The past two years have taught us that a strong immune system is essential to good health. From COVID-19 to autoimmune diseases to cancer, building immunity is the best way to promote a better outcome. Are you ready for the next “cold and flu” season or the next medical diagnosis? Do you believe staying healthy while others endure seasonal illnesses is possible? A healthy immune system is often the difference between a few days of mild discomfort and two weeks in bed with debilitating symptoms. Regarding health, nothing is more important than a robust immune system.
What We’ve Learned
Vitamin D makes a difference!
A recent review of studies showed that increased vitamin D blood levels reduced the risk of COVID-19 infection, severity, and death. This meta-analysis study, which included data from 1,976,099 individuals, found that those with vitamin D insufficiency/deficiency (less than 30 ng/ml) had a
- 46% higher risk of getting COVID-19
- 90% higher risk of having severe COVID-19, and a
- 107% higher risk of death from COVID-19
Another meta-analysis that included 43 studies with data from 612,601 COVID-19 patients demonstrated the effectiveness of Vitamin D. Those with vitamin D levels below 20 ng/ml or 50 nmol/L had a
- 50% higher risk of COVID-19 infection
- 160% higher risk of severe COVID-19 (the need for intensive care or mechanical ventilation) and
- 22% higher risk of death due to COVID-19
The study also showed that different doses of vitamin D (as a supplement) can lower the risk of severe COVID-19 by 73% and reduce death by 59%. Remember, vitamin D is an easily adjustable factor that may help reduce the incidence and severity of COVID-19.
Nutrient Deficiencies Compromise Immune Function
Certain immune-specific nutrients support the cells and tissues that create the innate immune system’s physical barriers. They are so essential that deficiencies can inhibit the body’s response to infections. Nutrients studied include vitamins D, A, and C, as well as selenium and zinc minerals. The study concluded that supplementation is an effective, safe, and low-cost strategy to help support optimal immune function in respiratory tract infections.
An Unhealthy Lifestyle Impairs Immune Function
With certain conditions, such as obesity and other chronic conditions, the immune system is geared toward inflammation. A recent study showed that this increased the risk of severe infectious disease. Remember, during the pandemic, most people drank more alcohol, ate more junk food and baked goods, stopped regular exercise, stayed indoors, and had less social interaction. This provided the perfect setup for a weakened immune response.
What We Can Do for a Strong Immune System
Here is a checklist of what you can do with food, supplements, and lifestyle to support your immune system seasonally or throughout the year.
Many foods support a healthy immune system, while others weaken it. Incorporate more of the following foods into your daily diet:
Fermented foods: Since 70% of immune system activity happens in the lining of our intestinal tract, it is essential to support healthy digestion with fermented foods (yogurt, sauerkraut, Kombucha, tempeh, miso). These foods contain probiotics (beneficial bacteria), which are critical for the mucosal immune system in your digestive tract. This helps produce antibodies to disease-causing pathogens.
Bone broth: Properly prepared bone broth and meat stocks are also highly nutritious, containing minerals, amino acids, and nutrients from bone, cartilage, marrow, and vegetables in a form that is easy to assimilate.
Ginger: While ginger is best known for its ability to soothe the intestinal tract and relieve nausea, it is loaded with nutrients and bioactive substances with powerful immune benefits. The active substance, gingerol, can help fight infections and is a potent antioxidant.
Fruits and vegetables: Loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, fiber, and water, fruits, and vegetables provide the foundation for a healthy immune system.
Decrease the following foods that can weaken your immune system:
Sugar: Excessive amounts of sugar can reduce the white blood cells’ ability to kill bacteria. For women, limit added sugar to 25 grams (6 teaspoons) daily, and for men, 36 grams (9 teaspoons) daily.
Alcohol: A new study shows that alcohol is toxic to dendritic cells, which play a vital role in immune function. Alcohol also depletes essential immune-supporting nutrients, including zinc.
Elderberry: Elderberries contain more anthocyanins – a type of flavonoid – than blueberries and help regulate immune responses.
Echinacea: This herb has been shown to naturally support a healthy immune system with short-term use, two weeks or less.
Oregano: Oregano’s powerful antiviral and anti-bacterial properties make it an excellent choice for fighting cold viruses.
Lifestyle Factors Help Promote a Strong Immune System
Focus on the positive: Studies show that a positive attitude helps strengthen the immune system and may increase longevity. In one study, the subjects who remembered more positive images had stronger immune systems than the ones who did not show this positivity in memory.
Get restful sleep: Remember, your body regenerates at night when cells are busy at work. Sleep deprivation suppresses immune function. You cannot maintain healthy immunity without proper sleep.
Engage in Daily Exercise: Moderate exercise benefits immune function, but too much exercise can weaken your immune system. The key is finding your personal, correct amount of exercise.
Wash your hands regularly: Handwashing is especially important during travel or when others around you are fighting illness. Regular warm water and soap are preferred over anti-bacterial products and alcohol-based hand sanitizers, which may alter the beneficial bacteria in your gut.
Since many immune-enhancing activities are diet and lifestyle-related, you have the power to take control of your health. Focus on a strong immune system by implementing Sanoviv’s recommendations.