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No food or supplement can protect you from viral infections. Nevertheless, many nutrients influence the body’s ability to fight infection by strengthening our immune system.
In these turbulent days when global public health concerns are front page news, I am seeing more items in the media on the importance of a robust and resilient immune response. It’s no surprise. As the pandemic has unfolded, it has brought the importance of staying healthy and strong sharply into focus. Hence the heightened interest in strengthening our immune system.
Recent research by FMCG Gurus shows that consumers consider probiotics to be a booster to the immune system1. The researchers also found that consumers are currently looking more for antibacterial products, turning more to food that boosts the immune system, and seeking out fortified/functional food and drinks with added health-enhancing ingredients such as probiotics, protein and vitamins.
Let me explain why.
Essential nutrients work in orchestration and synergy to support a healthy immune system. These nutrients include vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E, and folate, trace elements such as zinc, iron, selenium, magnesium, and copper, as well as the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA2. Intake of these key nutrients in optimal amounts is necessary to support the complex immune system. Immunity is the most important weapon for the prevention and management of infections. A body’s immune response can be classified as humoral or cellular. In our humoral immune response, foreign bacteria or viruses are flagged by antibodies, so they are recognized for destruction by our immune cells. In our cellular immune response, other immune cells trigger destruction of host cells once they are infected with viruses to prevent spread.
For both humoral and cellular immune responses to act as optimally as possible, a balanced nutrition is essential. In particular, vitamins, minerals (trace elements) and nutritional lipids are key to the normal functioning of the immune system.
The epithelial lining of our airways and intestinal tract can be considered as the body’s first and frontline defense against infections. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a key role in the functioning of these epithelial linings. So it’s no surprise to find that vitamin A has an important role in regulating the immune function in both the cellular immune response and humoral immune response. Chronic vitamin A deficiency has been associated with changes in the pulmonary epithelial lining, which may increase the risk of lung tissue problems and respiratory infections.
The other vitamin that plays a major role in modulating the immune response is vitamin D, another fat-soluble vitamin. Recent research indicates that vitamin D may be particularly important in supporting the body’s fight against respiratory viral infections such as influenza. Unfortunately, there is a high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency worldwide. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to increased susceptibility to acute viral respiratory infections. At the same time, studies clearly suggest the benefit of daily vitamin D supplements in preventing respiratory tract infection, particularly amongst children younger than 16 years.
Particular strains of probiotics may support the immune system. Some probiotics have been shown to promote the production of natural antibodies in the body while others can even inhibit the growth of harmful gut bacteria. Lactobacillus casei L26 has been the subject of more than 10 scientific studies that indicate that this probiotic strain may also contribute to a healthy immune system.
DSM’s experts have developed a delicious recipe for a lactose-free fermented milk drink with Lactobacillus casei and vitamins A, D and E to meet above-mentioned consumers’ needs. You should try it! It contains Maxilact® lactase, Delvo®Pro probiotics, Delvo®Fresh acidifying cultures and Quali®-vitamin A and D. Called #StayStrong, it’s targeted at men and women concerned about their health and who want to strengthen their immune system. It’s ideal for in-between eating moments.
Download our leaflet to discover how you can help consumers stay healthy with DSM’s #StayStrong concept
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03 June 2020