What is the immune system and how do I strengthen it?

There is a lot of talk about "the body's immune system" but what does it really mean? You hear the word refer to the body's defence against something and that's exactly what it is. We are constantly exposed to foreign substances that enter the body in different ways. In order to assess what is a potential danger to us, and to combat what might be harmful, we need a system. This giant apparatus has been named the "immune system" or "immune defence".  

The immune system is cleverly divided into the "outer" defence and the "inner" defence. The outer defence consists of the skin, the mucous membranes of the nose and airways, tear fluid, saliva and the hydrochloric acid in the stomach juices that kills many bacteria. The internal defence is divided into two parts, the innate and the adaptive immune defence. The innate is just as it sounds, we are born with it. The adaptive immune system, on the other hand, is created during our lifetime when we come into contact with different types of pathogens such as viruses and bacteria through infection or through vaccines. When we come into contact with pathogens, the adaptive immune system learns to recognise them and then when we come across it again, the body knows immediately what to do and the reaction is less severe.

The immune system is made up of many different types of cells with different tasks. Some of these cells have been given cool names, such as killer cells, helper cells, large-animal cells and memory cells.

Can the immune system be influenced?

All cells in the body need nutrition to function properly. The various cells of the immune system can be strengthened by eating the right vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Examples of well-studied substances that are particularly important for immune system function are vitamin D, vitamin C, zinc, selenium and some B vitamins. If you are low in one or more of these nutrients, you may find that you catch colds and other infections more easily. It is important to eat a varied and nutritious diet to provide your body with all the nutrients it needs, not just for your immune system of course.

It's not always easy to eat right, and many of us probably take shortcuts here and there when time and energy aren't available. We live a busy life and may not always cook from scratch with clean ingredients. Unfortunately, it seems that even though we try to do everything right, the nutritional content of our food today is much lower than it used to be. So it's increasingly difficult to get everything we need from our diet alone. Selenium is a good example of this. Selenium is found in the soil and is transferred to the food we grow. Unfortunately, soils are depleted and selenium levels have declined sharply in many parts of the world, leading to measured inadequacies in our intake. Vitamin D is also in short supply, but this is due to a combination of lack of sunshine in Sweden for most of the year, and the fact that few foods contain vitamin D in significant quantities.

The composition of the gut flora also plays a major role in how our immune system works.

What else can we do?

In addition to nutritious food, the immune system also benefits from exercise and rest. Physical activity is important for the body for a number of reasons, and while we may most often think of building muscle, getting fit and strengthening the heart, physical activity also reduces inflammation in the body. Both cardio and strength training are good for reducing inflammation, which supports the immune system. Everyday exercise such as walking, cleaning, climbing stairs, etc. should not be underestimated either.

The body's immune system is also supported by sleep and recovery.

Dietary supplements for the immune system

There are a number of nutrients with health claims "Contributes to the normal functioning of the immune system" that we can recommend to you if you want to support your immune system.

As gut health also plays a role in the immune system, we also recommend our products with lactic acid bacteria.