Balanced Hormones Equals Active Immune System

In the battle for immune power, it is easy to overlook how hormone balance affects the immune system. In this brief overview, we will share general information to help you be aware of the correlation between balanced hormones and healthy immune response.

We promise to try to give you the “highs and lows” of hormone balance, without being too technical – so you can stay awake.

Though, it is commonly known that the thyroid and adrenal glands are necessary for energy, did you know that the body relies on the thyroid and adrenal glands to stimulate various immune-activating functions? In addition, estrogen, progesterone and testosterone imbalances can suppress the immune response.

When the body’s hormones are either too high, or too low, the immune system can be adversely impacted, so it is imperative to keep hormone levels properly balanced.

Adrenal – The adrenal glands have a significant influence on immunity. They produce hormones that are vital to several metabolic functions, including DHEA, progesterone, testosterone, cortisol, and epinephrine.

Specifically, the adrenal gland’s production of cortisol is essential to maintain immunity. However, the overproduction of cortisol weakens the immune system by suppressing neutrophil function. (Neutrophil’s – white blood cells critical for immune response.)

Thyroid – A strong immune system needs an active production of Natural Killer Cells (NK or NKCs – part of the immune system’s first line of defense) to fight off foreign intruders. Researchers found that NK cells were more active among individuals with optimal levels of thyroid hormones.

If you are concerned about your hormone levels being balanced, see your health care provider for their professional advice concerning your individual needs. Hormone balance is something you don’t want to try to fix on your own.

Low thyroid levels can hamper the body’s response to viruses, and also cause a sluggish response to inflammation.

Estrogen – Extremely high or low estrogen levels affect the immunity. Excessive production of estrogen can suppress the thyroid, as well as reduce the activity levels of NK cells and interleukin 2. Interleukin 2 is produced by T-cells (a type of white blood cell) to stimulate the immune system.

Furthermore, high levels of estrogen decrease the size of the thymus gland, which depresses immune activity by causing a reduction in thymus hormone levels in the blood.

In contrast, postmenopausal women that are estrogen-deprived also have weakened immunity. Low estrogen levels decrease NK cell, B lymphocyte, and T helper cell activity (all essential for proper immune response), while increasing the body’s inflammatory response.

Progesterone – Low levels of progesterone has been linked to some autoimmune diseases. Correct progesterone balance affects proper T-cell and NK cell activity.
It has also been observed that progesterone aids immune system development in the fetus, during pregnancy.

Testosterone – When testosterone levels are low, T-cell production multiplies. T-cells fight against infections, but overproduction can lead to autoimmune diseases.

In contrast, testosterone levels that become too high significantly increase corticosterone levels, which suppress immune activity. Testosterone also regulates production of monocytes and lymphocytes – white blood cells that are essential to immunity.

At this point, you may feel that some of the terms in this article have twisted your tongue into a knot. Yet, hopefully you have a better idea of how important hormone balance is for strong immune systems.

If you are concerned about your hormone levels being balanced, see your health care provider for their professional advice concerning your individual needs. Hormone balance is something you don’t want to try to fix on your own. And, it is definitely not a “one-size-fits-all” area of health.

A comment on food and hormone activity – much information is available regarding how foods and nutrients can assist (or undermine) hormone balance and glandular function.

As an example, if you are concerned about your thyroid activity, you may want to investigate the foods that increase, or decrease, thyroid function. You will find a wealth of beneficial education in publications and on the internet.

Source: Applied Health

Grilled Tomatoes on Toast with Creme Fraiche

Ingredients

2 medium vine-ripened tomatoes, halved
1 tsp good extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp fresh marjoram flowers or dried marjoram leaves
1 thin slice of sourdough bread
1 tbsp half-fat creme fraiche

Method

  1. Preheat the grill to high.
  2. Rub the tomato halves with half the oil, season with salt and pepper and scatter over the marjoram. Cook under the hot grill for 5-7 minutes, until softened.
  3. Meanwhile, toast or griddle the bread and drizzle with the rest of the oil.
  4. Stir the grilled tomatoes gently through the creme fraiche. Use to top the toast, squashing them slightly so the juices soak into the bread.

Makes 1 serving.

Source: Gizzi Erskine

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E. coli and Food Safety

What are Escherichia coli?

Escherichia coli (abbreviated E. coli) are bacteria found in the intestines of people and animals and in the environment; they can also be found in foods.

Most E. coli are harmless and are part of a healthy intestinal tract. However, some cause diarrhea, urinary tract infections, respiratory illness, bloodstream infections, and other illnesses. The types of E. coli that can cause illness are spread through contaminated food or water and through contact with animals or people.

Two types of E. coli that cause diarrheal illness diagnosed in the United States are Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) and enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC).

STEC are a group of E. coli that produce Shiga toxin. This toxin causes people to have diarrhea, which can be bloody. When you hear reports about outbreaks of E. coli infections in the United States, they’re usually talking about a type called STEC O157.

ETEC are the leading cause of traveler’s diarrhea and a major cause of diarrhea around the world, especially among children.


A Dangerous Complication

About 5–10% of people diagnosed with STEC O157 infection develop a life-threatening complication known as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS)external icon, a type of kidney failure. Signs that a person is developing HUS include:

  • urinating less often
  • feeling very tired
  • losing pink color in cheeks and inside the lower eyelids

People with HUS should be hospitalized because their kidneys may stop working and they may develop other serious problems. Most people with HUS recover within a few weeks, but some suffer permanent health problems or die.


Who is more likely to get an E. coli infection?

