Immune-Boosting Nutrition: How to Protect Yourself from the Inside Out
Our overall health and eliminating the risk of contracting COVID-19 is something that has been on everyone’s minds these days. Practicing social distancing, self-isolating and hand-washing are the obvious ways to stay safe, but did you know certain foods we eat can play a huge role in our ability to fight off infections? In this blog we'll teach you the best way to boost your immune system so you can feel confident during a time of such uncertainty.
If we do fall ill, our immune system is responsible for fighting it off. One thing we can do to make sure we have a strong immune system is to eat as healthy as possible.
What IS an immune system?
If you ask Wikipedia, the explanation is as follows, "The immune system is a host defense 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."
Essentially, your immune system is what protects you.
If you're looking for an easy way to explain it to your children, check out this kid-friendly explanation found here.
Signs that you have a low Immune system:
- On-going fatigue
- Frequent illness
- Tummy isses
- Slow healing wounds
Now that we know what an immune system is, and what the signs of a low immune system are... let's get to the good stuff!
Immune system boosters:
The amino acids found in protein are the building blocks of our body’s tissues and organs. Proteins, like our Nutralean and NutraVegan, are essential to our immune system for forming and rebuilding healthy cells and producing antibodies that fight off infection. Both Nutravegan and Nutralean are amazing sources of clean protein and contain prebiotic fiber that improves gut health and also helps with slower digestion of the protein, so you'll stay fuller longer. Gut health is so closely connected to our immune system, with a surprising 70-80% of our immune system being found in the gut. That means the healthier your gut, the stronger your immune system.
You may have heard our Director of customer service, Tracy, talk about how she used to be sick all the time before her healthy journey. Well, that's because her immune system has gotten MUCH stronger thanks to her healthy journey including a daily dose of Nutralean. Consistency is key. In fact, she wrote a blog about it, too! You can read that here.
As mentioned above, our gut health plays a major role in our overall immune system function. Our gut microbiomes form protective barriers and communicate with immune cells. When our microbiomes are off balance, it affects how our bodies respond and leaves us open to infection and diseases.
Prebiotic fiber, such as the acacia fiber in our yummy Nutralean and NutraVegan products, help to feed the good bacteria found in your stomach (probiotics) for optimal gut and immune system health.
Vitamin A strengthens our immune health by protecting the structure of many cells in the body, including those in our respiratory tract. Vitamin A is also essential for helping to produce important antibodies that form a defensive barrier that fight off illness and infection. Sunflower seeds, salmon, egg yolk, avocados and cheese all contain Vitamin A.
Interesting Vitamin A Fact:
Vegetables such as broccoli and dark leafy greens are great sources of beta carotene, which your body can turn into Vitamin A. Beta-carotene is a powerful antioxidant that can reduce inflammation and boost immune function by increasing disease fighting cells in the body. Excellent sources of beta carotene include sweet potatoes, carrots, and green leafy vegetables.
B vitamins not only support our overall well being and energy production, but they also play an important role in influencing the body’s first response once it has recognized a virus.
Vitamin B6 has also been shown to be beneficial in lung related issues and also contributes to the normal function of enzymes including the ones needed by the respiratory system.
- B6 is found in cereals, legumes, green leafy vegetables, fruit, nuts, fish, chicken and meat.
- B9 (folate) is abundant in green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds and is added to commercial bread-making flour.
- B12 (cyanocobalamin) is found in animal products, including eggs, meat and dairy.
Vitamin C is one of the most well known immune boosting vitamins. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that strengthens our body's natural defense, improves blood vessel health and as a bonus it is great for your skin! When our bodies are fighting an infection, it experiences oxidative stress. This stress leads to the production of free radicals. Although our immune system uses free radicals to help fight infection, when these outnumber antioxidant levels, it can cause damage to cell walls causing increased inflammation.
Studies show that consuming more vitamin C can increase blood antioxidant levels by up to 30%!
Vitamin C is also thought to increase the production of white blood cells which are key to fighting infections, and has also been shown to preserve lung function over time. Red peppers are also an amazing source of vitamin C.
Vitamin E is also a powerful antioxidant that helps the body fight off infection. When you think of Vitamin E, you probably think of skin health, although it is great for the skin, it also helps cells to regenerate, reduces oxidative stress and improves cell function. Foods rich in vitamin E include nuts, seeds and green leafy vegetables such as spinach.
Not just good for your bones, Vitamin D has been shown to help protect against acute respiratory infections such as pneumonia and bronchitis.
