How To Keep Your Immune System Healthy, According To Experts

How To Keep Your Immune System Healthy, According To Experts

  • October 31, 2020

With the colder months just around the corner and the third wave of coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) upon us, taking care of our immune system is more important than ever. 

Our immune system is the first line of defense against infection and disease. Although “scientifically there is no way to boost your immunity, there are certain lifestyle changes you can adopt to maintain a balanced immune system—one that can respond appropriately to infection and heal and repair any damage that may occur in the process,” says Dr. Jenna Macciochi, immunologist and author of Immunity: The Science of Staying Well.

Here, three health experts share key tips you can start following right now to maintain a robust immune system:

  • Load up on Vitamin C: “When you’re sick, your body uses more vitamin C, so keeping your body topped up is important and may help to reduce the time you are unwell,” says Rhiannon Lambert, London-based registered nutritionist and host of Food for Thought podcast. “Vitamin C helps support the production and function of the special types of white blood cells that attack bacteria and viruses,” explains James Collier, head nutritionist at Huel. “While the popular idea of vitamin C preventing the common cold has been exaggerated, a good vitamin C intake of at least the RDA is essential for an efficient immune system,” notes the nutrition expert. “It is important to note you can only get this water-soluble vitamin from the diet as it cannot be stored in the body,” Lambert points out. Foods like orange, bell pepper, strawberry, kiwi, broccoli, guava, tomato and kale are some of the best sources of Vitamin C. You can also try drinking Vita Coco coconut water for some additional vitamin C, suggests Lambert. “A 500ml carton of Vita Coco coconut water contains 90mg of vitamin C,” tells Lambert. 
  • Eat more protein: “Protein is well known for its ability to help build muscle, but it’s actually also vital for supporting immunity,” notes Collier. “Getting adequate protein is really important as it makes up the building blocks that help our immune system to make new cells and antibodies to fight infection,” explains Dr. Macciochi. “Consuming at least the RDA or above of protein will help keep your immune system strong and sturdy,” says Collier. Fatty fish, lean chicken, beans, tofu, lentils, nuts and seeds are good sources of protein. 
  • Get enough Vitamin D: Also known as the ‘sunshine’ vitamin as our bodies can make Vitamin D from sunlight, this nutrient helps support several different white blood cells to protect the body against foreign invaders, explains Collier. Oily fish, such as salmon and trout, are excellent sources of vitamin D. One of the next best sources of vitamin D are eggs—which contain 11% of the US RDA, followed by cheeses including Fontina, Muenster, and Monterey, tells the nutritionist.
  • Drink more H2O: “Staying hydrated is super important when it comes to the immune system,” says Collier. “The mucus in the mouth, nose and respiratory tract is on the front line when it comes to protecting your body against foreign invaders. If you’re dehydrated, you’ll make less mucus and this quite simply means you’ll be less protected. This is an added stressor to the body and can increase susceptibility to infection, so it’s important to drink up,” he explains. An average adult should consume at least three liters of fluids per day. “A general rule of thumb for healthy people is to drink two to three cups of water per hour, or more if you’re sweating heavily,” suggests a Harvard Health report
  • Balance your plate: “Building a fighting fit immune system comes down to eating a varied diet and ensuring our bodies get their recommended dietary allowances (RDAs) for all essential nutrients,” says Collier. Besides protein, fiber and Vitamins A, C, D and E, other essential micronutrients for a healthy immune system include iron, zinc, selenium, and vitamins B6 and B12. “Always aim for a food first approach,” says Dr. Macciochi. While “supplements might seem like a quick fix but unless you are deficient, there is little benefit from taking more than you need,” adds the immunologist.
  • Take care of our gut: Taking care of your gut health is another essential way to strengthen your immunity, tells Dr. Macciochi. The gut flora or gut microbiota not only regulates the body’s metabolism but its immune system as well. “Healthy intestinal barrier function allows certain gut-derived molecules to get into the body while keeping others out. This supports better immune and brain performance,” explains Dr. Sara Adães in a detailed report on the connection between gut microbiota and the immune system. Eating more fiber-rich foods like whole grains, seeds and veggies and fermented foods such as yogurt, tempeh and kombucha while limiting your intake of processed foods are some of the best ways to improve your gut health. 
  • Make sleep a priority: Getting good quality and quantity of sleep is crucial for a balanced immune system, says Dr. Macciochi. When you are asleep, your body produces cytokines—a protein that regulates your body’s immune and inflammation responses. In addition, the human body also produces a type of white blood cell called T-cells during sleep that destroy infected cells and regulate the body’s immune response. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an average adult needs at least seven hours of restful sleep every night for optimal health. 
  • Move often: Both Lambert and Dr. Macciochi stress that regular moderate exercise is essential for supporting your immune system. Moderate to intense physical activity reduces stress, fights inflammation and increases the blood flow which in turn keeps the immune cells, particularly T-cells, circulating rapidly through the bloodstream—all of which help your immune system in the long run. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), adults should get a total of at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or a minimum of 75 minutes of vigorous activity—plus muscle-strengthening exercises—at least twice a week. Here are some trainer-approved, no-equipment exercises you can easily do at home.
  • Try to limit stress: Managing your stress levels is also incredibly important for maintaining a healthy immune system, notes Dr. Macciochi. Chronic stress can make you susceptible to illness and disease as it weakens the immune system’s ability to combat infection. Here’s how to de-stress in five minutes or less. Doing meditation, exercising, listening to music and talking to a loved one are also great ways to alleviate stress.

