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EATING YOUR WAY TO A HEALTHY IMMUNE SYSTEM IN 2024

EATING YOUR WAY TO A HEALTHY IMMUNE SYSTEM IN 2024

We can all agree that feeling under the weather is no fun, especially during the holidays when everyone else is spending their time outdoors doing all the things you wish you could. As if the laundry list of debilitating symptoms weren’t bad enough, the occasional flu can affect our personal and work related commitments and recovery periods can vary from individual to individual. Our immune systems have very specific functions, all of which depend on us to play our part. It’s no secret that our nutrition plays a vital role in regulating our immune systems and keeping us healthy. Macronutrients such as carbohydrates, protein and fat often need no introduction however when it comes to optimal immunity, micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals deserve some time in the spotlight too.

Everything starts with good nutrition so, that’s exactly where we’ll kick things off. 

 

HOW CAN I MAINTAIN A HEALTHY IMMUNE SYSTEM?

1. FOLLOW A BALANCED DIET

A diet is considered healthy when macronutrients are consumed in appropriate amounts to meet physical and physiological requirements without the need for additional intake while also providing adequate micronutrients and hydration to meet the biological needs of the bodyš.  There is definitely a correlation between nutrition and immunity which is why a well-balanced diet is so strongly advocated for. The inflammatory processes that make up the innate immunity are greatly influenced by nutrition, and this interaction, when disturbed, can significantly affect disease development².

 

There are particular micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals as well as some amino acids which are quite involved in immune modulation. Amino acids like L-arginine and L-tryptophan are crucial for macrophages’ appropriate immune activity and response². Hence, it can be denoted that not only should we consume foods for satiety purposes but we should also evaluate a meal based on what it is able to provide us with on a micronutrient level as well. That is if we intend on making our immunity a priority. 

 

2. MICRONUTRIENTS – Small amounts, big impact.

There are several vitamins and minerals which can greatly influence our immune system’s ability to function optimally. For example, vitamin A deficiency affects pathways associated with appropriate cytokine release and antibody production². White blood cells, like neutrophils and monocytes, build up concentrations of vitamin C up to 100 times greater than that of plasma³. This occurrence by itself implies that vitamin C is likely required by 

leukocytes to carry out their immune functions³. Lower levels of vitamin D in the serum are associated with higher infection risks². Polyunsaturated fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6 also participate in immunomodulation. Clearly, there are a particular set of macronutrients and vitamins that can improve immunity levels. Minerals however, are of particular importance. The supply of minerals can affect susceptibility to infections however it also has effects on the progression of chronic diseases⁴.

 

MAGNESIUM is one of the many minerals that we should educate ourselves on concerning the topic of immunity.

Magnesium deficiency is linked to an overstimulation of the innate immune defence, with simultaneous deficiency of the adaptive immune defence. This could be why some human studies have presented evidence that a magnesium deficiency is linked to chronic, low-grade inflammation⁴. We know that magnesium is an important cofactor for the metabolism of vitamin D which is why an inadequate magnesium supply can affect vitamin D production ultimately causing inflammatory response disturbances and further compromising the immune system.

 

ZINC is an essential trace element required for many physiological functions and is necessary for optimal nutrition and overall good health. Zinc levels are associated with the general regulation of the immune system. Research has shown that increased oxidative stress and systemic inflammatory responses are brought about by a zinc deficiency⁴. Tuberculosis is an example of a disease caused by intracellular pathogens. These pathogens are able to invade due to weakened Th1 cells whose functions are impaired during zinc deficiency and hence, unable to respond⁾. Clearly, we should make a point to ensure we are meeting our daily zinc requirements by consuming a well-balanced diet.

 

COPPER is a mineral that is often overlooked. A reliable availability of copper is key for maintaining immune competence. On the contrary, a copper deficiency results in reduced humoral and cellular immune function⁴. Thankfully, copper deficiencies are extremely rare and often only occur as a result of intestinal abnormalities. Still, this micronutrient definitely has a role to play concerning immunity.

