How to ‘boost’ your immune system

How to ‘boost’ your immune system

Our immune system is working for us non-stop and we don't even realise it. At Nomige, we believe that looking after your health should become a daily habit in order to be safe than sorry. But what actually is immunitywhy is it so important for our health and how can we achieve that?

Better be safe than sorry.

Our immune system is the body’s natural defense mechanism against pathogens (= anything that can produce a disease). It is a complex system that exists out of cells, organs and tissues to protect our body from getting infected. 

The most effective way of building up this defensive ‘shield’ is vaccination. It provides resistance to certain infections and strengthens the immune system before coming into contact with specific infectious agents.

What does ‘boosting’ your immunity mean?

In 2019, a study was published to analyze facts and myths that are displayed on the internet. It was found, that there is a general misconception about the fact that supplements and foods can ‘boost’ your immune system. In fact, vaccines are the only ones that can actually ‘boost’ the immune system which means that it can stimulate immunity above the normal level

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However, it does not mean that you shouldn’t stay on track of your diet. According to the World’s Health Organization, better nutrition supports a normal functioning immune system. A diet that includes vitamins and minerals is therefore crucial to maintain a good state of the immune system and avoid malnutrition caused by a poor diet. It is also key to remain realistic that there is not one single product or food to fight all infectious agents. Hence, by implementing a combination of good nutrition and lifestyle habits into your daily routine, you can support your natural defense mechanism. 

Nutrition for a healthy lifestyle

In previous blogs, we’ve mentioned the benefits of vitamins on the skin, mostly acting as antioxidants to protect from detrimental effects of free radicals that cause fine lines, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, etc. As you may know, vitamins A, B, C, D and E have numerous benefits for our body as well. 

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Vitamin A is known to maintain the protective function of white blood cells and skin. It also keeps the integrity of the protective aqueous layers, called mucus, on the eyes, airways, stomach and intestines to protect from infectious agents. Sweet potatoes, carrots and pumpkin are important sources of vitamin A.

The vitamin B complex consists of different types of vitamin B. Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), B12 (cobalamin) play an important role in immunity by stimulating the formation of red blood cells and cells and other cells of the immune system. B9 (folic acid) is crucial for the proper formation of organs. Our daily intake of vitamin B comes from beef liver, bread, cereals, pasta, button mushrooms, chicken breast, chickpeas, bananas, etc.

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Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant by neutralizing free radicals that can potentially cause damage to genetic material (DNA), living cells and tissues. Most of us don’t need additional intake of vitamin C since it is already present in many of our daily food sources such as citrus fruits (oranges) and green leafy vegetables (kale, spinach).

Vitamin D and E lower the chances of infection. Sunlight is the most important source for vitamin D. So soak up the sunlight for 15-30 min a day. Don’t forget to wear sunscreen if you let the sun hit your skin for a longer period (also during winter). 

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant. If you're a nut lover and you like almonds, hazelnuts and peanuts, you'll ingest vitamin E. But other sources contain vitamin E as well such as vegetable and soybean oil, safflower and wheat germ. 

 
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Other important food sources

Other important sources are copper, selenium, zinc and iron. Copper, present in foods such as leafy greens, dark chocolate and oysters, takes part in several pathways of the immune system such as produce energy and support iron metabolism. Iron mainly induces the formation and maturation of immune cells in the blood circulation. Foods that contain iron are sardines, beef, almond and cashew nuts, lentils, beans, firm tofu, etc.

Selenium is a powerful nutrient which functions as an antioxidant and protects against deleterious effects on the heart caused by the cytomegalovirus.  It is taken up by eating broccoli, garlic, tuna, brazil nuts, etc. Zinc is often found in hair supplements to stimulate hair tissue growth but has an eminent role in the immune system as well. Like vitamin A, it helps to maintain the integrity of skin and protective mucosal membranes. Oysters, crab, chickpeas and yogurt are rich in zinc.

What does ‘boosting’ your immunity mean?

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Besides a healthy diet, other factors can improve your lifestyle. If you’re a smoker, you probably won’t like what’s coming, but it is highly suggested to quit smoking since it increases the risk of infections such as pneumonia. You may enjoy a glass of red wine or other alcoholic beverages at the end of the day. However, overconsumption of alcohol can reduce the ability of our body to defend against infection, so drink moderately. This means no more than 2 drinks of alcohol for men and 1 drink of alcohol for women

Which supplements should I take?

Some people are not the biggest fan of fruits and vegetables and reach out for supplements that are concentrated sources of essential nutrients. There is still a lot of discussions on whether the intake of supplements will truly benefit the immune system. It may be useful to replenish those nutrients that you are missing by a lack of variety in your diet.

Popular supplements are those that contain vitamin D and E, iron, calcium, Omega-3 (fish oil),  Echinacea, garlic, probiotics, and (1,3) β-glucan. The lack of scientific evidence makes that a balanced diet is still preferred over additional intakes of supplements. It is crucial to respect the recommended dose since it may cause adverse effects when exceeded. 

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Changing your habits

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EXERCISE ENOUGH

Exercise helps to maintain a healthy weight (BMI: 18.5-24.9), lowering blood pressure, maintain a good heart condition and protects against diseases. It is recommended to do a light exercise (i.e. walking, vacuuming, gardening) for 20-30 min a day (or 150 min/week) or a purposeful moderate exercise (gym, tennis, golf, cycling) for 20-60 min a day (or 75 min/week).

 

REDUCE STRESS

Allow yourself a moment of well-ness every now and then to reduce your stress levelsStudies have shown that people with lower levels of stress are more likely to fight illnesses and show faster wound healing. 

Activities such as meditation, yoga, tai chi, reading mindfulness books or perhaps you preferlistening to calming audiobooks, can take your mind off stressful situations. Giving yourself a relaxing facial massage, using some of your favorite beauty products can release tension. In Japan, a study on women, aged between 20-40, showed that feelings of anxiety and negative mood were reduced after a facial massage of 45 min. We encourage you to at least give it a try!  

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Learn about DNA skincare & Nomige from Dr. Barbara Geusens

Watch an interactive and educational session where you can learn more about your skin, the role of your DNA, skincare and the Nomige concept.

The online Masterclass is the ideal opportunity to learn more about Nomige and DNA skincare. 

Want to know more about vitamins?

Vitamins are important for the human body and certainly for the skin. Therefore they are often used as ingredients in cosmetics.

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Connect with us and follow the hashtag #MyNomige to stay up to date of the latest skin tips and news.

Follow our story

Connect with us and follow the hashtag #MyNomige to stay up to date of the latest skin tips and news.