Answers For YOUR Health

      Using Mother Nature's Gifts
Common Sense and Modern Medicine

 Get your cup of tea and relax for a good read.

Just as you need a healthy immune system, so does your pet.  It is a dirty world out there. Your pet is stressed by heat and cold, by pollution and treated water, by fleas and mosquitos.  Even a dog that lives mostly in your house still has to go outside to eliminate and take walks.

Maybe they can't control their environment, but you can take steps to ensure they have a healthy immune system to survive it. Not too surprising is the list of supplements - the same ones you need.

Building a Healthy Immune System

by Dr. Larry Siegler

The immune system is an intricate network of specialized tissues, organs, cells, and hormones. The lymph system and lymph nodes, spleen, bone marrow, and thymus gland all play a role, as do lymphocytes (specialized white blood cells), antibodies, and complement proteins.

There are two main types of immunity; innate and acquired. Innate immunity is the body's built in system of resisting disease including the skin, lining of the gastrointestinal tract, mucous secretions, and stomach acid.

Acquired or adaptive immunity involves the immune system's further defenses against invaders created as the body is exposed to different pathogens through exposure, illness or vaccination. The immune system develops a memory of each disease it fights and is able to quickly recognize and defend against the pathogen the next time it appears.

Symptoms of a weakened immune system include skin infections, recurring parasitic infections, and initially mild infections or illnesses that progress into serious health issues because the body cannot build a strong enough response to defend itself. For cats, frequent upper respiratory infections are also indicative of a weak immune system.

Building a Healthy Immune System

Diet is always the first line of defense. As you have heard me say before in my other articles, diet is the foundation of health. If your companion is consuming highly processed food that provides only minimal nutrition and includes any number of toxins such as chemical preservatives, food dyes, additives and fillers, his immune system is being depleted daily just to cope with his diet. Fresh food is the first step in building a strong immune system. Many people wait until their animal has a serious or chronic illness such as cancer, kidney disease or allergies (to name a few), to finally change the diet. Prevention is so much kinder and immeasurably more effective. Please see the articles about What You Need to Know About Your Pet's Food and All About Raw Food for more information about proper diet. Feeding a varied diet that includes as much fresh food as possible does take a bit more effort than scooping kibble out of a bag, but it is t

One of the benefits of a healthy diet is a healthy gastrointestinal tract. If the digestive tract is weakened by inflammation from allergies or inflammatory bowel disease or other digestive disorders, even the nutrients in a healthy diet are harder to process and absorb. Healing and maintaining the digestive tract is vital to overall health and immunity. Digestive enzymes, probiotics and essential fatty acids all play a role in gastrointestinal health and proper digestion.

Exercise must also be mentioned for its role in helping build and maintain a strong immune system. Moderate exercise has been shown to improve immune factors in humans and animals.

Weight control is also key - overweight animals are much more susceptible to chronic and acute diseases and infections. Proper diet AND exercise are needed to help with weight control.

Nutritional Supplements

A good quality daily multi-vitamin and mineral supplement is a simple way to help bolster the immune system. I like to alternate the vitamin supplements I use for my cats and dogs to provide a more varied source of extra nutrition. For instance, I often give a regular multi-vitamin at one meal and a "greens" supplement at another meal. Please see the article The Importance of Daily Supplements for Your Companion for more information.

Antioxidants help prevent oxidation, help increase immune function, and possibly decrease the risk of infection and cancer. Antioxidants exist as vitamins, minerals and other compounds in foods. They act as scavengers, helping to prevent cell and tissue damage by destroying free radicals. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules and fragments of molecules that can damage the body at the cellular level, leaving the body susceptible to cancer, heart disease, and many other degenerative diseases.
Vitamins A, C and E are the most commonly known antioxidants. Vitamin A is found in the liver and other animal tissues. It is abundant in fish liver oils such as cod liver oil. Carotene is a precursor to vitamin A found in plant material. Dogs can convert carotene to vitamin A by way of an enzyme found in the wall of the intestine. Cats, however, do not convert carotene well and must receive adequate vitamin A from animal sourc

Vitamin C is the most abundant water-soluble antioxidant in the body and is manufactured in the liver and kidneys of dogs and cats. It is available from fresh or lightly cooked fruits and vegetables. Vitamin C is especially good at combating free-radical formation caused by pollution.

Vitamin E is the most abundant fat-soluble antioxidant in the body. It is present in many foods including vegetable oils, cereal grains, greens, liver and eggs. It is particularly helpful in protecting against oxidation, especially in fatty tissues.

Other powerful antioxidants include green tea, selenium, Co-Enzyme Q10, bioflavonoids, N-acetylcysteine, proanthocyanidins (pycnogenol) typically derived from grape seed extract or pine bark, quercetin, soy isoflavones, and zinc.

Herbs, Mushrooms and Nutraceuticals

Cat's Claw (Una de gato) has anti-oxidant and immune enhancing properties as well as anti-hypertensive effects (lowers blood pressure & supports circulation). Cat's Claw is derived from a vine found in South America. It is often used in combination with other herbs. It can be useful in treating a wide variety of illness including parasites, colitis, gastritis, leaky gut, tumors and for acute conditions such as viral and respiratory infections.
Chinese Herbs are available in a variety of combinations for immune support. Astragalus is one of the more commonly found Chinese herbs in immune formulations. Selecting the proper Chinese herbal formula is not always straightforward since a variety of conditions need to be considered before deciding on the best combination, so sometimes the guidance of a trained holistic veterinarian is important.

Green tea contains polyphenols which target cancer cells for destruction and helps eliminate free radicals. It also supports the production of a protein that protects healthy cells.

Circumin, or turmeric root, has very powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It has a wide range of uses for both chronic and acute illnesses and is an excellent cancer preventative.

Echinacea stimulates the immune system to fight bacterial and viral infections. It is a good choice for acute conditions but is not recommended for continual long term use. Echinacea works best when given as a preventative - to help an animal avoid contracting an illness or infection they may be exposed to.

Mushrooms such as Maitake, Reishi and Shitake stimulate T-helper cells (which are integral to a strong immune response) and powerfully boost the overall immune system. Cordyseps is a Chinese mushroom with antioxidant, antiviral and cancer fighting properties.

Colostrum is the first milk produced by mothers. Most colostrum commercially available is from cows. It has many immune boosting properties including factors that support T-helper cells. It may also play a role in the metabolism of essential fatty acids. Useful for acute and chronic disease including autoimmune disorders.

This is by no means a complete list of immune support herbs and supplements, but it is includes of the many of the most common of those used for general immune support. Again, prevention is the best course, but should your companion fall ill extra support for the immune system through nutrition, herbs and supplements can give her the upper hand and aid in her speedy recovery.

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Article courtesy of Only Natural Pet Store

You may click here to view the selection of immune support supplements available at Only Natural Pet Store.



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