Comet Supercomputer Calculations Boost Understanding of Immune System

Comet Supercomputer Calculations Boost Understanding of Immune System

  • October 23, 2020

Oct. 23, 2020 — While researchers around the world race to develop an effective and safe COVID-19 vaccine, a team from the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at UC San Diego contributed to a study led by Vanderbilt Vaccine Center of Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) on T cell receptors, which play a vital role in alerting the adaptive immune system to mount an attack on invading foreign pathogens including the Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.

Thanks to the National Science Foundation’s Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) for supercomputing allocations, SDSC’s Comet was recently used to perform complex calculations on the receptor sequence data from sorted human T cells to allow scientists to better understand the size and diversity receptor repertoire in healthy individuals. The team’s findings were published last month in Cell Reports as a follow-up study to earlier findings about B cells published in the journal Nature last year.

“Being able to access Comet through an XSEDE allocation made us much more productive,” said Robert Sinkovits, SDSC’s director of scientific computing applications. “The larger memory nodes were also essential for some of the clustering calculations that could not have been completed on standard hardware.”

Both B cells and T cells are constituents of the adaptive immune system and form the second line of defense against viruses, bacteria, cancer, and other toxic pathogens that slip past the innate immune response. The adaptive immune system remembers the invading pathogen after first encounter and forms the basis of effective vaccines. To advance our understanding, the researchers sequenced receptors from the transcriptome of billions of cells to assess the somatic recombination of different gene segments that comprise the circulating B and T cell receptors from healthy Caucasian individuals. They found that T cell receptors, like B cell receptors, exhibit significantly higher overlap in different individuals than expected by chance.

In addition, the unprecedented scale of this sequencing project reveals that the size and diversity of immune repertoire are at least an order of magnitude larger than the estimation made from previous studies. This work is part of a broader effort supported by the Human Vaccines Project to decipher the components of the immune system, with the ultimate goal of understanding how to generate life-long protective immunity.

“Our most recent study puts us one step closer to truly understanding the extreme and beneficial diversity in the immune system, and identifying features of immunity that are shared by most people,” said James E. Crowe, Jr., director of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center of Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “Now we continue to identify T cell receptors and antibodies that can be targets for vaccines and treatments that work more universally across populations.”

A primary aspect of the team’s ongoing research is focused on integrating the findings of these two studies toward the development of an effective vaccine against emerging and evolving threats. Crowe explained, “We are getting closer to being able to use these large databases of human immune molecules to rapidly discover natural molecules that can be used as biological drugs.”

Madhusudan Gujral, a senior bioinformatician at SDSC; Robert Sinkovits, SDSC’s director of scientific computing applications; and Cinque Soto, a Vanderbilt computational biologist and lead author of the study, share Crowe’s enthusiasm over the implications of this research and recognize the importance of access to high-performance computing resources, such as Comet, to make it possible.

“Being able to access Comet through an XSEDE allocation made us much more productive,” said Sinkovits. “The larger memory nodes were also essential for some of the clustering calculations that could not have been completed on standard hardware.

This work was supported by a grant from the Human Vaccines Project and institutional funding from Vanderbilt University Medical Center. The authors acknowledge support from TN-CFAR grant (P30 AI110527). This work also used XSEDE, which is supported by NSF grant (ACI-1548562), and Comet supercomputer at SDSC, supported by NSF grant (ACI-1341698).


Source: Kimberly Mann Bruch, San Diego Supercomputer Center Communications

12 Simple Ways To Balance Your Immune System This Winter

12 Simple Ways To Balance Your Immune System This Winter

  • October 23, 2020

“Immune ‘boosting’ is a phrase that I really can’t get along with,” says leading nutritional therapist and healthy eating expert, Amelia Freer, when asked about the best immune-boosting advice for the coming winter months. In fact, according to Freer, we’ve been approaching it all wrong — and when it comes to our immune system, the aim isn’t to boost, but rather to balance it.

Read more: Feeling Low? Here Are 8 Ways To Ease Seasonal Affective Disorder

An overactive immune system can result in auto-immune disease, or a significant widespread inflammatory state, while an under-active or otherwise compromised immune system can increase our risk of infection — neither of which is ideal. “In the simplest of terms,” says Freer, “we want to be able to switch our immune function on appropriately, and then switch it off again when the infection risk has passed.”

As for how we can do this best, Freer suggests nurturing and supporting our overall health and wellbeing. “There are various nutrients that our body requires to mount and suppress an appropriate immune response,” she comments. “The best way to get these is through eating a balanced, nutritious, and abundant diet, so including a wide variety of different whole foods into our diets throughout the winter is a great place to start.”

A variety of fresh green vegetables is key.

© SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Load up on dark-green vegetables

“First up is dark-green vegetables such as kale, chard, spinach, rocket, Brussels sprouts, sprouting broccoli. They all provide a variety of beneficial phytonutrients, fibre, vitamin A, magnesium, folate and more. If there is one thing to add to our diets, it is this group of vegetables. Aim for at least one portion per day (remembering that when cooked, they tend to shrink considerably in terms of volume, making it easier to achieve this target).”

