Don't Boost Your Immune System, Balance It!
Better Nutrition|April 2021
Instead of “boosting” your immune function, which is not always a good thing, focus on fine-tuning your body for optimal immune health.
By Isaac Eliaz, MD, MS, LAC

As the global pandemic raged over the past year, everyone, it seems, has been looking for ways to boost immunity. After all, the immune system is our most important protection against everything going around. So it might seem to make sense that we’d want to ramp up our defenses. But when it comes to the immune system, balancing is far better than boosting.

What this means is that when our bodies face threats from invading microbes, we want our immune systems to mount a proper response, not to underreact or overreact, because either of those can lead to serious health problems.

Loading up on supplements such as echinacea, for example, can overstimulate the immune system, which can trigger a dangerous overreaction leading to runaway inflammation or and/or confused immune cells attacking the body— especially dangerous for anyone with an autoimmune condition. Even worse, an overstimulated immune system can set off a potentially deadly cytokine storm.

On top of that, an overstimulated immune system can get worn out. And if you’re boosting the wrong immune cells, you may not even get the microbe-defeating response you were hoping for in the first place.

So instead of giving your immune system a boost, give it balance—with complementary solutions that help fine-tune and train immune activity for optimal responses. Because a well-balanced immune system is truly your best defense.

Your Immune System Is a Whole System

The immune system is made up of thousands of moving parts that all need to work together with balance and harmony, including:

* Natural killer (NK) cells, which mobilize when your body detects infectious microbes or cancer cells

* Helper T cells, which send instructions to B cells and killer T cells

* Killer T cells, which kill off any of your cells that have been infected by an invading pathogen

* B cells, which produce targeted antibodies to fight specific invaders (a common cold antibody, for example)

* Cytokines, which end the signals that activate immune responses and inflammation

The key to a proper immune response involves activating the right cells at the right time and shutting them down once the threat has been neutralized. But if the immune system is out of balance, that carefully coordinated response can go off the rails.

When Your Immune System Is Out of Balance

A healthy, balanced immune system responds to threats, neutralizes them, and then goes back into “watch and wait” mode. It doesn’t underreact or overreact. But an immune system that’s out of balance simply can’t work properly.

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