Stay safe, peeps!

Rituximab Gives the Immune System a Boost Against Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

Rituximab Gives the Immune System a Boost Against Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

  • October 31, 2020

Could This Immunotherapy Be Right for You?

  • Rituximab (Rituxan) is a treatment that helps your immune system target lymphoma cells
  • It’s approved to treat certain B-cell lymphomas
  • Rituxan is most often given as an infusion that you get into a vein, but it can also be given as an injection under the skin
  • Possible side effects include fever, chills, itching, rash, and infection

Our immune system is designed to fight off harmful invaders, and that includes cancer. It uses proteins called antibodies to find and stick to the foreign cells, targeting them for destruction. But sometimes the immune system needs a little help finding and fighting lymphoma, which for some people can come in the form of immunotherapy drugs.

Rituximab (Rituxan) was the very first immunotherapy drug approved to treat some forms of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. “Rituximab is the immunotherapy that has been approved the longest and we have the most experience with for lymphoma,” Dr. Elise Chong, medical oncologist at Penn Medicine, tells SurvivorNet.

Rituxan’s Target

Rituxan is a type of immunotherapy drug called a monoclonal antibody. “What that means is it’s a manufactured antibody,” Dr. Chong says. “Just like our body produces antibodies, we’re able to manufacture antibodies in the lab.”

It’s designed to seek out and stick to another type of protein called an antigen on the surface of infection-fighting white blood cells, called B cells. The antigen in this case is CD20. Rituxan will only work on cancerous B cells with the CD20 antigen on their surface. Most T-cell lymphomas don’t contain this protein, which is why this treatment isn’t effective against them.

“CD20 needs to be expressed on the surface of the lymphoma cell because you want that antibody to target something that’s specific to your lymphoma,” Dr. Chong says.

Rituxan, either alone or in combination with chemotherapy, is approved for people with several types of B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma, such as:

  • Follicular lymphoma
  • Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
  • Marginal zone lymphoma
  • Mantle cell lymphoma

 

Related: “Potentially Curative” New Drug Could Help Thousands Of People With Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

 

How You’ll Get Rituxan

You may get Rituxan as the very first treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, or after you’ve already been on chemotherapy. Your doctor can prescribe this drug on its own (which is called monotherapy), or together with chemotherapy (which doctors call chemoimmunotherapy).

Rituxan is often given as an infusion through a vein. The dose you receive depends on the type of lymphoma you have.

The first infusion generally takes a few hours, but later infusions only take about an hour. Usually you’ll get Rituxan at an infusion center, during the same session as your chemotherapy. How you get this drug “really depends on the type of lymphoma you have, where your lymphoma is located, and what your physician thinks is the best approach for you,” Dr. Chong says.

Rituxan is now also approved to be given as an injection under the skin (subcutaneous injection) for many types of B-cell lymphoma. This may allow for faster delivery of the drug, and minimize the infusion-related reactions. However, different people prefer different modes of treatment delivery. Also, the subcutaneous form isn’t approved for all types of B-cell lymphomas.

What Are the Side Effects?

Most people tolerate Rituxan very well, Dr. Chong tells SurvivorNet. The most common side effects are what doctors call “infusion reactions,” because they start within the first 24 hours after you get the infusion. Watch for symptoms like these:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • A feeling of cold and shivering, called rigors
  • Itching
  • Rash
  • Swelling under the skin
  • Fast heart rate
  • Mild shortness of breath

Because healthy B cells also have the CD20 antigen on their surface, Rituxan can kill some of them, as well. A loss of these immune cells can impair your body’s ability to fight infections. Once you’ve finished treatment, your body will replenish these cells, but in the meantime, you’ll need to take extra precautions, such as staying away from large groups of people or wearing a mask, to avoid getting sick.

Occasionally, people have more severe side effects, such as low blood pressure or trouble breathing, which is why your chemotherapy nurses will carefully monitor you while you’re getting the infusion.

“It’s really important if people are receiving a rituximab infusion that they tell their physician or the nurse who’s supervising right away if they are having any side effects so that we can stop the infusion or modify the infusion,” Dr. Chong says.


Learn more about SurvivorNet’s rigorous medical review process.


Dr. Elise Chong is a medical oncologist at Penn Medicine, and an assistant professor of medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. She is board certified in medical oncology and internal medicine. Read More

Could This Immunotherapy Be Right for You?

  • Rituximab (Rituxan) is a treatment that helps your immune system target lymphoma cells
  • It’s approved to treat certain B-cell lymphomas
  • Rituxan is most often given as an infusion that you get into a vein, but it can also be given as an injection under the skin
  • Possible side effects include fever, chills, itching, rash, and infection

Our immune system is designed to fight off harmful invaders, and that includes cancer. It uses proteins called antibodies to find and stick to the foreign cells, targeting them for destruction. But sometimes the immune system needs a little help finding and fighting lymphoma, which for some people can come in the form of immunotherapy drugs.