One of the most important roles of Vitamin D is to keep the immune system strong. Vitamin D directly interacts with the cells that are responsible for fighting off infection. Although our bodies make Vitamin D naturally from sunlight exposure, most of us just don’t get enough. Oily fish, mushrooms and egg yolks, fortified foods contain vitamin D.
It can be difficult to get sufficient vitamin D levels from food alone, a supplement such as Nutramin Gummies are a delicious, sugar free, easy way to make sure you're getting enough. With 133% Recommended Vitamin D Daily Value, it's one less thing to worry about!
An essential mineral, iron is a component of hemoglobin (the substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen from your lungs and then throughout your body). Without healthy red blood cells, your body can't get enough oxygen. Red blood cells also help to transport oxygen to the spleen, which is one place where infections can be fought off.
Low iron also affects white blood cells which deliver oxygen to the lymph nodes, which contain infection-fighting white blood cells that can't work properly without this vital oxygen.
Low iron levels can affect everything from your brain function to your immune system's ability to fight off infections. Iron also regulates enzyme reactions that essential for immune cells to recognize and target viruses.
Iron is found in meat, chicken and fish. Vegetarian sources include legumes, whole grains and iron-fortified breakfast cereals.
Adequate zinc is crucial for the production of immune cells and function of the immune system. Zinc also helps maintain the integrity of the skin and mucous membranes. Zinc, like selenium, also acts as an antioxidant, helping clear up some of the damage caused by oxidative stress.
Zinc is found in oysters and other seafood, meat, chicken, dried beans and nuts. Seeds such as sunflower, hemp and pumpkin are also great sources of Zinc.
Selenium is crucial for the proper functioning of our immune system. This antioxidant helps lower oxidative stress, which reduces inflammation and enhances immune response. Selenium may help strengthen the immune system in people with influenza, tuberculosis, and hepatitis C, and some studies suggest that this mineral may help reduce asthma related symptoms. Research suggests that people who have asthma may have lower blood levels of selenium. Selenium deficiency has been shown to harm immune cell function.
Foods rich in selenium include seafood, nuts, and mushrooms.
Quercetin is a powerful antioxidant, antihistamine and anti-inflammatory, and is the most prominent of over 5,000 flavonoid compounds found in food. Quercetin is well-known for its antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties, and is often used as medicine. It plays an important role in helping our bodies to combat free radical damage, which is linked to chronic diseases and may also help reduce inflammation, allergy symptoms, and blood pressure.
Recent studies show that quercetin acts as an antiviral agent and reduces symptoms of upper respiratory infections following strenuous exercise.
Exciting Quercetin Research:
There have been many studies conducted on quercetin as a treatment for viral infections. Dating back 15 years to the SARS outbreak, Canadian researcher Michel Chrétien and his team began testing his theory that quercetin was a broad spectrum antiviral drug that could fight a range of viruses.
They also continued their study when an Ebola outbreak struck West Africa in 2014. When the COVID-19 health crisis broke out in Wuhan, China, in recent months, Chrétien and his team began the process of exploring the idea that quercetin may work on COVID-19 symptoms. They have recently received the go-ahead to get started on their clinical trials in China.
Quercetin is found in many foods, such as red wine, onions, green tea, apples, berries and is also available in supplement form.
Boost your daily nutrition:
Delicious, easy-to-take, plant based Nutramin Sugar Free Vitamin Gummies make it so easy to get your daily recommended nutrients!
They contain an excellent source of immunity boosting vitamins such as:
- VITAMIN A – From 100% natural fat-soluble beta-carotene, not cheaper synthetics.
- VITAMIN C – Extracted from real fruit, never synthetic ascorbic acid found in other multivitamin brands.
- VITAMIN D3 – Plant-based vitamin D3, instead of cheaper animal-sourced sources.
- VITAMIN E – Extracted from natural plant-sources for maximum effectiveness.
- VITAMIN B6 – Naturally-sourced from nutritional yeast.
- FOLIC ACID – We use vegan-sourced folate, which is almost 100% bioavailable
- VITAMIN B12 – Only naturally-sourced Methylcobalamin, NOT the cheaper & less effective Cyanocobalamin.
- BIOTIN – Our plant-based, vegan biotin is not derived from animal sources like most other brands.
- PANTOTHENIC ACID, IODINE, ZINC, CHOLINE & INOSITOL – We never use chemically-synthesized alternatives or animal-sourced ingredients.
With a strong immune system we can be better armed against viruses and be confident our bodies are as healthy as possible. Practicing the coronavirus specific precautions, such as handwashing, not touching your face, social distancing and staying home if possible are also important measures to keep us protected. Together we can keep each other safe and healthy. We are all in this together! ♥