Immune System [rate]

Respiratory diseases such as colds and flu go hand in hand with cold weather. The annual increase in cold infections in winter supports the popular notion that cold weather affects our immunity and makes us sick. Clinical research has indicated that spells of chilly or cold weather are invariably followed by sharp spikes in deaths caused by respiratory complications. This can be partly attributed to the fact that some disease-causing pathogens thrive under colder conditions. Generally, it has been shown that exposing our bodies to cold weather suppresses our immune systems and this enhances the chances of infection.


How Varied Temperatures Affect the Immune System

The action of cold air blowing into the nasal airways makes infections more likely by reducing immune response in the nose.  Another factor that increases the susceptibility to diseases in cold weather is the response of sinuses to temperature and humidity changes. Your nose acts as the body’s natural air filter-trapping particles which may cause sickness if they reached the mucous membranes. Spending time in the cold outdoors makes your nasal passageways become dry because of the narrowing of blood vessels. When you move back to warmer temperatures such as indoors, the abrupt influx of moisture on the nasal passages causes your nose to run. This may make you try to breathe through the mouth which does not afford the same protection from bacteria or virus as the nose does. Naturally this exposes the body to disease-causing pathogens such as the adenovirus that is known to cause colds. Therefore, while the freezing temperatures do not directly cause colds and flu, the weather does increase stress on your body-causing sub-optimal functioning of the immune system.

The cold weather can take a toll on our body leading to the running down of the immune system. It is therefore imperative that you protect your body’s immune system to cold weather. A healthy immune system will ward off respiratory infections such as colds as well as other serious conditions such as cancer and degenerative illness.


Grape Seed Extract

One tried and tested way of boosting our immunity in the cold season is using grape seed extract. This powerful antioxidant is exceptionally effective in fighting off allergies, cancer, age-related complications and heart problems. The seeds contain compounds called oligomeric proanthocyadinis (OPCs). The extracts also contain flavanoids, Vitamin E and Linoleic acid. The OPC content is the main source of health benefits. OPCs have antioxidant properties and this helps the body’s immune system to combat environmental pollutants and free radicals.

These free radicals are highly damaging to the body’s immune system and are responsible for many body’s complications including cancer and even aging. OPCs help to maintain elasticity in tissues such as the skin and also assist the immune system to function optimally. In addition to supporting the immune system, OPCs help to control improper immune responses (which are manifested as allergies). This is done through prevention of the release of a substance called histamine by mast cells. Mast cells are immune system cells that are responsible for initial response to attacks by external stimulus and pathogens. When OPCs prevent release of histamines this reduces allergic reactions such as running nose, sneezing, watery eyes and congestion.

The grape seed extract also blocks the release of substances called prostaglandins which are responsible for inflammation during an allergic body response. Working in tandem, the grape seed extract’s anti-inflammatory and antihistamine actions can help control and prevent such allergic conditions as hay fever, hives and eczema.