Boosting Your Immunity with Supplements
In an ideal world, we would all be able to enjoy a natural diet full of healthful fare that provides us with the optimum level of nutrition and fortifies our immune systems against the diseases and ailments that inundate our bodies. Sadly, that’s not the way things work right now. Eating healthy requires planning, effort, and, in some cases, more money. Some people are able to stock up on immune system booster foods on a regular basis. For those who cannot, the next best — and easier — thing is to take immune-boosting supplements as part of our daily routine. It makes sense.
Why Do I Need Immunity-Boosting Supplements?
COVID. Cold and flu season. Having dealt with a pandemic for over a year — and the stress of lost income and lockdown. Right now, we need all the help we can get to pump up our immune systems.
Benefits of a High Immune System
To gauge the benefits of having a strong immune system, it may actually be easier to first consider the signs of a weak immune system.
• You are constantly tired, weak, and stressed.
• You seem to catch every “bug” that goes around.
• You recover from illnesses, infections, injuries, and other ailments much more slowly than other people.
• You regularly suffer from gut problems that were not a problem before — constipation, flatulence, diarrhoea, indigestion, etc.
When you have a robust immunity, however:
• You have the energy to do the things you need to do.
• You don’t tire as easily.
• Your mood is balanced.
• You get sick infrequently, and when you do, your recovery is quick.
• You don’t get as many infections as those around you.
• Your gastrointestinal system appears to be functioning well.
Now more than ever, as the world begins to recover from COVID-19, having a strong immune system is needed to see you through.
Vitamins that Boost Your Immune System
Once upon a time, the intake of your body’s required vitamins and minerals depended mostly on your diet. Fortunately, since it is difficult for many people to consume only natural foods — and a variety of them — you can find and supplement your diet with immune system booster vitamins. Here are a few important ones.
Vitamin C provides vital support to the body’s various immune cells — enhancing their resilience and ability to fight infection and clearing out old cells so that they can be replaced by new, healthy ones. As an antioxidant, it also protects against “oxidative stress,” which is linked to several diseases and results from the accumulation of free radicals. Vitamin C is especially helpful for reducing the severity and recovery time for upper respiratory tract infections.
Good alimentary sources of vitamin C include:
• Citrus fruits — such as oranges, lemons, and limes
• Dark green, leafy vegetables — such as spinach and kale
• Berries — such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries
• Exotic fruits — such as papaya and kiwi fruit
• Bell peppers
• Brussels sprouts
• BroccoliMany fruit juices have vitamin C added as citric acid, but these are not great for your health because they also contain high levels of sugar.
Vitamin A helps produce (and fortify) white blood cells that target and clear pathogens from the blood. The immune system isn’t just about the infection-fighting cells but also the different mucous membranes — in the eyes, nose/sinus, digestive system, and genitals — that serve as natural barriers against infection and trap the infectious agents. Vitamin A supports those components too.
Vitamin A comes in two main forms. It appears as retinol in animals — particularly in tuna and other fish — and in animal products, such as dairy. You can also get vitamin A from plant carotenoids (beta-carotene), plentiful in vegetables like:
• Sweet potatoes
• Butternut squash
• Dark green, leafy vegetables.
You can also get vitamin A from cantaloupes and liver.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient that appears to be deficient in many people. Studies have suggested that supplementing the intake of vitamin D lowers the risk of upper respiratory tract infections (as well as heart disease and multiple sclerosis) and improves people’s response to antiviral treatments. Vitamin D enhances the ability of white blood cells to fight pathogens. It also helps with the absorption of calcium and can counteract symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Nicknamed the “sunshine vitamin” because the body produces it in response to sunlight, vitamin D is contained in foods such as:
• Fish — salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines in particular
• Egg yolks
• Vitamin D fortified foods (usually labelled as such) like milk, orange juice, cereals, and yoghurt
Other immune-boosting supplements include:
• Garlic — A flavourful anti-inflammatory with antiviral properties that appears to stimulate white blood cells.
• Liquorice — Contains glycyrrhizin and other substances that may help against viral infections — especially against the SARS coronavirus.
• Turmeric — Contains the active compound curcumin and is known to have strong anti-inflammatory effects.
• Echinacea — Plants in the daisy family, some of which are said to improve the immune system and exhibit antiviral effects, especially against respiratory ailments.
• Selenium — A mineral that has helped enhance the defense against influenza and other viral strains.
• Zinc — A mineral needed for immune cell development and regulating the body’s inflammatory response. It also helps protect the body’s tissue barriers and appears to help with recovery from respiratory illnesses.
Keeping Healthy This Winter
With the winter season upon us, it is important to ensure we take proper care of ourselves and support our immune systems as best as we can. Here are a few things we can all do.
• Get enough sleep — Sleep and the immune system have a bidirectional relationship. How much sleep you get affects the strength of your immune system, and attacks on your immune system (such as illness) affect your quality of sleep. So, have a sleep/bedtime routine. Don’t eat right before going to bed. Turn off blue light-emitting devices at least half an hour to an hour before bedtime.
• Wash your hands — We have all learned the vital importance of washing our hands — and doing it properly — over the past year. We touch so many surfaces every day, and then touch our faces or other surfaces — spreading pathogens, germs, and viruses. Wash your hands often and for at least 20 seconds at a time. Carry hand sanitiser with you if you like, but using sanitiser should not take the place of washing your hands.
• Stay hydrated — Apart from hot liquids to warm us up, we may not think to drink enough water when it’s cold outside. Just because it isn’t hot and you aren’t sweating doesn’t mean you are properly hydrated. Carry a water bottle with you and make drinking your water part of your daily routine.
• Dress in layers — You want to wear warm clothing, but when you change environments throughout the day (outside to inside and vice versa, and public transit, for example), you need to adjust your body temperature to match your surroundings. Obviously, you want to avoid the cold, but at the same time, you don’t want to sweat in your clothes and then pop back outside. The moisture will chill and you could be at risk for hypothermia.
• Don’t forget to exercise — Just because it is cold doesn’t mean you should become sedentary or hibernate. Staying active throughout the year supports core strength, healthy cardiovascular/heart/lung systems, dexterity, and joint health. It will also improve your mood through the release of endorphins.
• Eat healthily — We have seen the links between a healthy diet and physical health. Choose foods that are nutrient-rich and fresh, and try to avoid refined sugars and processed foods.
How Do I Incorporate Vitamins into My Meals?
Fortunately, it isn’t too difficult to incorporate vitamins and other nutrients into meals. All it takes is some creativity and some mixing and matching. Menu planning can be fun. Looking at the foods we have discussed above, you could be making meals such as:
• A savoury spinach, kale, and micro-green salad with thinly sliced flank steak and a zesty, garlicky dressing
• A hearty chicken curry (turmeric is what gives us that vibrant yellow colour) with chickpeas, carrots, and bell peppers
• A decadent yoghurt parfait with fresh berries, cantaloupe, and crunchy granola
• A mouthwatering barbecued salmon filet with citrus glaze with a butternut squash mash and steamed broccoli
• Fun stuffed capsicum — different coloured capsicum filled with a ground protein, diced aromatics, and some quinoa
Immunity-Boosting Protein Powders assist your immunity by boosting the Whey Protein Isolate with Vitamins A+D, Lactoferrin, Iron, Prebiotic and MCT.
It’s pretty easy to incorporate immune system booster foods into your diet — and if you are lacking in a particular vitamin or mineral, immune-boosting supplements can help you ensure that you give your immune system a fighting chance.