An In-Depth Discussion About Strengthening Immune Health
By Chris D. Meletis, ND
The more information we obtain about our health the better we are able to take a proactive stance in feeling our best. That’s why I was glad that Ronald Klatz, MD, DO, President of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M), and Robert Goldman, MD, PhD, DO, FAASP, Chairman of A4M, recently wrote a handbook about one of the most important aspects of our health—immunity. Infection Protection: Pandemic features more than 70 natural, non-toxic ways to improve immune health as well as checklists to determine the reader’s preparedness for a pandemic. I recently discussed this book with Dr. Klatz.
Dr. Meletis: Infection Protection: Pandemic is a wonderful resource for anyone who wants to boost the health of his or her immune system. What was your primary motivation behind writing the book?
Dr. Klatz: When it became apparent that the bird flu was becoming such a critical threat to worldwide health, we wanted to give people a resource for learning how to nourish their immune systems, both during a worldwide bird flu pandemic and during a traditional cold and flu season. We wanted them to have a roadmap for building an immune system so strong that they and their loved ones would be able to thwart an attack from any virus or bacteria that they are exposed to, whether it’s the H5N1 strain of the bird flu, the West Nile virus, the common cold, an influenza virus or a bacteriological terrorist attack.
Dr. Meletis: Your book is an intriguing glimpse into the immune system and some of the biggest threats to our immune systems’ health. Since we are fast approaching the cold and flu season, perhaps you can paint Vitamin Research News’ readers a clinical picture of influenza virus and how its symptoms differ from that of a common cold.
Dr. Klatz: Certainly. Influenza is, as everyone knows, highly contagious. A single sneeze can project up to 4,500 viral droplets, moving at speeds up to 100 miles per hour. This exposes anyone within three to four feet of the infected person to the flu virus. There are three types of influenza viruses, types A, B, and C. Influenza virus A is a genus of a family of viruses called Orthomyxoviridae. Influenza virus A has only one species of virus in it, but variants of this virus can occur in different animal species such as horses, dogs and humans. Human influenza virus refers to those subtypes that spread widely among humans. There are 144 different potential subtypes of Human influenza Virus A, but as of this writing there are only three known Influenza A virus subtypes circulating among humans.
The symptoms of influenza are similar to those of the common cold. Both of these conditions cause upper respiratory symptoms and begin similarly, with body aches, cough, fatigue, headache, and hot and cold sweats. However, with a flu, it is common for a fever to develop, along with a dry throat and cough. Nausea and vomiting are also characteristic of flues. The seasonal flu also lasts longer than colds—up to a month, including a week or more of residual coughing and fatigue. By contrast, the common cold usually lasts seven to ten days (see table 1).
Dr. Meletis: Despite the fact that bird flu has been dominating the news, seasonal influenza also can have a devastating effect on our nation’s and the world’s health.
Dr. Klatz: That is correct. The annual flu in the U.S. results in approximately 36,000 deaths and more than 200,000 hospitalizations each year. In addition, influenza is annually responsible for a total cost of more than $10 billion to the U.S. economy. One of the other costs of the flu is that it leaves people more susceptible to pneumonia, ear infections and sinus difficulties.
Dr. Meletis: In Infection Protection: Pandemic, you specify ten strategies people can take to optimize their immune systems. I thought we could discuss some of those strategies included in the book, starting with hygiene habits.
Dr. Klatz: People tend to neglect the importance of hygiene when it comes to defending themselves against pathogens. Yet, this is an extremely important way to lessen the burden on our immune systems. The fact of the matter is that germs constantly surround us. The average desk, for example, harbors 400 more times bacteria than the average toilet seat, according to microbiologist Charles Gerba of the University of Arizona. Gerba describes keyboards as a “lunch counter for germs.” (Table 2)
I recommend that people wash their hands ten times per day—double that amount if you’re in an environment where infectious germs abound (such as in the same home or office with an ill person.) For example, hands should be washed after coughing or sneezing, before, during and after food preparation, before inserting or removing contact lenses, after you use the bathroom, after changing a diaper or handling garbage.
In order to minimize exposure to germs, I also suggest taping open latches on doors to reduce the need to touch doorknobs, which are known to harbor many viruses and bacteria. You can also pull your sleeves over your hands when touching doorknobs and other surfaces on which germs are found to thrive. Most importantly, keep a supply of disposable antiseptic towelettes near all phones, computers, fax machines, copiers, etc. Use a towelette each time prior to, and after, touching these items, and discard it promptly.
Dr. Meletis: Daily nutrition is another immune enhancing strategy you mention in the book.
