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Wish you could build a fortress around yourself to keep sickness at bay? The truth is, you already have one. Your immune system. The key is making sure it’s strong enough to do its job.
A healthy diet, regular exercise, and good sleep habits are essential in taking care of your body, but if you’re looking to truly fortify your immune system, make sure you’re getting the nutrients known for their defensive qualities.
Our association with vitamin C and the common cold is so, well, common, that your first sniffle may very likely elicit a friendly suggestion — from just about anyone — to make sure you’re getting enough. And for good reason. Studies show vitamin C can help reduce how long you may have to put up with pesky cold symptoms.
But vitamin C has so much more to offer. Beyond colds, it’s a bit of a powerhouse when it comes to your immune system.
When your body has enough vitamin C, it’s better prepared to reduce your risk of getting sick, the severity of the illness, and how long it lasts.
Just don’t think of vitamin C as a quick fix. It’s more like a good habit. When you regularly get enough vitamin C, you’ve got more opportunity to take advantage of all its immune-boosting benefits, like keeping your skin happy and strengthening your bones and teeth, which come in handy for healing wounds and bones and supporting healthy aging.
And that’s not all. Find out more reasons why vitamin C is so essential.
You may not have heard a lot about the elderberry plant yet, but it’s hardly the new kid on the immunity block. Using elderberries for our health goes back thousands of years. From ancient Egyptians to Native Americans, elderberries have been used to treat pain, heal burns, and even improve complexion.
Today we lean heavily on this plant to support healthy immune systems. Most notably, you’ll hear about treating cold and flu symptoms. Research shows that it can cut you a break in both the severity and length of your flu symptoms.
It doesn’t stop there, though. Elderberries are rich in antioxidants, which, along with their anti-inflammatory properties, can support skin and heart health.
Elderberries are stacked with flavanols, phytonutrients that pack a healthy punch. These flavanols have been linked to a decreased risk of cardiovascular troubles, as well as supporting cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Bones might be the first thing you think of with vitamin D, and you wouldn’t be wrong. Vitamin D, which regulates how you absorb calcium and phosphorus, is essential for bone health. Strong bones are indeed one way you can help keep your body strong.
But that’s just the beginning. Vitamin D also gets credit for helping fight disease. It works to keep the immune system balanced, especially when it comes to fighting autoimmune diseases and infections. One study of school children showed how it can help reduce the incidence of seasonal flu.
Plus, having enough vitamin D is important for your heart. This vitamin regulates immune and inflammatory cells that are connected to cardiovascular issues. Vitamin D is like yoga for your arteries. It helps keep them flexible and relaxed, so they’re better equipped to control blood pressure.
Getting enough zinc is basically table stakes for making sure your immune system works properly. This mineral helps immune cells develop, communicate and manage their response to inflammation.
Zinc deficiency is actually quite common, especially in older adults who typically don’t consume — or absorb — enough. Being deficient can lead to inflammation, which, when excessive, is connected to degenerative diseases.
Beyond its preventative benefits, zinc may help even after a cold or seasonal flu has hit. Research shows that when zinc enters a cell, it helps ease up the immune response to prevent out-of-control inflammation. This is why, if taken soon enough, zinc is known to speed up recovery from the common cold by reducing symptoms.
Bone. Muscles. Tissues. Fluids. Magnesium is everywhere. Plus, playing a role in more than 600 interactions in your body, it’s not messing around.
By supporting so many of your body’s major functions, like converting food into energy, creating protein from amino acids, creating and repairing RNA and DNA, and regulating your nervous system, magnesium is tied to so much of what keeps you healthy.
Of the many hats magnesium wears, when it comes to your immune system, its anti-inflammatory benefits are important to note. Fighting chronic inflammation means putting up a stronger defense against aging, obesity, and more.
While phytonutrients like quercetin don’t play a primary role in keeping you alive the way vitamins and minerals do, they do the hard work of disease prevention and helping keep your body working like it’s supposed to.
Quercetin’s antioxidant properties make it an important fighter of free radicals, which, when out of balance with antioxidants in your body, can create oxidative stress. Heading that off is a great way to put up a strong fight against chronic disease.
Fighting inflammation is another of quercetin’s super powers, since chronic inflammation may contribute to some health conditions.
A lap around the grocery store can fill your cart with healthy foods that are loaded with these immune-boosting nutrients. Just remember that one piece of fruit or leafy green salad on its own isn’t going to do it.
In addition to sleep and exercise, a strong immune system needs a consistent, balanced combination of each of these elements. In addition to a healthy diet, one way to make sure you’re covered is with a daily supplement designed to defend and support your immune system.
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