Supporting Your Immune Health

Dec 14, 2022

Our bodies are simply amazing. They take vigil 24/7 ensuring our health and safety are of the highest priority. Our immune system specifically leads our ability to resist disease through the activities of specialized cells and systems in the body.

There are two types of immunity: the innate or non-specific and the humoral or specific. The innate system allows our bodies to activate a broad, general response to foreign invaders such as bacteria or viruses. The humoral system on the other hand allows our bodies to learn and improve on repeated exposure. If your immune system malfunctions you may experience an auto-immune reaction or disease such as asthma, allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, hashimoto’s thyroiditis and many other autoimmune conditions.

Circumstances that have a negative effect on the immune system include: 

1. Chronic Stress

2. A poor diet (high in processed foods)

3. Excessive alcohol

4. Lack of sleep

5. Obesity

6. Lack of exercise

7. Poor hygiene

8. Smoking

9. Dehydration

10. Excess sugar

While nutrients from food should be our first line of defense in supporting our immune systems, there are some situations where we dont get enough nutrients from food and/or need extra support. I.e. nutrient depletion is soil, digestive issues, or just simply wanting extra support around cold and flu season. This is where supplements can be beneficial.

Listed below are some suggestions for supplements that optimize the immune system and help you maintain great health.

Vitamin D3 - Scientists at the University of Copenhagen have discovered that Vitamin D is crucial to activating our immune defenses and that without sufficient intake of the vitamin, the killer cells of the immune system, T cells, will not be able to react to and fight off serious infections in the body (1).

Vitamin C - Championed by Linus Pauling as an antiviral and anticancer nutrient, vitamin C is an excellent immune system supporter. White blood cells use vitamin C to combat infections, and in the face of inflammation or nasty microbes, levels of vitamin C are depleted. So topping up this nutrient in times of stress is crucial.

Elderberry - Elderberries are packed with vitamin C and antioxidants in the form phenolic acids, flavanols, and anthocyanins. These polyphenols support the immune system by increasing the number of white blood cells. Elderberry extracts have been shown to help reduce the length and severity of influezna as well as inhibit the growth of some bacteria (2,3). 

Vitamin A - Vitamin A is one of the most widely studied nutrients in relation to immune function. It is well known to enhance white blood cell function, enhance your resistance to infection and cancer causing agents, and helps maintain skin and mucus membrane which assist in the defense of infection (4).

Zinc - The Cochrane Review found that zinc reduced both the duration and severity of symptoms of the common cold. And using zinc preventatively helped prevent colds, leading to fewer school absences and less antibiotic use by children. Zinc is an important molecule for thymic proteins, which are immune molecules made by your thymus gland. Without zinc, you lack this immune defense (5).

Probiotics - Probiotics are a very well documented optimizer of the immune system. 70% or more of our immune system is controlled by what happens in the gut, and friendly bacteria are the most important component of that immune system. These bacteria assist the immune system by increasing the numbers of white blood cells (T lymphocytes). Probiotics also help improve digestion and protect the body from harmful pathogens such as Candida.

Echinacea - Preclinical studies lend biological plausibility to the idea that Echinacea works through immune mechanisms. Numerous clinical trials have been carried out on Echinacea preparations: it appears that the extracts shorten the duration and severity of colds and other upper respiratory infections (URIs) when given as soon as symptoms become evident (6).

Medicinal Mushrooms - Evidence continues to emerge, confirming how mushrooms’ proteins, trace minerals, polysaccharides, amino acids and fiber promote overall heath. These and other compounds found in mushrooms are now believed to help support immune function, protect against environmental stressors, and support healthy gut flora among other things.

Garlic - Whole garlic contains a compound called alliin. When garlic is crushed or chewed, this compound turns into allicin, the main active ingredient in garlic (7). Allicin converts into sulfur-containing compounds which have been show to increase some white blood cells therefore enhancing immune function. 

Quercetin - This plant-based flavonoid that has anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties. It can be found in foods like apples, broccoli, onions, and tomatoes. This powerful antioxidant has plenty of benefits including supporting the immune system and modulating inflammation (8). 

Shop Immune Supplements HERE

All information and tools presented and written within this article are for educational and informational purposes only. Any nutrition, lifestyle and product recommendations are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Before starting any new supplements, diet and exercise program please check with your doctor or practitioner.

(1) https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100307215534.htm

(2) https://www.rombio.eu/rbl1vol16/17%20Badescu.pdf

(3) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28198157/

(4) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6162863/

(5) https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ebch.1859

(6) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15035888/

(7) https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/garlic-fights-colds-and-flu#TOC_TITLE_HDR_2

(8) https://www.metagenicsinstitute.com/blogs/quercetin-and-immune-health/

 

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