In the midst of flu season, many people’s attention turns to the flu vaccine. But keep in mind that the flu vaccine is by no means a guarantee you won’t get the flu. Not taking into account all the potential side effects it is reported to only be at most 10% effective.
But there is a way to improve your immunity against not only the flu, but also other viruses, bacterial infections, yeasts, environmental toxins, food sensitivities, and even autoimmunity. The secret lies in what immunologist Aristo Vojdani, PhD calls nature’s vaccine — secretory IgA or SIgA for short.
SIgA are immune cells that are the first line of defense between you and the world. They primarily reside in mucus membranes, including the digestive tract, respiratory tract, urinary tract, prostate, and vagina. SIgA cells are found in mucus, tears, saliva, sweat, breast milk, and other secretions. When we do a stool analysis this is often one of the many markers we are looking at to see how healthy your gut is functioning and what your immune system is like. You gut houses about 70% of your immune system after all.
If your gut isn’t healthy, chances are you aren’t either.
SIgA cells are the first to encounter invaders and sequester them so they are not dangerous to the body. This helps prevent the immune system from over reacting so it is not prone to food sensitivities, chemical sensitivities, and most importantly autoimmunity.
Many people have low SIgA
Unfortunately, having low SIgA levels is pretty common these days. It’s most often seen in individuals with adrenal fatigue who show symptoms of chronic tiredness, low blood sugar, difficulty getting up in the morning, depression, anxiety, salt cravings, and chronic illnesses. That last one is just about every patient I see in my office so you can see just how important this little known marker SIgA is.
Fun fact - Taking corticosteroid medications can also lower SIgA levels.
Low SIgA levels increases cold and flu risk
Chronically low SIgA levels have a number of consequences. The most obvious is that you are more likely to get sick frequently. For instance, if your respiratory tract is low in SIgA cells, the viruses and bacteria it encounters are going to have an easier time invading your system.
Low SIgA leads to food and chemical sensitivities
What’s perhaps more frustrating is that low SIgA levels can lead to the development of food and chemical sensitivities.
Why? Your SIgA play a pivotal role in your ability to tolerate the world around you while responding appropriately to pathogens.
When there is not enough SIgA to neutralize incoming bacteria, viruses, yeast, undigested food, chemicals, and so on, the immune system must deploy its more aggressive immune cells. It basically causes an overreaction to every little immune system attack.
It’s like calling in the Navy Seals because the police force has gone missing.
The result is a hyper reactive immune system that creates a permanent loss of tolerance in the bloodstream to certain foods or chemicals.
Low SIgA raises risk for autoimmunity
One of the more unfortunate risks of SIgA is that it raises your risk of developing autoimmunity. With a diminished defense from low SIgA, your immune system is on constant red alert and your body is more vulnerable to pathogens. Between the increased exposure to pathogens and a hyper reactive immune system, it’s just a matter of time before it starts attacking your own tissue and you get an autoimmune disease. This can e anything from Lupus, scleroderma, RA, multiple sclerosis, Ankylosing spondylitis, Temporal arteritis and many other conditions.
Go get your SIgA tested, boost it, nurture it, care for it, and just be aware of it. It can make all the difference in the world.
I’m Dr. Craig Mortensen
Be healthy, be happy!