Our immune system is a network of complex cells and proteins that primarily defend the body against infection. Above this, the immune system also controls cell division to inhibit the formation of cancer and it has a role in preventing nearly every chronic illness from occurring. In the modern world, a suppressed and poor functioning immune system is common. There are several factors that contribute to the suppression of the immune system. The two main, and largely modifiable ones are stress and chronic inflammation. When the immune system is being bombarded with constant stress and inflammation, it creates an environment that paves the way for chronic illness down the line. The great news is, we can support the immune system through supplementation. Our nutritionist dives into the details of how to create a resilient immune system with the help of targeted nutrients!
Why Use Supplements to Support the Immune System?
Inflammation and stress increase the need for immune support by reducing the quality of immune cells and depleting the nutrients needed to fortify the immune system.
Nutrients get depleted in the modern body faster than they can get replaced, which takes a tool in immunity. This is because modern living has more stressors than were present in the past. Stressors create a biological reaction in the body known as the stress response. The stress response uses up A LOT of nutrients and these nutrients are required by the immune system as well.
Another important factor contributing to the suppression of immunity is the toxic load we are exposed to on a daily basis. The newest research shows that we are exposed to almost 300 harmful chemicals daily. These chemicals cause an abundance of inflammation in the body, which negatively affects the immune system.Our Nutritionists Top 4 Immune Supplements
When the immune system is bombarded with stress and inflammation, it can’t kill off pathogens as effectively. It’s recommended to support it with a gentle antimicrobial that can help with the influx of bacteria and viruses while we build the immune system back up!
Garlic is a potent immune enhancer that has been used historically as a medical staple in many cultures throughout the world. Garlic has antiseptic, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, which reduces the pathogenic burden on the immune system.
It helps the body attack viruses and other invading pathogens while maintaining homeostasis in the immune system. The complex biochemistry of garlic stimulates immune cells such as macrophages, lymphocytes and natural killer cells by modulating the cytokine release and stimulating immunoglobulins!
Garlic unlike other antimicrobials can be used short or long term.
Vitamin D is essential for the immune system to function. In fact, low levels of vitamin D are correlated to increase incidence of cancer, infections and autoimmune conditions.
The role of vitamin D in the immune system is complex. Contrary to popular belief it doesn’t boost the immune system- but it modulates it through turning off and on certain immune cells at the appropriate time, depending on the needs of the body.
Vitamin D has roles in innate and adaptive immunity which harmonizes and strengthens the immune network. Above regulating the immune system, vitamin D codes for antimicrobial proteins and directly attacks viruses.
80% of the population has low levels of vitamin D, due to toxic exposure, low sunlight levels and high inflammation in the body.
The importance of vitamin C in immune function is well known, but how to use it for the greatest benefit is often misunderstood!
Vitamin C is required by every cell in the body. To reap the benefits in regard to the immune system- having saturated plasma levels are needed.
We can’t get enough vitamin C from food to saturate blood levels due to several factors and therefore, supplementing is required to achieve the full spectrum of benefits from vitamin C.
Research shows that taking vitamin C preventively lowers the risk and duration of a cold. The most effective way to use vitamin C for colds, flus and viral infection is to use it daily, and if an infection begins to up the dose for the first few days.
Zinc is implicated in multiple aspects of immunity. Zinc is required for the maturation and synthesis for quality immune cells such as B and T lymphocytes and NK cells and. But the most profound role that zinc plays in the immune system is in maintaining the structure and function of the membranes that line the mouth, nose and digestive tract.
These membranes are the first line defense against incoming pathogens (part of our innate immunity). When we’re exposed to bacteria or viruses if the membranes are intact and populated with the right compounds these pathogens simply cannot enter the body.
In addition to this, zinc has the ability to directly attack viruses and take away their ability to reproduce.
When the immune system is exposed to stress and inflammation, it’s efficacy is reduced. This leads to an increased need for the foundational building blocks of the immune system such as vitamin C, zinc and vitamin D. Supplementing these nutrients while reducing stress and inflammation is how we ensure the immune system is functioning properly, to avoid both infections in the short term and chronic disease down the line.
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Author: Lisa Kowalyk, CNP, B.Kin