Monday, January 13, 2014

The Goals of Nutritional Immunology

Nutritional Immunology focuses not only on prolonging life but improving the quality of life. It aims to help people make better-informed choices about nutrition and their lifestyle. Many people fall ill because they lack knowledge about nutrition. Many more don't know that nature provides all the nourishment we need for a healthy immune system. All  we need to do is to make the simple decision to eat healthier to improve and prolong our lives.

According to Nutritional Immunology, what we eat directly affects how our immune system works. Good nutrition gives us an amazing disease-fighting capability while poor nutrition makes us fall ill easily and take a longer time to recover. Nutritional Immunology emphasizes prevention over cure and longevity over more good health.

Unlike the days when poverty and starvation were rampant, many of us have access to sufficient sources of basic nutrition like protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.

Nutritional Immunology goes a step beyond these basic survival nutrients to research disease-fighting nutrients like antioxidants, phytochemicals and polysaccharides.

Experts on Nutritional Immunology study plant foods, which contain the most abundance of antioxidants, phytochemicals and polysaccharides. They also study the proper quantity of such plants that is need for excellent health. For example, studies show that we need a minimum of 15 different plant foods daily to obtain an optimum amount of phytochemicals.

Experts also emphasize consuming natural nutrients sources from whole plant foods and not chemically created ones. By encouraging us to consume more plant foods, Nutritional Immunology tackles the prevention of modern day chronic and degenerative illnesses by enhancing the health of the immune system.  When we succumb to chronic illnesses, we age faster. By preventing these illnesses, Nutritional Immunology helps us to strive for longevity.

Apart from researching types of immune-enhancing plant foods, Nutritional Immunology also focuses on the age, specie, part, cultivation, harvesting methods and processing techniques of these plant foods in order to derive maximum benefits.

Selecting species/ herbs:
For example, over 80 specie of ginger are available, but all contain different combinations of nutrients.

Some plants, like ginseng and ginseng berry, contain different nutrients in the root as compared to the fruits.

Orange and lemons have been traditional sources of the antioxidant, Vitamin C. But rose hips, the small fruits of roses, contain up to 50 times the amount of Vitamin C found in lemons.

Proanthocyanidin (OPC) found mainly in grape seeds, has 20 times more potent than Vitamin C and up to 50 times more potent than another antioxidant, Vitamin E.

Similarly, soy is perhaps one of the best sources of phytochemicals known to mankind. Isoflavones, a soy phytochemical is used to relieve menopause symptoms in women in place of risker chemical alternatives like hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

Mushromms are also being recognized for their astounding nutritional capabilities. Polysaccharides from Agaricus Blazel Murill (ABM), Shitake, Maitake, Ganoderman and Coriolus Versicolor mushrooms are particularly flavored for their ability to inhibit tumors and even enhance treatment procedures for existing cancer sufferers. However, Amanita mushrooms can kill when eaten.

Within the same Opuntia cactus family, there are some whose fruits are edible and others like Opuntia Compressa, whose fruits cannot be eaten.

Some plants are natural BUT are NOT safe. For example:
  • Ephedra (Ma Huang) - its active ingredient ephedrine, a popular ingredient in slimming pills can cause heart attacks, blood toxicity and bleeding strokes. The FDA has also collected over 150 ephedra-linked death reports.

  • Guar Gum - a weight-loss ingredient was banned in the 1990s. Guar gum is a complex sugar that swells when wet, creating a feeling of fullness when eaten. However, its side effects include frightening instances of stomach,  throat and intestinal blockage.

  • White Willow Bark - contains salicylic acid, the active ingredient in aspirin. The FDA says that this herb is sometimes used in child medications that are labeled aspirin-free. It can induce internal bleeding in aspirin-sensitive adults. The National Council Against Health Fraud cautions that using it for childhood chicken pox or influenza can lead to Reye's syndrome, a disease which affects all organs of the body, but most lethally the liver and the brain.

  • Guarana Seeds, Cola nut, Camellia leaf - high-caffeine herbs are popular weight-loss agents because caffeine reportedly boosts metabolism. Depending on the species, guarana yields up to 10% caffeine by weight. Camellia leaf carries about 3.5% and the average caffeine content of raw coffee is about 2.2% by weight. Experts concur that too much caffeine can cause anxiety. insomnia, irregular heartbeat, addictiveness and even death in those with high blood pressure. Some of these herbs are used in combination with diuretic herbs in slimming supplements to make the body lose large amount of water, leading to temporary weight loss. Overuse of diuretics also increases the risk of kidney damage.  

Harvesting Time:
Ginseng and cactus need to be grown for many years before harvesting while mushrooms are more nutritious when harvested early.

Processing for Quality and Quantity:
Certain phytochemicals may be found in the whole plant but not in its extract or juice. Similarly some plants can be heated to extract nutrients while others cannot. For example, soy needs heat during processing while heat may destroy nutrients in more fragile plants. Overheating cactus for instance, discolor the surface and reduces nutrient content. Heat can also degrade a food's fiber content.

While manufactures should be careful to thoroughly clean harvested plants, force should be avoided. Ginseng roots for instance should not be scrubbed vigorously as this removes valuable nutrients. Rapid drying after cleaning will also discolor fragile ginseng berries as each berry yields only a few drops of essence.

Cactus are among the most difficult plant foods to process. Their thorny exterior forms an imposing barrier to the highly nutritious getl within. A detailed regiment of extraction and filtration is need to remove the various tiny particles. thorns and impurities before the gel is fit for use.

Another plant food that must be carefully processed is bee pollen. Bee pollen consists of an edible and water-soluble interior and a hard, inedible exterior or shell. Commercial bee pollen sometimes contains the shell - endangering the digestive system and making it difficult for the body to absorb the nutrients.

The Knowledge Factor

There is a difference between good herbal products and excellent ones. It is not difficult to produce herbal products that have a good amount of nutrients. But it is extremely challenging to select the best herbs and plant foods and deliver them to consumers in the purest, freshest and most nutritious form.

It is knowledge that separates the two. Nature requires our respect and understanding. Only by being careful and aware can we expect to obtain the optimal power of an herb or plant food.

Thanks to Nutritional Immunology, we now can have that knowledge. And become it is a constantly developing science, we can rest assured that research is going to reveal even more astounding, disease-fighting properties in plant foods. Thus far at least, Nutritional Immunology is already giving us the most precious knowledge at all - how to prolong the length and quality of our lives through Nature's healthiest herbs!

If you wish to find out more about Nutritional Immunology, kindly contact me via message/ email.

Thank you. 

Warmest Regards, 
Nutritional Immunology Consultant

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