Our immune systems take a battering over the course of our lives, not just as we age beyond 50, but in all sorts of situations. There are the obvious ones, such as getting an illness or an infection. Under these circumstances, we could be considered to be suffering an acute immune system overload. This means that briefly, our immune systems are very limited in what they are able to do, but after a brief spike they bounce back to their original levels. It is normal for this bounce back to take longer as we grow older, but most of the time we will eventually recover, with or without medical support.
Staying physically fit and healthy can have an impact on our immune system as well. Physical stress is a known phenomenon. We often assume that stress is a mental ailment, like sadness or anger, but stress can also be physical and hormonal. That’s why we can be stressed physically even whilst feeling great emotionally.
When we tackle a new exercise or push ourselves at the gym when we already have a weakened immune system, the stress hormones in our body (cortisol and adrenaline) spike. This causes inflammation and can result in a further weakened immune system so that we end up getting sick. Who knew that working out at the gym could have negative effects on our bodies?
Eating a varied diet, living in the city or keeping pets all challenge our immune system as well. Our bodies are continually fighting foreign bacteria and substances that come from these sources. Which means that someone who lives in the city with a cat and eats an adventurous diet is challenging their immune system more so than someone who lives in the suburbs, without pets and who eats a simple diet. On the plus side, the more we challenge our immune system the stronger it gets. But the downside is that when something serious happens, like a major infection, our bodies are already working hard to keep us healthy so we could end up overstressing our bodies.
As we grow older spontaneous allergies and autoimmune conditions may appear where they did not exist before. This is fairly natural, as all the cells in our body mutate and change. Maybe we aren’t digesting some foods properly so those foods can irritate our GUT which is why I always advise my clients to listen to their bodies. Or maybe we have upset our immune system and it has associated something random with that damage. Whatever the case, you may find that you suddenly have an allergy to something you’ve never been allergic to before.
To combat this, we need to eat a wide range of vitamins and minerals that improve our immunity. By improving our immunity, we reduce the chance of both infections and autoimmune conditions and help our bodies to stay fighting fit and strong.
The following three vitamins play a major role in strengthening our immune systems:
- Vitamin A is amazing for balancing our immune system. Whereas many immune-boosting supplements can make inflammation or autoimmune conditions worse, as they act by making white blood cells more powerful, vitamin A focuses on quality over quantity, regulating the immune system, fighting illness and autoimmune complaints at once. Enough vitamin A will fight UTIs, skin issues and gut imbalances. Some good sources of Vitamin A that are easy to incorporate into your diet are: Beef liver, lamb liver, king mackerel, salmon, sweet potatoes, kale and carrot.
- All B vitamins boost our immune system. On the one hand, they do this by supplying our cells with the energy they need to do their job well. This means that our immune cells are all working hard to retain that vital balance and that they are fueled to do this job. B vitamins also fight the effects of stress from mental or physical activity, making sure that we are comfortable and our mood is elevated. Some top sources of B vitamins include meat (especially liver), seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, legumes, leafy greens and seeds.
- When it comes to preventing illness, little beats vitamin C. Vitamin C is often praised for its illness destroying abilities, but the reality is that it works its magic before the illness strikes. Firstly, because vitamin C is an antioxidant which helps reverse free radical damage. This means that our immune cells are better able to fight off illness, but also that other cells within our bodies are better able to defend themselves. And secondly, because vitamin C facilitates the absorption of iron, which is essential for carrying oxygen and nutrients to cells. By ensuring cells receive everything they need to stay nourished, we prevent the sort of environment that encourages infection and illness in the first place. Some foods that are high in vitamin C are: guavas, kiwifruit, capsicums, strawberries, oranges and broccoli.
Finally, when we are deficient in any vitamin we are putting our bodies under stress. Our bodies need every vitamin to function optimally and the cravings we get are as a result of stress on our bodies.
I always tell my clients to “eat the rainbow” as that way they know that they are consuming a large variety of different coloured vegetables that are supplying their bodies with different antioxidants, phytonutrients and fibre.
To make sure that I am feeding my body with the nutrients it needs, I take Arbonne’s Greens Balance every day which contains 38 different fruit and vegetables concentrated into a powder, which contributes to me having a balanced healthy diet.
Make sure that you are eating a wide variety of fruit and vegetables so that you can feed your body the nutrients it needs to keep you healthy.
Medical Disclaimer: This article is for information purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. For medical advice always consult your physician. The information provided in this blog is based on the best knowledge of the author at the time of writing and we do not assume liability for the information within this blog, be it direct or indirect, consequential, special, exemplary or other damages.