Opt for citrus fruits

“Citrus fruits are a good source of vitamin C and perfect for the coldest winter months — a little bit of concentrated sunshine just when we need it most. I particularly love the month or two that blood oranges are available [around December to April] — I have one almost every day when I can, as the most deliciously simple dessert.”

Citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, and mandarins can provide, “a little bit of concentrated sunshine just when we need it most,” according to Freer.

© voloshin311

Make room for mackerel

“This is a cheap and readily available oily fish and a source of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, which can help to regulate inflammation in the body. It also contains some food-based vitamin D, as well as protein, and it’s a great speedy choice for lunches. Top tip: look out for unsmoked, frozen mackerel fillets in the freezer section of some supermarkets. I’ve found that it’s the best fish to cook from frozen, and contains less salt than the smoked version.”

Swap in some squash or pumpkin

“There are a huge variety of orange-fleshed pumpkins to enjoy over winter. They provide a source of vitamin A, which, as a fat-soluble vitamin, is best absorbed alongside some healthy fats. I therefore tend to slow-roast my squash and pumpkins in a little olive oil, and then enjoy as they come, blended into sauces or soups, or tossed into salads with rocket, radicchio, some toasted hazelnuts and crumbled feta.”

Balance your diet with Brazil nuts

“Brazil nuts are a key source of the micronutrient selenium, which is an important mineral for optimal immune response. Just four or five Brazil nuts per week can meet our selenium requirements. It is, however, one of the few whole food nutrients that we can over-consume, so it’s best to mix things up and eat just a few each week alongside a variety of other nuts and seeds, too.”

Protein and pulses are important for enabling the body to mount an appropriate immune response.

© Adél Békefi

Choose chickpeas or other pulses

“I adore pulses in all shapes and sizes, and I find them a convenient source of protein — I aim to have roughly a palm-sized portion of protein at each meal of the day. Protein is important for enabling the body to mount an appropriate immune response, as well as for repair and growth of our body’s tissues, and for appetite and blood-sugar regulation. I buy pulses in bulk in jars and add them to soups, make them into hummus and other dips, throw them into curries and stews, or eat them cold with some olive oil, lemon and a few chopped herbs.”

Switch to shellfish

“Shellfish is a good source of zinc and vitamin B12, and mussels and scallops are in season over the winter months. They are a bit of a treat, but it’s worth making the effort to cook them once in a while. Do check that they are sustainably sourced and if you’re unsure about cooking them yourself, it might be a good option to consider ordering if eating out.”

Start soaking your own oats

“Rolled oats are a great choice and can provide not only a warming and delicious porridge breakfast, but also a hefty dose of fibre, too. Soaking oats overnight can help to make the nutrients they contain more absorbable, as well as speeding up the cooking time.”

Eating eggs regularly is a simple way to introduce immunity balancing benefits into your diet.

© Jody Louie took this picture

Introduce more eggs

“Eggs are such a versatile and useful ingredient to have on hand for quick meals and speedy snacks. They are also a source of vitamin B12, a little vitamin D, vitamin A, protein and some are even fortified with omega-3 fatty acids, all of which are important for balanced immune function.”

Drink lots of water

“Maintaining a good level of hydration can help to keep our mucosal barriers moist, such as those in our mouth and the lining of our nose. This might sound strange, but hydration of these tissues helps to support the natural immune function that exists within them, warding off infection before it has a chance to enter the body. Plus water won’t spoil your appetite for the abundance of nourishing whole foods awaiting you at your next meal.”

Good hydration supports muscles and skin tissues, enabling them to better fight off infection.

© Dulin

Increase your vitamin D

“The only supplement that is recommended for everyone to consider over the winter months is vitamin D. In some countries, the sunlight is not strong enough between October and early March for our skin to make enough vitamin D to meet our requirements.”

Optimise other aspects of your lifestyle

“I know it’s been said a thousand times before, but it really is what works: wash your hands, prioritise sleep, actively respond to and manage stress, move regularly, exercise, moderate alcohol and avoid smoking. It’s not original, but it is effective.”

More from British Vogue:

Fruit juice strengthens immune system, aid digestion – Dietician – Punch Newspapers

Fruit juice strengthens immune system, aid digestion – Dietician – Punch Newspapers

  • October 23, 2020

Dayo Ojerinde

A principal dietician with the National Orthopedic Hospital Igbobi, Mrs. Adejoke Adeniji, has listed the benefits of fruit juice consumption to include strengthening of the immune system, aiding of digestion, weight loss, as well as the prevention of allergies and ailments from entering the body system.

Adeniji, at the 2nd Annual Chivita World Juice Day event organised by CHI Limited in Lagos, said the consumption of fruit juice boosts the body’s immune system and promotes everyday wellness. The event was themed, ‘Fruit Juice: The Smart Secret of Boosting Immunity.’

“Consumption of fruit juice is a valuable source of nutrients that are bioactive and can support the immune system by fighting free radicals and also reducing fatigue.