Rituximab (Rituxan) was the very first immunotherapy drug approved to treat some forms of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. “Rituximab is the immunotherapy that has been approved the longest and we have the most experience with for lymphoma,” Dr. Elise Chong, medical oncologist at Penn Medicine, tells SurvivorNet.

Rituxan’s Target

Read More

Rituxan is a type of immunotherapy drug called a monoclonal antibody. “What that means is it’s a manufactured antibody,” Dr. Chong says. “Just like our body produces antibodies, we’re able to manufacture antibodies in the lab.”

It’s designed to seek out and stick to another type of protein called an antigen on the surface of infection-fighting white blood cells, called B cells. The antigen in this case is CD20. Rituxan will only work on cancerous B cells with the CD20 antigen on their surface. Most T-cell lymphomas don’t contain this protein, which is why this treatment isn’t effective against them.

“CD20 needs to be expressed on the surface of the lymphoma cell because you want that antibody to target something that’s specific to your lymphoma,” Dr. Chong says.

Rituxan, either alone or in combination with chemotherapy, is approved for people with several types of B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma, such as:

  • Follicular lymphoma
  • Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
  • Marginal zone lymphoma
  • Mantle cell lymphoma

 

Related: “Potentially Curative” New Drug Could Help Thousands Of People With Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

 

How You’ll Get Rituxan

You may get Rituxan as the very first treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, or after you’ve already been on chemotherapy. Your doctor can prescribe this drug on its own (which is called monotherapy), or together with chemotherapy (which doctors call chemoimmunotherapy).

Rituxan is often given as an infusion through a vein. The dose you receive depends on the type of lymphoma you have.

The first infusion generally takes a few hours, but later infusions only take about an hour. Usually you’ll get Rituxan at an infusion center, during the same session as your chemotherapy. How you get this drug “really depends on the type of lymphoma you have, where your lymphoma is located, and what your physician thinks is the best approach for you,” Dr. Chong says.

Rituxan is now also approved to be given as an injection under the skin (subcutaneous injection) for many types of B-cell lymphoma. This may allow for faster delivery of the drug, and minimize the infusion-related reactions. However, different people prefer different modes of treatment delivery. Also, the subcutaneous form isn’t approved for all types of B-cell lymphomas.

What Are the Side Effects?

Most people tolerate Rituxan very well, Dr. Chong tells SurvivorNet. The most common side effects are what doctors call “infusion reactions,” because they start within the first 24 hours after you get the infusion. Watch for symptoms like these:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • A feeling of cold and shivering, called rigors
  • Itching
  • Rash
  • Swelling under the skin
  • Fast heart rate
  • Mild shortness of breath

Because healthy B cells also have the CD20 antigen on their surface, Rituxan can kill some of them, as well. A loss of these immune cells can impair your body’s ability to fight infections. Once you’ve finished treatment, your body will replenish these cells, but in the meantime, you’ll need to take extra precautions, such as staying away from large groups of people or wearing a mask, to avoid getting sick.

Occasionally, people have more severe side effects, such as low blood pressure or trouble breathing, which is why your chemotherapy nurses will carefully monitor you while you’re getting the infusion.

“It’s really important if people are receiving a rituximab infusion that they tell their physician or the nurse who’s supervising right away if they are having any side effects so that we can stop the infusion or modify the infusion,” Dr. Chong says.

Learn more about SurvivorNet’s rigorous medical review process.


Dr. Elise Chong is a medical oncologist at Penn Medicine, and an assistant professor of medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. She is board certified in medical oncology and internal medicine. Read More

'It was quite unusual for us': Mothers want to start breastfeeding again to protect their babies from COVID-19 | The Canberra Times

‘It was quite unusual for us’: Mothers want to start breastfeeding again to protect their babies from COVID-19 | The Canberra Times

  • October 31, 2020

coronavirus, coronavirus, covid-19, coronavirus mums, coronavirus babies, coronavirus breastfeeding

