Good health is something that’s far too easy to take for granted sometimes. When we’re down for the count with a cold or flu—stuck in bed congested, coughing, waking up in the grip of that icky malaise and fatigue—that’s when we fully appreciate and miss what it feels like to be full of health and vitality.
Saying you feel awful when you’re sick is a bit like saying water is wet. Why is it exactly that a cold or flu bug will make us feel this way?
What’s going on at the cellular level?
Part of it has to do with our immune response to pathogens. This involves an initial inflammatory response jump-started by cytokines and increased body temperature to discourage viral or bacterial growth and replication. The cytokines’ inflammatory effect is behind much of the aches and pains we feel when sick. If we have never had exposure before to a particular pathogen, there may be an even greater immune reaction.
Bacteria and viruses release toxins that have ill effects on our cells, organs, and tissue. During respiratory infections, we may also have reduced lung capacity from the inflammation and congestion, which leads to reduced oxygen delivery throughout the body.
In addition, during infections, iron binding proteins sequester iron and reduce available iron concentrations in our plasma. This is an innate immune response to protect us as many bacteria and viruses require iron to replicate and will steal and use any that’s free and available in the body. So, while it is a protective step, this iron binding can lead to temporary iron deficiency symptoms of fatigue on top of everything else that’s happening during an infection.
Much of our body’s energy and nutrient reserves are directed towards supporting the overall immune response and tax our system to the point where rest and recovery mode is all we are capable of.
How we can support our bodies
When it comes to being proactive and supporting a healthy, balanced immune response, key herbal allies like elderberry, licorice, and echinacea have been shown to provide the support our bodies need. Flora offers these in Sambu® Elderberry Crystals—a fantastic functional food that can be added to water or smoothies—as well as our Sambu®Guard Elderberry+ Liquid Formula with echinacea and licorice. To top things off, additional vitamin C from a food source like Acerola Powder is a great way to increase supply of this key immune supporting, antioxidant vitamin. For all these and more, check out our Immune Health section on our website for additional information.