The role of nutrition and herbs on our immune system
Written by Brittany Ford / www.biohackingbrittany.com
Brittany is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist focusing on supporting gut, hormonal, and skin health through nutrition and biohacking.
Our food impacts every aspect of our health, including our immune system. Eating a diet rich in nutrient-dense or ultra-processed foods can either support or impair our immunity. It’s imperative not to overlook the importance of nutrients on our immune system, as optimized nutrient intake has the power to reduce or even delay the onset of immune-mediated chronic diseases. Maintaining a nutrient-dense eating regimen and using a combination of immune-boosting herbs is the best way to create and preserve a robust, wholesome immune system.
Nutrition impacts our immune system in multiple ways - it directly affects our gut microbiome, gut barrier capabilities, inflammatory pathways, and white blood cell function. Studies show that specific dietary choices can promote optimal immune function, while others may hinder it, mainly due to food's impact on our gut health. Gut bacteria play a significant role in our gut health, creating a healthy microbiome that is essential to developing and supporting a healthy immune system.
A diet lacking adequate nutrients, both macronutrients like healthy fats and micronutrients like vitamins, can impair our immune system by reducing immune cell activity and antibody production.
This is typically seen in the Standard American Diet (SAD) or Western diet, which is high in refined sugar and processed foods and low in fresh fruits and vegetables. This way of eating can create and exacerbate disturbances in healthy intestinal microorganisms, resulting in inflammation in the gut that can become chronic, which suppresses the immune system.
On the other hand, a well-balanced diet consisting of whole, fresh and organic foods with minimal processing can support a healthy immune system. This can include nutrient-dense foods like well-sourced vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, seafood, eggs and meat.
Healthy immune cells and antibodies require excellent, regular nourishment since this drastically reduces the amount of inflammation the immune system has to fight.
If your diet is consistently inadequate in nutrients, taking vitamin and mineral supplements can help support the immune system. Every stage of our immune system response relies on the presence and abilities of specific micronutrients like vitamins, minerals or amino acids, making supplementation a compelling option for some people.
Some nutrients that have been identified as crucial for maintaining a robust immune system include antioxidants like Vitamin C, minerals such as zinc and selenium, vitamin D and the amino acid glutamine.
Using a supplement can be supportive for improving your nutrient levels; however, taking high-dose singular supplements does not necessarily mean it better supports the immune system. Nutrients tend to work better synergistically, which is why consuming a nutrient-dense diet is much more impactful on the immune system than simply taking a supplement.
However, an excellent and effective way to support the immune system is through herbs, especially herbs designed to replenish vitality and rejuvenate the body. Herbs are intricate and work synergistically with other herbs when combined.
Herbs like Ashwagandha, Holy Basil, Amla and Guduchi can strongly support optimal immune health through adaptogenic, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory effects.
Ashwagandha may be one of the most well-known adaptogenic herbs in Ayurvedic medicine, traditionally used to reduce anxiety, stress, support hormones and combat inflammation. In addition, it stimulates immune cell activity, which is a critical aspect of the early immune response.
Amla is an edible fruit and crucial herb in Ayurvedic medicine known to reduce and prevent viral and bacterial ailments. It is also potent in vitamin C and other antioxidants that reduce oxidative stress. This is important to the immune system, as excessive oxidative stress is very taxing on the body.
Holy Basil is another powerful antioxidant and adaptogenic herb used to support the body when managing stress, inflammation and maintaining healthy immunity. It also has antiviral, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties that protect against harmful pathogens that can wreak havoc on our immune system. It also combats excessive oxidative stress in the body.
Lastly, Guduchi is utilized in modern medicine to boost the immune system to prevent colds and flu, help detoxify the body from toxin overaccumulation, and support optimal blood circulation.
These powerful herbs are combined to support a healthy immune system in Coffee Boost: Immunity with coconut milk added to improve their absorption and efficacy.
In addition to maintaining a healthy eating regime, choosing a potent blend of herbs can support your immune system one step further. This combination of a nutrient-dense diet and immune-boosting herbs is your best line of defense for creating and maintaining a robust, healthy immune system.
Learn more about the work Brittany Ford is doing as a Registered Holistic Nutritionist at www.biohackingbrittany.com.
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