Anyone can get sick from harmful E. coli, but some people have an increased chance of infection. These people are:

  • Children younger than 5 years of age
  • Adults aged 65 and older
  • People with weakened immune systems, including pregnant women
  • People who travel to certain countries

What are the symptoms of E. coli infections?

STEC: Most people have bloody diarrhea and stomach cramps that may be severe. Some people may also have vomiting. A high fever is uncommon. Symptoms usually last 5–7 days.

ETEC: Most people have stomach cramps and watery diarrhea. Symptoms usually last 3–4 days.

Contact your healthcare provider if you have diarrhea or vomiting that lasts for more than 2 days, bloody stools, a fever higher than 102˚F, or signs of dehydration (including little or no urination, excessive thirst, a very dry mouth, dizziness or lightheadedness, or very dark urine).

Most people with an E. coli infection will recover without any specific treatment. Whether your doctor prescribes antibiotics depends on several factors, including the kind of E. coli infection you have and the severity of your infection.

Antibiotics should not be used to treat STEC infection. Taking certain antibiotics may lead to the production or release of more Shiga toxin, which can increase the chance of kidney damage.

How can I prevent E. coli infection?

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and running water.
  • Follow the four steps to food safety when preparing food: clean, separate, cook, and chill.
  • Use a food thermometer to make sure meat has reached a safe minimum cooking temperature.
  • Cook ground beef, pork, and lamb to an internal temperature of at least 160°F (70˚C).
  • Insert food thermometer into the side of the patty, to the center, to check.
  • Cook beef steaks and roasts to an internal temperature of at least 145°F (62.6˚C) and allow to rest for 3 minutes after you remove meat from the grill or stove.
  • Check temperature in the thickest part of steaks or roasts.
  • Prevent cross-contamination by thoroughly washing hands, counters, cutting boards, and utensils with soap and water after they touch raw meat.
  • Do not drink untreated water or swallow water when swimming or playing in lakes, ponds, streams, swimming pools, and backyard “kiddie” pools.
  • Don’t eat raw dough or batter.
  • Drink pasteurized milk and juices.
  • Take precautions with food and water when traveling abroad.

How can I prevent E. coli infection from animals?

  • Play it safe around animals, including those at petting zoos, farms, fairs, and even your backyard.
  • Wash your hands often
  • Eat and drink safely
  • Keep food and drinks out of animal areas
  • Keep children safe around animals
  • Children always need adult supervision around animals

Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

Early-stage Detection of Alzheimer’s in the Blood

Two major studies with promising antibodies have recently failed – possibly because they have been administered too late. A new very early-detection test gives rise to hope.

Using current techniques, Alzheimer’s disease, the most frequent cause of dementia, can only be detected once the typical plaques have formed in the brain. At this point, therapy seems no longer possible. However, the first changes caused by Alzheimer’s take place on the protein level up to 20 years sooner. A two-tier method developed at Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) can help detect the disease at a much earlier stage. The researchers from Bochum published their report in the March 2019 edition of the journal “Alzheimer’s and Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment and Disease Monitoring”.

“This has paved the way for early-stage therapy approaches, where the as yet inefficient drugs on which we had pinned our hopes may prove effective,” says Professor Klaus Gerwert from the Department of Biophysics at RUB.

Protein folds incorrectly

In Alzheimer’s patients, the amyloid beta protein folds incorrectly due to pathological changes long before the first symptoms occur. A team of researchers headed by Klaus Gerwert successfully diagnosed this misfolding using a simple blood test; as a result, the disease can be detected approximately eight years before the first clinical symptoms occur. The test wasn’t suitable for clinical applications however: it did detect 71 per cent of Alzheimer’s cases in symptomless stages, but at the same time provided false positive diagnoses for nine per cent of the study participants. In order to increase the number of correctly identified Alzheimer’s cases and to reduce the number of false positive diagnoses, the researchers poured a lot of time and effort into optimising the test.

Second biomarker

As a result, they have now introduced the two-tier diagnostic method. To this end, they use the original blood test to identify high-risk individuals. Subsequently, they add a dementia-specific biomarker, namely tau protein, to run further tests with those test participants whose Alzheimer’s diagnosis was positive in the first step. If both biomarkers show a positive result, there is a high likelihood of Alzheimer’s disease. “Through the combination of both analyses, 87 of 100 Alzheimer’s patients were correctly identified in our study,” summarises Klaus Gerwert. “And we reduced the number of false positive diagnoses in healthy subjects to 3 of 100. The second analysis is carried out in cerebrospinal fluid that is extracted from the spinal cord.

“Now, new clinical studies with test participants in very early stages of the disease can be launched,” points out Gerwert. He is hoping that the existing therapeutic antibodies will still have an effect. “Recently, two major promising studies have failed, especially Crenezumab and Aducanumab – not least because it had probably already been too late by the time therapy was taken up. The new test opens up a new therapy window.”

“Once amyloid plaques have formed, it seems that the disease can no longer be treated,” says Dr. Andreas Nabers, head of the research group and co-developer of the Alzheimer’s sensor. “If our attempts to arrest the progression of Alzheimer’s fail, it will put a lot of strain on our society.”

Sensor test is simple and robust

The blood test has been upgraded to a fully automated process at the RUB Department of Biophysics. “The sensor is easy to use, robust when it comes to fluctuation in concentration of biomarkers, and standardised,” explains Andreas Nabers. “We are now conducting in-depth research to detect the second biomarker, namely tau protein, in the blood, in order to supply a solely blood-based test in future,” concludes Klaus Gerwert.

Source : Ruhr-Universität Bochum


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