Our Body’s Natural Immune Defense
The immune system is one of the hardest working systems in the body. It is constantly working in the background, searching the body for bacterias and any potentially harmful pathogens. The first attacker in the line of defense is secretory IGA (SIgA). SIgA is the predominant immunoglobulin that is produced in the lining of the gut.
SIgA Hard At Work
Considering that the majority of the immune system is housed in the gut, the intestinal mucosa has to be able to recognize pathogens and other foreign objects to effectively keep them out. As previously mentioned, the first one on the scene is SIgA. This immunoglobulin differs from the other immunoglobulins the body produces (IgE, IgG, and IgM) in the way that it does not target a specific invader. IgA attacks all harmful antigens that enter the body, such as toxins, pathogenic bacteria, and viruses. This allows the interaction of negative substances to come into minimal contact with the epithelial surface of the gut. Additionally, SIgA does not cause the body to have an inflammatory response.
The other functions of SIgA include trapping mucus, neutralizing enzymes and other toxins, inhibiting the adherence of pathogens, having interaction with antimicrobial factors like lactoferrin, all while being tolerant of the friendly flora.
The Impact of Stress on SIgA and Our Immune Response
During times of chronic stress, SIgA is decreased but during times of acute stress saliva testing shows an increase in SIgA. During these times of chronic stress, although SIgA is depressed, cortisol levels increase.
High levels of SIgA is found in test results from those who have chronic infections and many hypersensitivities. The immune system in those with chronic infections is overloaded, leading to the production of excess inflammation.
Low levels of SIgA generally represents nutrient deficiencies and malabsorptions. These individuals are more susceptible to food allergies.
A test we use to check for food sensitivities and antibodies is the IgG4 by Genova:
Any type of infection will lower SIgA. It is important to note that other factors that reduce SIgA include stress, a poor diet containing low levels of nutrients, genetics, the integrity of your gut lining, and age.
Helping your body improve SIgA levels is important. Vitamin A is a critical component to properly restore the lining in your gut. Another supplement to help increase your level of SIgA is zinc coupled with vitamin A, and L-Glutamine.
A strong immune system is what keeps us healthy, active, and able to experience more! Understanding where the immune system is housed and ways to help your first line of defense are critical in the supplements you take and diet you follow. Another important factor is stress. Reduce the presence of stress in your life and practice activities like yoga and meditation. This will help reduce the cortisol levels throughout your body, which is responsible for the overproduction of SIgA. -Kenna Vaughn, Senior Health Coach
Grisanti, Ronald. “Secretory IgA Testing .” Functional Medicine University. 2020, www .functionalmedicineuniversity.com/members/466 .cfm .
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