Mothers who have stopped breastfeeding are looking to start lactating again to boost their baby’s immune system during the pandemic, according to the Australian Breastfeeding Association. Breastfeeding Information and Research senior manager Naomi Hull said inquiries into re-lactation accounted for 14 per cent of all discussions since coronavirus hit Australia in March. “It’s quite unusual for us but we’ve had many women call to ask about breastfeeding again after they’ve already stopped. Some have weaned their babies and want to know how to reverse it,” Ms Hull said. “Mothers understand that breast milk has anti-viral properties that help to protect their baby from whatever the mother is exposed to.” Normally, re-lactation wouldn’t even rank in the top 20 reasons for women calling the Breastfeeding Association’s helpline. During COVID-19 it ranked in the top four. The association also reported that 26 per cent of calls were from mothers who wanted to improve their breast milk supply and breastfeed their babies for longer. One reason for this is that mothers want to provide their babies with the best possible immune system. But another is to have a reliable food source as bushfire season comes around. “Imagine you’re a formula-feeding mum on that beach at Mallacoota during the bushfires, and you have no access to formula. You don’t have food security for your baby,” Ms Hull said. “It’s a big issue, so we don’t advise women to wean their babies during bushfire season if possible.” With most face-to-face breastfeeding classes cancelled during the pandemic, the last few months have been an isolating and uncertain time for new and expecting mothers. As a result, breastfeeding services like the Association have been experiencing a high volume of calls to their helpline. “Our average call length to our helpline has increased from 12 minutes to 16 minutes, and the number of calls increased from an average of 600 a month to 800-1000 calls in April alone,” Ms Hull said. “We noticed that there’s an increase in women saying they’re worried about accessing face-to-face medical services due to fear of exposure.” The breastfeeding association is currently calling for more funding to support the implementation of the government’s National Breastfeeding Strategy. The goal of the strategy is to create a breastfeeding friendly society and ensure 40 per cent of Australian babies are fully breastfeed to six-months-old by 2022. During the pandemic, however, Ms Hull said it was vital women know the Breastfeeding Association is here to help them when they need it. “A lot of the time, mothers want to breastfeed and they just aren’t able to access the support and information when they need it,” Ms Hull said. “Mothers need someone to talk to who understands what they’re going through.”

https://nnimgt-a.akamaihd.net/transform/v1/crop/frm/XBxJDq6WLub2UphQ8wEq23/19f38f8f-354e-49be-9135-d0f7942e39d0.jpg/r1_307_2999_2001_w1200_h678_fmax.jpg

Paul O’Hare, from Mayobridge, with cattle been dosed at housing with Liquid Gold Cattle

Boosting stocks’ immune system prior to housing is a must!

  • October 31, 2020
Paul O’Hare, from Mayobridge, with cattle been dosed at housing with Liquid Gold Cattle
Paul O’Hare, from Mayobridge, with cattle been dosed at housing with Liquid Gold Cattle

“With this in mind, farmers should drench young stock with Liquid Gold Cattle,” confirmed Paul Elwood of HVS Animal Health.

“The product contains all the mineral and vitamins required to boost animals’ immune systems. This is critically important at this time of the year.”

Paul added: “Worming and fluking will be crucially important prior to housing as will be the vaccination of young stock to prevent pneumonia. Drenching with a proven mineral and vitamin supplement will help boost the uptake of the vaccine.”

Turning to the issue of silage quality Paul confirmed that many forages will be inherently low in minerals and trace elements this winter. He commented: “This is a consequence of the weather extremes recorded this year. Swards were impacted by drought in the early spring. This was followed by the exceptionally wet weather which characterised June and July.

“A reduction in mineral and trace mineral levels will trace elements in forages will impact severely on the growth rates achieved by stores and suckled calves over the coming winter months.

“These key nutrients must, therefore, be supplemented in order to maintain performance levels over the coming winter months.”

Paul went on to point out that ‘HVS Liquid Gold Cattle’ contains all of the micro minerals and vitamins required by beef cattle and sheep with Zinc, Manganese, Copper and Iron made available solely in a chelated form.

“The products represent the next generation in chelated mineral and vitamin drenches,” he further explained.

“Increasingly, farmers must seek to maximise the performance of their livestock. The Liquid Gold range has been developed to meet this specific requirement.”

Independent trial results have shown that cattle given HVS Liquid Gold recorded improved performance and profitability. Animals drenched with the product recorded daily liveweight gains that were, on average, 29.4% greater those in the control group.

In addition, cattle drenched stood out for their more obvious thrive and bloom. Treated calves showed improved performance, vitality and appetite.

Liquid Gold Cattle can be given to breeding cows, store cattle, suckle calves and dairy replacements in order to boost fertility levels and growth rates. The dosage rates are: yearlings – 60 mls per head; weanlings- 50 mls per head and breeding stock – 100 mls per head.

Paul continued: “Liquid Gold has been used extensively by beef farmers across Northern Ireland. Invariably, the reports coming back confirm that stock drenched with the new product look healthier, have put on more weight and have a better bloom on their coats the year round.

He concluded: “Managing young stock at housing is crucially important. This year, cattle will be under stress due to the poor grazing conditions they have encountered since turnout in the Spring.

“Drenching with them HVS Liquid Gold Cattle will ensure that they get the micro minerals and vitamins they need in the run up to the housing season.

“This, in turn, will help improve their immune status, which is extremely low in many herds and maximise daily liveweight gains over the coming winter months.”

For further information, contact HVS Animal Health on (028) 44831700.

7 Foods to Boost and Strengthen Your Immune System

7 Foods to Boost and Strengthen Your Immune System

  • October 31, 2020

Often when going to the doctor the first question we hear is about our diet because the foods we consume play an important role in our health and in keeping our immune system strong. Just as some foods can be toxic to our body and cause serious conditions, there are also certain foods that can particularly strengthen our physical health to better fight inevitable illnesses.

Amid the global coronavirus pandemic, it is crucial now more than ever to pay attention to what we consume. Today there is still no cure or approved vaccine for COVID-19, but a healthy diet and strong immune system can help our body fight against viruses and germs in general.