“While not postulating that fruit juice can prevent or protect against COVID-19, available facts show that drinking a glass of fruit juice daily can boost vitamin-c and folate intake and, by so doing, support the optimal functioning of the body’s immune system,” Adeniji said.

The Managing Director of the company, Mr. Deepanjan Roy, stressed the need for fruit juice consumption as a smart way of supporting immune function during the COVID19 era and beyond.

He said while the global pandemic had challenged systems everywhere, it had also raised the social consciousness on healthy diets and lifestyles.

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Three surprising foods that fuel your immune system

Three surprising foods that fuel your immune system

  • October 23, 2020






PHOTO | BRANDPOINT
Farmed salmon has nutrients can can protect the body’s immune system with vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids.

Cold and flu season, combined with an ongoing pandemic, is motivating many Americans to do everything possible to support immune health. Fortunately, simple lifestyle habits, like a healthy diet, can make a big difference in strengthening the body’s defense system. But what foods are best – and why?

When it comes to immune-boosting foods, most people immediately turn to orange juice for a quick fix of vitamin C. “While it is true that citrus fruit helps support the immune system, there are many other foods that offer an impressive profile of nutrients believed to maintain strong immunity,” says registered dietitian Sheri Kasper. Here are three surprising, dietitian-recommended foods that can help ward off illness this cold and flu season.

1. Farmed salmon
Farmed salmon offers outstanding nutrition that can help protect against everything from heart disease to depression. Specifically, farmed salmon supports the immune system thanks to two key nutrients that are uncommon in many other foods: vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids.

While vitamin D is often connected to bone health, emerging research out of Boston University suggests that it may also be vital to proper immune function. Few foods are naturally high in vitamin D, but a serving of farmed salmon offers nearly one-third of daily recommended needs. Omega-3 fatty acids, abundantly found in farmed salmon, are highly anti-inflammatory and support the immune system by reducing chronic inflammation. Kasper recommends choosing farmed salmon from Chile because it is sustainably raised, high in omega-3 fats and does not contain antibiotics or mercury.

2. Yogurt
Yogurt and other fermented foods contain healthy bacteria called probiotics. Probiotics are well-known for supporting digestive or “gut” health by preventing overgrowth of bad bacteria. But maintaining a healthy balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut is also believed to boost the immune system.

“Most people do not realize that about 70 percent of your body’s immune system is in your gut,” says Kasper. In addition to containing probiotics, yogurt is also one of the few foods that is almost always fortified with vitamin D, which offers additional immune support. Look for yogurt labeled as containing “Live and Active Cultures” and steer clear of yogurt that contains a lot of added sugar. Try plain yogurt and sweeten by adding fresh fruit and a small drizzle of honey.

3. Red bell peppers
Red bell peppers are rich in vitamins and antioxidants that support the immune system. One example is vitamin C, which encourages the production of the white blood cells that are responsible for defending the body against pathogens.

Red bell peppers contain almost three times more vitamin C than oranges. They are also loaded with vitamin A and the antioxidant beta-carotene, which can be converted to vitamin A in the body, when needed.

Vitamin A is important in maintaining the natural mucus barriers located in the eyes, gut and other parts of the body. These barriers are designed to trap bacteria and are essential to optimal immunity. Be sure to choose red peppers because they have significantly more vitamin A, vitamin C and beta-carotene compared to green bell peppers.

While a healthy diet cannot prevent seasonal colds, the flu or other viral illnesses, a combination of the right foods, plenty of sleep, regular exercise and a balanced lifestyle will arm your body’s defenses and may help minimize the length and severity of illness. For more information about salmon and wellness, visit chileansalmon.org.

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Daycares in Finland Built a ‘Forest Floor’, And It Changed Children’s Immune Systems

  • October 22, 2020

Playing through the greenery and litter of a mini forest’s undergrowth for just one month may be enough to change a child’s immune system, according to a small new experiment. 

 

When daycare workers in Finland rolled out a lawn, planted forest undergrowth such as dwarf heather and blueberries, and allowed children to care for crops in planter boxes, the diversity of microbes in the guts and on the skin of young kids appeared healthier in a very short space of time. 

Compared to other city kids who play in standard urban daycares with yards of pavement, tile and gravel, 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds at these greened-up daycare centres in Finland showed increased T-cells and other important immune markers in their blood within 28 days. 

“We also found that the intestinal microbiota of children who received greenery was similar to the intestinal microbiota of children visiting the forest every day,” says environmental scientist Marja Roslund from the University of Helsinki.

paivakodin pihatOne daycare before (left) and after introducing grass and planters (right). (University of Helsinki)

Prior research has shown early exposure to green space is somehow linked to a well-functioning immune system, but it’s still not clear whether that relationship is causal or not.

The experiment in Finland is the first to explicitly manipulate a child’s urban environment and then test for changes in their micriobiome and, in turn, a child’s immune system. 

 

While the findings don’t hold all the answers, they do support a leading idea – namely that a change in environmental microbes can relatively easily affect a well-established microbiome in children, giving their immune system a helping hand in the process.

