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Understanding the Immune System for Winter Wellness

By Chris Jensen, October 2, 2011  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Chris Jensen
Ever wonder what your immune system is actually made of? Learn how the body responds to foreign invaders and what you can do both internally and externally to support winter wellness in this revealing encore presentation. Nancy Angelini is National Science Educator for Source Naturals and Planetary Herbals, with more than 15 years (and 1500 lectures!) in the natural products industry.

The immune system runs all throughout the body and includes various organs and glands that work together to keep the body balanced:
  • The immune system is a network of cells that defends the body from foreign invaders.  It includes protective barriers such as the skin and all mucus membranes, which are used as transport vehicles by the body to rid it of any foreign materials.
  • The immune system begins in the bone marrow where stem cells are formed and from there, all red and white blood cells.
  • The spleen is important because it brings blood into contact with white blood cells called lymphocytes. Any foreign invader will activate the lymphocytes by their presence.
  • The thymus gland is where T-lymphocytes are proliferated and is also a part of signaling and orchestrating immune defenses.  It is likened to a crossing guard at an intersection and cross-walk.
  • Lymph nodes are found distributed around the body to filter and destroy bacteria.
Prevention is key to keeping the body healthy throughout the season:
  • Wash your hands for at least 10 seconds in warm, soapy water. Public health studies have demonstrated that doing this simple task can reduce the spread of germs.
  • Consider getting a longer night’s rest during the months when there is less light.  Longer, deeper sleep helps our bodies to recover and build even in the lack of exposure to sunlight.
  • Science shows that emotional and physiological stress significantly impacts the immune system. Reducing stress allows the body a rest from stress hormones and creates more support for repairing and renewal.
Supplementing with combination immune formulas is beneficial during the peak season:
  • Cayenne, ginger and garlic encourage sweating to help cool the body.
  • Elderberry has been an effective seasonal remedy for hundreds of years in Europe.
  • Research shows Echinacea’s ability to support immune function, specifically through the increased activity of macrophages.  These scavengers make sure foreign matter is destroyed and help rid the body of debris.




heather stewart says ...
didn't ever think about getting longer nights sleep to help with months of less light. Interesting
10/26/2011 8:11:18 PM CDT
Cynthia C says ...
Thank you for explaining. I was not sure of the spleen's role in fighting infections.
10/24/2011 5:59:43 AM CDT
Tara Jennings says ...
Great information!
10/26/2011 8:08:08 PM CDT
Mary Michaud says ...
Thank you! That was very imformative and helpful. I knew about garlic and echinacea being helpful, but not the others.
10/26/2011 5:31:55 PM CDT
Janice Cooper says ...
Great info. I definitely wash my hands all the time at least 10 seconds or longer in warm water to fight germs. What I didn't know was ginger is a cold/flu remedy.
10/26/2011 6:53:03 PM CDT
bets says ...
Love the idea of needing more sleep in the winter due to lack of sun.
10/24/2011 11:12:29 AM CDT
Joellyn Akerley says ...
Really informative.
10/24/2011 10:50:34 AM CDT
Anne Loyd says ...
I did not realize that the red and white blood cells were so involved in the bone marrow. I also learned that the lymph nodes act as a filtering system. This is very interesting and I also appreciated the measures to help prevent illness.
10/27/2011 12:27:00 AM CDT
JulieK says ...
Thanks for the mention of several natural remedies to keep up immune support in winter - I am a fan of Elderberry and Echinachea already! But enjoyed hearing other ways to keep up good health! :)
10/26/2011 10:58:06 PM CDT
Patricia N says ...
Very concise, easy to understand overview of how some of our body's systems work.
10/27/2011 6:53:56 AM CDT
Mary Brown says ...
As a student in nursing school, I know how important it is to wash your hands often as well as trying to contain your sneezes and coughs. Wish more people understood how important it is, thanks for spreading the word!
10/27/2011 12:35:40 PM CDT
Corey Olomon says ...
This is great! I want to thank Whole Foods for doing a public service with these great podcasts!
10/30/2011 5:15:28 AM CDT
Laura Muzughi says ...
Amazing and useful information! Thought I knew quite a bit, but it is a wonderful surprise to find out just how much you don't know!
11/05/2011 8:00:08 PM CDT
Amber says ...
Wow, I never thought about the role bone marrow actually plays in our immune system!
10/23/2011 7:31:24 PM CDT
The Happy Wife says ...
Thanks for helping me see just how many body "parts" play a role in our immune system. I have taken a physiology course, but still never knew the extent of the various systems roles.
10/24/2011 6:19:53 PM CDT
Dina says ...
Thank you for the fascinating and timely information!
10/27/2011 8:16:57 AM CDT
Eugenie says ...
I like to eat ginger and garlic. It's good to know that those will help my immune system.
10/24/2011 11:43:35 PM CDT
Lindsey Davis says ...
I really like the idea of more sleep in the winter. I always feel more sleepy durning the winter. I do think the sun has something to do with it!
10/25/2011 9:15:49 PM CDT
Melissa says ...
Great tips and information. Thanks!
10/26/2011 4:20:39 PM CDT
sindy murray says ...
love to cook with Cayenne pepper and garlic!!
10/27/2011 8:58:16 PM CDT
Grace Thomas says ...
Liked the natural remedies info about Elderberry-had never heard of it!
10/27/2011 8:45:53 PM CDT
Pu Ye says ...
I Love the idea of needing more sleep in the winter due to lack of sun.
10/28/2011 1:53:27 AM CDT
Geri S says ...
WOW!!! this was very interesting. I didn't know how the immune system worked and I learned alot.
10/28/2011 12:46:14 PM CDT
Katharine D says ...
That was interesting, learned a few things I did not know.
10/24/2011 6:32:05 PM CDT
Jill Watkins says ...
Thanks for explaining all about our immune systems.
10/25/2011 4:06:16 PM CDT