Biology professor studies natural ways to strengthen the immune system

Professor studies natural ways to strengthen the immune system

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Assistant professor of biology Daniel Jung is uncovering "natural" ways to boost your immune system. Photo by Justin Wan, Sioux City Journal.

SIOUX CITY, Iowa — Dr. Daniel Jung encourages his students at Briar Cliff University to open the windows when they wake up in the morning and take deep breaths to clear their sinuses.

Eating three meals a day that are rich in fiber and vitamins and getting at least five hours of sleep a day, he said, is also essential for students to maintain healthy immune systems.


“If Interleukin-27 is in the environment of the immune system, that actually makes dendritic cells eat bacterial pathogens better than ever.”

— Dr. Daniel Jung, assistant professor of biology


Before Jung began teaching biology at Briar Cliff University eight months ago, he was a post-doctoral researcher at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine. One of his studies will soon be published in Immunology: The Journal of Cells, Molecules, Systems and Technologies.

"In my opinion, it's all related," Jung said of diet, exercise and immune system functioning. "What I'm doing in my research is I'm providing scientific evidence. Later on, this will help the public to understand what they should eat and how they should exercise so they can be protected better from the measles virus or any kind of virus or bacterial pathogens."

Most of the work for the study, which became available online in October, was done at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine. Jung's research centered on Interleukin-27 (IL-27), a cytokin or chemical messenger that has both inflammatory and immune suppressive activities.

"If Interleukin-27 is in the environment of the immune system, that actually makes dendritic cells eat bacterial pathogens better than ever," he said. "That also shows the possibility that we can modulate the immune system in our own benefit."

Now in his laboratory on Briar Cliff's campus, Jung is hoping to identify natural immune modulators that can regulate immune responses. He suspects polyphenols, organic chemicals found in aged wine or green tea, and probiotics found in yogurt, could be contenders. Jung also believes how we eat and exercise can help our immune systems stave off potentially deadly viruses like measles.

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