Now, more than ever, it is important to focus on supporting our immune system and protecting ourselves from colds, flu, COVID-19, and other illnesses.
This starts with supporting our immune system as that is our first line of defense against germs. We are exposed to a variety of bacteria, viruses, parasites or fungi every day, but there is still a lot we can do to strengthen and support our immune system!
The body’s immune system works to recognize and neutralize these harmful substances as well as fight disease-causing changes in the body such as cancer cells. (source)
So, let’s dive into immune health and how to strengthen/support your immune system so you can not only stay healthy, but also keep working toward your goals!
First - what is the immune system? Well, the name is a bit self-explanatory, but it is a very complex and intricate system. "Immune" means to be resistant to a particular infection or toxin owing to the presence of specific antibodies or sensitized white blood cells. (source)
The immune system takes time to develop and needs continuous support. The immune system comprised of two parts:
Innate Immune System - Includes our skin, the linings of our lungs and gut, all of which create physical barriers to keep anything that causes disease (pathogens) from entering the body. It also includes cells that recognize pathogens and produces molecules to attack the invader (this could be bacteria, the flu, or COVID).
Adaptive Immune System - Consists of T and B cells, which fight off specific pathogens and other types of microorganisms that can cause disease. It’s “adaptive” because these cells only evolve once you’ve encountered and recovered from a pathogen. So your body develops specific T and B cells so it will be able to respond in a much stronger fashion the next go around.
So, let’s start with one of the most important things you can do to support your immune system, and that is to support your gut!
As we are always preaching, it starts with your nutrition and dietary nutrient intake as that has an impact on the immune system through gene expression, cell activation, and signaling molecules modification. In addition, gut health is very important as various dietary ingredients are determinants of gut microbial composition and subsequently shape the immune responses in the body. (source)
Your gut plays a significant role in maintaining a strong immune system as your gut lining houses 70-80% of the cells that make up your immune system! Specifically, the gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) which is the prominent part of mucosal-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) and represents almost 70% of the entire immune system; moreover, about 80% of plasma cells [mainly immunoglobulin A (IgA)-bearing cells] reside in GALT. (source)
Therefore, to help support your immune health, as well as your gut, we need to nourish the body. Here are a few tips around gut health - by no means is this all inclusive as it is very dependent on the individual and their current state of health:
Evaluate how food makes you feel after eating it - are you experiencing bloating? Gas? Indigestion? Feeling fatigued/tired? More inflamed? If so, those are signs that your body is not tolerating that food, or part of the food in the meal, well.
Remove inflammatory triggers such as gluten/grains, dairy, sugar, alcohol, and processed foods. Some individuals may also need to remove eggs, nightshades, FODMAPS, or fermented foods. *Note: this does not apply to everyone. However, in our experience, MOST individuals benefit from removing dairy and gluten, and all individuals benefit from removing processed foods and sugar.
Slow down when eating and chew your food well. This helps with digestive stress as your body doesn’t have to work as hard to break foods down and therefore can help with absorbing the nutrients from the food you are consuming. Additionally, when food is chewed thoroughly, you also release more saliva, which contains digestive enzymes. As you release these enzymes into the throat and stomach, it helps to improve the digestive process. Digestion is a very demanding and an extremely important task for your body. It requires a great deal of energy, especially if forced to digest improperly chewed food.
Eat a diet that is nutrient dense and diverse. Aim to eat fruits and vegetables that are in season, vary your protein sources and consume enough healthy fats. Learn more about healthy fats and the importance of Omega-3’s in our blog HERE.
We advise consuming a diet that is varied because it is important to get a diverse intake of nutrients such as antioxidants, fiber, and minerals. These are known as micronutrients, and they are imperative to a healthy immune system as they are cofactors to many enzymatic functions in the body. If we are eating the same 10 foods all the time, we are missing out on a lot of other nutrients that are necessary for optimal function.
Your immune system is the key to good health, so the more you can do to protect it, the better. As always, we suggest focusing on lifestyle factors outside of your diet as well. These include, but are not limited to, getting adequate quality sleep, daily sunshine, regular exercise, minimal alcohol, avoiding tobacco and managing stress.
If you find yourself struggling to eat enough nutrient dense foods and want to support your body with one supplement rather than multiple pills and powders, our IMMUNITY product includes all of the best quality and most absorbable forms of Vitamin C, Zinc, Elderberry Fruit Extract, Copper, and NAC in one simple capsule to help get you what you need to make your immune system bulletproof.
Let’s take a deeper look at the ingredients we’ve included in IMMUNITY so you can better understand how impactful this one supplement can be!
- NAC is the supplemental form of cysteine, which is an essential amino acid which works as an antioxidant in the body and is extremely important to support liver health and detoxification. Cysteine also plays an important role in the communication between our immune system cells.
