The paradox of healthy nutrition
The nutritional immune response is an interesting paradox. Simply put, during the nutritional immune response, your body actually rids itself of or sequesters certain essential nutrients unequivocally required for your health in an effort to keep you healthy!
Have you ever heard of such a thing?
First, you probably think of your immune system as one system. After all, you are inundated with product advertisements claiming to improve your immune system. You may even be familiar with the medical term “auto-immune disease” or a variant thereof. This is a catchall term typically used that detracts from the many components of an extremely complex system – your immune system.
Your immune system is comprised of many parts including the innate and adaptive, cellular immune response (viruses, fungi, etc.), humoral immune response (primarily bacterial infections), Peyers patches in the gut, bone marrow, thymus, spleen, lymph system, and so on that perform specific tasks for your health. Yes, this all transpires without any conscious thought on your behalf. It is an autonomic function.
However, you may not realize that one of the autonomic responses of your immune system is a nutritional immune response termed nutritional immunity.
One of the first lines of defense against bacterial infection is the withholding of nutrients to prevent bacterial outgrowth in a process termed nutritional immunity. (1)
As you know, we consistently reiterate the importance of nutrient balance (deficiencies and excesses) between all nutrients. Here’s another example of why…
Among others, zinc and pyridoxine deficiencies are associated with marked immunodepression… This has been observed in man, in genetically obese mice, and in states of excess intake of lipids, vitamins, minerals, and trace elements. (2)
Keep in mind, as we reveal throughout this website, an excess of any nutrient can contribute toward a deficiency of many other nutrients ultimately resulting in subclinical malnutrition.
Let’s look at an example of how this works during a bacterial attack.
Copper, among it numerous functions throughout the mind and body, is a bacterial fighter (zinc is a viral fighter). Many species of bacteria are known to thrive and proliferate on iron (1). It is food for bacteria. As you know, both copper and iron are essential elements required for health.
So, this is how your nutritional immune response works during a bacterial attack. Your immune system innately knows iron feeds the bacteria (many different species thereof) so it begins to automatically remove or sequester iron from the blood in an effort to starve the harmful bacteria. Remove the food and weaken the enemy.
By weakening or slowing down the spread (proliferation) of the bacteria, this assists the other components of the immune system (T-cells, B-cells, etc.) to kill the bacteria much more quickly and effectively.
Keep in mind this was a simple example involving only two minerals. In its full complexity, there are many other nutrients involved in the nutritional immune response for viral and bacterial attacks.
Long-term bacterial infections
Long-term bacterial infections are more common than you may realize. Sinus infections and abscesses are examples of infections that can survive for a long time (years or decades) undetected. Normally, an infection creates a certain amount of pain (systemic or acute) that alerts you to the problem.
However, pain is not always present if the infection is not great enough to manifest the pain. This is one reason your doctor tells you to take all the medications (i.e., antibiotics) prescribed to fully eliminate the bacterial infection. As you know, once the pain is gone most people do not continue their meds. This is unfortunate because it leaves the potential for long-term bacterial infections due to the surviving bacteria. This also contributes to antibiotic-resistance bacteria (superbugs). Of course, many factors come into play for long-term infections.
Long-term bacterial (or viral) infections will continue to contribute toward nutritional disruptions (malnutrition) until the body is properly nourished and all components of your immune system is performing optimally.
Note: It is very important to reestablish and balance the healthy microflora in the gut after an antibiotic regimen.
Hair analysis and the nutritional immune response
Many essential nutrients are involved in the nutritional immune response (3) (4). This includes essential nutritional minerals such as copper, iron, zinc, selenium, calcium, manganese, and others. Our hair analysis reveals these elements.
As you view the individual nutritional elements in your analysis results, you may notice a very high iron on the graph. Keep in mind, hair is an excretory route as well as a cellular analysis and when the body is sequestering iron from the blood, it will be high on a hair analysis. On the other hand, a blood serum analysis may reflect low iron.
The zinc/copper (Zn/Cu) in the Significant Ratios ratio is good indicator of cellular/humoral immune response (5). A Zn/Cu imbalance (high copper/low zinc or high zinc/low copper) may infer the dominance of one immune response (cellular/humoral) over the other. Your current metabolic rate and endocrine dominance must also be considered as additional indicators of your immune response.
Copper, zinc (6), and iron are essential minerals and have a dynamic relationship in the nutritional immune response. As such, the Fe/Cu ratio (Iron/Copper ratio) in the Significant Ratios section of the report is a good indicator for the potential of a long-term bacterial infection. If the ratio is very high, there may be a hidden bacterial infection (e.g., abscess, sinus, etc.).