Read also: Restarting ‘Regular’ Life: 8 Tips to Consider After COVID-19 Lockdown

These are seven foods that you can add to your diet to boost and strengthen your immune system and prevent colds, the flu, and other infections.

Citrus fruits

Citrus fruit. Photo: Pixabay

Citrus fruits such as grapefruits, oranges, tangerines, lemons, and limes are high in antioxidants. They also contain vitamin C, which is important because it increases the production of white blood cells that fight foreign germs and bacteria.

The consumption of citrus fruits can help you repair skin tissues, improve the function of your immune system, and decrease cold symptoms. Adult women should consume at least 75 milligrams of vitamin C per day, while men should have 90 milligrams.

Other fruits that are excellent sources of vitamin C are kiwis and grapefruits. Consuming a sufficient amount of the important vitamin and antioxidant per day is not difficult. Just one grapefruit contains 80 milligrams of vitamin C while one medium orange has 70 milligrams.

Extra virgin olive oil

Extra virgin olive oil. Photo: Pixabay

Extracted from the olive tree, olive oil, especially extra virgin oil olive, is a food that contains plenty of fatty acids and anti-inflammatory properties to boost the human immune system and help in protecting against infection and chronic illnesses.

Extra virgin oil is also rich in vitamin E and antioxidants that can help the body fight inflammation and protect blood cholesterol from oxidation. Considered a healthy fat, olive oil can also help in maintaining a healthy weight and support muscle gain.

Besides its many health benefits, olive oil is a delicious and a great addition to any meal you are having whether it is a salad, pasta, or grilled food. Next time you are preparing your food, ditch the unhealthy oils and add olive oil to your diet for a savory meal and a healthier body.

Yogurt

Plain yogurt. Photo: Pixabay

Yogurt is another food that can boost and strengthen your immune system, especially Greek yogurt. This, however, does not include the flavored ones sometimes loaded with sugar, which can be unhealthy. Plain yogurt has a high amount of protein and vitamin D that can help in bone and skin strength as well as regulate your immune system.

The yummy snack is also a good source of probiotics, which are healthy bacteria that have many benefits for the body and brain, such as improving digestion, detoxification, relieving irritable bowel syndrome symptoms, and lowering heart disease.

Read also: Six Healthy Late-Night Snacks to Promote Quality Sleep

To add flavor to the yogurt and make it a delicious and healthy light meal, mix it with fruits and honey. Alternatively, use it as a salad dressing in either vegetable or egg salad—you can also replace your mayonnaise with yogurt to have a similar flavor with healthy benefits.

Broccoli

Broccoli. Photo: Pixabay

Broccoli is another source of great vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins A, C, and E, fiber, and antioxidants. They play an important role in helping to regulate and strengthen your immune system and fight off illnesses, which makes the tree-like vegetable one of the best foods to serve on your plate.

Other important nutrients in the green vegetable are potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron, and B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, and B6). All these food properties offer a health benefit to the body and boost the immune system.

It is important to remember to not cook the broccoli for too long and opt for steaming it so it retains its valuable nutrients. There are many ways you can prepare your broccoli meal to make it more interesting and yummy—you can have it in salads, as a soup, or roast it with olive oil and garlic to add more flavor.

Spinach

Spinach. Photo: Pixabay

Spinach is another green vegetable “super food” because it contains several important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that strengthen your immune system and boost its fighting faculty against harmful bacteria and infection.

Some of the essential nutrients spinach contains are fiber, magnesium, iron, and vitamins C and E. These help support the human immune system, prevent the common cold, reduce symptoms of sickness, and provide the body with the necessary nutrients for cell division and DNA repair.

Spinach is also best cooked just a little to avoid losing most of its healthy nutrients. You can use it in several tasty dishes such as salads, in lasagna, with cheese-stuffed pasta shells, and roasted with olive oil with a yogurt dressing.

Ginger

Fresh ginger. Photo: Pixabay

Humans have for centuries used ginger to treat the common cold or flu symptoms such as fever, sore throat, and nausea. The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agents in ginger, a wonderful addition to so many foods, help support and strengthen the immune system, boost your ability to fight off illnesses, and may even help prevent serious health conditions such as cancer.  

The antioxidant properties in ginger help the body regulate metabolism and digestion, help with menstrual cramps, and control blood sugar levels. Many people use ginger as a spice for a variety of dishes and its sweet and unique flavor makes it a great component in tea.

Other ways you can benefit from fresh ginger is to add it to your cake of choice, put some in your orange and carrot juice, cook it into grilled meat or chicken wings, or have it with some hot chocolate and cinnamon for a great fusion of flavor.

Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes. Photo: Pixabay

Sweet potatoes are a favorite food for many not only for their wonderful taste but also because the sweet vegetable is very rich in nutrients that play an essential role in helping to boost and strengthen the human immune system. Some of its important nutrients are protein, fiber, magnesium, potassium, vitamins A, C, and B6, and antioxidants that protect the body from harmful foreign molecules.

The tasty food also contains Beta carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A. This protects against skin damage and keeps it strong and healthy, as well as supports healthy vision.

