Category Archives: Building A Strong Immune System

Eating Greens and How It Affects Immune Health

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Eating Greens and How It Affects Immune Health

My mother always used to tell me “eat your greens, they’re good for you!” It turns out, mother was more right than she could possibly know.

Eating one’s greens may be even more crucial for immune health than we previously thought, according to recent research which has discovered that an immune cell population essential for intestinal health may be controlled by leafy greens in the diet.

The immune cells, termed innate lymphoid cells (“ILCs”), are located in the lining of the digestive tract. They were discovered in 2013 by researchers at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Molecular Research in Australia. [1]

Let me back-track a bit. Science has, for many years, divided the immune system into two types: innate and adaptive. Innate immunity is present at birth and does not require prior exposure to protect you against pathogens. Adaptive immunity only develops when you have been exposed to a pathogen, for instance chickenpox. Once exposed to a pathogen, your immune cells are able to recognize the invader and mount a defense against it. Adaptive immunity provides the SWAT team that identifies an invading enemy and makes the specific weapons (known as antibodies) needed to destroy it. The fascinating thing about ILCs is that they are neither innate nor adaptive, they sort of straddle the two.

ILCs include cells that have been known for decades, such as natural killer (NK) cells and lymphoid tissue-inducer (LTi) cells. NK cells are key in protecting us from cancer as they recognize a huge array of tumor cells and cancer stem cells and help to eliminate them through cytotoxicity and the production of cytokines. Other ILCs are found mainly in the mucosal lining of the gut and in other mucosal-associated lymphoid tissues, where they work hard to protect us from pathogens.

The 2013 research [2] discovered that a gene called T-bet is essential for producing these all-important ILCs. Going back to the subject of eating greens, they found that the gene responds to signals in the food we eat. They discovered that T-bet is the key gene that tells precursor cells to develop into ILCs. It does this in response to signals from the food we eat and to the presence of bacteria in the gut.

Here’s how it works. Apparently proteins in green leafy and cruciferous vegetables interact with a cell surface receptor that switches on T-bet. Researchers think that the proteins in leafy greens may be part of the same signaling pathway used by T-bet to produce ILCs.

These researchers were excited about the discovery because it has been exceedingly difficult to isolate or produce ILCs. So finding out that something as simple as leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables in the diet can turn on the gene responsible for making ILCs is noteworthy. Without eating greens and without T-bet, the body becomes more susceptible to bacterial infections and other diseases.

Beyond their role in immunity, ILCs are also found in adipose (fat) tissue where they regulate thermogenesis and prevent inflammation that may lead to metabolic syndrome, obesity-related asthma and insulin resistance. [3]

Interestingly, while reading all the research as I prepared to write this article, I came across any number of web articles that boldly denied that diet had any role to play in bolstering immunity – despite the vast amount of research that’s being published to the contrary. Some people live in an interesting land called DENIAL.

For more information on which foods help with immunity and fighting cancer, see my page Diet and Cancer.

References:

[1] Gene Discovery Reveals Importance of Eating Your Greens –
https://www.wehi.edu.au/news/gene-discovery-reveals-importance-eating-your-greens

[2] T-bet is essential for NKp46+ innate lymphocyte development through the Notch pathway –
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4076532/

[3] Innate lymphoid cells: A new paradigm in immunology – http://science.sciencemag.org/content/348/6237/aaa6566

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Powerful Natural Boosters For The Immune System

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Powerful Natural Boosters For The Immune System

If you are struggling to overcome breast cancer, it is important to understand the role of a strong immune system. It is vital that you know that there  are many powerful natural boosters for the immune system and that they enhance healing and help to stimulate the body’s natural healing defenses, making them perfect for use just prior to surgery, post-surgery and/or when you are going through chemotherapy and/or radiation.

The Importance Of A Strong Immune System

Once you are through with your treatments, building a strong immune system becomes even more important, to keep recurrences away.  Your immune system is your first line of defense against not only pathogens, viruses, and bacteria, but cancer cells.  If your immune system is under-reacting to an internal threat, cancer is often the result.

My Favorites To Build A Strong Immune System

Here’s my list of favorite supplements to build a strong immune system.  Please don’t use everything listed below all at the same time.  Always consult a health professional before embarking upon any regimen to get personalized recommendations for dosages and which of the following is best for you.

