Our immune system is constantly changing in response to their environments. A healthy, alert immune system is ready to respond to anything that may be a danger to your health. On the flipside, a deficient immune system may not be as vigilant in the face of a threat, and an over-active system may be triggered unnecessarily or create runaway inflammation. Maintaining a healthy immune system is a constant and delicate dance involving quick communication and cellular response. Implementing healthy habits and consuming nutrients to support immune function can ensure the immune system has the support it needs for optimal response.
Our immune systems are a product of both genetics and our daily habits. Common-sense hygiene habits can help mitigate the spread of pathogens from person to person. The foundations of health such as a nutritious diet, regular exercise, sleep, and hydration, are all behavioral factors that can be modified to optimize the immune system.
Respiratory viruses are usually spread through close personal contact like shaking hands, through the air shortly after an infected person has coughed or sneezed, or by touching a surface with the virus present and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes. Strategies to reduce your risk of infection include common-sense preventative measures like hand washing, disinfecting high traffic surfaces, covering your mouth to sneeze or cough, and avoiding travel to areas with high rates of infections.
Proper hydration is important for prevention as well as during illness. Fluids are an important component of mucus, an essential first line of defense against respiratory infection. In addition, good hydration thins mucus, keeping it easier to expel.
Even the most grounded individuals have likely been affected emotionally by current events. Most people are feeling some level of stress or anxiety about changes to their reality, including worries about health and finances, evolving travel and workplace disruption, arranging care for elders and children, and scarcity of resources. Managing stress might involve turning off the news for a time, going for a walk, and making plans to implement coping strategies that work for you. Stress can take a serious toll on immune system function, proper sleep, and decision making.
Sleep is an important foundation of health, and one that is easily disrupted by stress. Sleep deficiency negatively affects immune function by causing a decrease in natural killer cells, immune cells that target and destroy host cells that have been infected by a virus. Studies have also shown that even one night of sleep deprivation causes detrimental changes in the immune system’s ability to respond to an immune challenge. As a vaccine poses an immune challenge in order to take effect, loss of sleep may interfere with your body’s ability to properly react to a vaccine.
Certain vitamins and minerals are necessary for the proper function of your immune system. Incorporating foods with lots of color into your everyday diet is a good rule-of-thumb to ensure that the immune system is well supplied with immune supportive vitamins like A and C. Dietary deficiencies in zinc and/or vitamins C and D can increase one’s risk of falling ill. Be aware that more than moderate consumption of certain substances (most notably sugar and alcohol) can also take a toll on one’s immune system, leaving it less responsive to challenges.
Vitamin D is important to the maintenance of a healthy immune system. It is common to have lower vitamin D levels in the winter months when shorter days, heavy clothing, and lack of outdoor time minimize sun exposure. Lower vitamin D levels are independently associated with more frequent respiratory infections. Research suggests vitamin D may boost important antimicrobial peptides in the lungs, which are necessary to the body in the first line of defense against respiratory viruses. Metabolic Maintenance offers several options of high-quality vitamin D-3 supplements ranging in strengths from 2,000 IUs, 5,000 IUs, 10,000 IUs to 25,000 IUs.
A lack of vitamin C can lead to impaired immunity leaving you more prone to infection. The actions of certain types of immune cells are enhanced by vitamin C. In addition, vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that can aid in protecting cells against free radical damage resulting from immune system activity.
Acute Immune Boost
Metabolic Maintenance offers a robust immune support product called Acute Immune Boost. It has been formulated to assist in the body’s ready immune response. This potent blend contains top nutrients involved in positive immune function including Vitamins A, C, D, and zinc. NAC is included to support respiratory function and healthy glutathione levels. Two top research-supported herbs for immune health, elderberry and Andrographis, complete this synergistic formula. Elderberry exhibits anti-viral activity and stimulates the immune system through upregulating certain chemicals important to the immune response.
The same steps that can support a healthy immune system are supportive of good health in general. It is important to get feedback from your physician regarding the state of your immune system and to inform them of any changes to your health regimen.
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Irwin M, Mascovich A, Gillan JC, et al. “Partial sleep deprivation reduces natural killer cell activity in humans. “ Psychosom Med. 1994 Nov-Dec; 56(6): 493-8.
Prather A, Hall M, Fury J, et al. “Sleep and antibody response to hepatitis B vaccination.” Sleep. 2010 Aug 1;35(8): 1063-9.