Immune System Defenders
What does the immune system do?
Our immune system is made up of various parts of the body intended to protect us from bacteria, viruses, and foreign invaders that can cause sickness and disease.
A strong immune system can ward off these threats. The immune system consists of the lymph system, spleen, white blood cells, antibodies, proteins, the thymus gland, and bone marrow.
Will consuming fruits and veggies really help my immune system?
Fruits and veggies definitely help maintain a strong immune system. They contain antioxidants, which are substances that slow or prevent cells from being damaged, and phytonutrient compounds, which help with cell communication as well as repair DNA damage while clearing inflammatory toxins.
Fruits and vegetables contain an abundance of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They encourage organ and gland function, promote energy, growth, help to maintain or lose weight, improve blood pressure, and improve cholesterol levels. Consuming predominantly fruits and veggies also leaves less room for eating “junk food.”
Can fruits and veggies help fight off a virus?
Yes and no. Consuming adequate amounts of a variety of colorful fresh fruits and vegetables is vital. These foods will not prevent viruses or bacteria from entering the body, but they can help keep the immune system stronger for the fight.
Green vegetables are especially valuable because they are naturally lower in fat and starches and have the ability to reduce or balance an over acid system of damaging inflammation.
Can taking digestive enzymes help our immune system?
The body naturally produces digestive enzymes. At times though, these enzymes don’t get the job done, so we may need to add them in supplement form.
Digestive enzymes help break down the carbohydrates or sugars, fats, proteins, and certain fibers in food so they can be used by the body. Enzyme activity starts in the mouth and communicates to the stomach, pancreas, and small intestine for their release to help digest and absorb nutrients.
Also, the nutrients in these foods can then be assimilated and absorbed better when enzymes work efficiently. Typically digestive enzyme supplementation should be taken with food.
Will prebiotics help our immune system?
Prebiotics are fibers from certain foods that stimulate good bacteria in our gut. Prebiotics help increase the population of beneficial gut microbes, enhance vitamin production, and help digestion.
Prebiotics, as well as probiotics, have been shown to decrease inflammatory cytokines, which are a group of proteins and peptides that help cells act upon the immune system and inflammatory responses.
We became very aware and informed about cytokines during the 2020 covid-19 virus. This virus made some of our immune systems overreact and these cytokines created an overblown "storm." Keeping a healthy diet, along with nutrients and certain compounds make a difference in our fight to stay healthy.
Prebiotics are a big part of this fight. Some good prebiotics are chicory root, agave inulin, bananas, and artichoke.
How do probiotics help?
Probiotics are live microorganisms that provide our gut with good bacteria for optimal health. When we have healthy “gut” bacteria balance, then our immune system can fight more efficiently, and even our mood can change for the better.
Our gut is also known as our “second brain” with the help of the enteric nervous system (ENS). Beneficial gut bacteria can alter a gene expression related to reducing mental stress and anxiety.
Also, most of our immune system resides in our gut. We’ve all experienced gut discomfort during a stressful situation. The ENS also helps control digestion, provide enzymes to break down food, regulate electrolytes, and increase nutrient absorption. Probiotics ease bloating, gas, and constipation.
Probiotics are naturally found in fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut to name a few. There are also probiotic supplements available and superfood products that contain them.
Probiotics are strains from lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. For example, Lactobacillus Gasseri strain is found to be beneficial in the fight against obesity, and Bifidobacterium Longum strain has been shown to produce biotin levels in the gut. Biotin is a B (B7) vitamin known for healthy hair, nails, and skin, and connective tissue.