The human body is genius at protecting itself from getting ill. Its first line of defense – our skin. It is the largest organ and the most waterproof, yet breathable material ever devised.
Second line of defense & often-overlooked is our brain. It informs us that the easiest things we can do to stay healthy are to simply wash our hands, drink water and get plenty of sleep.
In fact, our immune system is everywhere in our body and the cellular level is where an astounding amount of immunity multitasking occurs. Getting the right amount of nutrients is essential to keeping the body in tip top shape. When our diet does not provide, good quality supplements can help to enhance the body’s immune system. Top line defense helpers are Antioxidants, Vitamin D, Probiotics and Zinc.
Antioxidants are vital for immunity. These compounds both boost the activity of immune cells and protect against free radicals. Remember your key antioxidants with the acronym ACES, which stands for Vitamins A C E and mineral Selenium. Selenium is only needed in small amounts, and we usually get it in food from soil that has this element in it. With some farming practices this may not be as available in food, so supplementation is a good idea. For Vitamins A C E you can get if you keep your diet high in fresh fruit and vegetables. The more colourful the better. Include greens like Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Spinach, Cabbage, Collard greens. Adding in Tomatoes, Oranges, Pineapples, Papaya, Red Bell Peppers, and Berries for the best results.
Known as the sunshine vitamin, Vitamin D has been shown to positively affect a wide array of health issues, from breast cancer to bone health and immune functions. In other words it helps the body perform optimally on a cellular level. Because vitamin D is fat-soluble, and takes longer to be depleted from your body than water-soluble vitamins, you can even forget to take it for a few days without harm. Your body will convert Vitamin D from sunshine but if you live north of the 49th parallel you will need supplements most of the year: the rays are not strong enough. Did you know that brown mushrooms convert UV light into Vitamin D? Mushrooms like Crimini or Portobellos are excellent sources of Vitamin D.
Probiotics are useful not just for digestive health concerns but also for regulating and enhancing immune function. It is estimated that 70 percent of the body’s cells involved in immune response are located in our intestinal walls. Researchers gave probiotics to children and adults during the winter months. They found that those taking the probiotics had fewer gastric disorders, but also 25% fewer respiratory tract infections like colds and bronchitis. Adults had 40% fewer sick days. When taking probiotics the strains matter. Try to seek out products that contain Lactobacillus acidophilus. Also ensure that you have at least 25 CFU’s per capsule or serving.
Zinc is needed for the proper growth and maintenance of the body which includes immune function, wound healing, blood clotting, thyroid function, and much more. Zinc has also been shown to have antiviral properties lessening the effects of the common cold. Low zinc levels have been linked to male infertility, depression, and type 2 diabetes. Natural dietary sources for this element are Hemp seeds, Pumpkin seeds, Sesame seeds, Cashews, Almonds and Eggs.