How To Help Your Immune System Do Its Job
Definition of Immune System
In order to know how to boost our immune system, we need to understand exactly what it is. By definition, the immune system is a host defence system comprising many biological structures and processes within an organism that protects against disease. To function properly, an immune system must detect a wide variety of agents, known as pathogens, from viruses to parasitic worms, and distinguish them from the organism’s own healthy tissue. (1) Learning about the immune system and what can be done to boost it, or to help the immune system do its job, is critical to a healthy lifestyle.
Your Healthy Lifestyle.
A healthy lifestyle is critical for a strong immune system. There are nine areas to consider when looking to improve your healthy lifestyle.
- Don’t smoke or vape
- Get enough sleep
- Exercise regularly and get fresh air
- Minimize stress wherever possible
- If you drink alcohol, do it in moderation
- Maintain a healthy body weight
- Proper hygiene/hand washing
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, try to incorporate the colour of the rainbow
- Supplement according to your individual needs.
Immune Boosting foods
One of my favourite posts about this comes from Healthline (2) so I will be directly referencing an article from them here.
From Healthline: Feeding your body certain foods may help keep your immune system strong. If you’re looking for ways to prevent winter colds and the flu, your first step should be a visit to your local grocery store. Plan your meals to include these 15 powerful immune system boosters.
Most people turn to vitamin C after they’ve caught a cold. That’s because it helps build up your immune system. Vitamin C is thought to increase the production of white blood cells. These are key to fighting infections.
Popular citrus fruits include:
Because your body doesn’t produce or store it, you need daily vitamin C for continued health. Almost all citrus fruits are high in vitamin C. With such a variety to choose from, it’s easy to add a squeeze of this vitamin to any meal.
2. Red bell peppers
If you think citrus fruits have the most vitamin C of any fruit or vegetable, think again. Ounce for ounce, red bell peppers contain twice as much vitamin C as citrus. They’re also a rich source of beta carotene. Besides boosting your immune system, vitamin C may help maintain healthy skin. Beta carotene helps keep your eyes and skin healthy.
Broccoli is supercharged with vitamins and minerals. Packed with vitamins A, C, and E, as well as many other antioxidants and fibre, broccoli is one of the healthiest vegetables you can put on your table. The key to keeping its power intact is to cook it as little as possible, or better yet, not at all.
Garlic is found in almost every cuisine in the world. It adds a little zing to food and it’s a must-have for your health. Early civilizations recognized its value in fighting infections. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative HealthTrusted Source, garlic may also help lower blood pressure and slow down hardening of the arteries. Garlics immune-boosting properties seem to come from a heavy concentration of sulphur containing compounds, such as allicin.
Ginger is another ingredient many turn to for help after getting sick. Ginger may help decrease inflammation, which can help reduce a sore throat and other inflammatory illnesses. Ginger may also help decrease nausea.
While it’s used in many sweet desserts, ginger packs some heat in the form of gingerol, a relative of capsaicin. Ginger may help decrease chronic pain and may possess cholesterol-lowering properties, according to this recent research trusted source.
Spinach made our list not just because it’s rich in vitamin C. It’s also packed with numerous antioxidants and beta carotene, which may increase the infection-fighting ability of our immune systems. Similar to broccoli, spinach is healthiest when it’s cooked as little as possible so that it retains its nutrients. However, light cooking enhances its vitamin A and allows other nutrients to be released from oxalic acid.
Look for yogurts that have “live and active cultures” printed on the label, like Greek yogurt. These cultures may stimulate your immune system to help fight diseases. Try to get plain yogurts rather than the kinds that are pre-flavored and loaded with sugar. You can sweeten plain yogurt yourself with healthy fruits and a drizzle of honey instead.
Yogurt can also be a great source of vitamin D, so try to select brands fortified with Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps regulate the immune system and is thought to boost our body’s natural defence against diseases.
When it comes to preventing and fighting off colds, vitamin E tends to take a backseat to vitamin C. However, vitamin E is key to a healthy immune system. It’s a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning it requires the presence of fat to be absorbed properly. Nuts, such as almonds, are packed with the vitamin and also have healthy fats. A half-cup serving, which is about 46 whole, shelled almonds, provides nearly 100 percent of the recommended daily amount of vitamin E.
You may know turmeric as a key ingredient in many curries. But this bright yellow, bitter spice has also been used for years as an anti-inflammatory in treating both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Also, researchTrusted Source shows that high concentrations of curcumin, which gives turmeric its distinctive colour, can help decrease exercise-induced muscle damage.
10. Green tea
Both green and black teas are packed with flavonoids, a type of antioxidant. Where green tea really excels is in its levels of epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, another powerful antioxidant. EGCG has been shown to enhance immune function. The fermentation process black tea goes through destroys a lot of the EGCG. Green tea, on the other hand, is steamed and not fermented, so the EGCG is preserved.
Green tea is also a good source of the amino acid L-theanine. L-theanine may aid in the production of germ-fighting compounds in your T-cells.
