Your immune system is the primary mechanism by which your body defends against harmful bacteria and viruses that might invade it. This is a crucial, but sometimes taken-for-granted, system that is constantly working in your body. As we all know, the common cold, the seasonal flu, and a myriad other foreign agents can sap your energy, and expose you to very uncomfortable symptoms, or worse.
When considering your immune health, it’s important to know that your immune system isn’t just one thing, but rather indeed a system. And like other systems in your body, or a piece of machinery, it requires maintenance. In addition to a healthy and balanced diet, certain supplements have the potential to help ensure you have an efficient, primed immune system that is ready to work hard when it needs to.
How Does the Immune System Work?
Per the National Center for Biotechnology Information, your immune system must be able to distinguish the materials in your body as either being from your body, or emanating from the external environment. When your body first comes into contact with a disease-causing germ, your immune system recognizes it, stores information about it, and gets prepared to get rid of it.
When your immune system is working efficiently, it is able to “fight” harmful germs. Even if you do get ill, an efficient immune system brings you back to health in a timely manner. But if it isn’t working efficiently, you’re liable to get sick more often and recover slower.
The 6 MVPs (Most Valuable Products) for Boosting Immune Health
Vitamin C: This is one of the vitamins that you might have heard can help fight off the flu, and it’s true. Per health.clevelandclinic.org, Vitamin C is one of the most important nutrients for immune health. Vitamin C is absolutely essential because your body does not actually produce it by itself. Fortunately, supplements in Vitamin C are easily available, and it is found in many different types of foods as well.
Echinacea: This is an herb that has been used as a traditional remedy for various types of illness. Many people still take echinacea to supplement their immune system. Per goodrx.com, taking echinacea might help lessen the severity and duration of colds and upper respiratory tract infections. Echinacea is found in some types of lozenges and is commonly available as a supplement.
Protein: Proteins are made up of amino acids, and amino acids are used as a form of fuel for the immune system, per goodrx.com. They are especially helpful in encouraging good immune function of your intestinal cells. If you are deficient in protein, you are more susceptible to illness and disease. Protein can be easily consumed in the form of a whey protein supplement.
Zinc: According to healthline.com, zinc is necessary for the development of immune system cells, and is also helpful in relieving inflammation when it occurs. Various studies show that taking zinc supplements might help prevent infections of the respiratory tract, including the common cold. A large portion of people around the world are deficient in zinc. A zinc deficiency can lead to an increased risk of infections like pneumonia.
Probiotics: Your body contains many types of good bacteria that are necessary for certain organs and systems to function properly. Per goodrx.com, probiotics are beneficial bacteria necessary for good gut and immune health. Considering that roughly 80 percent of your immune cells exist within your gut, probiotics can be a huge potential booster for your immune system.
Vitamin D: White blood cells are largely responsible for fighting off many of the foreign germs that enter your body, and Vitamin D can help enhance their effectiveness, per healthline.com. Being deficient in Vitamin D is associated with a heightened risk of upper respiratory tract infections such as asthma and influenza. Vitamin D is commonly available as a supplement, but getting some sun each day can also help you get enough of it.
It is important to know that these supplements can only work properly when consumed in tandem with a balanced diet. Your diet is responsible for the majority of nutrients that enter your body, and they support all of your body’s processes, including your immune system. A diet that’s high in sugar or lacking necessary nutrients will not be made up for by taking these supplements.