What if I told you there's an easy way to avoid pneumonia as you get older? If you're over the age of 60, you're probably very interested. That's because the older we get, the more likely we are to come down with pneumonia. And pneumonia can be deadly. So avoiding the illness should be a high priority.
So how can you avoid pneumonia? A group of researchers out of the University of Virginia School of Medicine found that a certain hormone can help prevent the illness. Here's how it works. As you may know, pneumonia needs iron in your blood to survive and grow. The more iron you have in your bloodstream, the easier it is for pneumonia to take hold.
But the hormone hepcidin limits the spread of pneumonia bacteria. It does this by hiding the iron in your blood so the bacteria can't find it. Your body produces hepcidin in the liver. That explains why people with liver disease are more susceptible to pneumonia.
The researchers genetically modified mice to lack hepcidin. They found these mice were particularly susceptible to bacterial pneumonia. Nearly all of the mice with this modification had the pneumonia bacteria spread from the lungs into their bloodstream, ultimately killing them. This is how pneumonia spreads in people as well. Without the hormone, the mice weren't able to hide iron away from the bacteria, allowing the pneumonia to spread.
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So how can you make sure you're producing enough hepcidin? The researchers pointed to a drug that's already in development that mimics the function of hepcidin. While this might be an answer for people who have hereditary hemochromatosis (chronic iron overload), there might be an easier way to avoid pneumonia.
First, make sure you're donating blood regularly if you can. The Red Cross has a special donation they call Power Red. According to the Red Cross, "Power Red is similar to a whole blood donation, except a special machine is used to allow you to safely donate two units of red blood cells during one donation while returning your plasma and platelets to you." Since about 70% percent of your body's iron is in your red blood cells, this donation can help reduce your iron load. Not only will you be reducing your risk of pneumonia spreading, you'll help save lives at the same time.
Second, make sure you're taking care of your liver. If your liver is in good shape, you'll produce ample amounts of hepcidin to hide the iron from the pneumonia bacteria. Detoxing is important, as too many toxins can harm your liver. And giving your liver the nutrients it needs to thrive is just as important. That's why just about everyone over the age of 40 should be taking Advanced Liver Support. This supplement — along with a diet rich in fruits and veggies — gives your liver the nutrients it needs to produce hepcidin and fight off pneumonia.
Your insider for better health,
Steve Kroening, ND.