Papaya is another fruit loaded with vitamin C. You can find 224 percent of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C in a single papaya. Papayas also have a digestive enzyme called papain that has anti-inflammatory effects.
Papayas have decent amounts of potassium, B vitamins, and folate, all of which are beneficial to your overall health.
Like papayas, kiwis are naturally full of a ton of essential nutrients, including folate, potassium, vitamin K, and vitamin C. Vitamin C boosts white blood cells to fight infection, while kiwis other nutrients keep the rest of your body functioning properly.
When you’re sick, chicken soup is more than just a feel-good food with a placebo effect. It helps improve symptoms of a cold and also helps protect you from getting sick in the first place. Poultry, such as chicken and turkey, is high in vitamin B-6. About 3 ounces of light turkey or chicken meat contains 40 to 50 percent of your daily recommended amount of B-6.
Vitamin B-6 is an important player in many of the chemical reactions that happen in the body. It’s also vital to the formation of new and healthy red blood cells. Stock or broth made by boiling chicken bones contains gelatin, chondroitin, and other nutrients helpful for gut healing and immunity.
14. Sunflower seeds
Vitamin E is important in regulating and maintaining immune system function. Other foods with high amounts of vitamin E include avocados and dark leafy greens.
Shellfish isn’t what jumps to mind for many who are trying to boost their immune system, but some types of shellfish are packed with zinc.
Zinc doesn’t get as much attention as many other vitamins and minerals, but our bodies need it so that our immune cells can function as intended.
Varieties of shellfish that are high in zinc include:
Keep in mind that you don’t want to have more than the daily recommended amount of zinc in your diet. For adult men, it’s 11 milligrams (mg), and for women, it’s 8 mg. Too much zinc can actually inhibit immune system function. (2)
How To Supplement With Vitamins, Minerals and, Nutrients
Eating the rainbow and balanced diet full of fruit and veggies is believed by some to be all an individual needs to do to maintain optimal immune function and overall health. It’s no longer as easy to do as it once was. There have been studies that have shown up to 80% of Americans are deficient in key nutrients. Modern farming has stripped the soils of nutrients and in turn, the harvested food is deficient according to Scientific American magazine. More and more research and nutrition training for Doctors in Medical School is covering the importance of supplementation with nutraceuticals. There is an interesting video on this by Dr. Shalesh Kaushal you can watch by clicking here.
How to supplement has been a guessing game for as long as supplements have been sold. How many of you have a cupboard or drawer full of things you heard advertised or talked about on a television Doctor show? How many are expired and you can’t remember what they’re for or why you bought them? I’m guessing pretty well everyone answers “yes” to both of those questions. We refer to this as “blind nutrition”. The term makes sense, doesn’t it? Honestly, I had a drawer full of expired bottles; I called my vitamin graveyard, where supplements went to die. I had no idea what most of them were or were for. Then of course, there was the multivitamin gummies and hard pills that were a total waste of money as well.
What’s the solution? How do you know what to take? Good questions, and ones that can be answered by looking into your cells. Genetics; Actionable genes. If you have no idea what I’m talking about I invite you to read my earlier post explaining what Actionable genes are all about. There are 5 genes that are active participants in your body’s immune system. IL6 (healthy immune system), FUT2 (Vitamin B12 and immune system), SOD2 (Free radical defence), CRP and TNF-a (healthy inflammatory response). Knowing if SNP’s are present in the genes will help determine the supplementation required. Genes with SNPs simply put, need some help. Nutrigenomics is the interaction between your genes and nutrition.
There is a Functional medicine Doctor named Dr. Antoine Chevalier who has been the Functional Medicine Practitioner at The White House for 19 years. Dr. Chevalier jokes, in his thick French accent, that he isn’t allowed to live in France because his lifestyle is too healthy. Yes, he jokes about it but he literally eats, lives and breathes healthy. Dr. Chevalier calls our custom nutrition the answer to his prayers for his patients. Not only are he and his wife using the custom formulas, Dr. Chevalier prescribes it as a white label program for his White House patients.
The days of taking the same thing as your spouse, your neighbour or sibling are over. Everyone is a unique individual. Cellular health is approached easily and accurately with a simple swab test. Getting your body exactly what it needs according to your genetics has been 25 years in development! There are companies that say they do custom formulas but most take supplements from bottles and put them in an individual daily packet. That is not custom! Custom means blended for you using precise ingredients in clinical dosage down to the microgram! Custom means choosing from almost 100 whole-food based vitamins and minerals to blend the formula that’s right for you and useless for anyone else. That is the 2021 way to supplement and help your immune system do its job. Thanks to our intellectual property we are the only company that has the capabilities to analyze for 18 critical SNPs and give you exactly what your body needs.
Custom nutrition is the future of preventative health care, you can answer this questionnaire to see if it will be useful to you.
If you have any questions about boosting your immune system or Nutrigenomics, please reach out or click here.
In good health,
Sydney Macleod, BSc
(2) Healthline.com 15 Foods That Boost The immune System