The notion that an environment rich in living things impacts on our immunity is known as the ‘biodiversity hypothesis’. Based on that hypothesis, a loss of biodiversity in urban areas could be at least partially responsible for the recent rise in immune-related illnesses.

“The results of this study support the biodiversity hypothesis and the concept that low biodiversity in the modern living environment may lead to an un-educated immune system and consequently increase the prevalence of immune-mediated diseases,” the authors write

The study compared the environmental microbes found in the yards of 10 different urban daycares looking after a total of 75 kids between the ages of 3 and 5.

Some of these daycares contained standard urban yards with concrete and gravel, others took kids out for daily nature time, and four had their yards updated with grass and forest undergrowth.

 

Over the proceeding 28 days, kids in these last four daycares were given time to play in their new backyard five times a week.

When researchers tested the microbiota of their skin and gut before and after the trial, they found improved results compared to the first group of kids that played in daycares with less greenery for the same amount of time.

Even in that short duration of the study, researchers found microbes on the skin and guts of children who regularly played in green spaces had increased in diversity – a feature which is tied to an overall healthier immune system.

Their results largely matched the second group of kids at daycares who had outings for daily nature time.

Among kids who got outside, playing in the dirt, the grass and among the trees, an increase in a microbe called gammaproteobacteria appeared to boost the skin’s immune defence, as well as increase helpful immune secretions in the blood and reduce the content of interleukin-17A, which is connected to immune-transmitted diseases. 

“This supports the assumption that contact with nature prevents disorders in the immune system, such as autoimmune diseases and allergies,” says Sinkkonen. 

 

The results aren’t conclusive and they will need to be verified among larger studies around the world. Still, the benefits of green spaces appear to go beyond our immune systems.

Research shows getting outside is also good for a child’s eyesight, and being in nature as a kid is linked to better mental health. Some recent studies have even shown green spaces are linked to structural changes in the brains of children.

What’s driving these incredible results is not yet clear. It could be linked to changes to the immune system, or something about breathing healthy air, soaking in the sun, exercising more or having greater peace of mind.

Given the complexities of the real world, it’s really hard to control for all the environmental factors that impact our health in studies.

While rural children tend to have fewer cases of asthma and allergies, the available literature on the link between green spaces and these immune disorders is inconsistent.

The current research has a small sample size, only found a correlation, and can’t account for what children were doing outside daycare hours, but the positive changes seen are enough for scientists in Finland to offer some advice.

“It would be best if children could play in puddles and everyone could dig organic soil,” encourages environmental ecologist Aki Sinkkonen, also from the University of Helsinki.

“We could take our children out to nature five times a week to have an impact on microbes.”

The changes are simple, the harms low, and the potential benefits widespread.

Bonding with nature as a kid is also good for the future of our planet’s ecosystems. Studies show kids who spend time outdoors are more likely to want to become environmentalists as adults, and in a rapidly changing world, that’s more important than ever.

Just make sure everyone’s up to date on their tetanus vaccinations, Sinkkonen advises.

The study was published in the Science Advances

 

7 Ways to Give Your Immune System a Boost in Winter

7 Ways to Give Your Immune System a Boost in Winter

  • October 22, 2020

When the days get short and the weather gets chilly, the last thing you want is to be slowed down by a cold. Giving your immune system the support it needs can help give your body a fighting chance against illnesses like the common cold and flu (have you gotten your flu shot yet?). Here’s how.

7 Ways to Give Your Immune System a Boost in Winter
Herbaland’s gummies are gelatin- and sugar-free. | Herbaland

How Do You Boost Your Immune System?

The body’s first line of defense against germs and bacteria is a healthy lifestyle. This looks like enough sleep, regular exercise, frequent hand-washing, avoiding smoking, reducing stress, and a healthy diet. What they say about vitamin C’s ability to help fight colds is true—but it’s not the only important nutrient. Vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, and zinc play key roles in maintaining a strong immune system.

Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can weaken the immune system, so it’s important to ensure that you’re eating a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables. But, many still struggle with doing that. If you suspect that you’re not getting enough, then daily supplements or superfood powders made from whole food ingredients can help meet your body’s needs. As always, consult your doctor before starting any new supplement. Here are some of our recommendations:

7 Ways to Give Your Immune System a Boost in Winter
The Immune Plus Gummies for Adults are made with echinacea and elderberry. | Herbaland

1. HerbaLand

Taking your daily vitamins can be easy to forget, but it can be critical going into cold and flu season. Founded in 2009, Canadian brand Herbaland saw a gap in the gummy vitamin market. So, they jumped in and made gummy vitamins that are vegan, sugar-free, dairy-free, soy-free, palm oil derivative-free, nut-free, halal, and kosher. Plus, they made them taste good enough to mistake for candy and ensure that their ingredients are sustainable, plant-based, and organic whenever possible. The company also ensures that its production processes are as kind to the planet as possible, from seeking zero-waste packaging solutions to its Eco-Forming process for depositing gummies into steel molds.

