Health and fitness are more than just working out and eating well. It also includes sleep and stress management as well as immune support. A healthy mind and healthy body work are necessary if you want to stay in shape. So, let’s talk about supporting your immune system. Supplements are a great way to help protect your body’s systems from environmental stressors. There are a wide variety of immune support supplements and many come in your everyday multivitamin.
What is the Immune System?
The immune system is a part of the body that defends against pathogens that cause illnesses. It is comprised of two parts: the innate and the adaptive systems. The innate systems are the basic barriers that prevent germs from getting into the body like skin, hair, and mucous membranes. The adaptive systems are the acquired systems that you get throughout life – like exposure to viruses through vaccines.
Nutritional Supplements for the Immune System
Vitamin C is an essential immune support vitamin that’s commonly used. It provides antioxidant support that helps to protect your body from free radicals. It is known to help your body absorb other important nutrients like collagen, vitamin E, l-carnitine, and iron. Superloading vitamin C in high doses may help reduce the overall time of sickness.
Vitamin C can be found in citrus fruits like lemons, limes, and oranges, as well as cauliflower, potatoes, and cabbage. It is also found in most multivitamins and immune support supplements in multiple forms like capsules, chews, and drink mixes.
Zinc is a popular mineral to support your immune system. It is known to help many of the body’s systems, including your skeletal, neurological, and endocrine systems. Zinc can help aid your sleep and recovery as well. A good amount and quality of sleep can help your body to recover and fight viruses and colds.
High levels of zinc can be found in foods like oysters, beef, or lamb. You can supplement in smaller amounts with spinach, nuts, mushrooms, and beans. Zinc can be found in many multivitamins, immune support-specific supplements, and ZMA (zinc monomethionine aspartate), which is a blend of zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B.
Greens powders are an easy way to get your daily veggie requirements in one serving. Modern versions of greens powders are made with delicious flavorings with natural flavors, usually from sweet fruits. Now this isn’t a replacement for vegetables, it’s a supplement. It gives you extra nutrients that you can get from powdered veggies.
Greens supplements are most often used in shakes and smoothies. They are a great way to start off the morning right. You can also mix the powder into oatmeal or yogurt and top with fruit or granola. Skip the greens right after a workout, but otherwise they can be added to your diet anytime of day.
Vitamin D is a great way to support your immune system and boost mineral absorption. Especially since many people are deficient in vitamin D, it’s an easy way to give your body a boost. Vitamin D can also boost your mood, which can give you extra motivation to hit the gym.
Vitamin D can be found in small amounts in dairy, orange juice, and fatty fish. It is more commonly absorbed through the skin from the sun’s rays. Luckily, sunscreen doesn’t block vitamin D production, so you can still get your sunshine while being protected from sun damage. Vitamin D supplementation is recommended for those of us with medium to deep skin tones and for those who live in areas where there is less sunshine. In today’s culture, working inside all day means that vitamin D can be hard to produce even on the sunniest of days.
Omega Fatty Acids
Omega fatty acids help to increase your healthy fats and support your immune system. Although you can get some omega fats through fatty fish and nuts, it’s hard to get the ideal amount through foods alone. An omega fish oil supplement can help support your immune system on a daily basis.
Glutamine is a nutritional supplement that is often used to support muscle recovery. While glutamine is definitely a great supplement for muscle recovery, it’s also a boost for the immune system. This amino acid helps to fuel muscles and the immune system. If your body has to pull glutamine from your muscles to support the immune system, you’ll lose out on muscle protein synthesis and muscle endurance.
Other Ways to Support Your Immune System
There are many ways are support your immune system and there are more options other than nutritional supplements. For example, washing your hands frequently can help rid yourself of harmful germs. How many of you actually wash your hands directly after working out? Think about how many hands and germs touch the gym machines and weights – this is another reason why wiping down your equipment is important.
Another example of non-supplemental ways to support your immune system is to get enough sleep. It’s not just the amount of sleep, it’s the quality of it. Immune systems falter if you don’t get the right amount of sleep, so make sure to get between 7-9 hours a night. In addition to boosting your mind and body with sleep, meditation and mindfulness can help relieve stress and benefit the immune system.