So many of traits are determined by genetics – hair color, eye color, how tall you are and even body weight is influenced by your genetic make-up. Genetics also play a role in building the army of forces that protect you against foreign invaders – your immune system. Surprisingly, the environment you’re exposed to may be as important or even more important for determining how your immune system functions.

Immune System Function and Genetics

In a new study, researchers at Stanford University looked at the impact environment has on immune function. They studied the immune systems of 210 identical and fraternal twins of all ages from 8 to 82. Because identical twins are formed from the same sperm and egg, they share the same DNA or genetic material that codes for everything from physical characteristics to immune system function. Fraternal twins are formed from two different sperms and eggs, so their genetic information is not identical.

You might expect the immune systems of identical twins would be pretty similar based on their genetic similarities, but when the researchers in this study measured immune cells and more than 50 types of proteins involved in immune function in the identical twins, they found a number of dissimilarities. Far from being identical, their immune systems showed significant variations in all the age groups they tested. The variations were greatest in older twins, probably because their immune systems had had more time to be exposed to the environment.

The researchers also found identical twins differed in their response to influenza vaccines, something you wouldn’t expect if genetics were the primary determinant of immune function. Over time, identical twins are exposed to flu viruses and this exposure shapes their immune response to subsequent flu vaccines. Their response to cytomegalovirus, a virus that many people carry in an inactive state, also varied between identical twins.

What does this mean? Although genetics still play a role in how your immune system develops and functions, the environment you’re exposed to shapes and refines its function. In fact, the researchers who conducted this study believe environment may trump genetics for determining how the immune system responds to bacteria, viruses and other pathogens. Not only is immune function shaped by exposure to pathogens, it’s also influenced by other factors like nutrition. You must lead a healthy lifestyle when it comes to optimizing the function of your immune system.

A Complex System that Needs Nutritional Support

Your immune system has multiple layers of complexity and is capable of quickly adapting. The ability to adapt is essential since pathogens than can quickly evolve and change their characteristics to avoid detection.  Such a complex system requires a supportive environment of good nutrition. Did you know that malnutrition is the most common cause of immune deficiency around the world?

People who don’t consume enough calories or are protein deficient are at greater risk for infection due to sluggish immune function.  The immune response can be compromised by a diet that lacks sufficient protein and micronutrients, including vitamin A, C, E, some B vitamins, zinc, iron and selenium. That’s why a healthy diet and lifestyle, with proper supplementation are essential for keeping your immune system healthy.

The Bottom Line

Your immune system is influenced by the environment it’s exposed to. You can’t always control what pathogens enter your body, but you can support your immune system with proper nutrition and supplements. Taking the bio-identical thymic protein supplement BioPro-Plus™ daily is your best bet on keeping your immune system healthy! Get Started Here With BioPro-Plus™! The payoff? A robust and powerful immune system able to fight of colds and influenza viruses, that makes your life inconvenient.

-By Alternative Health Concepts

References:

Am J Clin Nutr. 1997 Aug;66(2):460S-463S.

European Food Information Council. “Nutrition and the Immune System”

European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2003) 57, Suppl 1, S66-S69. doi:10.1038/sj.ejcn.1601819.

MedLine Plus. “Environment Trumps Genes at Shaping Immune System: Study”

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