Herbaland’s Immune Plus Gummies for Adults are made with antioxidant-rich ingredients that help fight cold symptoms while giving your immune system a boost. These vegan gummies (no gelatin here!) contain a powerful blend of vitamin C, elderberry, and echinacea, which work together to support the body’s ability to fight colds. These sugar-free gummies have a raspberry lemon flavor, making taking your daily vitamins practical, especially compared to regular pills and capsules.

Along with keeping your immune system in check, it’s important to ensure that you’re taking your vitamins. Enter the D3 & B12 Gummies for Adults. These sugar-free gummies contain vitamin D3, a powerhouse that helps support the immune system, boost energy, and maintain strong bones and teeth. Vitamin B12, which needs to be supplemented on a plant-based diet, plays a key role in the metabolism of every single cell in the body and red blood cell production. They’re sugar-free and have a delicious raspberry flavor.

7 Ways to Give Your Immune System a Boost in Winter
Your Super makes superfood mixes for water or your smoothie. | Your Super

2. Your Super

The story behind Your Super is personal. Co-founder Kristel de Groot began making superfood mixes for her fiancé Michael after he was diagnosed with cancer at age 24. The more the pair learned about the connection between diet and good health, the more determined they became to share their knowledge of healthy, whole food ingredients with the world. Your Super makes superfood blends—inspired by the ones Kristel made for Michael while he was in recovery—made with five to six organic, plant-based ingredients and no sweeteners, stevia, artificial flavors, fillers, preservatives, or additives.

The Immunity Bundle boosts the body’s first line of defense against germs and bacteria with four super-charged superfood mixes. Here’s what’s in it:

Super Green mix: Like an instant green juice, made with wheatgrass, barley grass, moringa, baobab, spirulina, and chlorella. One scoop is the equivalent of a handful of greens and it’s packed with micronutrients like vitamin C, potassium, and iron.

Forever Beautiful mix: A fruity blend for glowing skin made with antioxidant-rich ingredients like chia seed, acai, maqui, acerola, maca, and blueberry.

7 Ways to Give Your Immune System a Boost in Winter
Mix Golden Mellow with frothed plant-based milk for a latte. | Your Super

Golden Mellow mix: A slightly spicy blend of inflammation-fighting and stress-reducing ingredients: turmeric, ashwagandha, ginger, cinnamon, lucuma, and black pepper.

Magic Mushroom mix: A chocolatey drink that helps support the immune system and boost your mood with cacao, chaga and reishi mushrooms, ashwagandha, lucuma, and cinnamon.

This bundle also comes with a digital copy of Everyday Super Smoothies, featuring more than 25 recipes for healthy, whole food smoothies for any time of day.

Use the code LIVEKINDLY for 15 percent off your purchase.

7 Ways to Give Your Immune System a Boost in Winter
This herbal supplement was inspired by folk medicine. | Gaia Herbs

3. Gaia Herbs

The Immune Shine from Gaia Herbs is a powder blend made with ingredients used in folk remedies to support the immune system, including elderberry, ginger, astragalus, and maitake and chaga mushrooms. A study found that maitake, a mushroom that has been grown in China and Japan for centuries that’s also known as hen-of-the-woods in Western cuisine, has immune-enhancing effects. Chaga, a type of black mushroom, has traditionally been used to treat various ailments and illnesses in Russia and Eastern Europe. It blends easily into smoothies, plant-based milk, and other beverages.

7 Ways to Give Your Immune System a Boost in Winter
This vegan D3 supplement can help your body get vitamin D when the days get shorter. | Hum Nutrition

4. Hum Nutrition

When we trade hot, sticky, humid days for the cool, crisp fall air (and hot lattes, finally), we also lose some sunlight. Vitamin D, also known as the “sunshine vitamin,” has a surprising amount of benefits, including regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphorus and helping the immune system function properly. Your body produces vitamin D when it’s exposed to sunlight, it makes sense that so many peoples’ levels drop during winter. Hum Nutrition’s vegan Here Comes the Sun softgels contain vitamin D3 derived from lichen, a moss-esque organism that arises from a symbiotic partnership between algae and fungus on trees, rocks, and walls.

7 Ways to Give Your Immune System a Boost in Winter
This earthy mushroom blend pairs well with coffee and tea. | Four Sigmatic

5. Four Sigmatic

The Four Sigmatic Mushroom Blend Mix is a powdered drink mix with a slightly earthy flavor that’s best stirred into coffee or tea. It combines 10 organic mushrooms that have been used in traditional medicines for centuries: chaga, reishi, lion’s mane, cordyceps, shiitake, enokitake (a long, thin white mushroom that’s also delicious in stir-fries), agaricus blazei, mishima, and tremella.

7 Ways to Give Your Immune System a Boost in Winter
You can take this elderberry syrup straight or mix it with water. | myKind Organics

6. myKind Organics

The result of a team-up between actress and vegan activist Alicia Silverstone and wellness brand Garden of Life, myKind offers 100 percent vegan multivitamins and herbal supplements. The Elderberry Immune Syrup is a concentrated formula made from black elderberry, echinacea, vitamin C-rich amla berry, and zinc derived from organic guava. It’s sugar-free and you can take it by the spoonful or mix it with water of the flat or sparkling variety.

