Your immune system is important.
Actually, that’s quite an understatement.
Immune system health goes far beyond simply warding off colds and the flu: it protects your entire body from germs, stress, and illness.
At the same time, your immune system is very temperamental. It needs the right fuel, activity, and environment to function properly.
Sometimes, this goes haywire.
That’s when you develop autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis and lupus.
Most autoimmune diseases are genetic so you can’t cure them by supporting the immune system.
You can, however, create a favorable environment for your immune system health to thrive.
The immune system is important for everyone – even “healthy” folks without autoimmune disorders.
Immune System Health: The Basics
Have you ever wondered why older adults and young children get sick so often?
And when they get sick, why do they take so long to recover?
It’s their immune system health.
Moms aren’t joking with their claims that letting kids play in the dirt builds a healthy immune system. (Although playing in the dirt may not be the best route for that.)
Kids haven’t been exposed to as many germs as average adults. When these germs and microorganisms make their way into a child’s body, the immune system can’t fend them off.
In the elderly, their immune systems are often more worn down from years of work. In fact, common illnesses like pneumonia, influenza, and respiratory infections are a major cause of death in people over 65 – worldwide.
Gut Health and the Immune System
Impoverished people are often more susceptible to illness.
Is it because they lack access to affordable healthcare?
That’s likely part of it but, it’s because they lack access to nutritious foods.
Your immune system “lives” in your gut. That’s why gut health and the immune system are so connected.
This means the foods you eat and things you consume have a direct impact on your immune system health.
Gut health and the immune system are also directly linked through stress.
Scientists know that stress (both mental and physical) has a negative impact on your immune system. Stress also impacts your gut health in the form of nausea, tightness, constipation, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and even ulcers.
When people think of the immune system, they might imagine cells eating bacteria and microorganisms to fight infection.
This is true – when it comes to invading germs and bacteria.
However, lots of “healthy” bacteria live in your gut, too.
If you’ve ever taken an antibiotic, you’ve probably noticed it screwed up your gut health.
Well, antibiotics also impact your immune system, too.
Instead of getting rid of bacteria entirely, it’s important to promote a healthy balance in the gut and create a stable environment for your immune system to thrive.
Vitamins and Supplements for Immune System Health
If you’ve already done a quick Google search, you probably noticed the plethora of products that claim they can “boost” your immune system and supplements for immune system health.
The only way to “boost” your immune system is by creating more immune cells – which isn’t necessarily a good thing depending on the circumstances.
Instead, you want to consume lots of vitamins and antioxidants that provide the nutrients your cells need to function properly.
The traditional American diet doesn’t include many vegetables. That’s why consuming these items is so important. Here are the best supplements for immune health:
- Zinc: Promotes healthy cell growth and healing ability.
- Vitamin B6: Supports blood cells and the nervous system.
- Vitamin C: A powerful antioxidant that fights free radicals.
- Echinacea: Improves white blood cells – which fight infection.
- Vitamin E: Another powerful antioxidant that helps fight infection. (Get this one through diet.)
- Vitamin D: Has a positive effect on the body’s immune response.
- Elderberry: Increases antioxidant levels throughout the body.
- Ginger: Has antibacterial and stomach-soothing properties.
- Probiotics: Support healthy gut bacteria.
As always, check with your doctor before beginning any new diet, vitamin, or supplement routine. Many vitamins and supplements can interact with other medications and conditions.
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