5 Supplements to Boost Your Immune System | Muse Health
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No matter how much you try to avoid it, at some point, you will get sick. While sickness is a natural part of life, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t habits you can incorporate into your daily routine to lower risks. In a coronavirus world, making sure to consume products that provide health benefits can help ward off the effects of viral infections. After conducting research and reading journal entries written by several nutritionists, there are 5 supplements that every person should take to boost their immune system.
Remember to consult your doctor before adding any vitamins or supplements to your diet. Knowing what to take is just as important as knowing how much.
How to Boost Your Immune System
The concept of boosting your immune system is one that has been studied for decades. Every person is born with a single body and may be predisposed to certain diseases due to factors like genetics or air quality. Even with those factors, there are activities and types of food that a person can include in their diets to increase the strength of an already established immune system. A proper immune system can affect hours of sleep, brain functionality, and several other factors.
How exercise boosts your immune system
Although many people work out to make themselves look good on the outside, benefits to the immune system cannot be ignored. Science has shown that daily workouts and regular exercise of the body helps build resilience in the long term.
You may be wondering how exercise impacts the immune system. The process begins as soon as a person begins sweating. Sweat triggers the body to accelerate circulation, immediately tapping into the fight or flight response. When fight or flight response occurs, the body naturally releases stress-hormones, cortisol and epinephrine. This phenomenon is called “immunosurveillance” which mobilizes immune cells into the blood and tissue. With a greater frequency of mobilization, the chances that immune cells come into contact with pathogens increases.
What kinds of exercise increase immune system health?
The great thing about exercise and physical activity is that it can be performed in several different ways. With gyms closed in some areas of the world, taking your workouts outside is a great option to work up a sweat and get Vitamin D. If you’re someone that likes working out on their own, running is incredibly simple. Put on a good pair of running shoes (with excellent grip), turn on your favorite songs, and run. You can also add interval training by alternating between walking and running.
Another exercise that is naturally socially distanced is tennis. If you have a friend that knows their way around the court, meet up and hit the ball for an hour or two. You will be surprised as to how many calories you burn running around such a small area.
(Research and studies show that steady cardiovascular exercise like running is a great way to boost immune system functionality)
Diet to boost your immune system
Everyone has heard the saying, “you are what you eat”. The type of diet you consume has a direct effect in several aspects of your body. Diet is clearly not the only factor in immune system health but there is a correlation between a clean, vitamin-filled diet and health. The next time you're at the grocery store, besides social distancing, become cognizant of nutrient rich foods.
Although there are several foods that fall into the “healthy” category, the following should be at the top of your list: fruits and vegetables, protein, and spices.
Fruits and vegetables should come as no surprise. Containing an abundance of key vitamins and minerals, fruits and vegetables help the body run smoothly. Fruits and veggies like strawberries, citrus, broccoli, and bell peppers are filled with Vitamin C, which helps immune system cells function. Want to help your respiratory tract? Fruits and vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, and cantaloupe, are filled with Vitamin A.
(Fruits and vegetables are filled with vitamins and minerals and should be consumed on a daily basis.)
A diet insufficient in protein can weaken your immune system. Foods that are rich in proteins provide the body with amino acids that help it function properly. Animal meats like beef contain zinc which helps the body create T-Cells. T-Cells are a type of white blood that is essential to the strength of the immune system. For those on plant-based diets, chickpeas are another excellent source of zinc.
(Protein sources like beef are filled with amino acids and strengthen the immune system through the production of white blood cells)
Spices are much more than add-ons. Spices like garlic, ginger, and oregano have been linked with anti-inflammatory properties as well as cell-protecting antioxidants. Although these foods are not the most pleasant to taste or consume, incorporating it into your diet will help your immune system over time.
(Garlic is a powerful antioxidant that helps to strengthen the immune system through T-cell production and anti-inflammatory responses)
Even with a well-balanced diet and steady exercise, the body can always use a little extra assurance. There are several important vitamins and supplements out there that can help fill in the gaps and provide the body with nourishment.
Vitamin D is one of the most consistently mentioned supplements that doctors prescribe to patients. Vitamin D enhances pathogen defenses of white blood cells and also helps decrease inflammation.
Many people are deficient in Vitamin D. Although it may not seem like a big deal, a lack of Vitamin D has been linked with respiratory illness contraction like influenza. Respiratory tract infections are serious and can lead to other illnesses in the future. With a less congested respiratory tract, people who do not get enough sleep may feel a significant difference.
Every person is different, so it is important to speak with a doctor or healthcare provider if your test results show a deficiency in this vitamin. The average person is usually prescribed a vitamin D supplement between 1000 to 5000 IU (international units).
Let’s keep the theme of vitamins alive by including Vitamin C. If there is one vitamin associated with immune health, Vitamin C is a clear front runner. This vitamin is essential because it helps clear the body of old cells and builds new, healthy ones.
People who are under high stress situations have been shown to get sick more frequently. Vitamin C incorporation can help alleviate or diminish the chances of catching a cold by acting as a powerful antioxidant.
As with Vitamin D, Vitamin C has also been linked to the reduction of respiratory infections, including your everyday common cold. Although Vitamin C deficiencies are not as common as Vitamin D, making sure to keep up with your medical screenings is important.
If your doctor does find that you do not incorporate enough Vitamin C into your diet, they may prescribe a supplement with the appropriate daily dose.
Although not as commonly known as Vitamin C or D, Zinc plays an important role in the health of your immune system. One of zinc’s main functions is its role in inflammatory response. Without a sufficient amount of zinc, your body increases its chances of contracting diseases that cause pain and other issues.
Zinc deficiency impacts approximately 2 billion people around the world and is most common in people 65 years of age and older. As you age, your immune system weakens, meaning that your body needs higher levels of zinc to maintain the body’s defenses.
Taking zinc longer term is considered safe but most doctors will shy away from prescribing anything higher than 40 mg. If a patient takes high doses of Zinc for a prolonged period of time, it has been linked to an increase in the risk of developing infectious diseases.
Many people do not know that the digestive system directly impacts the immune system. If your digestive tract is not functioning properly, this can cause your immune system to suffer. A great way to make sure that the digestive system stays in tip top form is to take probiotics.
Probiotics are considered “good bacteria” and aid in the passage of food and cleansing of the bloodstream. Probiotics help support gut health by providing the body with bacteria that is already found inside of the gut. It also helps to strengthen health conditions in the gut by promoting better digestion.
Probiotics help the immune system by strengthening the mucus wall located in the stomach. With a stronger mucus wall, the likelihood of infectious bacteria breaking through decreases.
Ginseng has been used for centuries in practices of traditional Chinese medicine but its effects on immune system health have been well documented. Ginseng has also been linked to immune system health due to its anti-inflammatory responses.
Not only does it assist with anti-inflammatory response but Ginseng also plays a role in the production of antibodies. If your body lacks antibodies, it becomes harder for the immune system to fight against foreign pathogens. It has also been used to combat flu symptoms and other immune health diseases.
Ginseng is also a great way to clean out the body and rid it of toxins.
Now that you have a list of essential grocery store items, it’s time to go out there and shop. Make sure to create a healthy and cheap grocery list before heading out as the snack food aisle is a constant temptation. Making a habit of buying whole foods and veggies will result in health benefits and potential weight loss. Remember that affordable grocery shopping is possible.
Even with covid-19 happening, keep this list in mind and you should be all set.