7 Ways to Give Your Immune System a Boost in Winter
Hilma’s Immune Support is made for mixing with hot water. | Hilma

7. Hilma

The Immune Support powder from Hilma is formulated with vitamin C derived from camu camu berry, echinacea, ginger, turmeric, zinc, ivy leaf extract, and no fillers. It blends easily into hot or cold water and has a refreshing lemon ginger flavor, so it’s like drinking a cup of tea (which means you absolutely should pair it with vegan cookies).

Remember: vitamin C and zinc can help support your immune system, but it can’t do the work alone. Sticking to good hand-washing habits all throughout winter is your body’s best line of defense against getting sick.


This is a sponsored post.

LIVEKINDLY is here to help you navigate the growing marketplace of sustainable products that promote a kinder planet. All of our selections are curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, LIVEKINDLY may earn a commission.

12 ways to balance your immune system this winter

12 ways to balance your immune system this winter

  • October 22, 2020

“Immune ‘boosting’ is a phrase that I really can’t get on with,” says leading nutritional therapist and healthy eating expert, Amelia Freer, when asked about the best immune-boosting advice for the coming winter months. In fact, according to Freer, we’ve been approaching it all wrong—and when it comes to our immune system, the aim isn’t to boost, but rather to balance it.

An overactive immune system can result in auto-immune disease, or a significant widespread inflammatory state, while an under-active or otherwise compromised immune system can increase our risk of infection—neither of which is ideal. “In the simplest of terms,” says Freer, “we want to be able to switch our immune function on appropriately, and then switch it off again when the infection risk has passed.”

As for how we can do this best, Freer suggests nurturing and supporting our overall health and wellbeing. “There are various nutrients that our body requires to mount and suppress an appropriate immune response,” she comments. “The best way to get these is through eating a balanced, nutritious and abundant diet, so including a wide variety of different whole foods into our diets throughout the winter is a great place to start.”

Variety of fresh green vegetables.

© SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

1. Load up on dark-green vegetables

“First up is dark-green vegetables such as kale, chard, spinach, rocket, Brussels sprouts, sprouting broccoli. They all provide a variety of beneficial phytonutrients, fibre, Vitamin A, magnesium, folate and more. If there is one thing to add to our diets, it is this group of vegetables. Aim for at least one portion per day (remembering that when cooked, they tend to shrink considerably in terms of volume, making it easier to achieve this target).”

2. Opt for citrus fruits

“Citrus fruits are a good source of Vitamin C and perfect for the coldest winter months—a little bit of concentrated sunshine just when we need it most. I particularly love the month or two that blood oranges are available [around December to April]—I have one almost every day when I can, as the most deliciously simple dessert.”

Citrus fruits. Oranges, grapefruits and mandarins.

© Getty

3. Make room for mackerel

“This is a cheap and readily available oily fish and a source of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, which can help to regulate inflammation in the body. It also contains some food-based Vitamin D, as well as protein, and it’s a great speedy choice for lunches. Top tip: look out for unsmoked, frozen mackerel fillets in the freezer section of some supermarkets. I’ve found that it’s the best fish to cook from frozen, and contains less salt than the smoked version.”

4. Swap in some squash or pumpkin

“There are a huge variety of orange-fleshed pumpkins to enjoy over winter. They provide a source of Vitamin A, which, as a fat-soluble vitamin, is best absorbed alongside some healthy fats. I therefore tend to slow-roast my squash and pumpkins in a little olive oil, and then enjoy as they come, blended into sauces or soups, or tossed into salads with rocket, radicchio, some toasted hazelnuts and crumbled feta.”

5. Balance your diet with Brazil nuts

“Brazil nuts are a key source of the micronutrient selenium, which is an important mineral for optimal immune response. Just four or five Brazil nuts per week can meet our selenium requirements. It is, however, one of the few whole food nutrients that we can over-consume, so it’s best to mix things up and eat just a few each week alongside a variety of other nuts and seeds, too.”

6. Choose chickpeas or other pulses

“I adore pulses in all shapes and sizes, and I find them a convenient source of protein—I aim to have roughly a palm-sized portion of protein at each meal of the day. Protein is important for enabling the body to mount an appropriate immune response, as well as for repair and growth of our body’s tissues, and for appetite and blood-sugar regulation. I buy pulses in bulk in jars and add them to soups, make them into hummus and other dips, throw them into curries and stews, or eat them cold with some olive oil, lemon and a few chopped herbs.”

Steamed mussels 

© fcafotodigital

7. Switch to shellfish

“Shellfish is a good source of zinc and Vitamin B12, and mussels and scallops are in season over the winter months. They are a bit of a treat, but it’s worth making the effort to cook them once in a while. Do check that they are sustainably sourced and if you’re unsure about cooking them yourself, it might be a good option to consider ordering if eating out.”

8. Start soaking your own oats

Rolled oats are a great choice and can provide not only a warming and delicious porridge breakfast, but also a hefty dose of fibre, too. Soaking oats overnight can help to make the nutrients they contain more absorbable, as well as speeding up the cooking time.”