There are many dishes where you can add sweet potatoes to your diet, such as baked sweet potatoes, sweet potatoes chips, roasted sweet potatoes with olive oil, mashed sweet potatoes, or with avocado toast. Changing our diet is important for our health, to help us maintain a healthy body that is able to fight against infections and harmful germs. Knowing which foods are good for your body and health can facilitate your diet choices. These seven foods can boost and strengthen your immune system in the long run.

Italians snap up baby-milk supplements after virus claim

Italians snap up baby-milk supplements after virus claim

  • October 31, 2020
coronavirus
Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

Italian pharmacists are facing a huge upsurge in demand for a niche product usually marketed as an immune system booster for babies—weeks after a viral video suggested it could protect against coronavirus.

Lactoferrin, a protein found in high concentrations in breast milk, has undergone a small clinical trial in Rome and the organisers reported positive results but said more research was needed.

There has been no confirmation that the drug is effective against coronavirus, but pharmacies in central Rome told AFP they were dealing with dramatic surges in demand in a country with one of Europe’s highest death tolls.

“We don’t know anything about this product—we’re blind too,” a pharmacist told AFP on condition of anonymity, confirming that demand was spiking. “When people are scared, they will believe anything.”

The demand for lactoferrin followed a local news report in July in which Elena Campione, a dermatology professor from the Tor Vergata university in Rome and one of the organisers of the trial, made striking claims about her research.

“We decided to treat patients with COVID-19, in the early stage of the disease,” she said.

“It was incredible but 10 days after the beginning of the therapy, the symptoms disappeared and the PCR test (for ) were negative.”

The report went viral on social media, with banners added by a user proclaiming “ block COVID-19: Italian research discovers” and “how will they convince us we all need to be vaccinated now?”

The video died away after its initial popularity but resurfaced as virus cases began to rise, surpassing 25,000 a day by the end of October.

‘No clinical evidence’

Although the substance is sold most often as a supplement for babies, it is also branded by one firm as “CovAlt” and sold in a product range that includes hand gels and other items associated with the virus.

The hullaballoo helps sales of these types of products, but some experts are not impressed.

“I am getting many requests about this, so I respond collectively to everyone,” Roberto Burioni, a virology professor in Milan who runs a website called Medical Facts, wrote on Twitter.

“There is no to indicate the usefulness of lactoferrin in preventing or treating COVID-19.”

Spanish health authorities agree with his assessment.

They recently ordered a doctor to stop making similar claims about his lactoferrin products and cited him for carrying out unauthorised studies.

Dr. Gabriel Serrano is now reportedly facing sanctions from the regional health authority in Valencia over his activities.

However, the positive coverage of lactoferrin largely continued in Italy, with an uncritical article in Repubblica newspaper on Thursday proclaiming in its headline: “Lactoferrin protects against the virus.”

The paper on Friday ran another article with news that the research was inconclusive.

‘Like a psychosis’

Meanwhile, a large pharmacy in central Rome told AFP they were now shifting up to 100 boxes of the supplement each week compared with just two or three in a month in normal times.

“I don’t ask whether people are buying this for COVID—it’s getting to flu season so maybe some people are buying it for that,” said a worker at the Igea San Gallicano pharmacy in Rome.

“But if someone comes and buys in bulk, you just know they’re buying it because of COVID.”

Another pharmacist, standing in front of boxes of “CovAlt” and other pills, told AFP her small family outlet had seen an upsurge in demand—and even that some people had come with prescriptions from their doctor.

“They used to come and ask for advice on what they could take to maybe boost their immune system against COVID,” she said.

“Now they come and ask for these products by name.”

She said she had seen the product flying off the shelves in bigger pharmacies, describing demand for such unproven products as “like a psychosis”.

AFP contacted Laboratorio della Farmacia, which manufactures the CovAlt range, and the health ministry but received no response.


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New Method of Immunotherapy Involves Training the Innate Immune System Against Cancer

New Method of Immunotherapy Involves Training the Innate Immune System Against Cancer

  • October 31, 2020

One way to treat cancer is through immunotherapy or boosting the body’s defenses against cancer cells by targeting the adaptive immune system, which triggers B-cells and T-cells. New research suggests that the innate immune system also plays an important role in response to cancer.

A study led by the University of Pennsylvania was recently published in the journal Cell. International scientists developed a new method to train the innate immune system to prevent or attack tumors.

Innate immunity contains nonspecific defense mechanisms in the presence of antigens. The mechanisms include barriers such as the skin, chemicals in the blood, and cells that attack intruders.

The immune system also has adaptive immunity which triggers an antigen-specific response. The more complex system processes and analyzes the intruding antigen that triggers an army of immune cells. Adaptive immunity also stores memory cells to efficiently attack returning antigens.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vm9T6QoDnck

Training the Innate Immune System

In the new study, the team focused on specific innate immune cells called neutrophils. Using mice models, the cells were trained or primed to attack tumors using a compound derived from a fungus called β-glucan in the form of the Bacillus Calmette-Guėrin vaccine.

The Bacillus Calmette-Guėrin vaccine was developed in the early 1900s to protect the immune system against tuberculosis and leprosy. The vaccine is typically administered in newborns and infants.

