In recent months, immunity has become a hot topic. While we all should follow government guidelines, the question arises whether we can do anything additionally to keep us healthy. With more and more supplements promising us the moon, we wanted to find out: Can you really boost your immune system?
What is the immune system?
Your immune system is what keeps you healthy, simply said. It fights off pathogens from entering your body, and if they do enter, it works tirelessly to stop the threat from escalating to dangerous levels.
The older you get, the more pathogens you will have come across, and your immune system will have created antibodies for the pathogens that have entered your body already. This is why you can only get chicken pox once, for example.
There are three types of immunity: Innate immunity, which includes your skin, a natural barrier to block germs from entering your body. Then there is adaptive immunity, which is what we described earlier: the ‘immunological memory’ that remembers past pathogens and adapts as it comes across more. And lastly, the passive immunity, which is temporary; babies receive antibodies from their mothers through the placenta and breast milk and are temporarily protected from the same pathogens.
How does the immune system work?
The immune system is a vast network of cells tissues, proteins, and organs that coordinate your body’s defenses.
The immune response in a nutshell works like this: The body detects a foreign substance, or antigen, and the immune system will produce antibodies. These antibodies can lock into the antigen and once that’s in place, your T cells destroy the infected cell.
Why is it important to take care of our immune system in winter?
Certain viruses and bacteria are temperature-sensitive and it is impossible for them to reproduce and spread in the warmth. They’re the ones that are thriving in winter and cold temperatures. This explains why we get fevers – your body turns on its heat in order to get rid of the pathogen.
Being cold also might have an impact on your immune system’s effectiveness in fighting off an infection.
Another reason to take extra care in winter is the lack of sunlight. We need sunlight for Vitamin D production, so this, coupled with the fact that we spend less time outside in winter, really is contra-productive for our Vitamin D balance.
We also tend to eat less fruit and vegetables in winter. They contain important vitamins and antioxidants that your body needs to produce white blood cells, which in turn are important for an efficient immune response.
Can you really boost your immune system?
So back to our question: Can you really boost your immune system? The answer is that a healthy lifestyle generally is the best way to do so. Eating a variety of fruit and vegetables, getting enough sleep and living a balanced, relatively stress-free lifestyle is the best boost you can give your immune system.
Our favourite immunity-boosting supplements
If you can’t guarantee the above-mentioned factors – and let’s be honest, depending on our job and family status, it’s hard! – it’s worth looking into supplements.
Supplements will never be a ‘magic fix’ that guarantees you to never get ill again. What they can be is a helpful addition to a somewhat healthy lifestyle.
These are our favourite supplements to boost your immune system:
The Nue Co Vitamin D spray is a potent supplement that delivers 75 mcg of Vitamin D per dose, which will support your immune system and calcium absorption. It's the perfect travel-size product to take with you everywhere you go, especially during the colder months.
Form Nutrition's Multi is your daily nutrient peace of mind. This multivitamin covers all your daily vitamin and mineral requirements, everything your body needs in two capsules! Multi also provides DHA and Choline for brain health, and Vitamin D3 for immunity.
Biocol Labs have created yet another amazing plant-based supplement, this time to boost the immune system. With their range of colourful, vegan and efficient supplements, this is one you definitely want to add to your routine! With shiitake mushroom, propolis and other immune boosting ingredients, you’ve got yourself covered for the winter or whenever you start feeling under the weather.