We all know how important it is to look after our immune system, and the crucial role it plays in protecting us from becoming ill. This often leads to a lot of talk regarding ‘immune boosting foods’, however, do immune boosting foods actually exist?
The answer is technically no; however, you can support your immune system by maintaining a good diet and making good lifestyle choices.
What is Our Immune System?
Our immune system is a complex network of various organs, cells and proteins that work together to fight off and defend the body from infections. We have an innate immune system that starts working from the moment we are born, and an acquired immune system that develops and produces antibodies to protect against harmful infections.
The immune system helps to fight off infections such as bacteria, viruses and toxins. Our immune systems are able to record every germ it has previously come in to contact with, so it can quickly destroy it if the germ ever tries to re-enter our body. Our immune system is vital when it comes to preventing us from getting sick and it can be influenced by a range of factors. Although diet is important, personal hygiene, sleep and stress levels all play a huge role in helping to strengthen or damage or immune systems.
What Can Suppress Your Immune System?
There are different factors that can suppress your immune system, and a poor diet could be one that has a significant impact. A diet that is lacking in fruits and vegetables can lead to a weaker immune system, as you simply aren’t getting the required nutrients to support it. In addition to this, eating too many foods that are high in fat can damage your immune system as high fat diets can upset the balance of bacteria in your gut.
Getting a lack of sleep can also have a negative impact on your immune system. Whilst we sleep, our body releases certain antibodies known as cytokines which help to fight off infections. As these are only produced during sleep, not getting enough rest or getting poor quality sleep can result in less being produced.
We all get stressed from time to time, but too much stress or constant stress and anxiety can weaken your immune system. If you are constantly stressed or worried, your body never gets the signal to return to functioning normally which leaves you more prone to infection and illness.
What can Support our Immune System?
It’s best to focus on how you can support your immune system rather than looking for magic immune boosting food(s), with certain adjustments to your diet you can have a big impact in supporting your immune system. Consuming a diet that is high in fruit and vegetables can be really beneficial, as these foods help your body produce more white blood cells which are necessary to fight off infections. It’s also essential to ensure to maintain good gut health and consume foods that are rich in probiotics and prebiotics. Good gut bacteria help to fight against pathogens that try entering the body, and probiotics can help maintain good health in the gut. Yoghurts and fermented drinks are excellent sources of probiotics and can help maintain a healthy gut.
As well as maintaining a good diet, you can also support your immune system by maintaining a healthy active lifestyle. Physical exercise is beneficial for most aspects of life, and it can also help to support your immune system. Physical activities can help to flush harmful bacteria out of you and outdoor activities are especially beneficial, as you are able to breathe in fresh air and free your lungs of bacteria. This is why breathing exercises can also be beneficial for supporting your immune system – additionally, they can help to reduce cortisol levels and stress which we touched on earlier.
Can Supplements Help?
You can get the majority of the required nutrients for supporting your immune system by maintaining a healthy balanced diet, however, supplements can also be used for additional support. Vitamin C can play an essential role in supporting your immune system as it is a potent antioxidant. Vitamin D3 also plays a key role in facilitating and regulating your immune system, so if you aren’t getting enough from your diet, you can take supplements such as One Nutrition D3-Max for additional support. Vitamin B12 is another important nutrient when it comes to supporting your immune system. B12 helps create DNA, nerves and blood cells and is crucial for maintaining your immune system. One Nutrition B12-Max can provide you with your necessary daily dosage of B12 – which can be difficult to obtain if you are following a vegan diet, as it is mainly found in animal products.
Supporting your immune system is absolutely vital when it comes to staying healthy. Despite what you may have heard, there isn’t really an instant fix through ‘immune boosting foods’, and it is more beneficial to focus on maintaining a good diet and healthy lifestyle that support your immune system.