Archive for April 21st, 2009

HOW TO UNDERSTAND SOME IMMUNE-SYSTEM TESTS?

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

Cholesterol

Excess cholesterol is bad for your immune system and dangerous for your “doctor within.” As I said earlier, I like to see my patients with a cholesterol of 100 plus their age. Thus, a healthy 4 5-year-old person should, have a cholesterol of about 145. I tell my patients that their cholesterol should certainly be no higher than 150-180 mg/dl.

HDL

HDL (high-density lipoprotein) is the “good” cholesterol I discussed back in Chapter Two. It’s felt that HDL acts like a garbage truck, picking up cholesterol from the blood and walls of the arteries and carrying it away. I like to see HDL levels of 45 mg/dl or higher.

LDL

LDL (low-density lipoprotein) is the “bad” cholesterol that seems to function as a delivery truck, bringing cholesterol to the arteries for deposit. I prefer my patients to have LDLs of 100 mg/dl or less.

Triglycerides

Triglycerides are the fats in your blood. High blood fat is deleterious to your “doctor within” and to your immune system. I tell my patients to keep their triglycerides below 100 mg/dl.

Immuno-Nutrition Measurements

I also look at what we call anthroporhetric measurements (measurements of the human body), which can be done in a doctor’s office, or anywhere else for that matter. These simple measurements are used to estimate the nutritional status of a patient in terms of fat and protein reserves.

We’re all familiar with how height and weight are measured. Unfortunately, there is no specific formula for height and weight that will tell you if a person is obese or malnourished. Height and weight can only be used in a general way to estimate a person’s status. Height-weight charts are flawed, but those of us in clinical medical nutrition need some sort of standard. The 1983 Metropolitan Life Insurance Reference Weights have been judged to be a satisfactory reference point.

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MORE ABOUT VITAMINS: ZINC

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

Zinc, which has been studied more extensively than any other mineral, has a profound effect on the immune system. As an essential cofactor in more than 100 enzymes, zinc has its “fingers” in a lot of pies. Wounds on animals put on a zinc-deficient diet heal with difficulty, which is an indication of immune-system failure. The animals also suffer from lack of growth, sexual immaturity and loss of hair.

Good supplies of zinc are essential for a healthy immune system. A deficiency of this mineral can lead to shrinkage of the thymus gland, which, in turn, prompts a reduction in the number of T-cells available to grapple with germs. I have found that the ratio of T4 to T8 cells may be skewed as the result of a zinc deficiency. B-cells are adversely affected by a deficiency of zinc, as is the ability of immune-system cells to rush to the scene of a battle and jump into the fight.

Low levels of zinc increase one’s susceptibility to infections, and may lead to low levels of blood immunoglobulins. In many cases, administration of zinc restores these immune-system functions to normal levels.

I have successfully used a combination of zinc and vitamin C for treating patients with burns or severe wounds. In one case, a 40 year-old woman came to the hospital with severe burns on her legs. The burned skin and muscle were surgically cut away. When the wounds refused to heal, I administered zinc and vitamin C orally, and the stubborn wounds quickly began to heal.

But too much zinc can depress the phagocytic activity of neutrophils, so be careful not to overdose on zinc.

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MORE COMMON IMMUNE-SYSTEM DISEASES: PEPTIC ULCER AND RHEUMATIC FEVER

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

PEPTIC ULCER: most commonly found in the first part of the intestine (called the duodenum) and also in the stomach and esophagus. Usually occurs in adults, although it can strike children as well.

Signs and Symptoms: pain, which may begin as a hunger pang or an “empty feeling.” This may progress to a soreness, then an aching and gnawing feeling, on to a burning sensation and possibly severe pain. Often there is bleeding from the ulcer, causing black colored stool, or there may be vomiting of blood. Pain is usually located in the upper-middle portion of the abdomen, but can occur in other places. Eating usually brings pain relief. Patients often wake up in the middle of the night with abdominal pain.

RHEUMATIC FEVER: streptococcal infection of the throat, which then attacks joints and the heart. Usually occurs in children.

Signs and Symptoms: skin rash; pains in joints; swelling of joints; malaise; fatigue; lethargy. Can cause heart murmers. May be vague abdominal pain. People used to call the joint pains “growing pains.”

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YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM: LIGHTS, MORE LIGHTS, AND LOTS OF ACTION

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

There’s more to your immune system than phagocytes, lymphocytes, complements, interferon and interleukin. Imagine you’re looking at a life-size picture of the human body. Pretend there are tiny lights flashing on and off all over the body. There are red lights representing the neutrophils, green for the macrophages, yellow for the fighting T-cells and blue for the B-cells. Gray lights mark the complement system that drifts through the blood, and orange lights identify the giant sentry macrophages found all over the body.

But there’s more. Add purple lights for the memory cells which remember the features of the antigen, and brown, which represents interferon. Silver lights mark the interleukins, with gold, pink, peach and other colors for immune components such as the prostaglandins, the leukotrines, basophils, eosinophils, histamines, kinins and the other parts of your immune system.

Visualize the whole body covered with lights of every color packed tightly into every corner and crevice, a brilliant display of the immense power your immune system commands. All that healing power is dedicated to health, your health.

This brief discussion only begins to explore the immune system. There is now an information explosion concerning the immune system. It’s like the universe Einstein described: there’s no end to the new information pouring forth. But I hope you’ve learned a little and picked up a bit of the excitement I feel when I think about the miraculous and powerful defense system that nature has created for us. The least we can do is help it to take care of us.

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