The importance of a healthy immune system
The environment we live in is full of potential threats to our health and your immune system is your first line of defence.
Your immune system seeks to destroy or neutralize the environmental challenges around you – whether they are viruses, fungi, bacteria, environmental stressors or the effects of modern living. By doing this, it helps you to maintain optimal health and ensure survival in a constantly changing environment.
A healthy immune system can respond swiftly to pathogens, often before we even experience any symptoms. But it can often become overwhelmed and work sub-optimally, leaving us susceptible to illness.
Therefore, supporting your immune system function through nutritional and lifestyle interventions is one of the most important things you can do to ensure good health.
Supplements for the immune system
A well formulated immune support supplement will provide therapeutic levels of the following key nutrients:
Vitamin A plays an important role in the formation of immune cells such as antibodies and T Cells; these are the white blood cells that help identify pathogens.
It also plays an important role in the maintenance and repair of the body's natural defences, which includes the mucosal barriers in the respiratory and digestive tract, which help to trap bacteria, viruses and other pathogens.
Vitamin C supports the function of various immune cells and enhances their ability to protect against infection. It is a powerful antioxidant and has natural antihistamine properties.
Vitamin D can profoundly strengthen our natural immunity, and several different immune cells have vitamin D receptors that affect their function. It plays an important role in regulating the immune system, ensuring its appropriate function and reducing the chance of developing allergies and auto-immunity.
Selenium is a protective mineral and essential antioxidant - adequate intake is essential for healthy immunity! A deficiency in selenium has been associated with increased susceptibility to several viruses.
Zinc is involved in multiple aspects of immune function and is crucial for the normal development and function of our immune cells. Deficiency in zinc can increase susceptibility to infections.
Quercetin has natural antihistamine properties – so is an excellent immune system supplement for those who suffer with allergies such as hay fever.
Beta glucans and the immune system
Beta glucans 1-3, 1-6, found in the wall of baker's yeast can have a potent effect on immune function. This immunity supplement is known as an immune system 'primer' - getting our immune system ready to help fend off unwanted pathogens, bacteria and viruses.
Omega 3 fatty acids
Omega 3 fatty acids are important nutrients to support immune system function as they can help to dampen down inflammation. This is important as chronic inflammation activates the immune system, which over time can leave it less able to respond and fight off infection. You can find omega 3 fatty acids in oily fish, walnuts, flax and chia seeds, or you can take it as a supplement.
5 natural ways to support your immune health
Your immune health is intrinsically linked to your general health, so ensuring you have the basics in place will be the best steps you can take to strengthening your immunity:
- Eat a healthy, nutritious diet
- Get 7-9 hours of sleep per night
- Take regular gentle exercise
- Reduce your stress levels as much as possible
- Look after your digestive health
This last one is hugely important - around 70%-80% of your immune system is found within the gut and is heavily influenced by your gut bacteria.
You can support the balance of your gut bacteria by eating a wide variety of different plant-based foods, to provide fibre and prebiotics, as well as probiotic foods such as sauerkraut and kefir. A multi-strain live bacteria probiotic supplement is a great addition too.
I seem to catch a lot of coughs and colds - what supplements can I take to boost my immune system?
Your immune health is directly linked to your general health. Therefore, getting the basics in place is so important and will be the best steps you can take to strengthen your immunity; eat a healthy, nutritious diet, get 7-9 hours of sleep per night, do regular gentle exercise and reduce your stress levels as much as possible.
It is also essential that you have good levels of key immune supporting vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C and D, zinc and selenium, as well as nutrients such as quercetin and beta 1-3, 1-6 glucans. A well-formulated, gentle and bioeffective supplement, using natural forms of nutrients can be an easy way to support the immune system.
Digestive health is also hugely important - around 70% of your immune system is actually found within the gut and is heavily influenced by your gut bacteria. Supporting your gut bacteria by including lots of different plant-based foods in your diet will provide good levels of fibre and prebiotics. Including probiotic foods such as sauerkraut and kefir are another great addition, as is taking a multi-strain live bacteria probiotic supplement.
How can I boost my child's immune system?
Children pick up coughs, colds and bugs very easily. The average adult will get 2-4 cold or flu viruses a year, whereas children are twice as likely to fall ill. This may be, in part due to their immature immune systems, or more close contact in a school or nursery setting - but the good news is that as parents, there are measures we can take to support their natural immunity and reduce the frequency and severity of them falling ill.
We have a number of gentle and effective supplements to help support your child's immunity. From a chewy vitamin C with all natural colours and flavours from oranges, to an all-round immune support capsule containing vitamin C, iron, selenium, zinc and beta glucans. Both are suitable from 3 years. We also have vitamin D3 drops, suitable from birth and a probiotic powder suitable from 3 months old.
What's the connections between gut health and immunity?
Our gut health is hugely important to the normal function of our immune system. 70% of our immune system isfound within our gut, in something referred to as "gut associated lymphoid tissue" (GALT).
The GALT is strongly influenced by our microbiome (the bacteria residing in our digestive system). Therefore, supporting the health of the gut and the microbiome can directly influence our immune health.
Healthy digestive function can be supported by:
- ensuring sufficient fibre intake
- eating 6-8 portions of vegetables daily
- eating prebiotic foods such as baked apples, chicory and artichoke (prebiotics are a type of dietary fibre which feed the beneficial bacteria in the gut)
- eating fermented foods such as kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi to support gut flora
- taking a multi-strain live bacteria (probiotic) supplement
How does vitamin D affect my immunity?
Vitamin D can profoundly strengthen our natural immunity. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased autoimmunity as well as an increased susceptibility to infection.
Low levels are common in the UK, therefore taking a vitamin D supplement, particularly over the autumn and winter months could be a low cost and effective way to boost your immunity.
Our selection of vitamin D supplements include a vegan wholefood vitamin D3 tablet, vitamin D3 drops, suitable from birth but great for all the family, and vitamin D3 and K2 capsules, at either a high potency or daily dosage.