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Boost Immunity

The immune system which fights infection is not concentrated in one special location in the body but is distributed throughout the body. It is composed of different types of white blood cells which are found in the liver, the spleen, the blood, and the bone marrow.

HIV and AIDS

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) weakens the immune system, leaving it susceptible to infections. It can be contracted through unsafe sex, contaminated blood or at birth from an infected mother. HIV remains for life and may eventually lead to AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome).

AIDS responds well to nutritional therapy and treatment would be aimed at boosting the immune response. People who are HIV positive will benefit from these approaches. Studies have shown that a good healthy diet and extra vitamin and mineral supplementation can help delay the onset of AIDS.

What you can do to help

Take a good multivitamin and mineral supplement. This should include selenium as a selenium deficiency is common in AIDS patients.

Coenzyme Q10 deficiency is believed to be one of the causative factors in the development of AIDS and it is recommended that you take 200mg daily.

Magnesium and vitamin A as well as vitamin C will help ease symptoms and may slow or halt the development of the disease.

Increase your intake of yogurt as the acidophilus will encourage the growth of healthy bacteria which assist in the fight against invaders.

The herb Echinacea will assist in boosting the immune system. (also see ...).

Chronic fatigue syndrome and ME (myalgic encephalmyelitis)

Chronic fatigue syndrome and ME are seriously debilitating complaints that can affect people for many years.

The symptoms and signs include:

It is thought that a deficiency in the immune system may be responsible for these diseases.

ME is in fact a type of chronic fatigue syndrome and both may have nutritional causes including:

What you can do to help

Take an acidophilus supplement or increase the amount of natural yoghurt that you eat (sheep's yoghurt is a possibility if you have allergies to dairy foods). This will increase your body's healthy bacteria. The healthy bacteria will help to counter the candida infection.

Vitamins A, C and E and the mineral zinc and fish oils have been useful to treat sufferers of chronic fatigue. These substances have a beneficial effect on the immune system. (also see ...)

Make sure that you get plenty of magnesium. This is often deficient in the sufferers of chronic fatigue and is beneficial for the immune system.

The herbs ginseng and Echinacea may be of assistance.

Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, preferably eaten raw to help the body detoxify.

Drink fresh water sometimes with the addition of lemon juice to help cleanse the system. Avoid drinking caffeinated beverages and alcohol.

Allergies

The immune system protects the body from harmful microbes by producing antibodies that kill the invading organism. Sometimes however, the body overreacts and responds in the same way to harmless substances and produces irritant substances known as histamine. These histamines result in the allergic reaction.

There may be a genetic predisposition to allergies.

What you can do to help

Take Vitamin C with bioflavonoid at 1g daily. Vitamin C has an antihistamine quality.

Ensure you get plenty of Vitamin E which is a good stimulant to the immune system. (see ...)

Zinc and copper are believed to be deficient in many allergy suffers and should be taken as a part of a good multivitamin and mineral supplement, especially in children.

Magnesium deficiency can alter the immune system and this should be supplemented.

Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and drink plenty of fresh water, sometimes with added lemon juice to assist with detoxifying the body.

Avoid drinking caffeinated beverages and alcohol.

The herb gingko biloba has been used to treat asthma and allergies.

Glandular fever (Mononucleosis)

This condition is also sometimes called "Kissing Disease" after a common means of spread, typically among young folk such as college students. You may also hear it called "infectious mono" by health professionals.

The early symptoms of glandular fever are similar to those of the flu: fever, headaches, sore throat. After a few days the glands in the armpit, neck and groin become swollen. Full recovery is slow and the general fatigue can be very persistent.

The causative organism is the Epstein Bar Virus (EBV) a close relative to the herpes viruses. Recently, a number of abnormalities, including the induction of food allergies, changes in the immune system and in cell metabolism, as well as persistence of the virus, have been shown to occur after an infection with EBV.

What you can do to help

Vitamins A, B complex (20 - 30 mg per day) and vitamin C (1 g or more daily) work to encourage the immune system and should be taken as a part of a good multivitamin and mineral supplement. (also see ... for information on boosting the immune system.

Selenium works to protect the integrity of the cell membranes which improves the cells overall functioning.

Zinc assists with the healing process. Take as a lozenge every two hours up to six times per day.

L-lysine (an amino acid) will encourage healing and reduce the severity of the infection.

Echinacea and garlic can assist in boosting the immune system.

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References

Bland, J. 1996, Contemporary Nutrition. J & B Associates.

Davies, S. and A. Stewart., 1997, Nutritional Medicine. Pan.

Holden, S., Hudson, K., Tilman, J. & D. Wolf, 2003, The Ultimate Guide to Health from Nature. Asrolog Publication.

Pressman, A. and S. Buff, 2000, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vitamins and Minerals. (2nd Ed.) Alpha Books.

Soothill, R. 1996, The Choice Guide to Vitamins and Minerals. A Choice Book Publication.

Sullivan, K. 2002, Vitamins and Minerals: A Practical Approach to a Health Diet and Safe Supplementation. Harper Collins.

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The cells of the immune system are sensitive to changes in the nutritional state of the body. Vitamins B5, B6 and folic acid and essential fatty acids are vital for normal immune function. Iron, zinc and other minerals are important as well. To be able to resist infection the body also needs an adequate supply of calories and protein.