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The changes to your diet you need to make for a strong immune system | Balance

Understanding how our immune system functions and how best to support regular functionality has never been so important. In this article we’re going to briefly describe how exactly immunity works, why the goal should be to “support functionality” rather than “boost” it and what we can do from a dietary, lifestyle and supplementation approach to ensure we’re staving off any nasty viruses, bugs or whatever else that we may encounter.

Immunity; a brief overview

The first misconception surrounding the immune system is that it is a singular thing. However, this is most definitely not the case. The clue here being that we describe it as the immune “system”; it is not a singular thing but instead a collection of many organs and biological functions acting to defend our body from harmful pathogens (bacterium, viruses, or other microorganisms that can cause disease).

In simplified terms, the immune system can be broadly split into two parts; the innate and the acquired/adaptive immune systems.

The innate system is our body’s initial, primary form of defence (well technically our skin is but we’re talking beneath the bonnet here). The innate system is akin to letting a bull loose in a china shop. It’s not much for finesse but it’s regularly very effective, flushing out the invading pathogen (sweat and phlegm for example), burning it out (when you experience feverish temperatures) and shutting down the body so that it can focus on the task at hand (which explains the often extreme fatigue we experience once ill).

The other camp of immunity, the acquired/adaptive immune system, is much more concise. Quite simply, it is the store immunological response to a given pathogen. This allows your body to deliver a much more effective, enhanced and immediate defensive response to rid yourself of the bothersome pathogen.

Supporting over boosting; focusing on the right goals

Whether it be through lack of understanding or simply a marketing tool, there are many “experts” and companies who are claiming that their given product and or diet can boost your immune system.

This is simply not the case. Vaccinations are the only evidence-based intervention which can “boost” our immune system (as vaccines are a weakened version of a pathogen, it allows our body to develop and record an immunological response in a relatively safe manner).

More importantly however, boosting your immune system would not be a desirable effect to begin with and would actually make you feel perpetually unwell.

As we now know how the innate immune system functions, imagine it was active continuously? Well, you’d simply feel ill indefinitely without their being any real benefit!

You may not even have come into contact with a pathogen in the first place and you’re making your body feel terrible for no reason!