The immune system is, and probably always will be, a hot health topic.
This should come as no surprise: it is, after all, our body’s first line of defence against illness.
In theory, a robust immune system should protect us from the debilitating effects of the cold and other seasonal allergies, as well as more crippling chronic ailments.
Of course, not everyone can rely on such a health-sustaining system – and even the strongest immune defences need a boost once in a while.
How the Immune System Works
The human immune system is a complex network of cells, organs and proteins which is essential for survival. In terms of complexity, it is second only to the nervous system.
The primary role of the immune system is to combat pathogens such as bacteria, viruses and parasites and expedite their removal from the body.
Recognising and neutralising potentially harmful environmental substances is also a duty of the immune system, as is fighting cells within the body which have changed due to an illness – cancer, for instance.
If a foreign invader slips through the dragnet, the immune system quickly produces white blood cells to engage and destroy the intruding antigen before it is able to multiply.
If, however, it is too late, yet more white blood cells are dispatched to eradicate the multiplying hordes.
Although many are guilty of believing their immune system requires attention only at certain times of the year – usually spring, with its blooming, allergy-inducing foliage, or sun-starved winter – this is not the case at all.
While immune health is understandably linked to symptom relief, a properly functioning immune system should be a year-round priority. By its very definition, immunity should provide continual protection.
With that said, certain individuals do tend to get rundown or ill at specific times of the year. If this is you, nurture better immune health (keep reading for tips) to get on top of whatever it is you’re battling; but don’t forego the good habits when you’re back on an even keel – strive to maintain good immunity going forward.
Immune Health in the Media
Given how important it is, it’s natural that the immune system is continually researched and written about in the media.
Lately we have heard about: a gut-friendly probiotic beer which could help boost the immune system; the importance of exposing the body to a varied group of microscopic ‘creatures’ for the health of our microbiome; and a fascinating study illustrating the nature of a foetal immune system.
The latter study proved particularly interesting. Published in June’s edition of Nature magazine, it shows that the developing human foetal immune system is more active than previously thought.
Researchers learned that dendritic cells in the foetus – those responsible for breaking down foreign material and presenting shards to T-cells for destruction – are functional by 13 weeks of gestation.
However, foetal dendritic cells are different to their adult equivalents, activating special regulatory T-cells which suppress immune responses rather than routinely eliminating the foreign materials.
It's thought this might reflect the need to avoid a harmful immune response against a mother’s cells.
In other words, the foetal immune system – rather than being a juvenile version of an adult’s – has its own unique responses.
Supporting a Healthy Immune System
Many factors can undermine our immune system and affect its performance. These include poor diet, a sedentary lifestyle, not getting enough sleep or water, or suffering from chronic stress.
As with other body systems, pursuing a healthy and active lifestyle is the number one thing you can do to improve immunity.
Eating a diet rich in antioxidant vitamins boosts the body’s resistance to infection. Foods like broccoli, spinach, garlic and turmeric are good choices, as are citrus fruits and green tea.
Antioxidant-rich foods are packed with free radical-quenching vitamins and impede oxidative stress, which can hinder the performance of protective immune cells. Vitamin D is one nutrient we’ve discussed in our blog before.
As well as contributing to bone strength and brain and heart health, it is a major component of immunity.
Immune cells, like brain cells, have vitamin D receptors; as such, adequate levels of vitamin D reduce your risk of infectious disease by fortifying the innate immune system.
Immune cells in autoimmune disease are also “responsive to the ameliorative effects of vitamin D”.
Zinc is another highly important nutrient, with insufficient dietary levels impacting the function of T-cells.
Even a moderate zinc deficiency can provoke changes in immune status by hampering natural killer (NK) cell function. In essence, zinc helps improve balance in immune function, slowing immune response and ‘putting the brakes’ on inflammation.
What About Immune Supplements?
If your immune system is worn-out or weak, or you’re simply looking for an immune system booster to get things back in good working order, Immune Defense is the product you want to be looking at.
This selective blend of nutrients has been formulated to revitalise natural immune function without sapping energy. It is manufactured by Vibrant Health, one of the most trusted brands in the industry and well-known for their quality green food formulations.
Immune Defence contains several ingredients which are beneficial to the immune system. These include arabinogalactans, anti-viral sulfated polysaccharides, beta glucans and HyperImmune egg, a unique new ingredient that delivers 26 human-specific antibodies, inhibits microbial adhesion, fosters the growth of healthy bacteria and reduces inflammatory cytokines.
Each tub provides 120 capsules, or a 60-day supply.
In an ideal world we shouldn’t require a supplement to bolster our health – but when one is needed, opt for a high-quality product containing natural and interactive ingredients.
Rather than waiting for symptoms of illness to manifest themselves, support your body with the nutrients it requires to fight back.