Dr. Josh Ax, Naturopathic Physician, Chiropractor, Certified Nutritionist
In this article:
When it comes to supporting the immune system, the nutrient most likely to come to mind is vitamin C, often presented as a natural remedy for SARS and other diseases. But did you know that zinc is also an essential nutrient for supporting strong immunity, as well as healthy digestion and more?
In combination with probioticsZinc is particularly good at supporting the body’s ability to absorb essential nutrients and defend itself against pathogens, which is the “good guys” or “friendly” bacteria that make up the gut microbiome and help expel harmful microbes.
Below we take a closer look at the foods in your diet that may contain essential zinc and probiotics to support overall health.
Are you getting enough zinc from your diet?
Zinc Is the second most abundant mineral in the human body, second only to iron, which participates in hundreds of processes in the body every day, performing, in particular, enzymatic functions.
What foods contain zinc?
Zinc is found in foods such as red meat such as beef, organ meats including liver, game, dairy products, eggs, quinoa, chickpea, lentils, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, cashew, almondas well as some fortified foods such as bread and cereals.
If you want to take action to strengthen your immune system, we recommend increasing your intake of the above foods to meet your body’s zinc needs. However, some people may also find it beneficial to take zinc supplements to boost immunity, gut health, brain health, and more.
Low levels of zinc in the body can occur when you don’t eat enough foods containing this mineral, or because of problems with its absorption or use in older people or with intestinal problems.
If you are on a restrictive diet that requires you to eliminate certain food groups, for example, if you are vegan / vegetarian and do not eat meat, taking dietary supplements can help meet your zinc needs. You can also ask your doctor if you need to take zinc supplements if you have mineral absorption problems or are pregnant.
How Zinc and Probiotics Strengthen Immunity
Probiotics Are live microorganisms that, among other things, promote the absorption of nutrients and support gut health. While zinc and probiotics separately provide support for immunity and digestion, the benefits can be much greater when taken together.
Combination zinc + probiotics provides the following benefits:
- Supports immune defenses and activates the immune system.
- Supports normal gut microflora as well as overall gut health and intestinal mucosal integrity.
- Supports a healthy immune response in the respiratory mucosa.
- Improving food digestion, including eliminating problems such as constipation and gas.
If your diet lacks zinc-rich foods, supplementation can be an excellent solution to address the deficiency and maintain normal levels of this mineral in the body.
For optimal results, use high quality zinc supplements, such as enzyme-activated zinc products for better absorption.
“Enzyme-activated” zinc differs from elemental zinc or chelated zinc, where it is bound to other substances. When zinc is activated, it is considered “ready for assimilation by the body” and is well recognized by our body for better assimilation.
Zinc supplements are usually in the form of capsules, which are usually taken once a day, either with meals or separately. Taking zinc in combination with probiotics on an empty stomach is usually the best solution, as is taking it 30 minutes before meals. This avoids an increase in gastric acid levels that interfere with the normal absorption of probiotics.
Other benefits of zinc
In addition to strengthening immune defenses and supporting healthy digestion zinc also has a positive effect on other body systems.
For example, it plays an important role in the development collagen, a structural protein that can be thought of as the “glue” that holds the body together and forms connective tissue and cartilage.
Zinc, which is an essential mineral required by the human body, performs the following important functions:
- Helps the liver to mobilize and release vitamin A stores into the blood.
- Supports normal DNA synthesis and cell division.
- Ensures the functioning of macrophages, the normal course of inflammatory reactions and the development of immune cells / natural killer cell activity.
- Supports the growth and repair of connective tissues, including the skin.
- It has an antioxidant effect and fights oxidative stress.
- Supports fertility, normal growth and development of the fetus during pregnancy, and the development of newborns.
To get the most out of your supplements zinc + probiotic, focus on a healthy diet that is high in anti-inflammatory foods.
Zinc works in conjunction with other minerals in the body, so it will be most effective if your diet includes a wide variety of nutrient-dense foods such as fresh vegetables, nuts, seeds, grass-fed meats, and healthy fats. And eating fermented and fiber-rich foods such as enzyme-fortified vegetables, berries, yoghurts, seeds, and whole grains will create a nurturing environment for probiotics in your gut.