Guest Feature: Strengthen Your Immune System

By Jessica Gjertsen, BSc.,RHN,CSCS

Nutrition plays an undeniably important role in our overall health and wellbeing, and while many of are keen to invest a little extra into exercise, for some reason when it comes to nutrition, we're like, "I think I got this one on my own." Unfortunately you probably don't because of how distorted industry and "health" organizations have made things. I believe that if you are looking to make serious health changes in your life, investing in nutrition should be first. One of our most trusted local Nutritionists is Jessica Gjersten. With the events over this past year having a strong immune system has never been more crucial. Jessica has generously contributed an article on how nutrition can strengthen your immune system. Enjoy!


Strengthen Your Immune System

Controlling your lifestyle choices around nutrition, exercise, stress, and sleep are excellent ways to improve your immunity and overall health. But for many of us, modern life can present challenges which negatively affect our ability to do so. Supplementation combined with purposeful diet choices and daily movement are interventions that can promote a strong immune system capable of protecting us for years to come. The role of our immune system is to protect us from bacteria, viruses, and microbes. It also helps to remove damaged cells and other debris inside our bodies and is directly connected to our energy levels, mood, and physical stamina. Depending on your current state of health, your immune system must work to find a balance and the choices we make have a huge impact on how our system ultimately functions. When you eat, how you eat, sleep quality, and exercise all play crucial roles in that function. How do I know my immune system needs HELP?

  • You have allergies and/or food intolerances.

  • You “catch” colds often.

  • You have sinus or respiratory problems.

  • You have chronic digestive issues such as bloating, diarrhea, and gas.

  • You have a skin condition.

  • You have poor wound healing or struggle with infections.

  • You struggle with inflammatory conditions such as arthritis.

What health indicators put my immune status at RISK?

  • You have elevated blood pressure.

  • You have elevated cholesterol.

  • You have high blood glucose, are pre-diabetic, or have diabetes.

  • You smoke.

  • You drink alcohol daily.

  • You have poor sleep quality (less than 6 hours per night).

  • You do not exercise.

  • You consume a diet high in processed foods, sweetened beverages, and sugary foods.

  • You have high stress.

Supplement Recommendations to Support Immunity

Probiotics The immune response begins in our gut. Antibody producing immune cells and beneficial bacteria line our gastrointestinal tract making the integrity of our gut essential. Taking steps to improve your own Microbiome (the microbes in our digestive tract) will have dramatic effects on health. Note that our microbiome can be damaged or become imbalanced by antibiotics, stress, some medications, poor quality or sugary foods and alcohol. The result is often inflammation and higher risk of infection. Zinc Improves immune cell functions and is a powerful antioxidant that scavenges free radicals to decrease inflammation. Vitamin A & D Increases immune cell function. Vitamin A acts as antioxidant and helps maintain physical barriers against pathogens. Vitamin E Combined with Selenium acts as a powerful antioxidant. Vitamin C Improves immune cell function and works to lower stress and inflammation. Vitamin C does not keep you from getting sick, rather it makes you more capable of fighting a virus. Magnesium Acts as a cofactor of immunoglobulins to help fight illness. Magnesium is easily depleted by stress both physical and mental. Those with high stress or high activity levels should consider magnesium as an essential nutrient. Omega 3's Act as potent antioxidants and influence the functioning of immune cells.

Type

Recommended Dose

Naturally Occurring Source

Probiotics

  • ​2-8 billion per day

  • Bacillus

  • Lactobacillus

  • Bifidobacterium

  • Saccharomyces Boulardii

Zinc

  • 20mg daily

  • Shellfish

  • Oysters

  • Meat

Vitamin D*

  • 2000IU daily starting dose

  • Oily fish such as herrings, sardines, anchovies, salmon, trout, mackerel

  • Egg yolks

  • Red Meat

  • Liver

Vitamin A*

  • 2500IU daily starting dose

  • Cod liver oil

  • Liver

  • sweet potatoes

  • spinach

  • broccoli

  • dried apricots

Vitamin E*

  • 400mg daily

  • Avocado

  • Mango

  • sunflower seeds

  • almonds, peanuts

  • beet greens

  • spinach

Selenium

  • 50mcg Selenium

  • Brazil nuts

  • Yellowfin Tuna

  • organ meats

  • eggs

Vitamin C

  • 1000mg Daily starting dose

  • Broccoli

  • brussels sprouts

  • cauliflower

  • red pepper

  • spinach and leafy turnip greens

  • citrus fruits

  • tomatoes

Magnesium

  • 100-300mg daily

  • Cashews

  • Almonds

  • brazil nuts

  • avocado

  • banana

  • kale

  • spinach

  • dark chocolate

  • cooked legumes

  • tofu

  • pumpkin

  • flax and chia seeds

  • whole grains

  • fatty fish

Omega 3s

  • 3000-6000 daily

  • Cold water fish

  • flaxseeds

  • chia seeds

*Fat soluble vitamins are stored within our bodies and should be monitored by a health professional above recommended dosage.


If you have any questions or would like to get in touch with Jessica regarding the status of your nutrition, you can contact her at the email address below.

jessgjertsen@gmail.com

 

About the Author: Jessica Gjersten, BSc.,RHN,CSCS

Jessica completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Nutritional Science and Exercise Physiology from the University of Connecticut. Her athletic career in the sport of soccer lead her to complete her Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist designation through the National Strength & Conditioning Association. With a passion for food she then become a Professional Chef and studied at the California Culinary Academy (Le Cordon Bleu). She later gained Diploma in Holistic Nutrition through the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition. She is a Registered Holistic Nutritional Consultant and Personal Trainer.


Jessica’s coaching style is focused on realistic lifestyle change for those looking to achieve a better health. Utilizing habit developing strategies, small everyday changes and simple nutritional education. Her expertise in both Nutrition and Exercise allows her to educate and empower her clients.