Most of us know that certain foods and supplements activate the immune system. But what we may not know is that many of those very same things have the potential to irritate autoimmune, chronic inflammatory, and allergic conditions. How is this possible? How could green tea or resveratrol be beneficial to one person and detrimental to another?
The Body Ecology Principle of Uniqueness teaches that there is no one size fits all approach to health. One’s individuality dictates the best route to success. It is the same for the function of our immune system.
Basic immune physiology goes like this: there are two types of immune response in the body.
One is known as innate immunity, and it is responsible for a rapid, non-specific response to various bacteria, virus, toxin, and tumor cells. Innate immune response happens first, like a knee-jerk reaction.
The second response is an adaptive immune response. Adaptive immunity, like its name suggests, is more calculated and tailored to whatever pathogen has entered the body.
How do these two work together in your body to defend your system again foreign substances? Your innate immune response is composed of specialized white blood cells called antigen presenting cells (APC), which identify the pathogen (antigen), begin the fight, and inform the adaptive immune response to what it’s dealing with. The adaptive immune response then sends in the proper cavalry, known as T helper cells. There are two types of T helper cells: Th1 and Th2.
If the pathogen is a threat to cell-like viruses, intracellular bacteria, fungi, protozoans, or cancer cells, then the APC will signal the Th1 cells of the adaptive immune system to become active. If the threat is blood-borne, then the Th2 cells become active.
Th1 and Th2 are balanced in a healthy immune system. Sometimes they may be out of balance, but that imbalance is short term and a protective mechanism of the body.
In the case of autoimmune diseases, the balance is lost, and either the Th1 or Th2 becomes dominant, resulting in our body attacking itself. As the immune system is over-stimulated, it finds itself in a self-perpetuating imbalance. This imbalance is known as Th1 – Th2 polarization. This causes a vicious cycle, increasing both the imbalance and the intensity of the attack.
For example, a Th1 cell-mediated response will produce inflammation. Persistent Th1-mediated inflammation has been linked with Crohn’s disease, IBS, type 1 diabetes, thyroid disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and systemic lupus erythemaosus.
Allergic conditions like asthma, allergies, sinusitis, colitis, eczema, viral infections, and certain food allergies tend to exhibit Th2 dominance. Chronic fatigue and immunodeficiency syndrome belong to this group as well.
To prevent common dietary triggers that can cause a number of adverse health reactions, make sure your diet is full of healthy probiotic drinks to keep your inner ecosystem in balance!
Understanding your own immune system is as important as understanding the foods and supplements that you choose to take. As science unravels biochemical pathways and the details of cellular function, the usefulness of customized herbal and diet therapy becomes more apparent. A primary health care practitioner can help you determine whether you are dominant in Th1 or Th2 response, which can be helpful when pinpointing autoimmune triggers.
As it turns out, specific foods, supplements, and even specific probiotics affect the Th1 – Th2 balance. Knowing what supplements stimulate either a Th1 or Th2 response is necessary to prevent any adverse reactions in your body.
Th1 Stimulating Supplements:
- Generally, immune-boosting herbs such as echinacea, astragulus, licorice root, ashwaganda, panax ginseng, chlorella, grape seed extract, and common immune-boosting medicinal mushroom extracts, like maitake, reishi, and shitake, will stimulate Th1.
Th2 Stimulating Supplements:
- Antioxidants like resveratrol, pycnogenol (found most notably in apples), curcumin from turmeric, genistein, quercetin, and green tea will stimulate Th2.
The great news for those that follow the principles of the Body Ecology Diet is that probiotics have a significant role in overall Th1 – Th2 regulation! The tissue lining the gastrointestinal tract is one of the most concentrated sources of white blood cells in the entire body, so making sure that your gut flora is present and healthy is a good way to boost regulatory T cell function.
Why not stop any unnecessary health reactions before they start by enjoying our delicious Coco Biotic probiotic beverage on a daily basis? This simple yet powerful drink is truly the key to restoring and maintaining your inner ecosystem.
WHAT TO REMEMBER MOST FROM THIS ARTICLE:
When it comes to chronic inflammation, autoimmune conditions, and allergic response, the immune system is already in a state of imbalance. That’s when slight triggers can cause massive flare-ups.
- Triggers may be supplements or foods that you regularly ingest.
- You can strengthen the regulatory function of T cells with probiotics.
- In diet and in supplementation, there is no one panacea, so listening to your own body is key.
Elenkov, Ilia. “Glucocorticoids and the Th1/Th2 Balance.” Annals New York Academy of Sciences. 1034 (2004): 138-146. Web. http://www.depts.ttu.edu/porkindustryinstitute/Topics%20Stress%20%26%20Immunity/TH1TH2Gluc04.pdf.
Gillingham LG, Lescheid DW. “Probiotics and Mucosal Immunity: Strain-specific effects on Th1/Th2 cell modulation.” IntJNM. 2009; 4.1: 18-22. Web. http://www.intjnm.org/admin/article/Leah_Gillingham,_David_Lescheid_.pdf.
Walsh, Bryan. “Research Review: Could Green Tea Actually Be Bad For YOU?” Precision Nutrition 02 Jan. 2009: Web.