Our immune system and the flu
The modern-day flu has been around for hundreds of years, and current strains have adapted themselves to be highly contagious and resistant to some antiviral medications. More common in the winter, seasonal flu - the short name for influenza - is essentially caused by germs spreading from person to person and causing a flu infection in the body.
We can catch flu from another person through breathing in air filled with the germ, when someone coughs or sneezes, or touching an infected object such as a door handle and then touching our mouth or nose.
When the body senses germs such as flu, the immune system reacts and creates a natural (and healthy) inflammatory effect to try and destroy the foreign invaders. A type of white blood cell called a macrophage is activated, which attaches to and swallows up cells in an attempt to destroy them.1
However, some pesky strains of flu can find their way through holes or weak spots in our immune system, and this can vary from person to person. For example, scientists have found that just one single mutation of flu can sometimes give it the power to evade 90% of one person’s antibody immunity, but not others.2
The unpredictable nature of our immune response means that it’s crucial to protect our body as best we can before we get sick, since a weak immune system is more vulnerable to the risk of developing a secondary infection. And one of the best ways to do this is to introduce a high quality fish liver oil to your diet, which we explain more about below.
How to strengthen your immune system
Strengthening the immune system unfortunately doesn’t happen overnight; it requires a holistic approach to optimise all areas of your health. However, one of the simplest, cheapest ways to boost immunity is to take part in regular exercise. Exercise pumps blood around the body and kick-starts your lymphatic system, which transports a huge range of immune cells (like T-cells and B-cells) around the body to fight off any invading cells.3
This doesn’t mean you need to exercise aggressively 7 days a week. Quite the opposite, as studies have found that on average, moderate exercise for 60 minutes or less 3-4 times a week is associated with less stress on the immune system than prolonged, high-intensity endurance exercise.4
What you eat also plays an important role in optimising your immune system. Ensuring you’re eating nutrient dense foods with each meal and a large quantity of leafy and brightly coloured vegetables will help to optimise your body’s protective barriers and reduce inflammation. Malnutrition or a diet lacking in one or more important nutrients can significantly impair the production and activity of immune cells and antibodies. This is because each stage of the body’s immune responses, especially the digestive system, relies on the presence of many micronutrients. So eating a varied diet each day is the best way to ensure you’re getting as many micronutrients as possible.
Why supplement with cod liver and ratfish liver oil?
One way to combat seasonal flu is to support your immune health with Rosita Ratfish Liver Oil, known as the “Gold of the Ocean” in Scandanavian countries. Made from the rich oil from ratfish livers, it has remarkable anti-inflammatory qualities, containing a unique fatty nutrient called Alkylglycerols (AKG).
Multiple studies show that AKG upregulates the immune system, and that supplementing with AKG can prevent any flu-like symptoms from developing, even in the middle of an influenza outbreak.5,6. Ratfish liver oil is also a great source of essential fatty acids, containing omega-3, omega-4, omega-6, omega-7, omega-9 and omega-11 in their naturally occurring forms.
Chronic stress and a lack of quality sleep and rest can also increase the hormone cortisol, which works to suppress the action of white blood cells, and prevent immune cells like cytokines from being released and helping to fight off any invading bacteria.7
The antioxidant Vitamin C (found in leafy greens and brightly coloured fruits) also supports multiple cellular functions and is well documented for its ability to prevent and treat a range of viral and systemic infections.8
The health benefits of vitamins A & D
Vitamins A and D are two essential immune boosting vitamins – especially when combined. Vitamin D helps us absorb calcium, magnesium and phosphate – all of which are needed for strong bones. It also helps us regulate sleep, which is essential for our immune system. To top that, it regulates 5% of our genome, and has been shown to provide a protective barrier effect against respiratory infections.9
One of the best ways to increase your intake of vitamin A and D is to take Rosita Extra Virgin Cod Liver (EVCLO) or Ratfish Oil, which are some of the most nutrient dense foods available. The vitamin D in the raw fish liver oil is predominantly in the cholecalciferol (D3) form, which is the same form that your body synthesizes when you spend time in the sunshine. EVCLO is also high in vitamin A, which is vital for immune function.
In fact, studies have found that when people suffering from a cold are given cod liver or ratfish oil, they experience a significant 50% reduction in symptoms. This suggests that taking raw fish liver oils yields a natural anti-inflammatory response in the body that helps to strengthen our immune response, giving us a better chance at fighting infection.
Our handcrafted ratfish and cod liver oils have been praised by Norwegian Vikings and Scandanavian fishermen for centuries, hailed for their rich fatty acids and protective properties. Having a strong immune system was essential on the rough, icy waters in those days, and catching a cold could sometimes be fatal if not treated, hence why these oils were considered precious by fishermen and Vikings. We use the exact same cold-pressed artisan method to extract the oil as they did, preserving the delicate natural nutrients found in the livers. This means these oils are as pure and authentic as they were for our Nordic ancestors hundreds of years ago.
Simple steps for immune health
Optimising your nutrients, through both your food and your supplementation, getting enough sleep and exercise and reducing stress are key areas to focus on for immune health.
And if you really want to support your immune system and avoid catching flu, then supplement with our raw ratfish liver or cod liver oils to give your body the best defence possible.
In the winter months especially, the omega fatty acids and vitamins D and A naturally present in these precious oils will keep your body strong, healthy and well protected from any nasty foreign invaders. If you’d like to read up more about the nutritional benefits and the unique story behind our oils, we’ve written everything you need to know here.