Don’t Overlook These Basic Features of Immune Health

Whether you’re trying to ward off the coronavirus, or just want to reduce allergies, autoimmune symptoms or your chance of getting the flu, we can all benefit by improving our immune status.
Rather than load you up with a list of different nutrients to take, I want to focus on one important, basic feature of improving immunity: reducing excessive and chronic inflammation. When inflammation is high, uncontrolled, or chronic (‘inflammaging‘), immune system functioning may have greater risk of suppression. Of course, we need a bit of inflammation to get healing underway, but it also has to be in check and be able to turn off.
One of the ways to keep a pulse on inflammation is to have a proper balance of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in the body. As you can see in the diagram below, there are two categories of ESSENTIAL fatty acids. If we have too much omega-6 fat relative to omega-3 fat, we can produce more inflammatory compounds, which may not be good for immune health.
Here’s the summary:
❏ There’s competition between them: These two families of fats compete, so when there is more omega-6 than omega-3 fats, omega-6 metabolites will predominate, and some of those metabolites, when produced excessively, have the potential to be inflammatory.
❏ The ratio of the two is important: The ratio determines production of pro-inflammatory or anti-inflammatory molecules. In general, a 4:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 is preferred. The average (“inflammatory”) processed diet is about 20:1, just to put it in perspective!

Furthermore, we also know that immunity starts in the gut. The mucosal barrier in the gut serves as a barrier for pathogens (see graphic from this article below). Therefore, it’s important to keep it intact and not ‘leaky’. Similar to the gut, there is also the airway epithelium, which can be protected through omega-3 fats.

(Image Credit:
Therefore, a couple of takeaways to consider and discuss with your healthcare practitioner:

  • Get your omega-3 index/ratio measured so that you know your status. I like this particular test, as I’ve used it on myself and with others, but there are several options (ask your provider).
  • Incorporate omega-3-rich foods to your diet, whether plant options like flaxseed meal, flaxseed oil, algae, chia seeds, hempseed oil, leafy greens, and nuts and seeds, or animal options like fish (salmon/fin-fish, shellfish)
  • Determine whether an omega-3 dietary supplement is needed (with the help of your healthcare practitioner) to assist in balancing your levels; and, if you, do, only choose high-quality dietary supplements free of contaminants (email me if you want to know which ones). Make sure it is pharmaceutical grade, toxin-free, dark bottle, contains antioxidants, and no synthetic flavorings.

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