George Hajishengallis said the previously, myeloid cells (innate immune cells) were not considered important. Immunotherapies are typically focused on adaptive immunity such as interactions between T-cells and cancer cells. However, the team’s research suggests the important role that myeloid cells play in regulating tumor behavior.

Training myeloid cells with β-glucan resulted in improved immune recovery after chemotherapy. The memory of the innate immune system is found in the bone marrow or hematopoietic stem cells. “The fact that β-glucan helps you fight tumors doesn’t necessarily mean it was through trained immunity,” explained Hajishengallis.

Read Also: Researchers Discover How Cancer Spreads Via Lymphatic Vessels

 

New Method of Immunotherapy

In the mice models, the neutrophils exposed to β-glucan from mice models were given to mice with cells that developed into melanoma tumors. Tumor growth was hindered when mice received trained cells.

The team also performed bone marrow transplants by transferring trained cells to untrained mice. Treatment was effective once again. Triantafyllos Chavakis from Technical University Dresden in Germany explained that it was “innate immune memory at work.”

Antitumor activity from trained neutrophils most likely produced more reactive oxygen species (ROS) or signaling molecules that damage cells. However, ROS can also kill tumor cells.

The researchers also discovered that certain genes can regulate innate immune priming. For example, mice without type I (TAN1) neutrophils could not produce trained neutrophils.

“This is a breakthrough concept that can be therapeutically exploited for cancer immunotherapy in humans,” Hajishengallis says, “specifically by transferring neutrophils from β-glucan-trained donors to cancer patients who would be recipients.” Currently, β-glucan is undergoing clinical trials for cancer immunotherapy.

Read Also: New Study Repurposes Cancer Immunotherapy Tools to Identify Targets for COVID-19 Vaccine

 

Check out more news and information on Cancer on Science Times.

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where has all the kindness and decency gone?

where has all the kindness and decency gone?

  • October 31, 2020

Halifax describes the three characteristics of compassion as: the ability to look at suffering; the drive to transform it; and the ability to not be attached to outcomes. On the other hand, pity, moral outrage and fear, all of which seem to dominate the news cycle, choke our capacity for compassion and could have a negative effect on our health outcomes.

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Meanwhile, away from the spotlight, out in the community, spontaneous acts of kindness and compassion have been occurring every day. Neighbours have gone shopping for the frail and elderly, young people have performed dances in their front yards, retired nurses have gone back to work – but this heartfelt urge to help is under-represented in the public dialogue, where politics often seems to take precedence over kindness.

Contrary to the impression given by our “tough guy” shock-jocks and combative commentators, compassion is not weak. As Buddhism says, it takes a strong back, but a soft front. Garrison says: “Compassion is what we will depend on to help rebuild ourselves, our communities, our country once this is all over. Compassion also, as it turns out, may help to boost our immune system.”

Physiologically, it appears that feeling compassion stimulates nervous system responses that decrease our instinct to be alert to danger, that reduce stress and help us connect with others. Research suggests it also “helps to increase heart rate variability (which is a sign of healthy autonomic nervous system balance), reduce sympathetic activation (fight or flight), reduce cortisol levels, and improve immune system health”.

When we withdraw, isolate ourselves and brood, it has the opposite effect, causing an increased release of cortisol, and increased amygdala activation (the amygdala controls the fear/anxiety/anger response in the brain).

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When it comes to COVID, the evidence is particularly interesting. People who practise compassion meditation experience lower levels of cortisol, and IL-6. The latter has been linked to, “the lung inflammation damage seen in more severe COVID-19 cases …. [where] inflammation runs amok, damaging not only viruses but also healthy human cells … In addition, as compassion has been shown to enhance parasympathetic activation (rest and digest), it can in this way help enhance overall immune system function”.

So, in these stressful times, we can all benefit from more compassion, but how do we go about it? Kristin Neff offers some guided self-compassion meditations. Halifax says that we are all born with the seeds of compassion, but they need to be nurtured. She concludes that we not only need to train our children and health workers to be compassionate, “we need to vote for it”.

Email: abtlastnight@gmail.com

Giving the immune system a double boost against cancer

Giving the immune system a double boost against cancer

  • October 30, 2020

IMAGE

IMAGE: A highly specialized cell, the fibroblastic reticular cell, coordinates immune responses to cancer cells. In this image, a single fibroblastic reticular cell is identified, by staining it: the cell nucleus…
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Credit: CSHL, 2020

Cancer immunotherapies, which empower patients’ immune systems to eliminate tumors, are revolutionizing cancer treatment. Many patients respond well to these treatments, sometimes experiencing long-lasting remissions. But some cancers remain difficult to treat with immunotherapy, and expanding the impact of the approach is a high priority.

In the October 30 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team led by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory scientists Tobias Janowitz and Douglas Fearon together with Duncan Jodrell at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute and Centre, University of Cambridge reports on a clinical trial of a drug that induces an integrated immune response in the tumors of patients with cancer types that do not usually respond to immunotherapy. The researchers hope the potential treatment might make such tumors more responsive to the class of drugs known as immune checkpoint inhibitors.

