Hydration and Immunity
How both essential functions go hand in hand
Staying well hydrated is a key factor in maintaining a healthy immune system.
Your immune system depends on specific nutrients being transported in your blood stream, an important part of the body that is made up of 90% water.
Hydration also helps with sending signals and biochemical reactions to and from your immune system.
Reminder: Hydration = water + electrolytes (specific salts involved in the reactions we just talked about).
Electrolytes and immunity
Ever notice when you are sick, people may recommend electrolytes in your water? That’s because a deficiency in these nutrients compromises your immune health (amongst other things).
It will help if you think about your immune system as a fighter jet, eliminating any invaders or intruders (the invaders being threats such as viruses, germs, and unwanted pathogens). Your immune system can fight off enemies from invading your body by using T-cells and antibodies as defence (its weapons if you will).
To run properly, you need to maintain your fighter jet and fuel it to ensure it doesn’t run out of gas at a critical moment.
Just the same, your immune system requires specific nutrients to run properly. These nutrients include electrolytes; specifically, sodium, magnesium, and potassium.
Note: electrolytes have many purposes in the body, but for the purpose of this article, we are focusing on immunity.
It’s been studied that sodium has been linked to having an anti-microbial effect and can fight infections. While you don’t want to consume a diet high in sodium which can have auto-immune and blood pressure effects, there is a required amount your body needs daily. In fact, there needs to be a balance of sodium and water in your body. Adding sodium into your water thorough a replenishing electrolyte beverage daily should be enough to meet your sodium needs.
Potassium balances out the sodium and together they regulate immunity response. Specifically, potassium works in the membrane of the cells to turn it on and transmit signals between cells (think of it as communication) and direct activity of the immune system.
Magnesium does so much for your body in general, but for the immune system it’s essential to keep it strong. Your body needs magnesium to make its T-cells which fight viruses and kill them. Studies have shown that decreased magnesium levels are linked with the decline of these important “killer” T-cells and other cells crucial in the immune system.
If you really want to boost immunity...
You want to stay efficiently hydrated always and get water plus your key electrolytes daily. Doing so will ensure your immune system is ready to go when you need it.
In addition to immunity, you may know there are other supplements that are catered to support cold and flu symptoms or prevent them all together.
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Elderberry is high in antioxidants and has antiviral benefits. Researchers reported after a 2011 study, that elderberry prevented the growth of certain types of strep bacteria and influenza viruses.
Echinacea is loaded with plant compounds functioning as antioxidants. Numerous studies have found that echinacea may help your immune system combat infections and viruses.
Zinc supports the growth and normal function of immune cells, helping to defend against infection.
This article has been fact-checked