New products and diets are constantly being pushed in our faces, claiming they can ‘boost’ our immune system. It is an overused marketing tool to make consumers believe they will magically become untouchable after using this product or following this particular diet for a month. However, what does ‘boosting’ your immune system actually mean, and can it even be done?
What is the Immune System?
The immune system is extremely complicated and there is still a great deal that scientists do not know on the specifics of the body’s immune response. There is so much more to it than most people could imagine. First of all, it is not just one system as the name would lead us to believe; it is actually a biological response that occurs to protect our bodies against toxic pathogens; such as bacterium, viruses and other microorganisms that make us feel unwell. In general terms, the immune system is the body’s defence against infections, made up of two parts – the innate system and the acquired/adaptive immune system.
The innate system is our body’s initial form of defence. Although it is not specialised, it acts against a variety of pathogens in an extremely rapid manner. It does this by flushing it out (sweating), burning it out (fevers) and shutting down the body to put as much energy as possible into fighting off the illness – this leads to a huge energy expenditure whilst resting, subsequently increasing fatigue.
On the other hand, the acquired/adaptive immune system is specialised and is generally more effective. This is because it can distinguish between - and even remember - the various pathogens. This enables a highly specific defence response to be coordinated by T-cells – these cells provide a range of immune-related functions, playing a key role in shaping and controlling immune response. In other words, if the troublesome pathogen decides to return, the body will know how to react.
What boosting our immune system actually means
Having discovered the role of the innate immune system and the important work that is carried out by the T-cells, would you actually want your immune system to be persistently active?
Too great an immune response is as bad as too little an immune response; the key is to have balance. A healthy immune system is one that sits in a balance. We don’t want it to be overactive or underactive. Instead of ‘boosting’ our immune systems, why don’t we focus on supporting it so it remains healthy and balanced? A healthy balanced diet is key, this is where vybey’s meal replacement shakes come in to play.
Supporting our immune system with vybey
What we eat has a direct impact on our body’s defence system. All cells require the appropriate nutrition to function at an optimal level, and the cells within the immune system are no different. If you are eating a balanced diet and meeting the recommended daily intakes for all essential nutrients (as per the Australian and New Zealand Dietary Guidelines), then your immune system will - most likely - perform as it should be.
So how can we support our immune system? Thankfully, vybey’s meal replacement shake contains a number of the essential nutrients that are very important in sustaining a well-functioning immune system. We’ve picked out some of these below to explain the part they play:
Vitamin A, a group of chemical compounds, is an essential nutrient needed for a variety of processes within the body, for example, ensuring our immune system is functioning normally. It also supports skin health and vision. However, it cannot be produced by the human body, therefore, it is a fundamental part of the diet. You’ll be happy - and maybe even unsurprised - to hear that Vitamin A is included within our vybey meal replacements.
B Vitamins and Folic Acid
Vitamin B12 plays numerous roles within the body; from blood creation and cell division to supporting the immune system. As we age, we gradually lose the ability to absorb Vitamin B12 properly. Folate (Folic Acid) is another form of Vitamin B, which mainly aids the formation of healthy red blood cells within the body. It’s important that we are fuelling our bodies with all the essential nutrients necessary for it to carry out all of its functions. This is why vybey is packed with 26 vitamins and minerals, as each one plays a vital role in supporting a healthy body.
Vitamin C is a vital vitamin that is well known for enhancing iron absorption, its antioxidant properties and even its ability to help alleviate the common cold. It is an effective anti-inflammatory – aiding reduction in irritations like redness and swelling - and is one of the 26 vitamins and minerals that are packed into a vybey meal replacement drink, helping the body with cell development, growth and protection.
Vitamin D is another of the 26 vitamins and minerals in vybey. Vitamin D is known to promote healthy bones as it enhances the absorption of calcium in the small intestine. Interestingly, before antibiotics, vitamin D was used to treat tuberculosis.
Vitamin E also helps support antioxidation in the body, which means it is able to reduce cell damage as well as regulate immune functions - for example, improving your antibody response to vaccinations. As well as strengthening the body’s natural defence against infection and illness, Vitamin E also helps to maintain healthy skin and eyes.
Zinc is vital for growth, development and the upkeep of immune function. It regulates numerous aspects of the immune system and supports the cells within it. There is strong evidence that zinc has an exceptionally powerful influence on fighting specific viruses, including the common cold. Again, our trusty vybey shakes are a source of zinc.
Along with it being imperative for building muscle, protein plays an important role in immunity by producing white blood cells to help fight diseases. White blood cells are a key component of the immune response . vybey’s meal replacement shakes contain over 20g of protein per serve so you’re in good hands.
Iron is an essential mineral for almost all living organisms. It is involved in numerous biological processes that take place within the body, for example, the transportation of oxygen. It also aids in the synthesis of haemoglobin from red blood cells, contributing to a well-functioning immune system. vybey contains up to 47% of your recommended intake of iron per day.
Selenium is another essential mineral known for it’s antioxidant potential. It makes up a number of antioxidant enzymes that help protect the body and battle against pathogens.
Overall, each vitamin and mineral has its own special function within the body, aiding us to live healthy lives. It is important that we provide our body with these essential vitamins and minerals and vybey is a simple way to help you do this.
Can you boost your immune system?
The common phrase ‘boosting your immune system’ is one that doesn’t stand up to scientific scrutiny. The immune system is extremely complicated and when brands are claiming they have a product to ‘boost’ it, we should act with scepticism. The majority of the time, strong scientific evidence cannot back up these claims.
Instead of focusing on ‘boosting the immune system’, we should aim to support our immune system to remain strong and balanced instead. We can do this by ensuring we are consuming a healthy, balanced diet and are partaking in regular exercise.
Although you can’t guarantee that you’ll never get ill again, you can encourage your immune system to remain strong. As touched on above, a great way to do this is through a balanced diet, ensuring you’re consuming sufficient micronutrients - vitamins and minerals - alongside the essential macronutrients, like protein.
vybey offers a number of these important nutrients all in one drink to get you on your way! It really is the perfect addition to a balanced diet, but it is of course important to ensure that you are receiving micro and macronutrients from a variety of sources.
So, what are you waiting for? Grab your vybey today!