Health & Habits
‘Tis the Season for Immune Support!
Posted October 25, 2021
The leaves are turning, the days are getting cooler and crisp, and the smell of pumpkin spice is in the air. Autumn is upon us, and with cold and flu season on the horizon (and COVID-19 still a major threat), it’s also the season to take healthy steps toward keeping our immunity at its strongest. The immune system, as we all know, is our body’s natural defense against infection, and is key toward maintaining good health. It consists of a vast network of organs, white blood cells, proteins (antibodies), and chemicals. This system works together to protect us from foreign invaders (bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi) that cause infection, illness and disease. A well-working immune system prevents germs from entering our bodies and kills them or limits their harm if they get in. To keep our immune systems healthy, we must get plenty of sleep, stay active, eat healthy foods, reduce stress and follow other healthful habits.
The fall can be one of the best times to be active outdoors, soak in some fresh air and take in sunlight. Vitamin D exposure from the sun plays vital roles in strengthening our immune systems, and deficiencies are shown to increase our susceptibility to infection, and are even associated with a greater risk of self-reported upper respiratory tract infections. Furthermore, one of the main functions of vitamin D is to help activate T cells, also known as the "killer cells" in the body. Despite all this evidence, over one billion people worldwide are vitamin D deficient or insufficient. If during the colder months we’re unable to take in moderate exposure to sunlight a few times each week, considering a vitamin D supplement could be crucial to maintaining a healthy immune system. One way to cover our bases is supplementing with Vedge Essential, which includes (among other valuable ingredients) a great source of natural vitamin D3.
When discussing immunity, we must not overlook the importance of sleep. As the days in autumn get shorter and daylight savings time ends, it’s important to be mindful and adjust our sleep schedules accordingly. Our circadian rhythms change due to the natural shift in the light/dark cycles, so we must honor the appropriate times our bodies feel tired. When we’re short on sleep, our immune systems are hard-pressed to fight against colds, flu and other illnesses. The jury is out on exactly how much sleep is actually enough, but 7 to 9 hours is typically the goal for adults. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends 9 to 12 hours of sleep each day for children ages 6 to 12.
The benefits of regular exercise are seemingly endless, but in terms of bolstering our immunity, they can be paramount toward maintaining our strength and vitality in the colder months. In addition to improving sleep quality and boosting our moods, exercise can also prevent arthritis, diabetes, heart disease and other conditions. Studies show that moderate exercise may reduce inflammation and help immune cells regenerate. Brisk walking, bicycling, jogging, swimming and hiking are all great options.
Last but not least, the importance of our food choices can drastically strengthen or weaken our immune systems. Nutritional deficiencies can diminish our ability to fight infections, but eating a whole foods, plant-based diet may help. Loading up on fresh fruits and seasonal vegetables rich in antioxidants, vitamins C and E, beta-carotene and zinc can be a great start. Reaching for a colorful array of berries, citrus fruits, kiwi, apples, red grapes, onions, sweet potatoes, carrots, and leafy vegetables like spinach and kale can improve our overall health and well-being.
Obtaining a wide variety of healthy vitamins and nutrients through whole foods is ideal, but can certainly be challenging sometimes. In these cases, opting for high-quality supplements to fill those gaps - especially in the colder months - can be critical to maintaining robust health. Using supplements such as vitamin B, reishi, and elderberry can bolster our energy levels and go a long way in keeping our mood and motivations high, but few supplements are as effective for boosting our energy naturally as Rhodiola rosea. As one of the main ingredients in Vedge Turmeric+, Rhodiola works as an adaptogenic herb to improve our ability to manage stress, which, in this case, is defined as any outside force that pushes us away from our optimal balance, such as a cold or sickness. By improving our ability to adapt to stress, we preserve a lot more of our energy during the day.
TRY IT FOR YOURSELF!
Aranow, Cynthia. “Vitamin D and the immune system.” Journal of investigative medicine : the official publication of the American Federation for Clinical Research vol. 59,6 (2011): 881-6. doi:10.2310/JIM.0b013e31821b8755
Adorini, L., and Penna, G. (2009). Dendritic cell tolerogenicity: a key mechanism in immunomodulation by vitamin D receptor agonists. Hum. Immunol. 70, 345–352. doi:10.1016/j.humimm.2009.01.016
Scheffer, Débora da Luz, and Alexandra Latini. “Exercise-induced immune system response: Anti-inflammatory status on peripheral and central organs.” Biochimica et biophysica acta. Molecular basis of disease vol. 1866,10 (2020): 165823. doi:10.1016/j.bbadis.2020.165823
By Vedge Nutrition
The point of deliberate exercise is to induce a workload on our bodies so that we adapt to similar stresses in the future. After we break down the body, it immediately works to repair itself. An important distinction with any type of training is that we never grow while we work out; only when we rest and recover. The right supplements and nutrition like calcium, magnesium, vitamin C and vitamin E are just a few highlights that help repair the body for the next stress load.
Macronutrients are the nutrients we need in larger quantities to provide us with energy, and are categorized as fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Micronutrients, conversely, are mostly vitamins and minerals, and are equally important, but consumed in smaller amounts. Thankfully, eating a wide variety of foods on a regular basis allows us to hit both our daily macronutrient and micronutrient needs.
As Memorial Day and July 4th are now behind us, we’ve officially stepped into the full swing of summer. It’s finally that time of the year when the days are longer, the weather is warmer and the vibes are positive. As soon as summer arrives, however, many of our disciplined routines can sometimes fall by the wayside as we find ourselves dedicating much more time to leisure. While the hot temperatures may have a big impact on that, it doesn’t mean that we can’t take advantage of the season and continue to build healthy habits.
If we go back over a billion years ago, before there were plants and animals, fungi were here first. In fact, research shows the animal and fungi kingdoms actually come from the same evolutionary branch, perhaps revealing why mushrooms inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, just like humans.