The environment you live in is inhabited with trillions of germs. We all are vulnerable to getting attacked with the deadly virus or bacteria, but if you noticed a few of us remain healthy and do not get affected by viruses like coronavirus for today’s time!
Why is it so?
Well, that’s our immune system which is protecting us from the deadly infections coming from viruses and bacterias. The stronger your immune system, the better fighter you become!!
Hence, your immune system plays a crucial role in maintaining your proper health. The immune system is constantly working to protect the body from infection, injury, and disease.
Why is it Important to Take Care of your Immune System?
The immune system is a defense system that protects organisms from invading pathogens, such as viruses or bacteria. It’s a very complex system which comprises of immune cells and cell-independent mechanisms.
Immune cells can be broadly divided into two main categories:
Innate Immune System: The cells of the innate immune system namely macrophages, neutrophils, eosinophils, basophils, mast cells, natural killer cells, and dendritic cells, are the first cellular line of defense.(1)
Adaptive Immune System: The cells from the adaptive immune system, namely B cells and T cells, have a higher level of specificity, but their activation is delayed. However, these cells’ memory is sharper and they remember the pathogens post. (1)
The healthy and balanced immune system protects you from three major reasons for developing infections and diseases:
- OXIDATIVE DAMAGE: Certain immune cells produce a concentrated burst of reactive oxygen species (ROS), damaging substances that help kill invading organisms.
- PROLIFERATION: refers to an increase in the number or amount of something. The immune system is constantly producing cells, chemicals, and proteins to carry out its functions. When it encounters a foreign invader, it ramps up production to respond as needed.
- INFLAMMATION: Inflammation is a process by which the body’s white blood cells and substances they produce protect us from infection with foreign organisms, such as bacteria and viruses. However, in some diseases, like arthritis, the body’s defense system — the immune system — triggers an inflammatory response when there are no foreign invaders to fight off.
The core of your health issues is not the viral or bacterial infections, but your weakened immune system that reduces your body’s capacity to fight against the disease-causing microorganisms. More often than not, your immune functions are weakened due to nutritional deficiencies.
A healthy and balanced diet is essential for the correct function of every part of our organism, including the immune system. A multivitamin supplement taken every day can help to fill the nutritional gaps in your diet and boost your immune functions to prevent getting sick and keep yourself healthy all year round.
Let’s understand a few important tips to help shield your immune system:
Keep a Check on your Antioxidant Intake:
- It’s a simple thumb rule for all your health goals. Include 3 to 4 servings of fruits and vegetables of each every day. These fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants which can protect you against oxidative stress and free radical damage.
Oxidation is a naturally occurring process within the body; a balance must exist between free radicals and antioxidants in order for the body to maintain health. Free radicals are atoms or groups of atoms that contain an unpaired electron and are therefore unstable and highly reactive. Antioxidants work by interacting with and stabilizing free radical molecules by donating electrons to the unstable free radicals.
The antioxidants like Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Zinc, Selenium, Folic acid, Vitamin E, Vitamin B12, B6, protect immune cells and keep the oxidative damage in check. (1,2,3)
This powerful antioxidant stimulates the production and functions of white blood cells, which are responsible for fighting off the bacteria and viruses that enter the body, boost your immunity, and reduce the severity of colds, flu, fever, and throat infections and prevent allergies.
This fat-soluble vitamin protects your body against viral infections, common cold, flu, etc. by enhancing the functions of T cells, B cells, cytokines, white blood cells and skin cells to stop the bacteria and germs from entering your system in the first place.
Just like A, C and D vitamins, Vitamin E acts as an efficient immunity booster. This antioxidant has immunosuppressive properties that can help in treating auto-immune diseases and reducing the risk of health issues caused due to the harmful effects of free radicals and oxidative stress on the body.
Vitamin B Complex:
B vitamins don’t just give your body the energy it needs by breaking down digestive proteins, but also help fight the disease-causing bacteria and viruses by increasing the number of white blood cells in your body and synthesizing the antibodies that strengthen your immune system.
The deficiency of zinc can affect the functioning of the immune cells. Thus, taking a multivitamin rich in zinc can help improve your immune system, and get relief from cold and sore throat and heal wounds.
When taken in combination with Vitamin E, this immunity-boosting mineral can help keep the disease-causing pathogens at bay to prevent the risk of cancer and increase the life of AIDS patients.
Folate or commonly known as folic acid (Vitamin B9) is known to maintain innate immunity and plays an important role in for sufficient antibody response to antigens.
Get Good Dose of Good Quality Fats:
Omega-3 Fatty acids and Immunity
EPA and DHA have anti-inflammatory activity that can help keep inflammation in check. Inappropriate activation or the inability to turn off inflammation can lead to tissue damage and chronic disease. Hence fatty fishes or fish oil supplements with minimum content per serving of 500mg EPA+DHA should be consumed daily.
For vegetarians, selected nuts & oilseeds like flaxseeds, walnuts, almonds, contain a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids which can help reduce the inflammation and lower the strain on your body’s defense mechanism. (4)
A recent study has also found that feeding fish oil supplements high in omega-3 fatty acids seemed to boost activity of a white blood cell called a B cell, a vital part of the body’s immune response.
Plan Probiotics in your Meal
Probiotics and Immunity
70% of the immune system is located in the intestines. Probiotics are beneficial living bacteria found naturally in the intestine. They are important for digestion, creating and absorbing nutrients and boosting the body’s immune systems.
Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Saccharomyces are three extensively studied and commonly used probiotics in humans and animals. Probiotics act like a warrior to safeguard your innate immunity. Probiotics regulate host innate and adaptive immune responses by modulating the functions of dendritic cells, macrophages, and T and B lymphocytes. A recent study demonstrated how probiotics activated innate immunity to prime the adaptive immune responses. (5)
Probiotics are found naturally in curd and curd based products, kefir, fermented products – but it is always better to consume probiotic supplements to make sure you get the recommended dosage.
How to Protect your Immunity while Travelling?
- Avoid contact with sick people.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue.
- Avoid seafood and meat-based products.
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. (CDC, 2020)
- Carry your probiotics and multivitamin tablets and make sure to have them daily as per the recommended dosage.
- Maggini, S., Pierre, A., & Calder, P. C. (2018). Immune Function and Micronutrient Requirements Change over the Life Course. Nutrients, 10(10), 1531. doi:10.3390/nu10101531
- Alpert P. The role of vitamins and minerals on the immune system. Home Health Care Manag. Pract. 2017;29:199–202. doi: 10.1177/1084822317713300
- Haryanto B., Suksmasari T., Wintergerst E., Maggini S. Multivitamin supplementation supports immune function and ameliorates conditions triggered by reduced air quality. Miner. 2015;4:1–15.
- Saray Gutiérrez, Sara L Svahn and Maria E Johansson. Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Immune Cells. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20, 5028; doi:10.3390/ijms2020502
- Yan, F., & Polk, D. B. (2011). Probiotics and immune health. Current opinion in gastroenterology, 27(6), 496–501. doi:10.1097/MOG.0b013e32834baa4d