Today, it's impossible to escape the endless list of toxins and chemicals that enter our environment. Fumes from cars, radiation from computers, the Earth's depleted ozone layer, packaged foods that have been over-processed, pesticides sprayed on crops, to mention a few. It's no wonder so many North Americans suffer toxic inflammatory diseases. But there is a natural way to boost the immune system.
Fortunately, our own immunity works 24/7 against toxins that enter the body and trigger allergic reactions. Without this natural defence, our bodies would decompose in a few days due to microbes, parasites and toxins.
Every year, North Americans, on average, suffer six common colds due to weakened immune systems. But infections become more dangerous as we age. For instance, influenza is rarely fatal early in life, but when it strikes an exhausted immune system, it results in the deaths of thousands of seniors every year.
Nor is today's stressful lifestyle kind to our immune systems. Chronic stress triggers the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and autoimmune disorders such as psoriasis and Crohn's disease.
It's estimated there are 30 million allergy sufferers in North America. Some have acute anaphylactic attacks that are life-threatening, but the majority are affected by pollen, animal dander, dust mites in bedding and moulds that collect in showers.
To test the effects of stress on healing, researchers compared women who had to care for Alzheimer's patients to those without this stress. Both groups were subjected to a small skin biopsy. The caregivers took 24 per cent longer to heal.
Another threat today is exposure to radiation. In addition to X-rays and CT scans, we're constantly exposed to home radiation from cellphones, microwave ovens and transmission towers.
Moreover, although television gives off radiation from one station, our bodies receive it from many more stations. Unlike an infection that goes away, radiation never does and accumulates year by year.
Since few can live as a hermit, what can be done to bolster immunity to seasonal allergies, fibromyalgia, constant fatigue, aching muscles, prostate problems and rheumatoid arthritis conditions, some associated with pain and inflammation?
Dr. John Wilkinson, senior herbal medicine lecturer at Middlesex University, London, England, says the answer is plant sterols which, like vitamin C, cannot be made by our bodies. Studies show plant sterols reduce inflammation, which helps decrease the risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries), which often requires bypass surgery. This is why plant sterols have been called nature's "immunologic scalpel."
But consuming sufficient plant sterols is easier said than done. For instance, three ounces of unprocessed plant foods contain 4,200 milligrams (mg) of sterols. But after processing them into flour, 90 per cent of the sterol is lost. This is hardly a plus for civilization!
If you're not getting sufficient plant sterols, an improved diet is a good start. ImmunoCare, a natural remedy available in health food stores, also helps to correct this loss and restore balance to the immune system. One capsule contains 300 mg of plant sterols along with 20 mg of Enzogenol, a potent antioxidant and anti-arthritic with more than 2,000 different antioxidant flavonoids.
Antioxidants help detoxify free radicals, the waste products of metabolism associated with aging. To assure the capsule is not destroyed by the stomach's acid, it is enteric-coated to allow absorption in the small bowel.
The prescribed dosage of ImmunoCare is one capsule daily, taken 30 minutes before a meal with water or fruit juice. Women who are pregnant, nursing or diabetic should consult their doctor before taking this supplement.
An added benefit is that ImmunoCare, when taken before a meal, blocks the intestinal absorption of cholesterol, resulting in decreased bad cholesterol and increased good cholesterol.
To learn more about the incredible benefits of plant sterols, the new book Immunity: Thrive in a Toxic World is available in health food stores.