The Immune System, Allergies and Zinc

What is the immune system?

The immune system is one of the most intricate systems in the human body. We are full of complex structures that fulfil fundamental functions in our bodies. The lymphatic system drains the body of waste and biproducts from cell activity. The endocrine system produces and manages our hormonal functions, and our reproductive system is responsible for us reproducing as a species. These systems can be studied and viewed in isolation, but one must remember they are constantly interacting within one living organism, us.

The immune system’s main function is to provide protection or immunization against pathogens, viruses and any foreign body that may cause us harm. The immune system’s responsibility is to protect us from these bodies and safeguard the wellbeing and integrity of the living organisms it is part of. It is as many say our defense system. The cells responsible for tackling any invasive pathogen, protein or virus are the white blood cells, often called the “soldiers of our bodies”.

What are allergies?

Allergies are an immune response to a foreign body that our white blood cells attack as they perceive it to be a threat. It is remarkably interesting because immune systems are like fingerprints in many ways. My allergic reaction may be quite different to yours. We both may be allergic to pollen for example and I might only sneeze while your eyes may get red and itchy, and no sneezing occurs. This is because our immune systems react to the threat differently.

Anaphylactic shock is an overreaction of your immune system where an alien protein, such as one found in the venom of a bee, is seen as such an impending threat to your body it goes into overdrive to stop the spreading and it shuts all functions down. This can be a rather permanent overreaction which one would want to completely avoid.

This is why allergies are a specialty on their own in the medical field. They are often treated by introducing into the system small amounts of the protein your body is allergic to so that the reaction can be controlled and hence your body “learns to deal with it” appropriately. In other words, it learns to not “freak out”. Asthma is an interesting condition which has been linked to allergic responses. Patients that are allergic to various proteins often tend to be asthmatic.

What is the role of zinc?

Zinc ions are involved in regulating intracellular signalling pathways in innate and adaptive immune cells. Meaning, zinc supplementation promotes and supports the optimal function of our immune cells. A compromised immune system can be supported by zinc supplementation and it is very often recommended by doctors and health care practitioners.

Allergies as we have discussed are an immune response and sometimes even an immune overaction to certain proteins that are described as allergens. In March 2011, a study was conducted at the University of Edinburgh Medical School were 62 epidemiologic studies were analysed. It was deduced that deficiencies of several nutrients, including zinc, were associated with a higher incidence of allergy and asthma. Consequently, supplementing with zinc has been shown to lower the incidence of asthma and allergic reactions as it supports a healthy immune function.

This is an incredible discovery that has allowed us to understand the role of zinc in the human body. Supporting your immune system is a guarantee that your body will be able to handle whatever pathogens and viruses come its way. Zinc should be, in many ways, an integral part of our daily lives.

Remember to take care of your immune system this Spring by:

  1. Having an active lifestyle
  2. Drinking lots of water
  3. Eating a healthy diet
  4. Supplementing accordingly with Zinplex of course

Happy Spring!