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The 411 on Your Body’s Natural Defense System

The 411 on Your Body’s Natural Defense System

Want the 411 on your body’s natural defense system? Read on to find out how the immune system works and how to maintain its health.

As long as our immune system is running smoothly, most of the time we don’t give it a whole lot of thought—until something goes wrong, that is. Usually, that shows up in the form of us starting to feel run down. You know that icky moment when you realize you’ve come down with something because you can’t seem to lift your head off the pillow in the morning? That telling sign something is off when your throat feels scratchy, or those days when your energy is so low that all you want to do is lie on the couch and skip your afternoon run? That’s your immune system telling you something isn’t quite right, and that likely it’s fighting something off.[1]Soon after comes that instant regret of realization that we haven’t been paying attention to our body’s signals or giving our immune system the attention, it deserves.

When it comes to our immune system, it doesn’t live in just one part of our body, rather it’s connected to every part of our being—an entire complex network of cells, molecules, tissues (as deep as our bone marrow), and organs working together.

The immune system is made up of two-layered sub-systems:

  • Innate Immune System:The part of our immune system that we’re born with—aka the generalized immune response—which is through breast milk, called passive immunity.
  • Adaptive Immune System:The part of our immune system learns over time through exposure. When we get a vaccine, our body learns so that next time that antigen arrives, our body can defend it. [2]

When any foreign substance (also known as an antigen) enters the body, our immune system fires up to target and destroy them with the release of special fighting cells. This is our immune response.[3]

These specific antigens can enter our bodies in so many ways, including through the skin, eyes, mouth, open wounds, or insect bites, which is why these parts of our bodies produce so many liquids (sweat, tears, mucus, etc.). According to The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), once the body has come into contact with an ‘antigen’ for the first time, it usually stores information about how to fight it. Then, if it comes into contact with the ‘antigen’ again, it recognizes it straight away and can start fighting it faster. [4] When our immune system is compromised, we may not feel well.[5] Thankfully, the immune system does a great job in keeping us in good health, as long as we give it the tools it needs to do so.[6]

So how do we support our immune systems? While no miracle cure or superfood is going to ensure you’re protected (according to scientific research and actual medical professionals, no vitamin or mineral can actually “boost” your immune system)[7], we can support our immune systems. We can do this by paying close attention to what foods and vitamins we put in our bodies, learning how to reduce daily stressors and manage chronic stress, ensuring we get enough sleep at night, and making time in our day to break a sweat, moderating alcohol intake, maintaining a healthy weight.[8]

So, while there’s a lot our immune system is doing to keep us healthy behind the scenes, there’s also a lot we can do as our part to be in control of our health and wellness. Always listen to your body—it’s pretty intelligent and gives us a lot of warning signs. And if you have any concerns, it’s always a good idea to check in with your health practitioner for medical advice.

Looking for products to help support your immune system? Vega One® All-in-One provides you with 20% DV (daily value) antioxidant Vitamin A and 40% DV Vitamin C.

Vega Maple Walnut Protein Smoothie

Maple Walnut Protein Smoothie

This vegan smoothie is a non-dairy homage to the classic ice cream flavour: maple walnut.

Roasting the walnuts is optional, but truly takes this smoothie over the top and adds authenticity If you prefer to use raw walnuts, I suggest soaking them overnight and giving them a good rinse before popping them into the blender. You can toast the walnuts ahead of time (and in larger batches if desired), let them cool and keep them in an airtight container for a speedier morning smoothie session.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
1/3 cup walnuts, lightly roasted (save 1 Tbsp for garnish if desired!)
1 frozen banana (or 1 fresh banana and 1 cup ice cubes)
1 handful ice cubes
1 to 2 Tbsp maple syrup (depending on ripeness of banana)
French Vanilla Vega One® All-in-One Shake

Preparation:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350° F and spread the walnuts out onto a small sheet pan. Roast walnuts for 10 to 12 minutes, until just fragrant. No need to wait for them to brown. Once you can smell them, remove from the oven and let them cool slightly.
  2. Once walnuts are cooled, place all ingredients in a blender (start with one tablespoon of maple syrup) and blend until smooth.
  3. Taste and add the second tablespoon of maple syrup if desired. With a very ripe banana, I found one tablespoon of syrup made the smoothie perfectly sweet. More might be required if you use a less ripe banana.
  4. Pour smoothie into a tall glass and enjoy! If you really feel like treating yourself, roughly chop the one tablespoon of reserved walnuts and sprinkle on top with a pinch of cinnamon.
References:
[1] https://www.pennmedicine.org/updates/blogs/health-and-wellness/2020/march/weakened-immune-system
[2] https://www.pennmedicine.org/updates/blogs/health-and-wellness/2020/march/weakened-immune-system
[3] https://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/ss/slideshow-immune-system
[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279364/
[5] https://www.cdc.gov/listeria/risk-groups/weakened-immunity.html
[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279364/
[7] https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthy-eating/what-can-you-do-to-improve-your-immune-system
[8] https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthy-eating/what-can-you-do-to-improve-your-immune-system or https://myvega.com/blogs/content/16-foods-to-help-support-your-immune-system
Vega One All-in-One Shake

About the Author: Vega

“Vega“

Vega is a leading plant-based protein powder brand. Since 2004, Vega has brought real, plant-based food ingredients together in purposeful combinations to help consumers get the nutrition their body wants, without compromise. All their products are vegan certified and Non-GMO Project Verified.