 

SELENIUM is another essential trace element needed for adequate immune function. A selenium deficiency can lead to reduced immune function, cardiomyopathy, skeletal muscle myopathy, osteoarthropathy, some forms of cancer and viral disease⁴. Selenium can be found in oats, sunflower seeds, wheat, brown rice and a variety of meat, tuna fish, salmon and shellfish⁴. 

 

IRON is also an important mineral that can contribute towards strengthening our immune systems. It can be noted that ensuring a healthy iron status is beneficial to safeguard optimal human function (i.e., oxygen transport and energy metabolism), and immunocompetence that signals an appropriate immune response to kick in when presented with invading pathogens⁴. I’m not sure about you but that sounds pretty important to me!

 

Looking for a ways to add key nutrients to your diet? We’re here to help!

FUTURELIFE® Smart food™ is a scientifically formulated, low GI food that combines 22 vitamins and minerals, 19 amino acids, omega-3, inulin (prebiotic) and MODUCARE®, a daily immune supplement, made from a patented blend of natural plant sterols and sterolins to help support immunity. It contains 9 nutrients that contribute to the normal function of the immune system (Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Vitamin E, Iron, Selenium, Zinc, Vitamin D, and Vitamin C). It is also high in energy, protein and dietary fibre and can be enjoyed as a meal, shake or smoothie at breakfast, lunch, dinner or as a snack. It can be mixed instantly with just water or milk and requires no cooking. 

Did you know that just one 50g serving of FUTURELIFE® Smart food™ meets your daily requirement for all vitamins and most minerals? Now that’s what I call smart nutrition!

 

Looking for something with a bit of crunch instead? Look no further!

The FUTURELIFE® GRANOLA CRUNCH range offers crunchy goodness for the whole family. Our delicious granola clusters have been formulated by combining the goodness of FUTURELIFE® Smart food™ with the crunchiness of baked rolled oats and puffed rice. It is also formulated with MODUCARE® and is available in 4 delicious variants which offer a targeted selection of minerals and key nutrients for specific functions. For example, FUTURELIFE® GRANOLA CRUNCH Smart food™ RENEW is delicious granola clusters made with real cocoa, that combines fibre and selected minerals; copper, selenium and zinc for a revitalizing start to your day or anytime snack.

And if that wasn’t convenient enough, the FUTURELIFE® GRANOLA CRUNCH range is also available in 40g bars for a quick anytime snack when you’re feeling for a little boost. FUTURELIFE® CRUNCH GRANOLA BARS in the BOOST variant is made from 100% whole grain oats, real honey and selected minerals such as iron and magnesium. We’ve focused on the micronutrients so you don’t have to. Cue FUTURELIFE® GRANOLA CRUNCH NUT & SEED / FOCUS! Tasty granola clusters made with real nuts, that combines energy, fibre and selected minerals; iodine, iron and zinc for a strong start to your morning or anytime snack. 

 

CONCLUSION

Fuelling our bodies with the right nutrients can go a long way when it comes to protecting our bodies from invading pathogens. Maintaining a healthy immune system means we’re able to perform at the top of our game and further ensures that we have more opportunities to spend quality time with the ones we love. If that isn’t reason enough to make a few tweaks to your diet this year, I don’t know what is. 

 

REFERENCES

  1. Cena H, Calder PC. Defining a Healthy Diet: Evidence for The Role of Contemporary Dietary Patterns in Health and Disease. Nutrients. 2020 Jan 27;12(2):334. doi: 10.3390/nu12020334.
  2. Munteanu C, Schwartz B. The relationship between nutrition and the immune system. Front Nutr. 2022 Dec 8;9:1082500. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2022.1082500.
  3. Moore A, Khanna D. The Role of Vitamin C in Human Immunity and Its Treatment Potential Against COVID-19: A Review Article. Cureus. 2023 Jan 13;15(1):e33740. doi: 10.7759/cureus.33740.
  4. Weyh C, KrĂźger, K, Peeling, P, Castell L. The Role of Minerals in the Optimal Functioning of the Immune System. Nutrients 2022 14:644. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14030644.
  5. Wessels I, Fischer HJ, Rink L. Dietary and Physiological Effects of Zinc on the Immune System. Annual Review of Nutrition 2021 41:1, 133-175.

 

BY: Shannen Singh   /   DATE: January 2024 

 

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