A single poached egg on artisan hand sliced toasted bread. 

© Jody Louie took this picture

9. Introduce more eggs

“Eggs are such a versatile and useful ingredient to have on hand for quick meals and speedy snacks. They are also a source of Vitamin B12, a little Vitamin D, Vitamin A, protein and some are even fortified with omega-3 fatty acids, all of which are important for balanced immune function.”

10. Drink lots of water

“Maintaining a good level of hydration can help to keep our mucosal barriers moist, such as those in our mouth and the lining of our nose. This might sound strange, but hydration of these tissues helps to support the natural immune function that exists within them, warding off infection before it has a chance to enter the body. Plus water won’t spoil your appetite for the abundance of nourishing whole foods awaiting you at your next meal.”

11. Increase your Vitamin D

“The only supplement that is recommended for everyone to consider over the winter months is Vitamin D. In some countries, the sunlight is not strong enough between October and early March for our skin to make enough Vitamin D to meet our requirements.”

12. Optimise other aspects of your lifestyle

“I know it’s been said a thousand times before, but it really is what works: wash your hands, prioritise sleep, actively respond to and manage stress, move regularly, exercise, moderate alcohol and avoid smoking. It’s not original, but it is effective.”

Also read:

6 ways to bolster your immune system against COVID-19 if you’re in your 60s and older

Malaika Arora uses these Indian ingredients to make a homemade immunity-boosting tonic

Can food really help you build immunity against diseases?

boost immunity, coronavirus, COVID-19, food for immunity, drinks for immunity

6 healthy drinks to boost your immune system

  • October 22, 2020

Falling sick is not a risk you should be taking at times like these. For keeping diseases at bay, you need to boost your immune system, which requires eating the right nutrition. The antibodies present in our immune system combat diseases, infections, and it is important that you keep it healthy and strong. The pandemic has made us realize the importance of immunity in our daily lives. A study conducted by the University of Melbourne found that a strong immune system can fight the virus and help you recover from the infection. If you too wish to build strong immunity, these 5 drinks might be able to help you. Also Read – COVID-19 vaccine trials can’t tell if the shots will save lives, protect the elderly

Tomato juice

Fresh tomato juice contains folate, which alleviates the risk of infections. It also provides a wide variety of vitamins, minerals and potent antioxidants that provide the body with numerous health benefits. All you have to do is cook sliced tomatoes for about thirty minutes over medium heat and toss into a food processor and blend it until it reaches the desired consistency. Also Read – Volunteer in Oxford Covid-19 vaccine test dies in Brazil, but trial continues

Vegetable-based green juice

Mix green apple, lettuce and kale in a blender and mix well – this is a great immunity-boosting drink that you can add to your daily diet. Apple skins contain a type of plant pigment flavonoid known as quercetin that helps strengthen the immune system and reduce inflammation. Lettuce and kale, on the other hand, contain vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that helps fight off infection and boost your immune system. Also Read – COVID-19 Live Updates: Cases in India surge to 77,06,946 while death toll reaches 1,16,616

Red fruit juice

Bring the goodness of beetroot, carrot, ginger and apple into a single glass. This drink is a powerhouse of nutrients that will decrease inflammatory symptoms and help your immune system. Not only this, but it also helps you deal with cold or flu symptoms, which can hinder your everyday work.

Citrus fruit juice

Citrus fruits are touted as the best sources of vitamin C and strong immunity boosters. What you might not know is that vitamin C increases the production of white blood cells, which helps your body fight against infections and viral diseases. Vitamin C deficiency has long been associated with the impairment of immune response. For a healthy adult, 200 mg a day is enough to boost the immune system.

Watermelon juice

Watermelon has a high content of water that keeps your body hydrated. It also helps in detoxification. It contains healthy nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin A and magnesium. Not only that, but it also helps relieve muscle soreness, which is a common symptom of flu.

Pumpkin juice

Prepared with pumpkin seeds, this juice is high in zinc, magnesium and fiber, three of the essential nutrients required to maintain a healthy immune system. It also helps decrease inflammation. To prepare this healthy drink, all you need is a cup of pumpkin seeds soaked overnight, filtered water and a pinch of salt. Blend it for about 30 seconds, until the seeds are fully pulverized. Strain it and drink.

Published : October 22, 2020 1:51 pm


Signs You Might Have a Weakened Immune System

Signs You Might Have a Weakened Immune System

  • October 22, 2020

There’s a lot of talk going around about immune system health. But do you really know how your immune system is doing?

A healthy immune system can help you fight illness when you become infected with a harmful bacteria or virus. It might make battling certain illnesses easier or make it so you don’t even notice a symptom.

Certain warning signs can indicate a weakened immune system. Here are a few of them:

High Stress: Long-term stress may weaken the immune system by lowering lymphocyte levels. Lymphocytes are white blood cells your immune system uses to fight infections.