- You can find cysteine in broccoli, brussel sprouts, egg yolks, garlic, onion, oats, poultry, wheat germ, and yeast - BUT it is important to note that those with Vitamin B deficiencies (one of the most common deficiencies) can lead to a deficiency in cysteine.
NAC is a chemical precursor to glutathione, one of the body’s most important antioxidants, because it helps protect your cells against free radicals; glutathione is particularly important to protect your neurons which are important for cognitive function. NAC also supports respiratory and bronchial health and has been shown to help treat and prevent COVID-19. (source)
NAC has been used in clinical practice to treat critically ill septic patients, and more recently for COVID-19 patients. NAC has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immune-modulating characteristics that may prove beneficial in the treatment and prevention of SARS-Cov-2. (source)
- Vitamin C
Vitamin C is one of the best supplements to support and cure the immune system. (source)
- Vitamin C is necessary for building the structural components of the body and for maintaining levels of glutathione (the master antioxidant of the body).
Vitamin C deficiency is quite common and is water soluble, meaning we need to replenish it daily. It is estimated that 34% of men and 27% of women don’t get enough Vitamin C daily. (source) This is why we have included Vitamin C not only in IMMUNITY, but also in HYDRATE as well.
- It’s difficult to obtain adequate levels from food (acerola cherries and red peppers are the highest natural sources).
It is recommended to get about 500mg-1g per day, and you can take up to several grams a day with no toxic effects (space out the doses though to avoid diarrhea).
Now more than ever we know people are conscientious about their health and staying healthy. The good news is there are many ways we can continue to support and strengthen our immune system through maintaining healthy lifestyle behaviors and avoiding things that may weaken our immune system. We hope everyone reading this will implement some of these strategies and stay healthy.
Zinc is an essential mineral that plays a role in immune function, protein synthesis, wound healing, DNA synthesis, and cell division. (source)
- Zinc supplementation has also shown to help increase levels of Vitamin A in the body, indicating an interaction between these two nutrients.
Zinc is known to modulate several physiological functions including intracellular signaling, enzyme function, gustation, and olfaction, as well as reproductive, skeletal, neuronal, and cardiovascular systems. Hence, achieving a significant therapeutic approach against COVID-19 could imply the use of zinc as a supplement together with available drugs and vaccines to win the battle of COVID-19. (source)
Researchers have hypothesized that zinc could reduce the severity and duration of cold symptoms by directly inhibiting rhinovirus binding and replication in the nasal mucosa and suppressing inflammation. (source)
- Dietary sources of zinc are best absorbed from red meat, organ meats, and shellfish. The reason that we do not absorb zinc from plant-based sources is because it is bound to phytates and makes it harder for our body to obtain the benefits.
Copper is an essential trace mineral present in almost all living organisms and is necessary for survival. It is found in all body tissues and plays a role in making red blood cells and maintaining nerve cells and the immune system. (source)
- Copper can boost the host's immune system response against pathogens, exhibiting strong antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects. (source)
It also helps the body form collagen and absorb iron, and plays a role in energy production.
- Elderberry Fruit Extract
- Elderberry is one of the most effective botanicals for strengthening immune function and preventing colds and flus.
Specific research was done on Influenza A and B viruses and the group who received elderberry recovered 4 days faster than the group who received a placebo. (source)
Elderberry is both a safe and cost-effective way to combat the germs we face.
- Vitamin D plays an immunoregulatory role in the body and many people do not get enough Vitamin D in their day from food or from sunlight.
If you have high levels of inflammation (auto-immune, obesity, or cancer), then your ability to convert sunlight to Vitamin D is decreased; therefore it is advised to get your Vitamin D levels checked regularly and supplement accordingly. If you are in need of a high quality Vitamin D you can get it HERE.
A research study at the University of Chicago Medicine has found that when it comes to COVID-19, having vitamin D levels above those traditionally considered sufficient may lower the risk of infection, especially for African American people. (source)
Additionally, research studies have shown that a very severe vitamin D deficiency (<10 ng/ml) was considerably more common in COVID-19 patients (44%) than in non-COVID-19 ones (31%). Among COVID-19-positive patients, the group with vitamin D levels of >30 ng/ml had significantly lower D-dimer and C-reactive protein (CRP) levels, number levels, number of affected lung segments and shorter hospital stays. No difference was found among the groups in terms of age and gender distribution. They also found that elevated vitamin D levels could decrease COVID-19 PCR positivity, D-dime and CRP levels and the number of affected lung segments in COVID-19-positive patients, thereby shortening the duration of hospital stays and alleviating the intensity of COVID-19. (source)