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The Best Nutrients For Immune System
The immune system is a key player in our bodies’ defense against illness. When our immune systems are functioning as they ought to, we aren’t susceptible to infections and disease. But if our immune systems aren’t working well, we become vulnerable and can end up sick and miserable for days or weeks on end!
This post will explore the importance of maintaining a strong, healthy immune system. Then it’ll touch on the top 5 nutrients you can take to boost your immunity: Vitamin C, beta-carotene (beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A), zinc, folic acid (folate), and selenium.
Why is a healthy immune system so important?
The immune system is the body’s defense against illness, infection, and disease. It’s made up of several different components (like antibodies, white blood cells and others) that work together to protect us from invaders.
The immune system protects us against conditions like colds, flu, infections of the ear canal, bladder and digestive tract. Some cancers arise from the immune system failing to recognize that it should attack abnormal cells. And because the immune system is responsible for killing off harmful bacteria in our bodies, it can also be compromised when we are taking antibiotics (which are designed to kill bacteria).
Most of the immune system resides within the mucous membranes – on our skin, in our nose and throat, in our intestinal tract, and even in our eyes and ears. Once invaders come into contact with these surfaces, they’re recognized as “foreign.” The immune system is activated to fight them off.
Why is a healthy immune system important?
If you have a healthy immune system, your body isn’t plagued by infections or diseases. If your immune system isn’t working properly or is damaged in some way, you’re susceptible to getting sick and can end up miserable for days or weeks on end.
A lot of people have compromised immune systems and don’t even know it. They may not feel very well, but they don’t associate the feeling with their immune system. The following symptoms can be signs of a weakened immune system:
-Sore throats or swollen glands that just won’t go away
-Chronic bronchitis or sinus infections
-Inability to recuperate from infections like colds and flu, even with adequate rest and nutrition. -Poor recovery from surgery
-Chronic fatigue or frequent exhaustion
-Frequent colds, flu and sinus infections and other infections resulting in fevers like bladder infections, cholera, meningitis or pneumonia.
There are many factors that can affect the immune system. Even something as seemingly innocuous as an imbalance in intestinal flora can weaken your immune system. An infection of Candida Albicans (a yeast found in the mouth and intestines) alone is not the culprit behind a weakened immune system. What’s really happening is that your body’s entire immune response is being suppressed by Candida overgrowth.
Often the damage has been done long before you experience symptoms. For example, if you’ve been consuming large amounts of sugar, it can lead to excessive Candida overgrowth. The yeast cells gorge on the sugar and grow like crazy which sets off a chain reaction inside your body.
This is part of what’s known as an IgA deficiency – an imbalance in the gut flora that results in certain white blood cells being unable to fight off foreign invaders. One of those foreign invaders could be Candida itself. Because your immune system is compromised, it’s more difficult for you to fight off this infection!
How do nutrients affect your immune system?
There are two components to an effective immune response: function and number. If the immune system is dysfunctional you can be infected by things that wouldn’t usually infect you. For example, if your immune system is malfunctioning and deficient in certain antibodies, you’re more likely to get sick.
The main players in the process of defending against illness are white blood cells and antibodies, which circulate through our bodies looking for invaders to attack. If a virus enters the eyes or throat, the white blood cells and antibodies can act quickly to defend against it. But if there’s no antibody present (or if there isn’t enough of it) then these viruses can spread throughout the body unchecked…making us very sick.
Sometimes it’s not a deficiency of a particular antibody, but an imbalance in some of the cells that make up the immune system. If this is the case, then taking extra amounts of certain nutrients can help correct the imbalance.
-Vitamin C is crucial to an effective immune response because it helps make antibodies. It also helps stimulate the production of white blood cells that fight infection. -Beta-carotene (which is converted into vitamin A) also increases antibody production and white blood cell activity.
-Zinc and selenium boost the immune system and protect us from infections. -Vitamin A is good for a healthy immune response – folic acid (folate) is also good for strengthening the immune system.
What do these nutrients do?
Vitamin C: A vitamin that’s important for the production of certain white blood cells, antibodies, and other components involved in immunity Vitamin C helps to neutralize free radicals and boosts white blood cell activity. It’s also important for the production of neurotransmitters, which function as chemical messengers in your brain, nervous system, muscles, and other organs.
Beta-carotene: Once converted into vitamin A, beta-carotene helps bolster the immune response and is also essential for fighting off infections and diseases. Beta-carotene is important because it’s a precursor of vitamin A, which helps fight infection. It can be converted into retinol, which is the active form of vitamin A.
Zinc: Zinc deficiency suppresses your immune system by impairing all three major aspects of it: number (more white blood cells are needed to fight infection); activity (the ability to respond to antigens); and function (the ability to kill bacteria). Zinc helps increase the production of white blood cells that help fight pathogens.
Selenium: Selenium plays a central role in the function of both the thymus gland and the white blood cells, which help maintain a healthy immune response. In its selenate form, selenium has been shown to increase T lymphocytes – which are important in resisting viruses and cancer.
Vitamin A: Vitamins A and D are essential for maintaining healthy mucous membranes (skin, nose, throat and intestines) since they promote the growth of epithelial tissue. Vitamin A (and beta-carotene) is also good for preventing miscarriage and birth defects. Vitamin A supports white blood cell development as well as antibody production.
Folic acid (vitamin B9): Folic acid increases white blood cell production – which aids your immune system in responding to infections. Folic acid is also important in helping to prevent birth defects like spina bifida.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is intended for educational and entertainment purposes only and should not be used instead of or contrary to that of a medical professional. Before taking supplements, starting a new diet, or embarking on a new exercise regime please consult a medical or nutritional professional. The owners of “Getting Healthy After 50” are not medical professionals and are simply redistributing information that is freely available on the internet.
The video at the top of this post is from the motovationaldoc Youtube Channel.