Everyone seems to be talking about the immune system and how to “boost” it. Lucky for us, our bodies always have our best interests in mind. Even when we are not consciously trying to give our bodies a boost, there is always so much going on beneath the surface.
What even is the immune system?
The immune system is the body’s defense. If a football team didn’t have a defensive line, there would be nothing to stop the opposing team from scoring over and over again. Similarly, if the body didn’t have the immune system it would not be able to fight off any unwanted invaders and the pathogen team would quickly overtake us.
We have many different players on our immune system team. First in line to protect us is the skin. We may take this for granted but if we think about all the bacteria and germs we come into contact with on a daily basis, the skin has an important role in keeping bad things out (and keeping good things in!)
Next in line is the GI system. Our digestive tract (mouth to esophagus to stomach to intestines) is basically a transit highway from one side of our body to the other. The body has to decide what gets to be absorbed and what must be excreted. Beginning in the mouth, saliva is released to begin to kill some unwanted germs. It is then up to our stomach to kill bad bacteria with it’s strong hydrochloric acid. Digested materials then go into the small intestines, where most of the nutrient absorption occurs. Our bodies have an amazing way of determining not only what is good versus bad but also what amounts of each nutrient it needs to absorb to help our bodies function most efficiently.
We’ve all probably heard of the gut microbiome or the "good bacteria" in the gut. Those bacteria play a huge role in our immune system as well. Just like the players on our favorite football team, we want these bacteria to be strong and prepared before fending off the opposing team. We can feed the good bacteria and make them stronger by consuming a varied diet, which includes carbohydrates and fiber, fruit and vegetables, and probiotics and prebiotics.
There are many other players on the immune system team, such as white blood cells and the lymph system. Lucky for us, each player is constantly at work and works in harmony with all the other players to hold off the pathogen invaders.
The best way to cheer on and support your immune system team is to eat food. Eat a variety of it. Just like if our football team doesn’t practice, if our immune system doesn’t have a constant supply of all the different vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats then it won’t be able to hold off the opposing team.
Notice how I am not recommending that everyone take a vitamin C or zinc supplement? Those nutrients are needed for a well-functioning immune system but as long as you eat a varied diet, then you will get enough of those vitamins and minerals plus added benefits, like antioxidants and fiber.
Of course, nutrition and the need for supplements, is very individualized. Feel free to reach out to the Mood Balance Nutrition team if you would like to learn more about what your body may need.