Checkpoint inhibitors release natural brakes on the immune system, freeing it to find and destroy cancer cells. But they generally have not been effective against cancer cells with low levels of genetic mutation. Janowitz said:

“Those tumors often do not seem to be visible to the immune system and do not seem to be unmasked by these therapies that are currently available. And we have reasons to believe that that is because they can engage an immune suppressive pathway that keeps most of the immune cells out of the cancer cell nest.”

In this clinical trial, the research team interrupted that immunosuppressive pathway with a drug called plerixafor. The drug was administered continuously by I.V. for one week to 24 patients with either pancreatic cancer or colorectal cancer with a low tumor mutational burden. All patients had advanced disease, and biopsies were collected from metastatic tumors before and after treatment.

When the team analyzed those patient samples, they found that critical immune cells had infiltrated the tumors during the time patients received plerixafor, including a cell type known to summon and organize key players in the anti-cancer response. The finding was encouraging because the team detected changes that have also been observed in patients whose cancers responded well to checkpoint inhibitors.

Jodrell, who led the planning and patient recruitment for the clinical study, said, “I am delighted that the work of this multi-disciplinary team has translated important laboratory findings into patients, with the potential to make a difference in these hard-to-treat cancers.” A clinical trial based on this study is about to start recruitment and will test the effects of combining plerixafor with an approved checkpoint inhibitor.

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This study included clinical collaborators at Weill Cornell Medicine.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.

4 health benefits of sweet potatoes, according to nutritionists

4 health benefits of sweet potatoes, according to nutritionists

  • October 30, 2020
  • Sweet potatoes have many health benefits because they are packed with antioxidants and Vitamin A — which help support eyesight, boost immunity, and may improve brain function. 
  • Sweet potatoes are also a healthy choice for people with diabetes since they are slightly lower on the glycemic index than regular potatoes. 
  • This article was reviewed by Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, nutrition and wellness expert with a private practice based in New York City.
  • Visit Insider’s Health Reference library for more advice.

Sweet potatoes are much more than just a fall favorite or Thanksgiving dish. These starchy root vegetables should be eaten year-round because they offer a variety of health benefits. Sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamins and antioxidants, making them a great addition to any diet. 

Here are four benefits that sweet potatoes may provide. 

Sweet potatoes support eyesight

Sweet potatoes contain carotenoids, which are antioxidants that are responsible for many of the food’s benefits, including supporting eyesight. 

Beta carotene, in particular, is responsible for the orange color of sweet potatoes, and is useful for eyesight since it is converted to vitamin A

“Vitamin A is part of a compound called rhodopsin needed for essential adaptation to light and dark. Proper eyesight is therefore dependent on vitamin A,” says Roberta Anding, a registered dietitian at Baylor College of Medicine. 

Additionally, a 2013 review found that beta carotene, along with other nutrients like vitamin C, E, and zinc, can help reduce the risk of age-related eye diseases. 

All you need to eat is one sweet potato per day — which has 1,403 mcg of vitamin A — amounting to 156% of the daily recommended amount. 

Sweet potatoes may improve your immune system

The antioxidants in sweet potatoes can also protect the immune system from free radicals, says Vijaya Surampudi, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Human Nutrition at UCLA. 

Free radicals are produced as a result of normal cell cycling as a byproduct of life, or they may be caused by environmental pollutants or UV radiation. Free radicals can damage the DNA of healthy cells, including immune system cells that are necessary to fight off infections. Antioxidants can combat this damage and keep the immune system strong.

Furthermore, the presence of vitamin A in sweet potatoes helps support the immune system. A 2008 report stated that vitamin A is one of the most important nutrients for immune support. Specifically, the study says vitamin A may help support T-cells, a type of white blood cell that’s crucial for immune function. 

Sweet potatoes are a healthy choice for people with diabetes

People with diabetes are often told to limit their intake of regular potatoes because they are high on the glycemic index, meaning they can cause blood sugar to spike too much. However, sweet potatoes are a little lower on the glycemic index than regular potatoes, Surampudi says, which makes them a healthier choice for people with diabetes. 

“Sweet potatoes have a little more fiber and are slightly lower on the glycemic index than white potatoes. This can result in a slower rise in the blood glucose value,” says Surampudi.

According to Harvard Medical School, regular potatoes have a glycemic index of about 78, whereas sweet potatoes have a glycemic index of around 63. 

Sweet potatoes may boost brain function

Evidence is insufficient to say whether sweet potatoes improve brain function in humans. However, there have been promising animal studies. 

For example, a 2010 study showed that the anthocyanins, compounds that have antioxidant effects, in purple sweet potatoes can inhibit inflammation in the brains of mice, and another 2010 study showed that memory was improved in old mice who were given anthocyanins. If the same principles apply in humans, then we can infer that sweet potatoes may boost brain function in humans, but for now, we do not know for sure. 

The bottom line

Sweet potatoes are great for your health, but in order to be healthy and improve multiple aspects of your life, it’s important to have a varied, balanced diet. Anding suggests adding more color into your diet, in general, to stay healthy and prevent chronic disease as well as to ensure that you are getting a wide array of vitamins and minerals – and sweet potatoes are a great place to start.

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