Strengthening of the innate immunity

The immunity of humans has evolved in close contact with microbes in traditional natural environments, abundant with hostile microorganisms. As a result, the immune system has probably become dependent on continuous challenge. In today’s sterile environments these challenges are gone. A weakened innate immune system makes people more vulnerable to disease.

A logical countermeasure would be to strengthen the innate immune system. Understanding its response to the microbial world is a key to strengthening it.

Contrary to what is often claimed, it is now a documented fact that there are indeed substances in food and supplements which mobilize this first line of defence.

Betaglucans from baker’s yeast

Very efficient preparations for strengthening the innate immune system are beta-1,3/1,6-glucans. These are structural elements in the cell wall of baker’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae), and must be extracted from there in order to be active. They are polysaccharides with a very complex chemistry which have been characterized in detail when it comes to chemical structure and mode of action. Forty years of scientific studies published in hundreds of refereed scientific papers as well as experience from practical use have documented numerous effects and the mode of action. Other glucans from different sources (there are many) have only weak immunological effect, or usually no effect at all. Some glucans are even toxic. Choosing the right one is crucial.

An ecological collapse of our gut microbiota means that it lacks the diversity needed to interact with our body, especially with our immune system. The body relies completely on the innate immune system. But since our innate immune system is heavily influenced by our gut microbiota, a healthy gut microbiota is crucially important for our initial ability to fight infection. It has to a large extent been taken for granted that the effect of activated innate immunity is short-term, contrary to immunological memory which characterizes the adaptive immune system. But it is now recognized that activating the innate immune system actually gives rise to trained immunity, a form of long-lasting and broad-spectrum preparedness against infection. This is immensely important to combat against new and unknown microbes where vaccines have not been developed, such as newly arising epidemics and pandemics.