  • American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) – a tonic herb, it can boost energy levels and decrease recovery time post-surgery.
  • Andrographis (Andrographis paniculata) – has been studied recently for its immune stimulating effects, as well as anti-inflammatory benefits.  There’s a good article on it on the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center website [1].
  • Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) – an Ayurvedic herb useful for strengthening the immune system, it also combats the effects of stress, reduces anxiety and depression, and has anti-inflammatory benefits.
  • Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus)used for centuries by the Chinese, astragalus is a potent enhancer of the immune system.
  • Curcumin – a yellow pigment derived from the root spice turmeric, a powerful antioxidant. We have loads of research on its anti-cancer activity, and it decreases the levels of two enzymes in the body that cause inflammation. [2]
  • Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia) – boosts the immune system by increasing production of white blood cells which help fight disease.
  • Essential oils – vast quantities of research now exist proving beyond a shadow of a doubt exactly how essential oils can be used to enhance immunity. Nearly every single essential oil contains  phytochemicals (plant chemicals) that have research-backed anti-cancer and immune-stimulating properties. This is a vast subject, so if you’d like to know more about how to use essential oils – and which ones help the most, just subscribe to my newsletters. I share loads of great information in my free newsletters.
  • Glyconutrients – plant based and organic, these supply all eight of the simple sugars our cells require for proper communication, thus assisting with brain function, immune function, etc. When the cells are communicating better, everything starts working more optimally. What I like about them is that they help to create healthy stem cells. See my article Breast Cancer Stem Cells – Stopping Them In Their Tracks.
  • Goji or Wolfberry (Lycium barbarum) – unlike some herbs, this one has good research [3], [4] which indicates its usefulness for increasing immunological responses.  Best taken in a juice as it tends to preserve the polysaccharide content that dried fruit does not contain. The brands I love are Young Living’s NingXia Red (you can get that from me) and Freelife GoChi. Both taste amazing and are super easy to take and work the best for boosting immunity.
  • Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) – a natural antibiotic, goldenseal contains the phytochemical berberine. It’s wonderful for helping to prevent and fight infections, it is a potent anti-inflammatory, helps boost white blood cells, and one 2010 study found that berberine inhibited the growth of two different types of breast cancer cells better than the chemo drug doxorubicine [5].
  • Green tea (Camellia sinensis) – contains potent antioxidant compounds that neutralize free radicals and prevent damage to the immune system. In addition, green tea stimulates the liver to secrete interferon, an immune compound that helps fight infection. To bolster immune function, drink 3 or more cups of organic green tea daily.
  • Medicinal mushrooms – amazing support for the immune system, see my article Medicinal Mushrooms – Fungi That Fight Cancer Cells for more information.
  • 4Life Transfer Factors – specially formulated to help immune cells identify health threats and speed up the immune response to those threats. Transfer factors work by transferring immune memory and knowledge from one entity to another, a rather different approach to immune system support. I’ve taken these myself, have recommended them for hundreds of others and  everyone loves them.  You can get them from me. Contact me for more information.

It’s always a good idea to let your physician know exactly what you are taking in order to avoid any possible drug interactions.

References:

[1] https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/andrographis

[2] Curcumin Induces Cell Death and Restores Tamoxifen Sensitivity in the Antiestrogen-resistant Breast Cancer Cell Lines MCF-7/LCC2 and MCF-7/LCC9 — http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23299550

[3] Immunomodulatory Effects of a Standardized Lycium Barbarum Fruit Juice in Chinese Older Healthy Human Subjects — http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19857084

[4] Lycium Barbarum Inhibits Growth of Estrogen Receptor Positive Human Breast Cancer Cells By Favorably Altering Estradiol Metabolism – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19373615

[5] The Alkaloid Berberine Inhibits the Growth of Anoikis-resistant MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 Breast Cancer Cell Lines by Inducing Cell Cycle Arrest – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19800775

http://www.theherbcompanion.com

http://www.herbs.org/herbnews/category/herbs/

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right.  You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates.  I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond. 

The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional.  You should not use the information on this site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem and please be sure to consult your health care professional when making decisions about your health.