Immunity continues to be an intense focus as we head into winter, with the rise of the 'super cold' and circulating flu viruses.
When thinking of boosting immune function, few make the connection to gut health – 70% of the immune system lives in the digestive tract.
In other words, boosting your gut health is a key strategy for helping your body’s defences against illness this winter – and autumn is the time to start.
As a dense source of polyphenols, dark berries should be a staple going into the colder months. They feed digestive bacteria, which helps activate your body's immune defences.
“The immune system is one of the most complex and comprehensive systems in the human body,” says Mike Wakeman (left), clinical pharmacist and nutritional medicine expert.
“It’s also one of the most important. It’s the invisible barrier against all sorts of foreign assaults from micro-organisms (fungal infections, bacteria and viruses) and allergens (pollens, dust mites and chemicals) that we encounter on a daily basis.”
Feeding these digestive micro-organisms is essential – and polyphenols play a key role in fuelling our ‘good’ gut bacteria and reducing pathogenic bacteria.
Research1 on New Zealand blackcurrant extract shows how effective this berry is for promoting the growth of lactobacilli and bifidobacterial, two important probiotic bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. Additionally, blackcurrant helped reduce the presence of harmful bacteria in the colon.
Mike says: “You need to think more about optimising your immunity on a daily basis and autumn is the best time to think about how to build this for winter.
“Metabolites from polyphenols activate the gut flora and provide an important food source for good gut bacteria, so should be an essential part of your daily diet, along with vitamins and minerals.”
Mike is keen to emphasise that what you need to bolster the immune system can be found in food. "You should be eating at least five portions of fruit and veg a day," he says.
"Not only do polyphenols, vitamins and minerals optimise the immune system, they have an anti-inflammatory effect too, so if the immune system over-responds, these micronutrients can help resolve the inflammation this causes."
1. Constant cold symptoms or infection
“Constant and repeated colds are not only a sign of a weakened immune system, but also place extra demands on immune micronutrient status.”
2. Bleeding gums
“Often poor oral hygiene can be a major challenge to the immune nsystem, so brish your teeth regularly, twice daily and don’t forget to floss.”
3. Cracks in the corner of the mouth
“This can indicate some aspects of the immune system might be under stress. Vitamins and minerals are vital as they can help resolve minor issues like this.”
4. Fatigue and stress
“Stress can really impact on our immune function, so take time out to look after yourself, exercise and relieve stress and exhaustion as much as possible.”
5. Wounds take longer to heal“Poor healing is a typical symptom of a challenged immune system, and a number of vitamins, such as Vitamin C, can help improve skin function.”
CurraNZ - a concentrated source of polyphenols with year-round convenience
Blackcurrants are one of the leading sources of polyphenols in the berry kingdom, having one of the highest anthocyanin densities of any fruit.
With each CurraNZ capsule containing the equivalent of a large handful of nutrient-rich New Zealand blackcurrants, our concentrated berry extract is a convenient and rich source of polyphenols throughout the year.
1. The ability of blackcurrant extracts to positively modulate key
markers of gastrointestinal function. World Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnoly DOI 10.1007/s11274-010-0352-4
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