Always Fighting a Cold: It’s normal to go through 2 or 3 bouts of the cold per year. But if you’re getting them more frequently, and they are hanging around for more than 10 days, it’s a sign your immune system lacks strength.

Regular Indigestion: Frequent diarrhea, gas, or constipation could also be a sign of a compromised immune system. Studies are indicating roughly 70 percent of your immune system is located in your digestive tract. Digestive troubles could indicate a low level of healthy, beneficial bacteria, which may boost infection and inflammation risk.

Skin Wounds Stick Around: Little cuts, scrapes, or burns can also shed some light on immune strength. Your immune system is what causes these wounds to heal, so if they take an extended period to repair, your immune system isn’t functioning ideally.

Getting Sick Often: If you experience ear infections, pneumonia, bacterial sinusitis, or take more than two courses of antibiotics per year, it can indicate issues with immune health.

Fatigue: If you’re sleeping well but still feel fatigued, it could mean your immune system is working hard.

All of these could be signs of a weakened immune system. If you’re experiencing any of them, it is worth talking to your doctor.

You can also attempt natural immune-strengthening lifestyle measures such as:

  • Eating a balanced, nutrient-rich diet
  • Getting adequate sleep
  • Enjoying regular exercise
  • Washing your hands
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Managing your stress

Devon Andre holds a bachelor’s degree in forensic science from the University of Windsor in Canada and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Pittsburgh. Andre is a journalist for BelMarraHealthwhich first published this article.

Give your family and immune system boost with these foods

Give your family and immune system boost with these foods

  • October 21, 2020

Are you looking for simple ways to boost your family’s immune system? Take a walk to the fridge… Certain fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and a handful of herbs and spices are known for their immune-boosting powers. The good news is that these foods are easy to find and won’t cost you an arm or a leg! In fact, you probably already have a few of them in your fridge.

Here are a few food types you can add to meals to improve your family’s health:  

Citrus fruits

Many people turn to vitamin C after they caught a cold, or if they think they’re on the verge of catching one. This is because citrus helps to build your immune system. vitamin C is thought to increase the production of white blood cells and improve the health of tissues, which are key to fighting infections. Almost all citrus fruits are high in vitamin C, and with such a variety to choose from, it is easy to add a squeeze of this vitamin to any meal.

Popular citrus fruits include:

  • grapefruit
  • oranges
  • tangerines
  • lemons
  • limes

Because your body doesn’t produce or store vitamin C, you need to actively ensure that you get your daily dosage for continued health. The recommended daily amount for most adults is:

  • 75 mg for women
  • 90 mg for men

Kiwi

Kiwis are naturally full of multiple essential nutrients, including folate, potassium, vitamin K, and vitamin C. Vitamin C boosts the white blood cells to fight infection, while kiwis’ other nutrients assist with general body functions.

Red bell peppers

Red bell peppers contain almost 3 times more vitamin C (127mg) than most other fruit per gram. They are also a rich source of beta carotene. Besides boosting your immune system, Vitamin C may help you maintain healthy skin. Beta carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A, helps keep your eyes and skin healthy.

Broccoli

Broccoli is loaded with vitamins and minerals. Packed with vitamins A, C, and E, as well as fibre and many other antioxidants, it’s one of the healthiest vegetables you can add to your plate.

Garlic

Early civilizations recognised garlic’s value in fighting infections. Garlic may also contribute to slowing down atherosclerosis, hardening of the arteries, and some evidence suggests that it can assist in lowering blood pressure – this should however not replace any prescribed medications for hypertension. Garlic’s immune-boosting properties seem to come from a heavy concentration of sulfur-containing compounds, such as allicin.

Ginger

Ginger is another ingredient many turn to after getting sick. Ginger may help decrease inflammation, which can help reduce a sore throat and inflammatory illnesses.

Spinach

Spinach is not only rich in Vitamin C, but it’s also packed with numerous antioxidants and beta carotene, both of which may increase the infection-fighting ability of our immune systems.

Almonds

Almonds contain a high amount of vitamin E. This powerful antioxidant is key to a healthy immune system. It’s a fat-soluble vitamin, which means it requires the presence of fat to be absorbed properly. Nuts, such as almonds, are fully packed with vitamin E and contain healthy fats. Adults only need about 15mg of vitamin E each day. A half-cup serving of almonds, which is about 46 whole, shelled almonds, provides close to 100 percent of the recommended daily amount.

Turmeric This bright yellow, bitter spice has also been used for years as an anti-inflammatory in treating both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. High concentrations of curcumin can help decrease exercise-induced muscle damage and is an immune booster and an antiviral spice.

Green tea

Green tea is packed with flavonoids, a type of antioxidant. Green tea contains epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a powerful antioxidant, which has shown to enhance immune function. Green tea is also a good source of the amino acid L-theanine. L-theanine may aid in the production of germ-fighting compounds in your T cells, an essential part of your defence system.

Liquorice

Liquorice contains many beneficial substances, including glycyrrhizin, which may help protect against viral infections. It contains B vitamins, including B12 and B6 – which are all important for a healthy immune response. Many adults are deficient in these B vitamins, which may negatively affect immune health.

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