The pandemic pushed health and immunity to the forefront of everyone’s mind. In 2022, research by FMCG Gurus shows that 66% of consumers (across regions and age groups) still plan to address their immune health. Below, we discuss the science behind our immune systems, explore the value of fortification in tackling immune gaps, and explain how DSM can help manufacturers fortify food and beverage products with key vitamins and minerals – bringing multiple benefits to consumers.
Many consumers are aware of the importance of immunity: in a DSM survey, 71% of respondents linked it to defense against pathogens, and 59% to falling sick less frequently.1 But that doesn’t mean people always know how immunity works – nor what they can do to support their own immune systems.
The three lines of defense
The human immune system has three layers. First, the physical barrier of our skin, lungs, and digestive tract, which stops pathogens entering the body. Second, our innate immunity, which indiscriminately attacks any pathogens that do enter. Third, the immunity we acquire over time, which learns from exposure to pathogens and attacks them more specifically and efficiently.
So, how can we protect this complex immune system? There are some factors we can’t influence, from our genetics to our environment. But there are other factors we can modify to give our bodies the best chance of fighting off pathogens – such as exercise, sleep, stress, and, of course, nutrition.
Nutrients like vitamins and minerals play a role in strengthening all three lines of immune defense. Vitamin A, for instance, is more important for the first line, while vitamins C and D are more involved in the second and third lines.