Interestingly, if the ratio is extremely low, it may indicate the potential for copper-induced anemia.
We have focused on a bacterial attack, so let’s point out one mineral and its association with a viral attack. Most women overconsume calcium to defend against osteoporosis. Unfortunately, calcium is also known as a viral activator (7) (8), (9). Viral infections, like bacterial infections, can remain in the body for years or decades (i.e., chickenpox/shingles virus association).
If you are curious about your immune system, order your hair analysis today.
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One of the first lines of defense against bacterial infection is the withholding of nutrients to prevent bacterial outgrowth in a process termed nutritional immunity. The most significant form of nutritional immunity is the sequestration of nutrient iron.
(1) The Battle for Iron between Bacterial Pathogens and Their Vertebrate Hosts, Eric P. Skaar http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2920840/
Among others, zinc and pyridoxine deficiencies are associated with marked immunodepression. Obesity also is associated with alterations in cell-mediated immune responses. This has been observed in man, in genetically obese mice, and in states of excess intake of lipids, vitamins, minerals, and trace elements. Nutritional modulation of cellular immunity is an important determinant of morbidity in several systemic disorders.
(2) Cell-mediated immunity in nutritional imbalance. (PMID:6775981), Chandra RK, Federation Proceedings [1980, 39(13):3088-3092] http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/6775981
Limiting the availability of zinc and manganese as a mechanism to defend against infection expands the spectrum of nutritional immunity and further establishes metal sequestration as a key defense against microbial invaders.
(3) Nutritional immunity beyond iron: a role for manganese and zinc. Kehl-Fie TE, Skaar EP. Nutritional immunity beyond iron: a role for manganese and zinc. Curr Opin Chem Biol. 2009;14:218–224. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20015678
Zn deficiency in VL and ML indicate possible therapeutic administration of Zn in these severe forms of leishmaniasis. 2. Plasma Cu positively correlates to humoral immune response across patient groups. Environmentally or genetically determined increases in Cu levels might augment susceptibility to infection with intracellular pathogens, by causing a decrease in IFN-gamma production.
(4) Selected vitamins and trace elements support immune function by strengthening epithelial barriers and cellular and humoral immune responses. Overall, inadequate intake and status of these vitamins and trace elements may lead to suppressed immunity, which predisposes to infections and aggravates malnutrition. Maggini S, Wintergerst ES, Beveridge S, Hornig DH. Br J Nutr. 2007 Oct;98 Suppl 1:S29-35. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17922955
(5) Zinc/copper imbalance reflects immune dysfunction in human leishmaniasis: an ex vivo and in vitro study. Van Weyenbergh J, Santana G, D’Oliveira A Jr, Santos AF Jr, Costa CH, Carvalho EM, Barral A, Barral-Netto M. BMC Infect Dis. 2004 Nov 17;4:50. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15546498
In persons suffering from marginal zinc deficiency, clinical signs are depressed immunity, impaired taste and smell, onset of night blindness, impairment of memory, and decreased spermatogenesis in males. Severe zinc deficiency is characterized by severely depressed immune function, frequent infections, bullous pustular dermatitis, diarrhea, alopecia, and mental disturbances.
(6) Zinc and immune function: the biological basis of altered resistance to infection. Anuraj H Shankar, Ananda S Prasad http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/68/2/447S.full.pdf
(7) CALCIUM AND VIRUS ACTIVATION http://www.traceelements.com/Docs/News%20Nov-Dec%2089.pdf
(8) HSV activates Akt to trigger calcium release and promote viral entry: novel candidate target for treatment and suppression. Cheshenko N, Trepanier JB, Stefanidou M, Buckley N, Gonzalez P, Jacobs W, Herold BC. FASEB J. 2013 Jul;27(7):2584-99. doi: 10.1096/fj.12-220285. Epub 2013 Mar 18. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23507869
(9) Herpes simplex virus triggers activation of calcium-signaling pathways. Natalia Cheshenko, Brian Del Rosario, Craig Woda, Daniel Marcellino, Lisa M. Satlin, and Betsy C. Herold, J Cell Biol. 2003 Oct 27; 163(2): 283–293. doi: 10.1083/jcb.200301084, PMCID: PMC2173509 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2173509/
Nutritional Immunology. Tufts University http://hnrca.tufts.edu/research/research-laboratories/nutritional-immunology/
Nutritional Immunology. Nutritional Immunology and Molecular Medicine Laboratory https://www.nimml.org/nutritional-immunology