Nutrition Bite of the Month 

Preparing For Winter

A Healthy Immune System

We live in a world of natural poisons and man-made pollutants.  These environmental pollutants, along with an improper diet and other harmful habits such as smoking and lack of sleep and rest, can reduce the body’s ability to protect itself from harmful bacteria, viruses, chemicals and other factors that can lead to disease.


The immune system is like the security forces of a city.  This system continually monitors the body for anything that is out of place and then deploys appropriate defence mechanisms.  It is designed to recognise and attack foreign proteins and micro-organisms such as viruses, bacteria, parasites and fungi.  The first line of defence against the micro-organisms is to prevent their entry.  Our immune system works in partnership with other protective body systems e.g. the skin forms a physical barrier against foreign materials, a germ-tight layer around the body, although it does contain a number of orifices (mouth, nose etc), whilst the respiratory system utilises cilia and mucous that line the airways to reduce entry of micro-organisms through these orifices, and also by coughing in order to rid the body of inhaled microbes and pollutants, and acid in the stomach (HCl) and enzymes in the pancreas and intestines destroy many harmful micro-organisms ingested in our food.


If foreign materials overcome the body’s protective mechanisms, then the immune system begins operating.  The body produces a generalised fever, localised inflammation and other reactions designed to conquer the unwelcome invaders.


The Immune Army

The immune system is composed of the thymus, spleen, lymph nodes, the blood vessels that transport lymph, blood proteins i.e. immunoglobulins, and specialised white blood cells such as lymphocytes.  All are designed to react rapidly to disease-producing organisms and their toxins.



The immune system is very sensitive to pollution: it has been suggested that some cells are 1000 times more sensitive to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, the carcinogenic molecules that can be found in exhaust fumes and cigarette smoke, and to   heterocyclic amines, which are mutagenic (i.e. something capable of causing a change in a gene) and carcinogenic.  Anand P, et al. (2008) state that ‘The heterocyclic amines produced during the cooking of meat are carcinogens. Charcoal cooking and/or smoke curing of meat produce harmful carbon compounds such as pyrolysates and amino acids, which have a strong cancerous effect.’


Sources of Environmental Toxins

Pesticides, Fungicides, Fertilizers, Gasses, Heavy Metals, Radiation,

Tap Water, Plastic Packaging,

Intensive Farming, Food Colourings, Preservatives, Additives, Flavourings

Genetic Engineering, Food Irradiation, Pollution, Household Chemicals, Synthetic Clothing


Nutrition & Immunity

What we choose to eat can influence our health – for better or worse.  A balanced and healthy diet therefore is probably the most important consideration in maintaining a healthy immune system.  Unhealthy eating can deprive the body of some important vitamins and minerals, and subsequently pollutants are more likely to be retained.


There is now overwhelming evidence that healthy eating is important for good general health.  It is not just the quantity of food we eat that can put our health at risk; the type and quality are just as significant.


Because nutrients are randomly distributed among different foods, the diet most likely to contain enough protein and all the vitamins and minerals, is one that provides enough energy and contains as wide a range of foods as possible.


To book a Nutritional Consultation for advice on the best dietary programme to boost your immune system in preparation for the Winter months, please contact me on: –

Freephone number 0800 999 6787,

my mobile number 07973 505088 or at my email address: –






Anand P, et al. Cancer is a preventable disease that requires major lifestyle changes.

Pharm Res. 2008 Sep;25(9):2097-116.



BCNH Biomedical Sciences (2002-2003)

Module 5 – Part 1 & Part 2

Immune & Lymphatic System A & P

Immune & Lymphatic Diseases.

Meek, J. Holford, P. (1998)

Boost Your Immune System

London, U.K.: Piatkus.

Murray, M., Pizzorono, J. and L. Pizzorono (2005) The Encyclopaedia of Healing Foods

U.S.A.: Atria Books.

Vanderhaeghe, L.R. Bouic, J.D. (2001)

The Immune System Cure

London, U.K.: Cico Books

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