The demand for natural ways to strengthen our immune system is higher than ever. And it’s no wonder – maintaining a robust immune system benefits not only our personal health but also our communities.

But what immune-supportive nutrients are the best? While everyone is different, it can help to revisit the basics: What exactly is the immune system, and how does it shield our bodies from invading pathogens?

Immune System 101

The immune system acts as our body’s defence mechanism against viruses, bacteria, and other invaders. It’s composed of a diverse array of immune cells, broadly categorised as innate or adaptive.

  • Innate immune cells are our rapid responders—they jump into action when threats arise. However, their responses are less specific.
  • On the other hand, adaptive immune cells take longer to mobilise but produce antibodies. These antibodies help the immune system remember past infections, allowing for more efficient defence during subsequent encounters.

The effectiveness of our immune response hinges on how well different immune cells coordinate their activities. Their ability to work together determines our overall health and resilience.

So what factors influence the quality of our immune response? While variables like age, underlying health, stress levels, and sleep habits play important roles, proper nutrition is paramount. In addition to a varied and healthy diet, here are three stand-out nutrients that go the extra mile to positively impact our immune system.

1. Omega-3s

Omega-3 fatty acids help enhance the function of the immune system by supporting a healthy inflammatory response and providing relief for viral-related symptoms.

When the immune system is triggered, fatty acids are released from the cell membranes. The ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 essential fatty acids within cell membranes directly influences whether the immune response synthesises pro-inflammatory or anti-inflammatory molecules. If omega-3 fatty acids are more abundant, then signal molecules that help lower the cell stress response will be more common, which reduces cellular damage and supports overall immune health.

EPA and DHA, the omega-3 essential fatty acids in fish oil, support the body’s natural anti-inflammatory response because they are converted into anti-inflammatory molecules. To restore balance and support our body’s response to cellular stress, consider dietary sources of omega-3s such as fatty fish, fish oil, or a purified Arctic Cod Liver Oil.

2. Glutathione

Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant that can provide potent immune support benefits. It is naturally produced by our bodies and is often referred to as the “master antioxidant” due to its vital role in protecting cells from damage caused by free radicals and oxidative stress.

While your body produces it naturally, you can also obtain it from certain foods. Spinach, avocados, asparagus, and okra are some of the richest dietary sources of glutathione.

However, various factors such as stress, pollution, age, and poor diet can deplete our glutathione levels, compromising our immune system and making us more susceptible to recurring illnesses. Furthermore, glutathione is often broken down in the body very quickly, resulting in not being able to reach the cells where it is needed. However, supplemental glutathione in liposomal form is better able to withstand these digestive processes, resulting in optimal absorption.

By replenishing glutathione levels, liposomal glutathione can help strengthen the immune system and support overall health. It aids in neutralising harmful free radicals, reducing oxidative stress, and supporting detoxification processes in the body. These effects can be particularly beneficial for individuals with recurring illnesses, as boosting the body’s antioxidant defence system may help reduce the frequency and severity of such illnesses.

3. Vitamin D

Vitamin D plays an essential role in the immune response and activation of the immune system defences. Deficiency is associated with an increased susceptibility to infection and autoimmunity. With more than 1 in 3 Australians experiencing Vitamin D deficiency, increasing this vital nutrient is one of the simplest ways to gain a natural immune boost.

Vitamin D is not strictly a vitamin; it is a prohormone, predominantly made in the body in response to UVB rays from the sun. It is formed in the skin and activated in the liver. Therefore, getting regular sunlight and supporting your liver health (by drinking plenty of water and eating lots of leafy greens and healthy fats) can help support your vitamin D status.

You can also eat foods containing vitamin D such as mushrooms, Arctic Cod Liver Oil, fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel and herring, egg yolk, and beef liver. You may also choose to take a vitamin D supplement, especially during the winter months when we tend to get less sunlight.

In closing

While nutritional strategies for enhancing immune health are certainly not infallible, the research suggests that increasing your intake of immunity-enhancing dietary factors is a prudent strategy for optimising immune functioning and overall health.

If you’re choosing to supplement your intake with these nutrients, remember that choosing high-quality, highly absorbable forms is a must.

Products we love:

Nordic Naturals Arctic Cod Liver Oil 

While the majority of Nordic Naturals® omega-3 products are sustainably sourced from sardines and anchovies, their cod liver oil products provide omega-3s that have been derived from 100% Arctic cod liver™ (Skrei) sustainably sourced in Norway. These products have an impressive nutrient profile with high levels of DHA and naturally occurring fat-soluble vitamins A and D. Find a stockist 

Therapure my liposomal glutathione

Glutathione has the ability to modulate the immune response in order to control inflammation. It also helps to regenerate other antioxidants needed for healthy immune function, such as vitamins C & E. However, glutathione generally breaks down very quickly in the body. Therapure® my liposomal glutathione is delivered in liposomal form, so it can reach the cells where it’s needed. Find a stockist

Therapure my liposomal D+K

Therapure® my liposomal D+K is an amazing all-rounder – a synergistic blend of well-absorbed vitamin D3 and K2 for supporting healthy immune function, cardiovascular health, bone health, and healthy ageing. Vitamins K2 and D3 work in synergy, making them a perfect pair. Find a stockist 

Always read the label and only use as directed. Talk to your healthcare practitioner for dietary advice.

Image: Shutterstock

This is a sponsored article produced in partnership with Nordic Naturals.

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