Vitamins C, E and probiotics boost immunity
Vitamins C and E increase immune cell function
Could vitamins C and E be the fountain of youth? In this study, doctors took blood samples of several types of immune white blood cells (WBC) in 22 older men and women who took 500 mg of vitamin C with or without 298 IU of vitamin E. Doctors then compared WBC in 30 younger men and women, average age 35, who didn’t take the supplements.
After three months, in both the vitamin C and C-plus-E groups, the function of WBC that heal tissue damage and resolve infection—called neutrophils—improved nearly to the level of the younger adults. A second type of WBC—lymphocytes—also had greater function, creating a similar level of natural immune killer T-cell activity as the younger group. Levels of free radicals—which cause oxidative damage—were lower with vitamin C, and lower yet with C plus E. Six months and after the end of the study, free radical levels were still lower than before the study.
Reference: Experimental Gerontology; 2020, Vol. 142, 111118
Probiotics improve lung immune function in kids
Young children are often susceptible to upper respiratory infection—the common cold. In this study, doctors gave 21 healthy children, aged 13 to 36 months, lactobacillus acidophilus plus bifidobacterium animalis at five-billion colony-forming units per day.
Before the study, and after 30 days, doctors took blood samples of a type of immune cell that is particularly susceptible to viral infection, and exposed the cells to a respiratory virus-like molecule. After probiotics, the immune response of these cells was more balanced and significantly less inflammatory than before.
Reference: Beneficial Microbes; 2021, Vo. 12, No. 1, 85-93
Nutrients reduce colds, flu, and boost lung function
Elderberry for cold and flu
This review of five studies covered 936 participants, aged five to 70 years, who exhibited cold, flu, and flu-like symptoms, and who took a placebo or any one of several forms of elderberry, including liquid extract, lozenges, and hot beverages, at doses of 175 to 240 mg, up to five times per day, for four to 10 days at the onset of symptoms.
All studies reported elderberry reduced severity of symptoms, including fever, head and muscle ache, nasal congestion, mucus discharge, and cough; and up to a 50 percent decrease in duration of symptoms compared to placebo.
Reference: Advances in Integrative Medicine; 2020, Vol. 7, No. 4, 240-6
Fiber, vitamins A, B1, B6, C, and folic acid aid lung function
Long-term exposure to airborne irritants like gases from cigarette smoke and pollution can obstruct airflow from the lungs, leading to several conditions including emphysema and bronchitis, together considered chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Doctors in this study hypothesized that diet could improve airflow.
To measure diet, at the start of the study, and during the five-year follow-up, trained dieticians administered a 117-question survey to 1,439 men and women, average age 53, with normal airflow. Some had never smoked, others were current or former smokers.
After five years, those that developed an airflow limitation were more likely to be older, male, and have a history of smoking. Compared to healthy participants, men and women with limited airflow had reduced the amounts of fiber, vitamins A, B1, B6, C, and folic acid in the diet compared to those with healthy airflow.
Reference: Nutrients; 2021, Vol. 13, No. 2, 580