
Green leafy vegetables consist of a wide variety of compounds that are responsible for health benefits. Regular consumption of these vegetables overcomes nutritional deficiencies and provides a healthy immune system.
These vegetables contain antioxidants, and these antioxidants combat free radicals in the body and provide a defense mechanism against free radicals. In-vitro studies reported that these GLVs are a rich source of antioxidant vitamins. (Gupta and Prakash 2009).
Green tea is a tea type and is commonly used as a beverage globally. It consists of catechins that play an essential role in the modulation of biological activities and thus provides health benefits. As a nutritional modulator, it is effective against obesity and cancer. Studies reported that it contains a compound known as epigallocatechin gallate
(EGCG) that is effective against cancer. (Rahmani, Allemailem et al. 2015)
Another study suggested that green tea is a rich source of antioxidants and effective against oxidative stress. (Peluso and Serafini 2017).
Allium vegetables are a rich source of organosulfur compounds and these compounds show the protective effect against several cancer types. (Bianchini and Vainio 2001)
According to research studies, the extracts of these compounds show antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. (S Bisen and Emerald 2016).
Olive oil exhibits antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects and prevents cardiovascular disease and rheumatoid arthritis. The antioxidant effect of olive oil is due to the presence of linoleic acid, oleuropein, tyrosol, and hydroxytyrosol. (Wahle, Caruso et al. 2004)
Olive oil also consists of phenolic compounds and these compounds improve lipid metabolism, improve immune function, and prevents obesity. (Farràs, Martinez-Gili et al. 2020).
Berries are a rich source of minerals, vitamins, and anthocyanins. In-vitro studies suggested that bioactive compounds present in the berries play an essential role against oxidative stress. According to the studies, it is reported that berries improve the lipid profile in humans and helps in the improvement of total antioxidant status. (Del Bo, Martini et al. 2015).
The phenolic compounds in the berries are also helpful against the cancer types and have anti-inflammatory and cell regulatory effects. Overall, berries improve heart health and show high nutritional relevance for heart patients. (Beattie, Crozier et al. 2005).
In a previous interview, Dr. Dung Trinh amplified the benefit of balancing mind and body, what he described as the Ying and Yang of our body, with CBD oil. Quality-tested CBD oil acts as a support to the endocannabinoid system before inflammation activates diseases and can be part of an overall wellness approach for the immune system.