Natural Products Insider

MAY-JUN 2019

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6 INSIDER May /June 2019 Sometimes cells "break." They get damaged (a sunburn, for example) or they become unhealthy (an infection) which, left unchecked, can lead to sickness or other health concerns. It's the job of the immune system to ward off pathogens and, in the event of invasion, identify and destroy these "broken" cells, keeping the body healthy. The immune system is a complex network of organs, cells, proteins and molecules. The immune system can be categorized into two parts: the innate (nonspecifi c) and adaptive (specifi c) immune systems. 1 The innate system is the body's fast-acting fi rst line of defense against germs and pathogens. It's comprised of the skin, various mucous membranes, bacteria, proteins and scavenger cells found in the blood and tissues (macrophages, granulocytes and natural killer [NK] cells). The system calls on the acute-phase response and/or the infl ammatory response to eliminate pathogens. These responses are initiated by chemical signals (cytokines) including interleukins (ILs) for the acute- phase response and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) for the infl ammatory response. Cytokines are also often considered biomarkers of disease. 2 The adaptive immune system is also called "acquired" immunity based on its ability to learn about specifi c pathogens and develop antibodies in defense. The stars of adaptive immunity are T and B lymphocytes (T cells and B cells), which produce antibodies that bind to antigens (B cells) and directly attack affected cells (T cells), while also developing memory cells (T and B cells) that recall previously encountered pathogens. The activity of T cells is also called cell-mediated immunity, as T cells only recognize pathogens that have entered the body's cells. In contrast, B cells and antibodies interact with invaders that remain outside the body's cells. Antibodies created by B cells are known as immunoglobulins and are represented in fi ve main classes: immunoglobulin G (IgG), M (IgM), A (IgA), D (IgD) and E (IgE). Innate and adaptive systems provide different functions, but work together to support one another. T helper cells, for example, excrete cytokines that help to activate macrophages (of the innate system) and other lymphocytes. The immune response elicited by these complex systems varies from person to person—a matter of ongoing investigation among researchers. A particularly pertinent topic of this investigation: How great is the impact of genetics (heritable infl uences) on immune response vs. environment (nonheritable)? In other words: How much of immunity is under the control of the individual? This question is equally important to natural product brands and developers looking to create or market products to support an individual's immune system. A groundbreaking study published in 2015 in Cell set out to answer this question by analyzing immunological parameters of identical (monozygotic [MZ]) and fraternal (dizygotic [DZ]) twins. 3 In the study of 210 healthy twins between ages 8 and 82, researchers measured 204 parameters, including the frequency of different immune cell types—such as B cells and T cells— and levels of 43 cytokines, chemokines and other serum proteins that modulate the immune response. Results showed 77 percent of the parameters are dominated by nonheritable infl uences and 58 percent almost completely determined by nonheritable infl uences. Some of these parameters become more variable with age, suggesting the cumulative infl uence of environmental exposure. Authors wrote: "In summary, our fi ndings strongly suggest that a healthy human immune system adapts to nonheritable infl uences such as pathogens, nutritional factors and more, and that this overshadows the infl uences of most, although not all, heritable factors." These fi ndings—though encouraging for consumers and product developers alike—aren't altogether a surprise; a wide range of natural ingredients have ample scientifi c support backing immune- boosting effects. And, according to a global survey commissioned by Lonza Consumer Health & Nutrition and conducted by the Natural Marketing Institute (NMI), consumer interest in the category is high. Survey results showed 66 percent of U.S. consumers are already using a supplement to manage immune health, and 33 percent of U.S. consumers are very likely to purchase supplements that support immune health. Per Juliana Erickson, senior marketing manager, consumer health & nutrition, Lonza, natural solutions are a key focus for consumers looking for immune support. "Natural and naturally derived ingredients are currently leading innovation in the immune health category," she said, citing Lonza data showing 38 percent of U.S. dietary supplement users look for supplements that are from "natural sources," a growth of 59 percent in the last 10 years. "Growing consumer demand coupled with an increased availability of immune health supplements in the mainstream has meant that supplement manufacturers are having to innovate to stand out in the marketplace," she said. Innovation appears in many forms in the supplements market, but key is ensuring innovative solutions are effective as proven by scientifi c research. A soluble polysaccharide extracted from North American larch trees (arabinogalactan as ResistAid ® , from Lonza) has been shown to modulate and support both the innate and adaptive systems via direct and indirect pathways within the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. 4 Among Supplements: Immune Health Environmental factors are most impactful on immune health compared to genetic factors. The immune system is complex, which lends itself to a range of nutritional solutions. Immune support ingredients benefit children, athletes and those under stress. Ingredients and Immunity: Supporting the Systems That Fight for Good Health by Rachel Adams INSIDER's Take

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