Your immune system is one of the primary interfaces between your body’s inner-workings and the outside world. Fortunately, it’s a very smart system. When your immune system senses danger, it ramps up to protect against foreign invaders.
Although this typically works well, sometimes a glitch occurs and your immune system stays in a chronic state of alarm that can lead to inflammation. This can contribute to an autoimmune condition or several metabolic conditions like heart disease and diabetes. Your immune system can also become suppressed, which is a big problem because it can prevent your body from fighting off infection.
How can you tell if your immune system is lagging? Look for the internal warning signs listed below. If any of these symptoms sound familiar, take comfort—there are simple ways to correct them, including adopting healthier habits and adding a clinically-researched immune-protective nutrient to your daily routine.
The Warning Signs of a Weakened Immune System
Stress. It’s not a coincidence that you’re more likely to get sick after completing a big project at work, taking an important exam, or dealing with any number of stressful situations. It’s been shown that long-term stress can weaken your immune response.1 Stress deactivates the body’s lymphocytes—the white blood cells that fight off infection. The lower your lymphocyte level, the more you’re at risk for viruses that cause colds and the flu. But you can boost your lymphocyte count by incorporating a daily habit that requires mindfulness, like meditation. These practices can go a long way in helping to reduce the everyday stress in your life.
Digestive issues. If you have frequent gas, diarrhea, or constipation, it could be a sign that your immune system is compromised. Research shows that almost 70 percent of your immune system is located in your gut. The good bacteria that live there defend your gut from infection and help to support a robust immune response. If you are running low on good bacteria, it can make you more susceptible to getting sick.2 One way you can support your microbiome—and thus your immune health—is by taking a high-quality daily probiotic.
Frequent colds. It’s normal for people to get a few colds each year. Fortunately, most people bounce back from these colds after about a week or so. But if you’re catching colds on a regular basis, or notice that your colds take forever to go away, it could be a sign that your immune system is struggling to keep up. If you are getting persistent infections, head to your doctor to make sure it isn’t something more serious.
You feel tired (all the time). If you’re getting enough sleep yet you still suffer from exhaustion, your immune system may be trying to tell you something. However, if you don’t have good sleep habits or you routinely get fewer than seven hours of sleep per night, you’re missing out on some pretty big benefits. Aim to get seven to nine hours of sleep each night to keep your immune system in check.
Weakened Immunity? This Key Nutrient Can Help!
Zinc, vitamin C, echinachea—these are likely some of the first nutrients that come to mind when you think about supporting your immune health. But have you heard about Aged Garlic Extract (AGE)?
Garlic is one of the oldest cultivated plants on the planet and has been used by various cultures for thousands of years. It was worshipped by the ancient Egyptians, for example, and thought to ward off evil spirits and increase strength. Traditionally, garlic bulbs were prepared in a variety of ways for medicinal purposes. The juice of the bulb was extracted and taken internally, while the bulb was ground into a paste for external treatment. However, as a growing number of studies show, there’s significantly more to garlic’s health benefits–and aging is the key. Aging the garlic increases the garlic’s antioxidant potential, and converts harsh and unstable organosulfer compounds into the odorless, non-irritating, and bioavailable compounds which are responsible for AGE’s numerous health benefits.
A study conducted by the University of Florida found that high-potency AGE can reduce the duration of the common cold or bout with the flu by as much as 61 percent.3 During this clinical trial, researchers gave 120 healthy adults a daily dose of either 2,500 mg of Kyolic AGE or a placebo. After 90 days, blood samples from each volunteer were analyzed. Compared to the placebo group, those taking the AGE supplement had a significant increase in the number of immune cells. What’s more, the supplement appeared to enhance the function of two specific types of immune cells: NK (natural killer) cells and gamma delta T cells.
One reason for this uptick in immune function, according to the authors of the study, is the glutathione-boosting ability of the sulfur-containing compounds naturally present in AGE. Other research suggests that glutathione enhances the immune response by optimizing macrophage function while protecting disease-fighting lymphocytes from oxidative damage and premature cell death.4,5
Your immune system is the key to good health so the more you can do to protect it, the better. It’s important to listen to your body to see if any of the warning signs above ring any bells. If they do, try to adopt some healthier habits and incorporate AGE into your daily routine for some additional immune support.
- Stress weakens the immune system. American Psychological Association. 2006; https://www.apa.org/research/action/immune
- Wu H & Wu E. The role of gut microbiota in immune homeostasis and autoimmunity. Gut Microbes. 2012; 3(1): 4-14.
- Percival SS. Aged garlic extract modified human immunity. Journal of Nutrition. 2016;146(2):433S-436S.
- Yan J, Ralston MM, Meng X, et al. Glutathione reductase is essential for host defense against bacterial infection. Free Radical Biology & Medicine. 2013;61:320-332.
- Kwon DH, Lee H, Park C, et al. Glutathione induced immune-stimulatory activity by promoting M1-like macrophages polarization via potential ROS scavenging capacity. Antioxidants (Basel). 2019;8(9):413.