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Build strong immunity with these tips

Caring for immunity starts with taking care of yourself, and this year is no exception. And because we can't always get enough sleep or manage stress, immune support supplements can help fill in those gaps.

The best ways to support immunity don't just involve taking vitamin C supplements or multivitamins, but providing targeted support to help boost immune function, protect cells and increase energy levels.

Several recommendations

Garlic and Ginger

These proven superfoods help support your immunity with natural bioactive compounds. Add extra garlic to your soup, sip ginger tea or get the best of both worlds when you make a big batch of bone marrow broth with cardamom and ginger.

Curcuma

You've probably encountered this bright yellow spice in curries, but the real star of the show is the active ingredient in turmeric: curcumin. This compound promotes a healthy response to inflammation and helps regulate the immune system.

Coloured vegetables

If you're all about getting the most nutrients, put vegetables of all different colours on your plate. Eating colourful vegetables will help your body get plenty of beneficial vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C in broccoli, glutathione in Brussels sprouts and zinc in dark leafy greens.

Foods that are good for your gut

Surprisingly, a lot of immune activity starts in the gut (more on that later).

A strong immune system starts with a healthy gut microbiome. It may seem strange that your stomach plays a role in how you feel, but a growing body of evidence shows that your gut bacteria are a key part of your body's immune response.

Gut bacteria are responsible for, among other things:

breaking down food into nutrients that help fuel your cells and boost your immune response -sending warning signals to your immune system when it detects the presence of harmful microorganisms

Scientists reveal more details about this latest feature. We know that your gut bacteria play a role in maintaining balance in your body - a state called homeostasis. Your body is constantly trying to maintain a state of homeostasis because it is the most efficient state for all of its systems to function."

When harmful bacteria or viruses start attacking you, your immune system kicks into high gear to bring everything back to normal - and when you have a healthy gut microbiome, your body's immunity is better equipped to help defend your body.

FOODS THAT SUPPORT GUT HEALTH

So how do you support a healthy gut? Eat your vegetables! A diet rich in diverse, nutrient-dense foods gives your whole body access to the vitamins and minerals it needs to function like a well-oiled machine.

For an even bigger boost, add these foods to your diet:

Bone broth

It is a rich source of collagen, which helps maintain strong connective tissue - including connective tissue in the digestive system.

Cooked foods

Kimchi, sauerkraut and other fermented foods are great for overall health because they are a reliable way to get probiotic bacteria into your diet.

Foods rich in antioxidants: antioxidants help the body fight free radicals caused by oxidative stress and inflammation. Studies show that anti-inflammatory polyphenols (plant compounds with antioxidant properties) may help support the balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Another reason to indulge in antioxidant-rich foods such as berries, dark chocolate and coffee.

Vitamin D and zinc

Another great way to support your immune system is to get enough vitamin D and zinc. As their roles, for proper immune system functioning and overall health, are essential.

Vitamin D

Getting more vitamin D into your body is a clear win. That's because the benefits of vitamin D are essential for your entire body. When it comes to your immune system, vitamin D supports T-cells, the white blood cells that help protect your body from disease. However, the sunshine vitamin is also essential for strong bones and teeth because it helps your body absorb calcium and maintain bone tissue. Vitamin D deficiency is also associated with weaker muscles and poor muscle function.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the recommended daily dose of vitamin D for adults is 600 IU (15 micrograms). So how do you hit that number? When it comes to boosting your vitamin D levels, make sure to:

Expose yourself to sunlight when it's nice out! 20 minutes a day is optimal, but the winter months or crappy weather don't always allow for pleasant climatic conditions. So anything you can manage, and as often as possible, is ideal.

Eat foods rich in vitamin D such as oily fish, egg yolks, beef liver.

Take a vitamin D supplement to ensure you get enough of this essential vitamin.

Zinc

You may have heard that zinc is a great help when you want to boost your immune system. But why is it so good? The benefits of zinc supplementation are quite impressive:

It supports a strong immune system that can respond to invaders like a pro.

It plays a role in the cells of your body's mucous membranes and skin tissues, promoting healing and repair of cell membranes.

Studies suggest that some forms of zinc, especially zinc gluconate, may even shorten the length of a cold.

You can get zinc in foods like oysters, pumpkin seeds, beef and cashews, but it's hard to get enough zinc-rich foods in your diet.

The best way to ensure your body gets enough zinc is to take a zinc supplement. But make sure to take zinc with another essential mineral: copper.

Zinc can compete with copper in your body for absorption. Copper, however, helps with vital functions such as energy and blood cell production. Therefore, make sure your zinc and copper dietary supplement contains balanced doses of both essential minerals.

A few final notes: it is advisable to take zinc with food to avoid side effects such as stomach upset. Also, avoid taking zinc together with alcohol or antibiotics. Alcohol can make it harder for your body to absorb zinc. And if you take zinc and antibiotics without enough time in between, you can interfere with their effectiveness.

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