take a deep dive in to our immune system. Why?
As we move through 2020 and talk of COVID-19 is everywhere you turn, a healthy immune system is at the forefront of many people’s minds – and for a good reason.
When it comes to fighting off harmful infections like the coronavirus, your immune system is the most effective weapon you have. Like a well-trained army, your immune system is designed to quickly spring into action at the first sign of danger. We need it to be in full force, ready to go, at all times. But what exactly is the immune system?
The different layers of our immune system
In order for us to succumb to a pathogen/virus or bacteria these invaders need to get through three layers of defense.
1. Skins - outer skin (including eyes) and the mucosa lining which lines all the way down from our mouth to our "anus".
2. If the invader gets past this layer then we have the innate immune system. This comprises of our white blood cells (WBC panel on your lab report) neutrophils, lymphocytes, monophils, eosinophils and basophils.
3. If the virus/bacteria survives to this point it is the job of our adaptive immune system to get on board. This layer is more selective than the innate immune system by tagging flagging and destroying. The adaptive immune system is made up of our lymphocytes and antibodies IgG IgA IgM IgD IgE. As a side note, the antibody testing done to see if you had contracted the virus in the past looks for IgG and IgM antibodies. The lymphocytes are our focus here because they contain our main fighting army against intruders such as CoVid 19.
What are NK cells?
These cells are part of your lymphocytes, reported on your regular bloodwork. The lymphocytes are made up of your T, B and NK cells. Lymphoctes, for the functional range, should be between 25 - 40% range on your CBC report.
The natural killer cells head out and hunt, they do not need any previous exposure to the disease agent to recognize and combat them. When they're doing their job they seek membrane to membrane contact with intruder and force it to self destruct.
What do they do?
Their first job is to remove infected cells by targeting and destroying them. When working correctly they are front line soldiers that will kill the virus. There has never been a better time to supercharge these natural fighters. With inadequate NK cells we end up in ICUs needing ventilators and medications. It's interesting to know that Covid19 targets and elimininates NK cells.
Their second job is to elimate cancer cells. If our NK cells are delinquent we cannot fight cancer and we cannot fight viruses, and other infections. They are first in line to recognize cells that are not healthy (even before T cells).
How do they work?
These cells have protein receptors that bind like a lock and key to the invading cell, killing it before even the T cells have a chance to jump to the body's defense, AND they are also a support system for those actual killer T cells.
Without the NK cells we cannot develop antibodies and therefore become more susceptible to both cancers and infections/viruses.
But here's what I find super interesting. With all this talk about a vaccine, what if we do not have enough NK cells to fight the antigen (foreigner) in the actual vaccine itself? Do you know people who develop the flu right after getting a flu vaccine? Chances are their NK cell count is low and they couldn't actually fight the small amount of flu in the shot. Could we do more harm giving a Covid vaccine to someone who does not have enough NK cells to fight the small amount of Covid in the vaccine itself? Worth a thought.
Is there a way to test how many NK cells we have?
Not on our regular blood test but peripheral NK cell testing is a blood test that seeks to measure the percentage and quantity of NK cells in the bloodstream. Oncologists know all about this test because it is used when treating cancer.
How do we increase our own NK cells in our body?
Optimal immunity requires optimal nutrition
Stay away from processed fat.
You will find processed fat in all processed food. These "food like substances" will decrease the # of NK cells in your bloodstream as will the chemicals and pesticides found in non-organic store bought foods.
Stay away from sugar.
Again another agent that will drop your NK cells.
Take a probiotic
Probiotics activate NK cells. You can also eat fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, kombucha, miso and tempeh.
When choosing a good probiotic choose one with multiple strains. The Lacto-bifido blend are the most popular. Just make sure there are at least 7-10 species. The label in the photo below has 12 species.
"Natural Killer Cells need to be supercharged"
Decrease and modulate stress
Stress can kill NK cells.
Isn't it ironic that as we sit in a circle of fear, causing us stress, we are actively hurting our NK cells which in turn keep us safe from the virus?
Key Immune Supportive Nutrients include
Vitamins A B6 C E D
Essential Fatty Acids (Omega-3s)
Selenium (brazil nuts are an excellent source) and Zind
The orignal discussion with Dr. Anahid Jewett and Andrea Nakayama is linked below.