Within our immune system we have two major areas; our innate immunity and our adaptive immunity. Both work closely together and take on different roles relating to our health. Within these two areas, there are specialised defence cells which are directly involved in eliminating pathogens and our humoral defence system which employs various mediators, mainly proteins such as enzymes, antibodies and short chain amino acids.
With so much activity going on in the body, it is easy to understand how this balance can be affected. The conditions of the immune system can be extremely varied in their presentations and their root causes are very different. Some conditions can be chronic and affect us at various stages of our lives such as atopic conditions, autoimmune conditions, genetic and inflammatory conditions. Whilst others affect us in a more acute phase from seasonal colds and flus, to much more serious unprecedented situations such as viral pandemics as we have recently seen.
Looking at this in terms of nutrition really does depend on the condition that we are working with, with the basics of simple interventions for seasonal ailments ensuring that vitamin C, zinc and vitamin D status are optimised. However, in more complex cases the tailored support of a Nutritional Therapist will be able to provide a much more personalised approach to balance and support immune response.
For example, digestive health is of utmost importance for most immune related conditions with most of our immune cells starting life within this area of the body. We then look in more detail at the presentation of the condition itself such as whether it is mediated by a Th1 response as in autoimmune conditions or a Th2 response as in atopic conditions, or it may be that the inflammatory cascade is a much more important consideration. We also will often look at using functional foods such as specific oils through to medicinal mushroooms and specific herbs to support all aspects of the immune response.
It should be noted that we are not alternative practitioners but complementary so we work alongside and together with conventional treatment options. Some of the main areas we work with when it comes to the immune system are:
Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD):
Type 1 Diabetes
During a Nutritional Therapy consultation, we work using a Functional Medicine Framework to look at the root cause of any immune condition, which is unique to each and every person that we work with. We then provide clear advice on specific scientific nutritional interventions and co-create a workable plan for the patient.
We may also look at Functional testing here and although this is not a first line approach, where a specific situation warrants, we quite often run tests which would usually consist of analysing the levels of specific nutrients relating to immunity. We also employ tests that relate to the specific condition such as monitoring thyroid antibodies in the Thyroid Panel when looking at Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis or looking at Immune mediators in the examples of the Coeliac Panel. These tests are fully interpreted during a follow up consultation to understand what the results mean for you and put in place the relevant recommendations.
There is no one size fits all approach and we help to educate and create a workable plan with the simplest of interventions to make the most positive impact on your health.