Volume 10 Issue 4

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Page 18 | Abby's Magazine | The immune system is quite amazing. It's always at work, 24/7, year after year. It monitors your whole body and acts in countless ways to support your wellness. But what is the immune system exactly? Are there ways you can boost and care for this precious resource—your personal wellness? Read on for our guide to immune essentials and natural approaches to staying well. What is the immune system? The immune system is a network of cells, tissues, and organs that patrol your body for foreign substances and environmental stressors, then work to neutralize them. Healthy immune function includes both physical barriers, such as skin and mucus, and specialized cells that monitor, attack, and more. For example, several types of immune cells continually travel through the bloodstream and tissues surveying and responding when appropriate. If reinforcement is required, complex signals activate more immune cells. Together, the body's army of immune cells execute one of the most impressive biological defensive strategies in nature. The immune system even has its own kind of memory about issues it's already encountered. The strategy of vaccination is a way to implant a memory in the body's immune system. A healthy immune system is one that is neither over- stimulated nor under-stimulated. Various factors can contribute to immune imbalance: stress, lack of sleep, inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption, lack of exercise, or excessive exercise. Immune System Diseases If the immune system is out of balance, problems may occur. A poor or imbalanced immune response can cause issues that range from mild allergic reactions to serious immune deficiencies or autoimmune diseases. Consult with your healthcare practitioner if you need help with immune function challenges. Importance of Gut Health It is said that 70% of immune response is in the gut. This statistic refers to the fact that the tissue lining the gastrointestinal (GI) tract is highly specialized to sort through and respond to tremendous numbers of microbes and substances every moment of every day. The gut is the largest area of the body to encounter outside materials. It's also the site of a lot of microbial activity—those tiny living organisms that help us break down food and absorb nutrients. So it makes sense that when you help your GI tract stay balanced and happy, you're also helping your immune defenses. The gut is so sensitive and hard-wired into our whole-body wellness that it's sometimes called our "second brain." Take care of your second brain, and you're also nourishing your immunity overall! Foods to Eat to Support Your Immune System Did you know that eating a lot of processed foods, saturated fats, salt, and sugar can chip away at effective immune response? We pay a lot of attention to medications and germ-stopping, but keeping your body fortified with nourishing food can be one your first defenses against many immune challenges. Start by eating the rainbow. Prioritize colorful fruits & vegetables in your diet because they're bursting with antioxidants and How to Help Boost Your Immune System vitamins. The following types of foods can help with immune support, too. Fermented Foods Fermented or probiotic foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha, yogurt, and kefir can be important inner helpers because they are alive. They bring millions of helper microbes to your active inner community, the microbiome. A healthy microbiome is linked to better digestion, enhanced immune response, and production of certain enzymes and vitamins. Foods High in Vitamin C Vitamin C helps the body produce white blood cells. A deficiency in this common nutrient can mean you are more likely to get sick. The body doesn't make its own C, so you can get immune-boosting Vitamin C-rich foods by eating citrus fruit (oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, etc.), kiwifruit, strawberries, bell peppers, and dark greens like broccoli and kale. Healthy Fats & Oils Giving your body a supply of healthy fats, particularly Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA & DHA), helps support healthy inflammation response and activates healthy immune cells. Olive oil, flax seed oil, and 100% wild Salmon oil can be great sources of these fats. Herbs & Supplements to Boost Your Immune System No matter what your dietary intake, a supplement regimen can build reliable nutritional support into your day and help boost your body's natural immune response. Vitamin C The immune system needs certain nutrients to do its job—including the powerful antioxidant best known as Vitamin C. Get the most out of each Vitamin C tablet with a formula carefully crafted for absorption. Like Immune Defense Vitamin C + Elderberry, made with fermented C so you can really absorb the good stuff. Elderberry Backed by modern science and centuries of traditional use, Black Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) is an excellent addition to an immune supplement pantry. You can take Elderberry year-round to build up benefits for overall wellness or start taking it at the first sign of an immune challenge. Check out our Essential Guide to Black Elderberry for more on the benefits and uses of this revered superfruit. Vitamin D3 Often under-recognized for its vital role in immune support, recent research shows that Vitamin D levels can make a difference in immune response. This fat-soluble vitamin is called the "sunshine vitamin" because it's synthesized by the body when sunshine hits the skin. However, covering the skin, wearing sunscreen, or generally staying indoors can affect your ability to make your own D. Try supplementing with well- absorbed Vitamin D3 to support a healthy, responsive immune system. BY NEW CHAPTER

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