With the Autumn weather and flu season settling in, now is the time to be proactive for your immune system. A strong immune system is one of the foundations of health, it is your body’s defence made up of organs and cells that work together to protect your body against foreign invaders.
A low immune system can have a significant impact on an individual’s mental, physical and emotional health.
Every day we are exposed to a number of organisms that can turn into disease or illness. The immune system fights to remove and neutralise pathogens such as bacteria, parasites and fungi that enter the body. A weakened immune system means your body may suffer more from illnesses and experience symptoms for a longer period of time.
The key to staying healthy during the cold and flu season is to focus on diet and lifestyle factors and pair this with preventative measures suited to you. In regards to diet and lifestyle let’s focus on hygiene, stress, sleep, nutrition and hydration to boost the immune system. (Remember these are not just ‘sometimes’ practices, they need to be everyday, long term healthy habits).
Nutrients to help you support a healthy immune system
Here are the top 4 nutrients to help you support a strong and healthy immune function in preparation for this cold and flu season. Nutrients will not singularly prevent you from getting sick or cure your illness but they definitely will help your body’s defence mechanisms and we have got your back.
1. Vitamin C
Vitamin C aka ascorbic acid is an essential water-soluble nutrient, required in the diet, regularly, as our bodies can not make it. It has been classified as one of the most important water-soluble antioxidant substances in the body.
Vitamin C is essential for healthy immune function. Indeed, it helps with immune cells (white blood cells) production, energy levels, collagen formation and brain function. Through its antioxidant activity, Vitamin C protects cells of the immune system from oxidative damage and free radicals.
Vitamin C is found in some fruits and vegetables such as blackcurrants, green and red capsicums, oranges and strawberries. Diets low in fruit and vegetables may not get the recommended amount of vitamin C. Lifestyle factors such as excessive alcohol, chronic stress and smoking can deplete levels of vitamin C.
Vitable enriches its Vitamin C Plus with rosehip, which has powerful antioxidant properties, to help protect immune cells from the toxic compounds they produce in their fight against pathogens. This essential nutrient is the gold standard in any vitamin routine to boost a healthy immune system.
Did you know approximately 70% of your immune system is in your gut? In a healthy individual, the immune system promotes the growth of beneficial microbes in the gut and a healthy gut supports the development of immune cells and the fine-tuning of the immune response. Healthy communication between our gut and the immune system supports a protective response against pathogens.
Probiotics can help restore beneficial gut flora, which supports a healthy immune system and fights off infections. Vitable’s Probitotic SB blend combines three heavily researched strains: B. lactis, L. acidophilus and L. rhamnosus, to support a healthy digestive system and immune function.
To assist your gut microbiome try to include high-fibre, nutrient-rich, plant-based and fermented foods. Some examples of fermented food and drinks to consider include kefir, tempeh, natto, kombucha, miso, kimchi, sauerkraut and probiotic yogurt.
Zinc is involved in many aspects of our immune function including the development and function of cells involved in immunity. Zinc supports your immune cells to increase their production and enhance their efficacy when fighting off invading bacteria and viruses. Supplementing Zinc can support healthy immune system function.
Vegetarians and vegans are more susceptible to low zinc levels and excessive alcohol consumption can contribute to Zinc deficiency. Dietary sources of Zinc include meat, liver, eggs, oysters, nuts and seeds. Chronic stress may deplete zinc levels thus stress management and mindfulness activities can be included. Try yoga, meditation, walking in nature and deep breathing techniques.
4. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is important for a healthy and robust immune system. It is a potent immunomodulator (improving the function of the immune system) acting through the Vitamin D receptor on cells.
The Vitamin D receptor is found widely throughout the body in 30+ tissues including the brain, bones, intestines and immune system where the vitamin binds and exerts its therapeutic effects. In the immune system, the Vitamin D receptor is found on many immune cells where it acts to balance the body’s immunity. Vitamin D can stimulate antimicrobial peptides that can damage harmful bacteria.
Your body makes Vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight and a vitamin D deficiency can compromise the immune system and lead to unwanted immune responses for example autoimmunity conditions.
Bonus tip for a strong immune system
Strengthen your immune system and energy levels by avoiding stimulants such as nicotine, energy drinks and anything that is highly caffeinated. Smoking cigarettes suppress your body’s antibodies which fight cold and flu viruses. Limit alcohol consumption as it dehydrates the body and is a breeding ground for viruses.
Vitable works with nutritionists, pharmacists and health and regulation experts to source high-quality ingredients in the forms that are easiest for the body to digest and absorb, and all products are manufactured in Australia.
Find out more about other areas that the above supplements can help you with:
*Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional. Vitamin and/or mineral supplements should not replace a balanced diet.