Dr. Klatz: Our lifestyle plays an integral role in whether our immune systems are strong enough to fight off pathogens. In my book, I interviewed Dr. John B. Symes, a veterinarian who recovered from numerous ailments after he was diagnosed with celiac disease and subsequently became an Internet medical researcher and consultant. Dr. Symes points out that we are “sitting ducks” in this country for diseases such as the bird flu because we do so much wrong with our diet and lifestyle and our lack of sleep and our abuses of alcohol, drugs and cigarettes.
Eating right is a part of maintaining a healthy, immunosupportive lifestyle. Meals should emphasize vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean and low-fat sources of protein, and a limited amount of dairy products. Sugars are the food on which viruses feast, so limiting or avoiding sugar intake will do wonders for helping the immune system thrive. Bananas, oranges and citrus juices, peanuts, and dairy products should all be avoided during a flu since these food increase mucous formation, creating an internal environment conducive to harboring viruses.
Dr. Meletis: We are surrounded by germs. And it’s not always feasible to avoid direct human contact with others. At business meetings, for example, we often shake hands immediately prior to eating. That’s why I found one of the most interesting parts of your book to be the section on natural immune enhancement.
Dr. Klatz: Yes, given the sheer quantity of viruses and bacteria we encounter daily, building our immune systems is critical for optimal health. Although many of the strategies I list in Infection Protection can help accomplish this, it is extremely important that we nourish our bodies with immune supporting supplements as well.
Dr. Meletis: In my own clinical practice I’ve noted that my patients have had positive responses to the nutritional supplement EpiCor™. In your book, you list EpiCor as one of the top ten natural immune enhancers according to A4M’s Immunity Desk Reference. You were obviously as impressed with the research supporting EpiCor as I was, since you included it on the list.
Dr. Klatz: Yes, EpiCor is emerging as a new and potentially powerful way to nourish the immune system. The research is impressive. As you know, EpiCor isn’t an herb or an isolated nutrient, but rather the product of a sophisticated fermentation process that creates a whole food concentrate with high levels of nutritional metabolites and exceptionally powerful antioxidant and immune modulating activity. First, I was impressed with the cell culture research documenting EpiCor’s antimicrobial activity. Even at concentrations as low as 1 part per trillion, EpiCor significantly inhibited the growth of E. Coli and Candida tropicalis. EpiCor also is thought to encourage the growth of favorable bacteria in the gut, whose secondary metabolites are essential to human health.
Other impressive research showed that EpiCor produces a significant reduction in the levels of CD8 cells and produces a more favorable CD4/CD8 ratio. CD4 (helper) cells facilitate and coordinate immune response, while CD8 (suppressor) cells, in part, down regulate this response. Therefore, a higher ratio of CD4 to CD8 cells is desirable for mounting an effective immune response. Blood samples taken from persons ingesting EpiCor daily found the subjects had significantly better helper to suppressor (CD4:CD8) cell ratios than their age- and gender-matched counterparts who did not consume EpiCor.
Dr. Meletis: I also was impressed by the fact that EpiCor activates natural killer (NK) cells and increases levels of salivary Secretory IgA (sIgA).
Dr. Klatz: Yes, we were impressed by this, too. NK cells’ sole mission is to destroy abnormal cells and those infected with viruses such as SARS, West Nile and Avian Flu as well as the common cold and influenza viruses. EpiCor’s ability to enhance NK function makes it one of the most intriguing immunity supportive substances available.
Furthermore, subjects consuming EpiCor had very high levels of Secretory IgA (sIgA)—more than 300 mg per ml. In mounting a first line of defense against viruses and bacteria, sIgA is very important since sIgA is found on mucosal surfaces such as the nasal passages and eyes, which are common routes of entry for pathogens.
Dr. Meletis: Yes, I was very impressed by EpiCor’s effect on sIgA. We should also mention that it has been shown to reduce interferon-gamma levels.
Dr. Klatz: Indeed this is also a very important point in a discussion revolving around immunity because interferon-gamma is a marker of inflammation, which contributes to the severity of respiratory diseases including influenza A and bird flu.
Dr Meletis: In closing, I want to thank you for writing a book that people can read in order to get a firm grasp on what we can do to strengthen our immune systems. Infection Protection: Pandemic is available through VRP and I hope that many Vitamin Research News readers will take advantage of this valuable resource.
Dr. Klatz: Thank you for devoting the time to covering such an important and timely topic.
Ronald Klatz, MD, DO, is a long-time scientific pioneer and innovator. Dr. Klatz originated the term “anti-aging” and is regarded as the movement’s first physician and chief champion. He is a best-selling author of 32 books with over 2 million copies in print. Dr. Klatz serves as President of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M), the world’s largest and fastest growing new clinical medical society. A4M has trained more than 50,000 medical professionals via its premier scientific conferences on topics relating to medical interventions to prevent and treat the diseases and disabilities associated with the biological process of aging.
©2009 Complementary Prescriptions (cpmedical.net) – Used with permission