Boost your immunity in time for winter
Did you know that 4.5 million Australians experience a cold at least once a year? So you can see that prevention becomes an important factor. There are many things you can do to improve and maintain a healthy immune system which can reduce your likelihood of succumbing to an infection.
Colds and flu’s are highly contagious and spread from person to person via droplets in the air from sneezing or coughing. You can even become infected by touching a contaminated surface or by shaking hands and then transferring the virus to your nose, mouth or eyes.
Having a healthy immune system is vital to ensure your quality of life. Our immune systems have the amazing capacity to protect us from disease and fight off foreign invaders that may cause our body harm. The immune system is often not given much thought until it stops operating efficiently.
If the immune system does not receive adequate nutrition it can become weakened reducing the ability to fight off infection or illness, it can leave you feeling run-down and fatigued, and increase the allergenic response.
The role of diet
All immune cells are made from nutrients derived from the foods we eat. Different cells require different nutrients, for example lymphocytes require B12, folate, alanine, glutamine, glutathione, DMG, lycopene, vitamin A and C. So as you can see, diet can affect the immune system by aiding or abetting the production of immune cells.
The role of Antioxidants
Antioxidants are needed to quench free radicals as they can damage immune cells and wipe out cytokine pathways[i]. Antioxidants are crucial to mop up after an immune response as the activated neutrophils produce free radicals and activation of phagocytes inevitably results in the superoxide anion radical.
Antioxidant rich foods include:
- Goji berries, blueberries, raspberries
- Pomegranate, acai
- Vegetables such as beetroot
- Turmeric, garlic, ginger
To keep the immune systems strong and healthy, not only do you need to look after yourself (i.e. adequate sleep) but also consume a healthy diet. Always include fruits, vegetables, whole grains and good protein sources in your diet, this will ensure adequate nutrients for the immune system.
Vitamin C is more than just ascorbic acid. Nature provides many valuable nutrients, such as those that naturally occur in fruits and vegetables, like bioflavonoids.
I like Morlife Complete C because it is an excellent source of Vitamin C consisting of potent forms of Vitamin C and powerful complimentary nutrients isolated from nature.
Current research found that Vitamin C has the ability to assist antibody production, white blood cell formation (an immune cell), interferon production and phagocytosis (engulfing of foreign bodies)iii,[ii]. This is all beneficial during an immune reaction. Interestingly, Vitamin C may reverse oxidation of antioxidants and free radicals caused by immune responses[iii],[iv]. This regeneration or oxidation of antioxidants is an important aspect of health.
Zinc may promote the proliferation of the immune cells and thymulin, which requires zinc (in an equimolar ratio) for immune activity[v]. Thymulin regulates the differentiation of the immature immune cell subpopulation. Also zinc’s importance in regulating gene expression is crucial to gastrointestinal epithelia and immune cells.
Colostrum is the first lacteal secretion produced by the mammary glands of a mother after she gives birth prior to the production of milk. It is an active immune system component designed to protect the newborn in their first weeks of life.
It is highly nutritious and is rich in vitamins, minerals, anti-microbial peptides and growth factors. It is also a good source of protein and contains all amino acids, especially glutamine, which has been shown to aid in intestinal cell health (most of our immune system is in our intestines)[vi].
Colostrum neutralizes a diverse range of pathogens, replenishes flora and sooths gut inflammation[vii],[viii]. It is rich in immunoglobulin’s that protect the mucous linings (such as respiratory and intestinal tract) in the body from inflammation, pathogens, toxins, bacteria and virusesvi.
Food Sources of Nutrients beneficial for the immune system
- Zinc: pumpkin seeds, oysters, beef, sesame seeds, lamb, dark chocolate
- Vitamin C: pomegranate, goji berries, parsley, broccoli, strawberries, lemons
- Beta-carotene: pomegranate, goji berries, sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, spinach
- Vitamin E: sunflower seeds, almonds, dried herbs, chili powder, avocado
- Quercetin: capers, chamomile tea, apples, red onion, red grapes, tomato
Herbs beneficial for the immune system
- Olive leaf
- Maitake and shitake mushrooms
- Elderberry Extract
- Aloe vera
- Slippery elm
- Lemon myrtle
- Cat’s Claw
- Ginseng (Korean & Siberian)
- Sheep sorrel
- Pau D’arco (Taheebo)
Sore throat tea
2 bags of Morlife Lemon Soother tea
1 clove garlic, minced
1cm ginger, diced
1 tbsp Manuka honey
Add teabags, ginger and garlic into teapot with boiling water and leave for 10-15 minutes.
Strain and add honey.
Sip slowly to help sooth a sore throat and break up mucus.
Lemons have a high Vitamin C content, whilst also containing Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3 and bioflavonoids. Lemons have antiseptic and cleansing actions making them beneficial for those prone to infections and fevers
[i]Brambill D, Mancuso C, et al (2008) The role of antioxidant supplement in immune system, neoplastic, and neurodegenerative disorders: a point of view for an assessment of the risk/benefit profile. Nutr J; 7(29):1-9.
[ii] Richelle M, Sabatier M, et al (2006) Skin Bioavailability of Dietary Vitamin E, Carotenoids, Polyphenols, Vitamin C, Zinc and Selenium. British J of Nutr; 96:227–238.
[iii] Lopez-Varela S, Gonza´lez-Gross M & Marcos A (2002) Functional Foods and the Immune System: A Review. European J Clin Nut; 56 (3):29-33.
[iv] Duggan C, Gannon J & Walker A.W (2002) Protective Nutrients and Functional Foods for the Gastrointestinal Tract. Am Soc for Clin Nutr; 75:789-808.
[v] Haase H & Rink L (2009) The Immune System and the Impact of Zinc During Aging. Immunity & Ageing; 6:9.
[vi] Van Acker B.A.C, Hulsewé K.W.E, et al (2000) Response of Glutamine Metabolism to Glutamine Supplemented Parenteral Nutrition. Am J Clinl Nutr; 72: 790-795.
[vii] An M.J, Cheon J.H, et al (2009) Bovine colostrum inhibits nuclear factor κB–mediated proinflammatory cytokine expression in intestinal epithelial cells. Nutr Res; 29(4): 275-280.
[viii] Hurley W.L& Theil P.K (2011) Perspectives on Immunoglobulins in Colostrum and Milk. Nutrients; 3: 442-474.